Sometimes when I’m forcing myself to find looking for a topic for a Memory Monday post, I just start browsing through old photos to see what sparks a reminiscence. This is the picture that jumped out at me for today.
Thanks to some photo editing, it looks nice and sharp, even though it was taken in 1989. I was in London on a study abroad trip and I’m young, skinny, and wearing a fun new teal dress I had bought just a few blocks away. I still remember this day very clearly because everyone in the group was so excited to see Les Mis. I hadn’t gone to a lot of theater performances when I was growing up and I really did not know much about what to expect. I knew a little of the story, but I had never read the book. Being students on a budget, we all had tickets on the 3rd balcony up. It was liking watching ants act out something and I really didn’t get a whole lot out of it. I remember loving some of the music, but it was hard to hear all the dialogue and I left with a feeling of disappointment.
When my husband went on a business trip to New York (around the year 2001 I think?), he saw Les Misérables on Broadway and came home raving about it. He had me watch a PBS special presentation of it because he loved it so much. I liked seeing the broadcast version, but I still didn’t “get” the passion that everyone seemed to feel about his musical.
Last year, (2012) we had the chance to see Les Mis live at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. We had excellent seats and the performance was completely top-notch. I had the songs in my head for months and I fell in love with the whole thing. We even went to see it again during our fall visit to the festival. In fact, I loved the actors and the production so much, that I wasn’t sure I wanted to see the movie when it came out in December. I just knew it could never compare and in some ways I was right. However, I also loved the movie! There were a few things I could have done without (poor Santa!) but I was able to enjoy the movie for what it was and not continually compare it to the play. I loved being able to clearly hear all the dialogue and I thought Anne Hathaway and the guy who played Mario were especially amazing. I still find myself humming the songs in my head quite often.
So it seems that certain things make a difference in how enjoyable a theater experience can be, and I would have to say that a huge factor is what kind of seats you have. What if I had sat closer to the stage back in London? Would I have gained a passion for the play that I missed out on for so many years? Would I have read the book? I’m so happy that my own children got to see the best Les Mis ever (in my opinion) for their first experience. My daughter is supposed to read the book for school and I’m thinking of joining her. The book is always even better than the adaptations so I’m interested to experience that.
Have you read or seen Les Misérables (either live or as a movie)? What did you think of it? Are there any other influential theater or literary works that have had a big impact on your life? These are great things to think about and jot down on a Memory Monday!