Okay, so this is the first post in a series of I don’t know how many about Les Miserables the musical. : ) This is going to be fun!
First of all, let me say that the ENTIRE thing was AMAZING. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It was truly worthy of the word epic. Everything was perfect – the cast, the songs, the sets, the story, everything! (Well, except ‘Master of the House’ and ‘Lovely Ladies,’ but I’ll get to that later.)
This first post is for anyone who doesn’t know the general storyline. Going to the actual musical helped me understand the plot a lot more, because I’d only heard the music before. (I have the 10th Anniversary Concert soundtrack and haven’t gotten the 25th Anniversary Concert soundtrack because I didn’t like the way Nick Jonas did Marius. I watched his version of ‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables’ the other day and didn’t think it was as bad as I thought. I think I’m caving… : P)
But I digress….
The following is the story synopsis from inside my awesome and amazing “Souvenir Brochure,” along with the song titles and my comments in italics. Warning: The synopsis is the entire thing, and definitely not spoiler-free. Actually, this entire series of blog posts will contain a lot of spoilers. I’ll try to warn you for some of them, but I might forget. Sorry!
Prologue: 1815, Digne
After 19 years on the chain gang (aka, in prison) (“Prologue”), Jean Valjean find that the ticket-of-leave he must display condemns him to be an outcast. Only the Bishop of Digne treats him kindly and Valhean, embittered by years of hardship (poor guy…), repays him by stealing some silver. Valjean is caught and brought back by the police and is astonished when the Bishop lies to the police to save him. (“On Parole/The Bishop”) Valjean decides to start his life anew. (“Valjean’s Soliloquy”)
Eight years have passed and Valjean, having broken his parole and changed his name to Monsieur Madeleine, has become a factory owner and Mayor. (“At the End of the Day”) One of his workers, Fantine, has a secret illigitimate child. When the other women discover this, they demand her dismissal.
Desperate for money to pay for medicines for her daughter Faintine sells her locket, her hair, and then [gets into “a bad business, Eugene…” Sorry… : P]. (“Lovely Ladies”) Utterly degraded (“I Dreamed a Dream”), she gets into a fight [with someone] and is about to be taken to prison by Javert (The villain and a very evil [but still cool] guy!) when the ‘Mayor’ arrives and demands that she be taken to the hospital instead. (“Fantine’s Arrest”)
The Mayor then rescues a man pinned beneath a cart. (“The Runaway Cart”) Javert is reminded of the abnormal strength of convict 24601 Jean Valjean, who, he says, has just been rearrested. (‘And he comes to court today. But of course he now denys it…’ Okay, okay, I’ll stop!) Valjean, unable to see an innocent man go to prison, confesses that he is prisoner 24601. (“Who Am I? – The Trial”) (After that, he runs away) At the hospital, Valjean promises the dying Fantine to find and look after her daughter Cosette. (“Fantine’s Death”) Javert arrives to arrest him, but Valjean escapes. (And they have a fight! It was really cool!) (“The Confrontation,” which has got to be one of the coolest songs in the musical!)
Cosette has been lodged with the Thenardiers, who horribly abuse her while indulging in their own daughter, Eponine. (“Castle on a Cloud”) (“Master of the House,” which I don’t listen to for multiple reasons; more on that later) Valjean pays the Thenardiers to let him take her away to Paris. (“The Bargain – Waltz of Treachery”)
Nine years later, there is unrest in the city because of the likely demise of the popular leader General Lamarque, the only man left in the government who shows any feeling for the poor. (“Look Down”) (Marius and Cosette meet… fatal attraction at first sight!) A street gang led by Thenardier and his wife sets upon Jean Valjean and Cosette. They are rescued by Javert, who does not recognize Valjean until he has gone.
The Thenardiers’ daughter Eponine, who is secretly in love with the student Marius, reluctantly agrees to help him find Cosette, with whom he has fallen in love.
News of General Lamarque’s death circulates in the city and a group of politically-minded students stream out into the streets to whip up support for a revolution. (“ABC Cafe – Red and Black”) (“Do You Hear the People Sing?”)
Cosette is consumed by thoughts of Marius, with whom she has fallen in love. (“Rue Plumet – In My Life”) Eponine brings Marius to Cosette (“A Heart Full of Love”) and then prevents an attempt by her father’s gang to rob Valjean’s house. (“Attack on Rue Plumet”) (Well, not really – Eponine saves them) Valjean, convinced it was Javert lurking outside his house, tells Cosette they must prepare to flee the country. (“One Day More!” Probably one of my favorite songs!)
The students (Including Enjolras, who must not be left out!) prepare to build the barricade. Marius, noticing that Eponine has joined the insurrection, sends her away with a letter to Cosette, which is intercepted by Valjean. Eponine decides to rejoin her love at the barricade. (“Building the Barricade – On My Own”)
The barricade is built and the revolutionaries defy an army warning to give up or die. (“Back at the Barricade”) Javert is exposed as a police spy (By Gavroche, who must also not be left out!). (“Javert’s Arrival – Little People”) In trying to return to the barricade, Eponine is killed. (“Little Fall of Rain” – SAD!! I almost started crying! Major AWD moment here, though!)
Valjean arrives at the barricade in search of Marius (to check him out). (“Night of Anguish”) (“First Attack”) He is given the chance to kill Javert but instead lets him go. (Epic scene!!!) The students settle down for a night on the barricade (“Drink With Me” – a song I really like now; more later) and, in the quiet of the night, Valjean prays to God to save Marius (for his little girl. Sadness… “Bring Him Home”) (Gavroche dies… Weep, weep – all weep!!! “Little People”) The next day the rebels are all killed. (How blunt is that?! This scene was so cool… More on THAT later, too. “Second Attack – The Final Battle”)
Valjean escapes into the sewers with the unconscious Marius. (“The Sewers”) After meeting Thenardier, who is robbing the corpses of the rebels (“Dog Eats Dog”), he comes across Javert once more. He pleads for time to deliver the young man to the hospital. Javert lets Valjean go and, his unbending principles of justice haveing been shattered by Valjean’s own mercy, he kills himself. (Blunt again, but that’s what happened! “Javert’s Soliloquy”) (“Turning”)
Unaware of the identity of his rescuer, Marius recovers in Cosette’s care. (“Every Day – A Heart Full of Love (Reprise)”) (During this time, he has trouble accepting the fact that he’s the only one of the students that’s still alive and sings an amazing song called “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”) Valjean confesses the truth of his past to Marius and insists that he must go away. (Sadness, peoples…)
At Marius and Cosette’s wedding, the Thenardiers try to blackmail Marius. (“Wedding Chorale – Beggars at the Feast”) Thenardier says Cosette’s ‘father’ is a murderer and as proof produces a ring which he stole from the corpse the night the barricade fell. It is Marius’s own ring (Horror!) and he realizes it was Valjean who rescued him that night. He and Cosette go to Valjean where Cosette learns for the first time of her own history before the old man dies. (Blunt yet again!! Arg. Why does this musical have to be so sad…?) (“Epilogue (Finale)”)
Well, that’s it! My take on all this, plus everything else, later!! : )