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Eppie-Sue

If you don't know the plot...

I hope there are people here who have had this experience. Surely there must be:
If you really don't know the storyline, what is the impact of certain scenes? I, for example, always think that Gavroche's Death, if acted well, must surely be a bit of a shock, because yes, they have just killed a kid.
Do any of the deaths come as a surprise?! Eponine's, maybe? Gotta love the audience's reaction when Marius opens her coat: O.O "OH no!"
Or just the general staging - what was your first reaction to seeing the barricade? Or what kind of impact have these iconic moments had on you, the ones that you don't expect, like for example the barricade turning after the Final Battle and dead Enjolras dangling from it? (the only things I ever notice are the "Oh... no" reactions from people behind me)
Seeing different sides to the characters: Thénardier with the corpse in the sewers, Javert committing suicide, etc. without being prepared...
I'm really, genuinely interested what it is like to see the show for the first time and to remember how it was/experience the impact without being prepared for it. Because I don't. I saw it knowing the plot and the songs and all the lyrics and had seen lot of pictures, and I don't really remember it because I was nine years old...
l'ivrogne transfiguré

I'm afraid I can't help ... I'm in a very similar situation to you. I don't remember the first time I saw it very well at all and I read the book straight away afterwards, so every time since, I've known the plot very well. The first time I saw it, I didn't really know the plot or much of the music or anything, but because I know it so well, and got to know it quite well straight after seeing it, my memory is very confused over what I thought at the time, and what I picked up on at the time and what I realised in hindsight and stuff.
Hallie

When I first saw the show it was back in October for my 20th birthday. Didn't have a clue what it was about...For years and years I always thought it was in French until a mate in secondary school told me other wise lol. Obviously the deaths of characters have an impact - Eponine was a shocker and I didnt want her to die because I really liked the character and again, in the Final Battle I was just so amazed at how it looked. That moment when it all slows down and everyone dies just has such a massive impact and stays in your mind for ages. I remember being surprised about how early they do 'I dreamed a Dream'. It was the only Les Mis song that I knew (dw, I knew it long before SuBo appeared) and I guess that, I just thought it was kinda the main song, because its so famous. Another thing that I remember was loving the beginning, how the chain gang comes out and all hits the floor on the beat (if you know what I mean lol) I didnt want Javert to die though - I hate it when people feel like suicide is the only way out. Felt really sorry for him then!! To be honest though, I found that I enjoyed the show as a whole the second time that I saw it because I knew what was happening. But that could also be because I was so hyped up the first time that I saw it it was all just abit of a blur lol. But basically, after this ramble that Im sure is abit boring lol, I just loved it, couldn't wait to go back and experiance it again and bought the book as soon as I got home.

Xx (",) xX
KatyRoseLand

I didn't know the plot at all when I first saw it. All I knew of it was On My Own, which I used to sing with my sister when we were children, and we thought it was about an imaginary friend, haha. Oh, and Castle on a Cloud, because I think every little girl with even a vague interest in theatre probably knows that song.

I remember thinking "Should a man be able to sing that high?!" quite a lot. I was also among the people who said "Who?" during LiD.

When Eponine died, I was genuinely shocked. I also thought Marius was really stupid for sitting there singing with her instead of getting her some help. I was also trying to work out if it was actually raining. I was mainly shocked because I was convinced Marius and Eponine would end up together though.

All the barricade deaths were a shock, because yes, I was one of THOSE people who thought it was about the French Revolution. I mean, I thought the costumes were very inaccurate, and I couldn't work out why there was no guillotine in a show about the French Revolution, but I truly believed the students would win the battle because I thought "Well, the peasants always win the French Revolution, don't they?" Wow, I was really stupid... but yeah, that's what I thought. So that was very shocking. But I hadn't paid any attention to Enjolras so I didn't get the significance of the Deadjolrasness at all.

