When I first decided to ride a bus from Paris to London, I did not plan on watching anything at West End. A friend in Paris encouraged me to watch something but I ignored her, telling her I would not want to watch it alone. I changed my mind when I got out of Victoria Station, where I spotted a theater hosting Wicked. I watched Wicked with her in Sydney and I like the show. Remembering how much I like it, I told myself, the West End is in London. So, I looked around and decided I wanted to watch the famed Les Misérables.
I am glad I watched it.
Right now, the songs sang in the show keep ringing in my ears. It does not help when the television keeps airing news from Libya and the Arab world in general, reminding me of songs of Les Misérables sung when French student group in Paris led a failed rebellion against the authority.
I have not watched too many musical. That makes me easily impressed. I in fact was impressed as soon as the show began. As the show began, I could read ‘Toulon 1815′ floating in the air on the stage. Seeing how the words were floating, thought that was a hologram. I said to myself, whoa.
It was when they rolled up the thin screen in front of the stage that I realized those words were projected onto a screen. The screen and the smoke gave the appearance that the words were floating in the air.
And then it began with this song…
The video is the best I could find on Youtube. Be aware that the video shows a recording of a concert rather than a play. While the scene in the video is continuous, in truth there are multiple scenes cut out. And of course, in the play, the actors do not just stand there in front of the microphones.
Anyway, what impressed me the most was the stage; specifically, the wheel that acted as a rotating mini-stage. As a person with limited education in theater, I found this to be absolutely ingenious way in portraying a moving street. It allowed the actors to walk while staying still with respect to the whole stage. Not only that, the rotating stage was especially effective during the fighting scene where the student group was at the barricade fighting the army. Because of that, the change of scene was seamless. This is what I mean by rotating stage:
Although I have absolutely no use of this knowledge, the idea astounds me even till today, 3 weeks after I watched the show at Queen’s Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue.
This is the Queen’s Theatre.
The songs that I associate with the situation in the Arab world are these two: Red & Black…
…and Do You Hear the People Sing?
You know what is cool? Knowing and having been to some of the places mentioned in the songs and the play in general.
My favorite is Confrontation.
I like how the counterpoint works.
There is of course the song which a lot of people who are unfamiliar with Les Misérables know, I Dreamed a Dream, when in the story, Fantine was just fired from work unfairly before being forced into prostitution.
And then, One Day More…
There are other great songs which you could watch on Youtube. I will not post all the videos here because the whole play last over 2 or 3 hours.
In fact, you should watch the real thing it if you have the chance.