Do you hear the people sing?
Anyone who attended St. Clairsville High School circa 1995-1999 – particularly choir members or variety show-goers – probably remembers the barrage of music from one of the world’s most popular musicals, “Les Miserables.”
While I don’t recall singing any “Les Mis” choral numbers, it was a tradition for soloists to perform during the breaks between choirs. At nearly every concert, Claude-Michel Schönberg’s masterpieces rang throughout the auditorium. Some of my fellow Red Devils sang the most popular tunes from the show – “I Dreamed a Dream,” “Castle on a Cloud,” “Stars,” “On my Own,” “A Little Fall of Rain” and “Bring Him Home,” just to name a few.
Even if you weren’t good enough or popular enough to be chosen as a soloist, if you were part of the musical crowd, you’d better be able to break into a “Les Mis” song at any given moment.
Having a bad day? “At the end of the day, there’s another day dawning, and the sun in the morning is waiting to rise.”
Yearning to travel the world? “There are times when I catch in the silence, the sigh of a faraway song. And it sings of a world that I long to see, out of reach, just a whisper away waiting for me.”
Feeling down because you’re young? “Never kick a dog because he’s just a pup. We’ll fight like twenty armies, and we won’t give up. So you’d better run for cover when the pup grows up!”
Itching to get out at night? “Sometimes I walk alone at night when everybody else is sleeping. I think of him, and then I’m happy with the company I’m keeping. The city goes to bed, and I can live inside my head.”
The English language version of “Les Mis” debuted in London’s West End in 1985 and on Broadway in 1987. Perhaps my high school classmates were especially in tune with popular Broadway music. Or it could’ve been that the 10th anniversary concert, which was recorded in London’s Royal Albert Hall, was released as a CD in 1995 – birthing a resurgence of the music among high school and college students everywhere.
I don’t think the music of “Les Mis” has ever really been unpopular. Idina Menzel and Lea Michele sang “I Dreamed a Dream” on “Glee” a couple years ago, and everyone heard Susan Boyle’s rendition of the same tune. It’s very interesting to me that “I Dreamed a Dream” is so popular and so commonly sung by high school students. It is the soliloquy of a prostitute lamenting that all her dreams have died, after all.
Anyway, “Les Mis” is about to be reborn again, and while I admit I’ve been poking fun at it, I am so excited to see the film version that opens on Christmas Day. I know some people get down on movie musicals because it seems cheesy and unnatural for characters to spontaneously break into song. I don’t care if people call me cheesy; I spontaneously break into song all the time. I’m not kidding. For me, musicals are awesome. They make sense to me. You’re going along, living your life, and then, BOOM! Something or someone reminds you of a song. You have to sing it.
That is exactly what the new “Les Mis” movie is. It is live singing, people. No pre-recorded tracks. During the filming process, all of the actors had hidden ear pieces, so they could hear a live accompanist playing the piano. That’s singing done the right way – the accompanist following the vocalist. The actors were actually able to act – without a track recorded months prior determining their acting choices. To learn more about this, watch this video.
“Les Mis” is a story about redemption, hope and love – messages that I believe are perfectly fitting for Christmas.
Originally published on ovparent.com.