When Javert committed suicide I was pretty heartbroken. I liked him a lot. I was quite blown away by the staging of it though, I thought it was very clever. When my friend saw it for the first time he whispered to me "Did he just kill himself?!?" and I thought it was weird that he wasn't sure, because I found it so effective when I first saw it.

I wasn't expecting Fantine to die. Before I went, I thought Cosette was a child for the whole thing. I didn't work out that Jean Valjean's name was Jean Valjean until the end, when I asked my friend, because I thought no one would be stupid enough to name their child Jean when their last name was Valjean. I was convinced there'd be a plot twist where Marius turned out to be Valjean's sister's son. Literally the only thing I remember about the Thénardiers was "There's not much there", because I thought Tracie Bennett did it in a very funny way, and it was about the only time I found either of them funny.

So there are my random musings! I actually learned pretty much everything I know about Les Mis from this board. Once I'd seen the show, I came on here to fangirl Eponine (then I worked out from a few people's posts that that's not exactly a popular thing to do...) and I ended up going "Which one was Enjolras? Who is this Montparnasse? What's a Feuilly?" and so I had to go and see it again, and that was when my proper love for the show really started. Smile
Orestes Fasting

Hmmmm. I have very little memory of the first time I saw Les Mis (was not familiar with the show, was in the upper circle of the Queens, and JOJ mumbles so I had trouble with the lyrics). Seriously, I remember JOJ mumbling, a little bit of Cornell John's performance, being angry at myself for crying at the tearjerker-ness of Fantine's death, Shaun Escoffery's bald head, and being able to see over the barricade which utterly ruined my suspension of disbelief. That's about it.

The first time I saw Les Mis under decent circumstances, I was pretty well prepared (had read the book, watched the TAC, listened to a few cast recordings), so it was mostly the staging that surprised me. There are things the TAC just doesn't prepare you for. I remember being struck by:

1. The black-box effect of the dark stage and the fog machines and the rather spare props and sets, interrupted in the middle by the HUGE barricade set.
2. Fantine's arrest. The TAC does not prepare you for the utter brutality of this scene--Ruthie standing in front of a microphone, still in her green dress, is worlds away from an actress in rags being beaten and dragged around the stage.
3. Gavroche's death is brutal. Even if you know exactly what's going to happen, it is brutal. Even if you've seen it before--the gunshots made me jump out of my skin the first half dozen times I saw the show.
Inspector Javert

Hmm...I really don't remember my first impression of the songs. I was in eight grade I think when I first heard At The End of the Day, and I Dreamed a Dream and I was obsessed with those two, and same with Castle on a Cloud. The version I had of IDAD was done by a male, so yeah.

The summer of 2007, I heard On My Own, only because by some weird...thing...I happened to have it on my iPod and couldn't sleep. I became obsessed with that song so much. I thought it was about someone who had died, or someone who was literally blind (haha) and looking back now I think it's silly, because the meaning to the song is so obvious to me now. (What REALLY sucks is that I have NO idea who sings this version of On My Own. I know it isn't Frances or Lea, and I've tried looking up other Eponines but couldn't find it) And when I finally learned the story behind the song a year later, I almost started crying Laughing

I finally was able to get a copy of TAC but I had already known the general plot by then.
~Masquerade Dancer~

When I first saw Les Miserables a few things were a surprise to me. Especially Gavroche's death was a shock, and all the students dying on the barricade. Honestly, before I saw it (stupid as this may sound) I didn't think there would be as much death. Javert's suicide would have been surprising if I hadn't seen it listed as a song.
mm10

My first time is so long ago now that I can't remember which scenes in particular made an impact on me but I still remember vivdly how I felt by the end of it - emotionally drained!!

It had already been running 5 years when I first saw it and I knew nothing about it or the story - only went because we were looking for something we hadn't seen already and I thought it must be OK if its lasted this long. I was one of those annoying people who thought it was "something to do with the french revolution"!

