It is not unusual to want to be suspended in time when you fall in love with certain moments in your life. The final two-show day of Les Miserables was one of those times. As the curtain drew to a final close, I chose not to lament the end of a beautiful chapter, but rather to move forward in appreciation that it was a part of my story.
Love – this word sums up a lot of what I have experienced being a part of this company, telling this story. Love for music, for performing arts, for my fellow creatives, and a love for the creator; I always feel honoured to serve others through my talents.
Not only did I get to work with passionate, creative, and talented individuals, but I also got to walk in the shoes of one of the most iconic characters in Musical Theatre. To say that I am grateful is an understatement.
Les Miserables stirs the heart through its majestic score, its spirited lyricism, and the pathos of its central characters. It has affected people through its themes of mercy, forgiveness, and freedom from oppression.
The protagonist, Jean Valjean, proves that society’s labels do not define us or confine us to a certain outcome; we are accountable and in control of our choices to live a good life, or not to. Watching Mark Oates bring this character home was a privilege. I watched every show from the wings in awe as he sang Valjean’s flagship song, and every time he stirred something in my soul.
In this narrative, all characters are victims of circumstances. Javert, the inspector devoted to finding Valjean, is driven by his set of values and an unwavering duty to the law. He believes his actions are just and the law is his metric. He sees not the redemptive heart of Valjean but judges him only by the actions that initially put him in prison; there is a lesson in this for all of us imperfect souls.
It was thrilling to watch Andrew Crispe and Mark Oates sing ‘Confrontation’. Thankfully, my track as Eponine allowed me some time between scenes and booth singing to enjoy this show from the wings, and this particular song was a highlight, performed by two exceptional singers.
Working with the incredible quality of talent in Adelaide – Casmira Hambledon, Joshua Angeles, Emma Haddy, Vanessa Lee Shirley, Kent Green, Oscar Bridges, Daniel Milton, Alicia Hammond, Ariel Higgs, and Mary Blacker, along with an excellent ensemble and orchestra – was an enriching experience.
There was an exceptionally high calibre of talent assembled for this production, and I want to thank each and every one of them for their wholehearted approach to this story. I have so much respect for creatives who surrender completely to their roles and collaborate with a common goal. This story was more important than any individual involved in its telling and everyone from the directors, musicians, crew, and cast honoured that.
I particularly thank the cast members who set the tone for every show by offering prayers before the curtain rose. The bond that I found with these beautiful people who shared a love of performance and a love for God made this musical so special. Dave Macgillivray is a wonderful soul who embodies the conviction of Enjolras on and offstage. He is a true leader and through him, and many others, I really felt the presence of the creator throughout this season.
The moment I enter the theatre, I am in my happy place filled with costumes, hairspray, make up, microphone tape, sets, props, lights, and companionship. The encouragement and camaraderie I find there are so precious. There is so much magic that happens in theatre; it is a transformative process and I thrive on every quick change, set change, and musical cue.
I love the process of centering myself to become a character, and the feeling of butterflies that takes over when I am waiting in the wings to enter a scene. I indulge in the challenge of bettering the previous performance and testing my body to adapt to the rigour of the show week. I feel at home on the stage.
After my last blog post, Ewart Shaw of The Advertiser posted another excellent review of our production and described it as ‘a joy to behold’. The feedback from our patrons has moved me and I feel humbled to have been chosen to portray this character in such a successful season. It may have been a joy to behold for our patrons, but it was overwhelmingly joyful and inspiring for the cast, crew, and creatives as well.
Finally, I sincerely thank The Gilbert & Sullivan Society of South Australia, Peter Johns, Linda Williams, and David Sinclair for believing enough in my audition and allowing me the honour of playing Eponine. Little they knew, little they saw, that throughout the audition process in March this year, I was overcoming one of the darkest experiences of being injured by a falling tree branch. I wrote about it in a blog post called Fragile and being cast in Les Miserables was part of my path to healing. This musical production and its messages have been a true gift, reminding me that “…even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.”
Love is an overall theme in Les Mis-“to love another person is to see the face of God”. Love is one of the reasons why this tragic musical is also an inspirational musical. I really think the strongest love found in a musical comes from yourself, which is your love for a musical and without that love, the emotions seem pointless, but when the love is there, you learn to appreciate the emotion. Les Mis, being a high emotion show, is one of the many reasons why I love it.
There are many reasons to love this show- I find those songs to be so brilliant because they completely embody the characters and the story. I think Jean Valjean is one of the best protagonist musical characters ever. Then the other characters are wonderful as well. There is something special about Les Mis that even I can’t describe.
I understand how hard it is to describe Les Mis. Thanks for all the insight you’ve shared in my past few blogs. We share a common love for this show. And yes, “To love another person is to see the face of God” is one of the most powerful statements in this musical.
I have quite a Les Mis collection: the movie, 25th anniversary concert film, two playbills, two t-shirts, page to screen book, book, signed program and poster. The past two years I attended a Les Mis party hosted by the same person: the first year was a surprise so I did not dress as one of the characters, this year knowing about the party I came dressed as Eponine
What an impressive collection you have. It is definitely a fan-worthy musical. I love the work of Schonberg and Boublil. They have an amazing knack for setting beautiful music against important historical/political events.
Without Les Mis, my love for musical would not have expanded into a passion. It challenged everything I once knew about musicals