Profound Misery

The readers of this blog are mostly male, so I'm unsure how this is going to go over. I'll get right to it: How do you feel about broadway shows?

Before I had seen one I felt they were for women and artsy people. There's some truth to that, but one show changed my mind, big time.

Les Miserables

Before Les Miserables I had seen two other shows: The King and I (with Yule Brynner {RIP} no less), and Pump Boys And Dinettes (a smaller production running in Chicago at the time). Both of these told a good story, were well acted, the songs were fun, and the costumes and sets were visually interesting. I softened my negative opinion - these shows were pretty good.

Years later I'd heard raves about how good Les Miserables was, so when a traveling production came to Salt Lake City Jolene and I got tickets and went.

Wow. I was blown away. The story features characters (and the challenges they face) most people can relate to. There's a lot in this show: difficult choices, love, loyalty, kindness, cruelty, revolution, justice, mercy, and more. But what takes this production over the top is the music. The songs are stirring, tapping into the power of music to convey not just information but emotion. (Side note: Jolene read the book {abridged} and really liked it.)

I've seen Les Miserables 4 times now and each has been a good experience. I know it well enough now that it doesn't pack as strong of a punch as it did at first, but I still enjoy it.

You may wonder why I'm writing this post now. It's because the Pleasant Grove High School drama department will be performing a moderately shortened version of Les Miserables this week and next. And we're going as a family (well, not Kade - there's no way it would hold his attention for 2+ hours). I'm picking up the tickets (only $7 for adults) tomorrow and we'll be in our seats next Friday. Here's a Daily Herald article about it.

My boss saw this high school version of Les Miserables at Riverton High School last year and he reported it was excellent. Pleasant Grove is a smaller high school, but I have hopes they will be able to pull off a good production.

Now here's the rest of my history with broadway shows: After Les Miserables I was thinking I had broadway shows all wrong so a few years later we bought tickets for Les Miserables and A Chorus Line. Les Miserables was excellent, but A Chorus Line was, well, not my cup of tea. It was performed well, but the story was simplistic and uninspiring.

More years later we saw Phantom Of The Opera in San Fransisco. The music was good, and the story was more complex, but it was too weird for me. I almost fell asleep.

On TV I watched Cats. Who hasn't heard of Cats? So I thought it would be good. Not. It was awful artsy claptrap. People in cat costumes slinking around the stage purring and meowing and talking about cat stuff. The only semi-good thing was the song Memories (watch it here, if you dare). It took all my will power to make it through the whole thing - I only did this so I could unequivocally say I hated it (so no Cats lover could accuse me of disliking it without seeing all of it). That was painful. I shuddered just now thinking about it.

So that's my broadway show history. The first two got me interested, Les Miserables blew me away, then the rest taught me they aren't all good.

I've heard people rave about Rent, Wicked, Lion King, etc. but I don't think I'd enjoy any of those as they look too pretentious and artsy for me.

So go see Les Miserables some time.


Papa Bear said...

Kris, I'm a PGHS alumnus, so I am thrilled to see you mention their theater dept here! I, myself did a lot of acting in my younger days, and most of them musicals since I sing and dance. The time allotted to perform dropped significantly since having kids and a career, but my wife and I still grab a show whenever we can.

I will tell you that Cats sucked, Le Miz is awesome, and Rent was just ok. The biggest thing about musicals for me is the score. If the songs aren't good, the play suffers tremendously.

Another of my fav's is "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat". Great musical score. See it if you get a chance.

-Papa Bear

Rob said...

Isn't using Le Mis as your standard sort of like riding your first mountain bike trail on the trails you ride in Utah and then coming back to the flat panhandle of Texas and trying to duplicate it?

DB said...

Here's a vote of confidence for Wicked. I'm a dude with tastes similar to yourself (at least it sounds like it based on what you wrote) and, uh, I actually did enjoy Wicked. I'm not (too) embarrassed to admit it. Very catchy music, some good jokes, and a twist on a familiar story. I was skeptical before seeing it, though, so I hear where you're coming from.

Anonymous said...

I could totally get into Broadway musicals if they didn't bust out in song every few minutes. Freaks me out.

Ski Bike Junkie said...

I dig show tunes.

Mike Hales said...

If I can add anything of value to this, it would be this, Les Miserables is an amazing musical, but the real life changer is to read the book. The impact on you will be an order of magnitude stronger. It's awesome, in the true sense of the word.

dug said...

i hated les mis when i saw it the first time (in london--pretention alert!), but liked it much more the second time (in los angeles--insufferable pretention alert!). the book is really incredible. get it on audio (it's like 10,000 pages, audio is the only way to get through it).

i hated phantom. fell asleep. hate the music, hate the weirdness, hate it all. (in london again--worship me).

chess. yes, chess. from the guys from abba. seriously, it's about chess. but i loved it (in both london and new york--i get around).

wicked is wicked awesome. sorry, just block my IP).

into the woods is my personal favorite. (wait for it . . . i saw it in chicago).

the lion king is visually stunning. worth it just for that. (new york again. i have friends in high places).

joseph and the dreamcoat is a lot of fun. guilty pleasure. saw it with donnie osmond (well, not WITH donnie, but he played joe in it and i was there).

wait, did i just list my favorite broadway musicals?

"i got lured"

bikemike said...

i watch tom cruise movies...does that count?

also saw Mamma Mia in west palm,
Abba=Chinese water torture

i'm not a good (re:open minded) on this subject. my girlfriend is from chicago and i catch abuse for this quite often. i don't deny it but i'm (probably) not proud of it.

Bruce said...

See Wicked. Unexpected twist on a story you already know, plus some deeper messages. Pretty and catchy songs.

Le Miz is great. I've seen it in several settings, but I liked the Tuacan outdoor production best.

Catch a play in Tuacan next time you're in St.G. They'll alternate two plays during the warm months. They work the mountain backdrop into the play, and usually find an excuse to ride horses and flood the stage with a deluge of water.

KanyonKris said...

Thanks all for the comments. I now have some new shows to catch, if the opportunity comes up.

dug, thanks for taking the lure. I enjoyed your show list. Excellent idea to get Les Miserables on audiobook - it's on hold at the library.