I hate crying in public and I remember during the second half fighting hard to keep my composure - I was relieved when the Thenardiers scene at the ball came on and there was a bit of light relief as I was really struggling at that point, then when the final scene came and Valjean's death and the slow build of DYHTPS it was one of those shiver down your spine moments. I remember feeling totally dazed afterwards and although I've seen it many times since it's never had quite the same impact as that first time of not knowing what to expect.

I was comimg home the next day and bought the soundtrack before I left. I remember blasting it on the tube journey and suddenly hearing Michael Ball's voice which was the icing on the cake - I had no idea he was Marius but I was a big fan of his from Aspects of Love (even now I find it hard to listen to anyone else sing ECAET)

I have seen so many other shows in the last 20 years and a lot of them I love a lot but I've never experienced anything since like the first time seeing Les Mis.
riverdawn

When I saw the show for the first I basically knew it was about Jean Valjean, who stole some bread and was harshly punished and was then chased by Inspector Javert who I knew was synonymous with obsessive pursuit of the law. I also knew that there was going to be some sort of revolution/revolt, and that this was NOT the French revolution.

Other than that, I knew nothing.

So, first of all, I remember it taking me quite a while to realize that the mayor guy in the factory scene was, in fact, Jean Valjean. I seem to recall being quite affected by the various death scenes, especially Fantine's and the deaths on the Barricade (there may have been some tearing up involved).

Oddly enough, it took me a while to tell Marius and Enjolras apart (don't ask me how that's possible), but once I did I remember being struck with the barricade scenes and in particular with the character of Enjolras...
Quique

It happened in stages. First, it was that music. OMG, the music was the definition of haunting, and beautifully so. IDAD was the song that introduced me to Les Miserables, sans Boyle. lol. We're talking 1986 here--I was only a pup!

The OLC LP set was all I had for a couple of years. It began at ATEOTD and I had no idea there was a prologue. Then came a point where I naturally started to actually pay attention to the lyrics. While the awfully heavy cockney, and what were odd word choices to an American 8 year-old, certainly did not help, the music spoke to me intuitively. No, I didn't know the details behind the insurrection nor did know for sure what Fantine had succumbed to.

By the time I saw it for the first time at age 11 in 1989, I was familiar with both the full original London and Broadway cast recordings. I still didn't know of what Fantine had died from and the barricades were like a giant symbol of freedom constructed in protest of something. I won't say I knew exactly what they were fighting for but it was obvious to me that it had something to do with the impoverished.

The dirty, dilapidated, menacing set screamed HORRID STATE OF DISARRAY. So that helped, as well. Mr. Green

Basically it was a glorious orgy of angst, death, anger, death, scumminess, death, singing sweeping strings, death, nobleness, death, faith, DEATH!!!! And then at the conclusion, there was hope, triumph, redemption, a life about to start when tomorrow coooooooooooomes!

That's probably how my 11 year old self gushed about it after that first time, hehe.

The CSR was released a year later and my love for the show reached absurd levels. It wasn't until the second performance I attended in 1991 that I knew what number was going to come next. And it wasn't until my second return to the show in 1992 that I saw it knowing everything inside-out.

So, ya, the show was always clear to me in some way or another. Once I had discovered all the details I now know, it wasn't at all a surprise because I felt I had always known them. The detail merely served as a footnote to a show that is largely emotionally driven.
Elbow

I am sad that I have no memory of being confused by the plot. First version I saw was TAC (on video.) and my Grandma explained the whole story to me as I watched it (I was 6 at the time, so some of the concepts probably did go straight over my head.)

I first saw Les Mis that same year, and loved it, saw it again the next year, but then didn't watch it live again until I was about 15 or 16. And that was the most confusing time for me, because I'd managed to forget quite a lot, somehow. Especially as recording wise, TAC is my favourite, so I'd forgotten some of the bits in the show that weren't in TAC. I think the bit that confused me most was Valjean saving Marius, and before I went in, I was trying to remember what order it went in exactly. I came to the conclusion that Marius must have been shot in the first battle, where Valjean rescues him before the second battle and took him to the sewers and sang Bring Him Home. I thought this because it seemed just too "lucky" for Valjean and Marius to be the only survivers.

