Divine misery

It was a fitting backdrop.

Gloomy skies. Hovering gray clouds. Damp, chilly air. Persistent rain, following a month of persistent rain. Profound fatigue. Even a sinus headache. Miserable. Just miserable.

And perfect. Perfect for going to see Les Misérables.

I had given the tickets to my husband for Father’s Day.

We had never seen the show. It was coming to The Kennedy Center on its umpteenth tour, so I thought it was time to see what the 25-year-plus sensation was all about.

I hope it’s safe to divulge that I knew next to nothing about the play. Granted, it’s said to be the longest-running musical in the world, the third longest-running show in Broadway history, based on one of the most notable novels of the 19th century. I should have done my homework but, because the weekend sneaked up on me, I didn’t read up as I normally do before seeing a show.

A friend was kind enough to give me a synopsis over lunch on Friday—between bites and meeting agenda items. Otherwise, I might have surmised that Victor Hugo penned an entire story around a Susan Boyle hit.

After an insufficient night’s sleep, a long morning at church and a big lunch, the first act of yesterday’s matinee was an exercise in foggy frustration, as I struggled to piece together, ce qui au nom de Dieu, was happening on stage. The novel—1900 pages in French, 1400 in English—is composed of 365 chapters, so I cut myself un petit peu de slaque.

I found that the music itself created a story through sheer emotion, even without the lyrics; in fact, my husband and I agreed it was the best score of any Broadway production we’d seen. Otherwise, we’d have been tempted to walk out at Intermission for as well as we could follow the plot.

But we hung in. Between acts, we re-read the program synopsis and hoped for the best. Besides, we had great seats.

The curtain rose on the second act and all became sharply clear. My headache even went away. The social and spiritual themes came  to light—grace, forgiveness, sacrifice, redemption, love. I cried as the finale was sung, first by Jean Valjean and then by the ensemble. I put on the CD last night and played the song several more times.

I might need to see Les Miz again. In the meantime, I now have one more selection to add to my funeral playlist: “Finale,” and isn’t that fitting as well?

Subject for another day: Do you have your funeral music picked out?


Filed under Music, Theater

9 responses to “Divine misery

  1. Carla

    I saw Les Mis many years ago, maybe I need to revisit it! Thanks for the colorful reminder. What else is on that funeral playlist? Carla

  2. I see you’ve enjoyed Les Mis, a.k.a. Les Marbles in Hong Kong here.

    Funeral music? Yeah – “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynard Skynard, baby!

  3. I feel a funeral music blog discussion coming up. Soon!

  4. Jo Turner

    I SO have my music picked out!!!

  5. Mom

    Yes, I do love everything about Les Miz.

    And yes, I do have a requiem programme ready to go at a moment’s notice. While I have neither a gloomy nor depressive personality, I must admit to adding a few tunes almost weekly, as my fancy takes me. Right now, celebrants would be gifted with a mass choir singing gospel. Last year it was Bruce Springsteen’s “Mary Don’t You Weep.” See what you’ve done, Monica: you’ve made me admit to yet another quirk.

  6. And you could read the book now so you would understand the first part next time!

  7. “Though”, or “through” at the beginning of the eighth paragraph?

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