Oh, and the first time (or maybe the second time?) I saw it, David Bardsley was Enjolras and that really confused me. "But he is just a student in the video! How has he taken over as the leader? When is the leader coming? This man is not the leader!" *facepalm* I was young though. Don't judge me.
The Very Angry Woman

I read the book and started hoarding cast recordings about 2 years before I was able to see the show for the first time, so nothing was a surprise for me -- although when I went with a friend for his first Les Miz experience back in 2000, he said, "As soon as that kid stepped on stage, I knew he was toast." He'd only skimmed a synopsis, one that didn't mention Gavroche died. Heh.
neen

Orestes Fasting wrote:

3. Gavroche's death is brutal. Even if you know exactly what's going to happen, it is brutal. Even if you've seen it before--the gunshots made me jump out of my skin the first half dozen times I saw the show.


I've seen the show multiple times, and this scene always gets to me. Mainly because of the gunshots. Doesn't matter if you're anticipating them or not, because I always find I get startled!
The Very Angry Woman

I never jump at anything and just see what other people do.
Eppie-Sue

The Very Angry Woman wrote:
I never jump at anything and just see what other people do.

Well, but you can't wait and see what other people do if you don't know what's coming.

Thank you everyone for your reponses, especially the ones that really saw Les Mis without any prior knowledge... it's so interesting if you never experienced that yourself... and also a bit sad. I sometimes wish I could see it being completely ignorant to everything.
neen

I usually don't jump at anything, but that death scene is one of the very few things that will startle me to a degree.
The Very Angry Woman

Eppie-Sue wrote:
The Very Angry Woman wrote:
I never jump at anything and just see what other people do.

Well, but you can't wait and see what other people do if you don't know what's coming.

Thank you everyone for your reponses, especially the ones that really saw Les Mis without any prior knowledge... it's so interesting if you never experienced that yourself... and also a bit sad. I sometimes wish I could see it being completely ignorant to everything.


No, I was referring to the people who see the show repeatedly and still jump at the same spots. (I always get a kick out of the gunshot scenes in Les Miz, Phantom, and Jersey Boys for this very reason.)
riverdawn

I always jump at the shots. I know exactly when they are coming and what to expect, and yet they still make me jump every time.
l'ivrogne transfiguré

It took me a long time before I stopped jumping at the shots - and even now, I still twitch a bit sometimes. I think, it's sometimes almost worse when you are anticipating them - a bit like going up a hill on a rollercoaster.
It does annoy me a bit though when everyone jumps. Not because it bothers me in itself, and I certainly don't blame them for it, it's just the giggling that always accompanies it - it tends to ruin the moment a bit for me. But hey, that's life.
Starlene

I saw Les Mis for the first time about a year ago. I was 15.
I had already seen three musicals on that trip to London but because I had loved them so much I had begged my dad to buy me one more ticket, and he had agreed.
We hadn't decided what musical we'd see, and talked about it on the TKTS line. I didn't know a lot about any of the shows and just decided by the titles and the ads I remembered seeing around the underground. Finally it came to "well, this Les Misérables thing is pretty popular, I guess, so it can't be completely bad." I was a bit unsure, though, since it seemed a little bit boring to me.

Before the show I read the synopsis and got a feeling that it could be about the French Revolution. A quick look at the years in the synopsis proved me wrong. I tried to learn the stuff that happens in the first act by heart before the show started but I forgot everything when the lights went out. That always happens to me.

The show itself didn’t leave so many memories.
Maybe it was too much musicals I'd seen that week – and big musicals too: PoTO, Wicked and that awful Grease revival – that distracted me from thinking anything about the set and such. Or thinking pretty much anything, actually:
I remember going “that’s a cool overture.” I believe that's almost all I thought during the first act.

I felt mixed up during the interval.
I’m Finnish and though I’m pretty good at English it felt like I’d missed a lot of the lyrics. I’m not quite sure about this, but I have a feeling of thinking “isn’t that who you’ve been since the beginning?” when Valjean goes “I’m Jean Valjean” in Who Am I. The love triangle thing was about the only thing I understood completely.
I read the synopsis again to understand something and then we talked about the happenings so far with my dad. Still, I felt confused with the plot and all the characters. Dad remarked that “the guy with that deep voice sang so beautifully” and I answered “the one who sang about the stars? Yeah…”

The only things I remember from the second act are thinking “these lyrics are so whiny but I know I’ll sing along with this a hundred times when I get the CD” during On My Own, admiring how nice the slow motion looked during the barricade deaths and then thinking something like “aww, this’ll end soon” during the finale.
I’m not sure about this neither (I’ve got an awfully bad memory, it seems) but I think I might’ve cried just a little bit during the DYHPS reprise. I thought it was cool there was a standing ovation since I’d never seen one in Finland.

I didn’t understand much more about the show when it had ended. I had gotten who died and who survived, but most of the characters and a great part of the plot seemed very sketchy to me.
I wasn’t as clueless as dad, though, since he asked me why the blonde woman from the first act wasn’t in the second act, too.
I thought the music was good but not so good that I should get the CD. Lovely Ladies played in my head the whole night.

Afterwards I saw some sort of The Most Loved Musical of the Country prize on some wall of the theatre.
“Pfft”, I thought back then, “PoTO was so much better.”
beyondthebarricade

Well, I knew the songs and the story way back then, like 7 or 8 years ago? Anyway. I chucked it aside until December when I saw it and I completely forgot all the songs except the more famous ones like IDAD, OMO, ECAET, ALFOR, DYHTPS and Lovely Ladies.

I had never witnessed those type of turning stages before, so when I saw Bowman walking through the "streets" after getting his yellow ticket of leave, I thought "Wait is the stage actually moving?" I was, no doubt, impressed by ATEOTD as it looks so much grander and passionate compared to the Disc 2 of the TAC with the History of Les Mis and interviews and snippets of the shows, in which ATEOTD was too... bare. I mistook Factory Foreman for JVJ, since I knew he was in charge of the factory, but I forgot when he came out, so I was all "Wha... What's he doing?!"

I also liked the part in Who Am I where Valjean goes "Who am I? Who am I? I am Jean Valjean!" and the court comes down with the French flag and all. That was another impressive part. And I have no idea why but I particularly liked the window in Fantine's Death...heh.

Master of The House was stunning. I remember going "GOD KNOWS HOW LONG I'VE LASTED LIVING WITH THIS BASTARD IN THE HOSUE!" when I was eight and all the passer-bys would give me weird looks like I was a foul mouthed getto trash, so, definitely enjoyed that. And the part in the Waltz of Treachery...
Quote:
Thenardier: How can we, speak of debt, let's not haggle for darling Colette...
Mme Thenardier: Sette!
Thenardier: Sette...

Somehow I burst out laughing at that part which attracted dirty looks, yet again. Oh the Thenards.

In Paris, I... didn't know who Enjolras was. (Thank you, brochure synopis -.-) It certainly didn't help that his name wasn't mentioned at all in the whole libretto except for Combeferre's "Enjolras! At Notre Dame the sections are prepared!" So I found out, thank God, during the interval when I was looking at the cast in that blue book, whatever you call it with the casts' biographies and figured that of all the students, Enjolras' name came first and went to Thaxton's small section.

One more thing! When I watched the 08 videos on YouTube I kept on thinking it was Marius whom sang the "Will you give all you can give so that our banner may advance" line as Matthew Gent has curly hair, just like Alistair.

Moving on. After the intermission I don't remember clearly what happened, though I was quite affected at Gavroche's death because of random gunshots, and the students deaths' were the most harrowing. Probably because of the slow motion, and of course, Deadjolras sprawled on his symbol of revolution.

Other parts were also the ghosts of the students at Marius' ECAET, and I did notice Gavin James' big glassy eyes though I had no clue to who he was, among others. But yeah, that's about it.
Quique

The memories of my first time are vague but there are tiny fragments of the show that I can mentally revisit like a photograph. I VIVIDLY remember both Fantine's and Eponine's finale entrances. They really moved me. I also recall Elinore O'Connel's Fantine sitting on the stage and really crying during IDAD. I remember being very impressed with "Master of the House." I have no memory whatsoever of ODM, OMO, ECAET, and most of the other big solos.

The clearest memory is that of the overture and me and my sis practically bouncing in our seats.

Oh, yeah, and the blonde chick next to me who kept disruptively eyeing her program during the show.

Aaaand at intermission feeling very small in a sea of grown men in suits and overly perfumed women. And wanting a souvenir brochure but my bro was too cheap to spend the $7 that it cost, which was distressing.
riverdawn

beyondthebarricade wrote:

In Paris, I... didn't know who Enjolras was. (Thank you, brochure synopis -.-) It certainly didn't help that his name wasn't mentioned at all in the whole libretto except for Combeferre's "Enjolras! At Notre Dame the sections are prepared!"


Actually, as far as I know, even there it's not actually in the official libretto. The line is simply "At Notre Dame the sections are prepared."

I think that technically the "Enjolras!" at that point is an ab-lib, although it seems to have become quite a regular part of the show.

The fact that Enjolras' name doesn't appear anywhere in the libretto does make it awfully difficult to figure out who he is if you don't already know the story, though, doesn't it? Although I understand why it's that way. It really is a very difficult name to pronounce... and I guess they should get credit for not doing something like changing his name to Bob or something. Wink
Eppie-Sue

riverdawn wrote:
The fact that Enjolras' name doesn't appear anywhere in the libretto does make it awfully difficult to figure out who he is if you don't already know the story, though, doesn't it? Although I understand why it's that way. It really is a very difficult name to pronounce... and I guess they should get credit for not doing something like changing his name to Bob or something.

I always figured it had more to do with the fact that Enjolras is the only one of the main character that no one ever sings about or that never sings about himself at any point. Yep. Think about it, it wouldn't even fit in there... Of course it makes things difficult, they could at least have put his name into the synopsis or something.
As for pronouncation funnily enough, the current cast quite happily say his name (ad-libbing, obviously). Martin, Mark, Antony, Killian, Gavin, they all have no actual problem pronouncing it. It isn't that hard.

But this is going off-topic. Heh.
beyondthebarricade

riverdawn wrote:
beyondthebarricade wrote:

In Paris, I... didn't know who Enjolras was. (Thank you, brochure synopis -.-) It certainly didn't help that his name wasn't mentioned at all in the whole libretto except for Combeferre's "Enjolras! At Notre Dame the sections are prepared!"


Actually, as far as I know, even there it's not actually in the official libretto. The line is simply "At Notre Dame the sections are prepared."

I think that technically the "Enjolras!" at that point is an ab-lib, although it seems to have become quite a regular part of the show.

The fact that Enjolras' name doesn't appear anywhere in the libretto does make it awfully difficult to figure out who he is if you don't already know the story, though, doesn't it? Although I understand why it's that way. It really is a very difficult name to pronounce... and I guess they should get credit for not doing something like changing his name to Bob or something. Wink


D: I didn't know how to structure that sentence properly. Oh my, I seem to have lost all ability to even form the simplest of sentences. Yes, that isn't in the actual libretto, not even in the TAC or anything, but it's in all the unofficial recordings, as well as the Isle Of Wright concert. My bad.

Enjolras isn't exactly a difficult name to pronounce. Yes as Eppie-Sue said, people can pronounce it without any difficulties. I find names like Thenardier or Feuilly harder, it took me a while to get those.
Quique

"Enjolras" is prone to incorrect pronunciation more than most names in the musical. It isn't until one actually hears it pronounced correctly that one quits saying "Angel-rass," "Enhole-rass," or other crap like that.
beyondthebarricade

Quique wrote:
"Enjolras" is prone to incorrect pronunciation more than most names in the musical. It isn't until one actually hears it pronounced correctly that one quits saying "Angel-rass," "Enhole-rass," or other crap like that.


Or a common one, pronounced purely phonetically, "Ann-jole-rass". Swinging back to topic, yes, someone who sees Les Mis for the first time may have no idea how to pronounce anything and get names wrong. And it can get quite confusing as people may not realise that Monsieur Madeleine (le Mayor) in the musical = ex-convict Jean Valjean until Who Am I when JVJ announces it to the court. Even then, they may not catch it. It's quite hard to get the names right the first few times, unless people have read the book beforehand or know a considerable amount about the show.
riverdawn

Quote:
Or a common one, pronounced purely phonetically, "Ann-jole-rass".


It's not actually that obvious.

First of all, if you're not familiar with French pronunciation, it's entirely not obvious that "En" needs to be pronounced as Ann and not, say, as "En" like in the English word "Enter".

Second, if you do have a vague familiarity with French pronunciation, there is some reason to assume that it should actually be pronounced Ann-Jole-Ra (with no S at the end). In fact, this is how the name is written in the Hebrew translation of the book and how the character was listed in the Israeli translation of the show. I've also seen several videos from the Australian production where they all refer to the character as Ann-Jole-Ra rather than Ann-Jole-Rass.
It wasn't until I heard it pronounced on that section that used to be on the Les Mis website that I realized that yes, you are probably supposed to pronounce the S at the end there.

And finally, the whole jol-ras part can be a bit of a tongue twister. It took me ages to be able to say it correctly.

Now, all this being said, of course many members of the current London cast go around yelling Enjolras left and right and of course it's not impossible to pronounce the name with a bit of practice Smile.

But I think it wouldn't be a particularly easy name to sing. There are scenes in the show where there could have been, conceivably, someone talking (singing) *to* Enjolras and referring to him by name. Marius 'talks' to Enjolras at several points in the show. The fact is that he's a principal character who is never mentioned by name, whereas much more minor characters like Feuilly, Courfeyrac and Combeferre are all mentioned. While of course I can't know for sure, I still think it may have something to do with the fact that it wouldn't be a very easy name to sing, especially as part of a sentence. But I could be wrong about this.


At any rate - thinking more about Eppie-Sue's original question:

I noticed yesterday that at the beginning of the sewer scene with Thenardier, some of the audience members were laughing a bit. It took them a moment to realize that, no, this is not just the "comic relief" actor. We are now actually seeing the truly sinister side of him. So I guess that can have quite a lot of impact.

I think the scenes that staging-wise had the most impact on me were:
a) the barricade appearing. That actually still sort of amazes me every time.

b) The barricade turning around with DeadJolras on it. There I think it's really the joint impact of the visual and the music. It's really very very powerful.

c)Javert's suicide. Every friend I've gone to see the show with has also mentioned that as a particularly effective staging.

But in terms of the plot, there are certainly bits that are confusing if you have no prior exposure. For example, if you really have no idea that there's going to be a revolution involved, the whole LiD-DYHTPS part can be a little confusing. I had a friend who literally turned to me at intermission and said "so, why are they all dancing in the streets and happy if someone just died"?
Orestes Fasting

It doesn't help that the 'real' pronunciation has two phonemes that don't exist in English: the nasal 'en' and the French 'r.' They're easy enough to approximate with a non-nasal 'an' and an English 'r' if you're not speaking or singing in French, but it does mean that asking for the 'real' pronunciation is going to get you something unpronounceable.

(How to pronounce a nasal: say 'Jean Valjean' without letting your tongue touch the roof of your mouth on the 'n'.)
mm10

riverdawn wrote:


But in terms of the plot, there are certainly bits that are confusing if you have no prior exposure. For example, if you really have no idea that there's going to be a revolution involved, the whole LiD-DYHTPS part can be a little confusing. I had a friend who literally turned to me at intermission and said "so, why are they all dancing in the streets and happy if someone just died"?


I was actually amazed at how easy it was to follow the story the first time I saw it - often it is hard to keep up with a through sung musical especially if people don't sing the words clearly but with Les Mis I was totally drawn in and totally engrossed in the story.

I haven't read the book so I don't know how faithful the musical is to the book but it still amazes me how they have managed to tell such a complex story totally in song and not lose the audience along the way.
Buff Daddy

I'm 3 nights away from opening night in a community theatre production of Les Mis. Just 2-3 weeks ago a cast member expressed surprise that JVJ was dead at the end of the show. Rolling Eyes

Hello - he's standing and singing with two other dead people!!!!! d'oh!

Buff Very Happy
eponine5

I get such a warm fuzzy feeling whenever I remember seeing Les Mis my first time!

I was 13 at the time and before that point I really hadn't seen all that much theatre. I knew absolutely nothing about the show except that it was French, and the only song I'd vaguely heard before was On My Own (I remember I used to imagine that it was sung by a woman who'd lost her husband/lover - funny how it fits much better with Fantine's character who the melody was written for). I just remember sitting in the upper circle of the Queens wondering what on earth this show would be, especially because I refused to read the synopsis beforehand (I still hate to be spoiled on plots of any kind).

Most of my memories from that show are obviously blurred, but I remember being surprised at the way it began with the convicts, although also really liking it. I'm pretty certain I followed the prologue accurately (for some reason one of my clearest memories from that is JOJ's "wouldn't buy my SWEAT". And I don't remember having any problem his his enunciation) but then I remember seeing the 1923 sign and this blonde woman and thinking "oh! So it's like lots of mini stories of poor French people weaved together into a musical". I can't remember when exactly I worked out that this Valjean guy was still around, but I'm pretty sure it was by the Runaway Cart Wink . Anyway, I found Lovely Ladies both scary and funny, and that was the tune that stayed in my head after the show.

The moment where I got chills down my spine was definitely that chord between The Confrontation and Castle on a Cloud, when the stage spun around and I thought "it's Cosette!" who I figured would become the main character. I think that was the point where I actively thought "This show is amazing!". It was just the whole atmosphere created and the way the plot builds and flows and links together that I loved.

I think I was slightly disappointed at the '10 years later' because I'd wanted to see more of Cosette as a kid, but I remember wondering which one she was during look down and thinking how cool it would be if she was the slut who "used to be no better till the clap got to her brain". Anyway, it all got slightly blurry from that point until the interval, although I immediately latched onto Eponine, not really realising that her scenes are designed to make the audience love her. I thought I was so original. What confused me in One Day More was when Javert sang about joining the "schoolboys" and started marching along with the revolutionaries. I thought he might've changed his ways then and there until it was explained to me during the interval.

I remember being shocked by all the deaths in Act 2, especially Eponine's. I was so happy that she'd got a song to herself and then couldn't believe she died. Heh. The gunshots definitely made me jump (they still do after seeing it over 20 times. I can't help it!) and the moment when I realised "they're all gonna die" was gutwrenching. Even so, the moment where the stage spun to reveal deadjolras was still really powerful.

A part of the show that really has never worked half as well since that first time was Valjean's journey through the sewers, going from spotlight to spotlight. I can't watch it now without seeing him preparing to change position for the next light and thinking that it's not that great an effect, but that first time it looked really good and I honestly couldn't see him in between the spotlights. It's just one of those small things that bugs me when I see the show now - it'll never be the same again! Turning was also a memerable scene, maybe because I loved how they used the Lovely Lady tune to such a different effect, but that was clearer in my memory afterwards than Empty Chairs at Empty Tables, for some reason. The Epilogue seemed as beautiful as ever, and I was definitely overjoyed to see Eponine back. I played right into Trevor Nunn's hands there. But overall I loved the show and even though I didn't understand or follow everything, I came out absolutely obsessed and it also led to my love of musical theatre in general. Good times.

Confused I didn't mean that to become a full review.
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