It happens with every new school year. So much so, you could bet your life savings on it. Somewhere in America, school administrators and parents will try to censor or shut down a high school theatre production.Read More
We have ALL been there. There are many times that we’ve been on stage and suddenly forgotten our lines, cracked while belting out a song, tripped and fell, forgotten a prop, missed your cue, I could go on and on. I will tell you that ALL of these things have happened to me.Read More
Anthony J. Piccione
Let me start by stating the obvious: Theatre people LOVE Les Miserables. There’s plenty of reasons why it’s still one of the most popular musicals in the history of theatre, and why it continues to be produced over and over again even today. Personally, I can name quite a few highly popular Broadway musicals that I consider to be overrated, but this is not one of them.
However, there are some people out there who might actually be wondering why those of us who love theatre LOVE Les Miserables. Maybe they think it actually is overrated, or maybe they’ve never actually seen a production of it (*gasp*) and – as a result – cannot possibly understand why we won’t stop talking about this show three decades after it first premiered. For this reason, I’ve decided to make a short list that can help make things clearer for those people.
So without further ado, here are just a few reasons – in no particular order – why many of us theatergoers love Les Miserables.
• The music is phenomenal – From “I Dreamed a Dream” to “One Day More” to “Do You Hear The People Sing”, there are so many great songs that are favorites of musical theatre everywhere, it’s easy to see why I ranks highly among musicals that local community theaters everywhere would love to produce one day, if they haven’t already. Indeed, it is hard for anyone – even those who aren’t typically musical theatre lovers – to listen to this music and not appreciate it.
• But it’s not too cheesy – Let’s be honest. For many people, Broadway musicals are always enjoyable simply because of the pure spectacle of singing and dancing. But for some of us, the music in some of these musicals can get WAY too cheesy and are a guilty pleasure at best. But for me, this is a show that is just as heavy on great plot and character development as it is on great music. Speaking of which…
• Unforgettable characters – You can’t tell a great story without some great characters. From the protagonist seeking redemption for past sins Jean Valjean and the young and beautiful Cosette to the villainous Inspector Javert and even the comic relief of Thenardier and Madam Thenardier, it is hard to argue that this is a show that is lacking in strong lead and supporting characters, and it is even harder to argue that they aren’t well remembered by theatergoers across the world.
• And several powerful moments – Don’t tell me you’ve never once shed a tear when watching Fantine’s “I Dreamed a Dream” moment early on in the show. If you haven’t, then you must have when Eponine delivers the highly poignant number “On My Own” or at the end when (*spoiler alert*) Jean Valjean passes away and is reunited with a grateful Fantine. Personally, at least the first time I saw this show, I was deeply moved by each of these three scenes, and it is largely why I still love this show today.
• It’s a musical adaptation that actually works – Before it was a hit musical, Les Miserables was originally a novel by Victor Hugo. (While we’re on this subject, a future musical based off The Hunchback of Notre Dame that is NOT toned down for kids by the lovely people at Disney would be most welcome.) Adapting pre-existing material for the stage – whether it is from literature or film – is not exactly an easy task, yet this is one of the rare musicals that not only pulls it off, but does so seamlessly. Having said that, while we’re still talking about adaptations…
• No matter how hard they try, Hollywood can’t possibly replicate the original musical – I honestly can’t say that I dislike the film adaptation of Les Miserables as much as others in the theatre community do. On its own, I’d say it makes a good film with lots of good acting and singing. However, NOTHING beats the real thing. For those of us who prefer seeing great live theatre over seeing a great film on the silver screen, the fact that this is a show that the film industry can never move from stage to screen is something I think we can deeply appreciate.
• It’s politically relevant – This might be a fairly controversial reason for some people. However, I personally believe that in America and across the world, where there is a growing dissatisfaction with government and politicians in general, the story of Les Miserables depicts events which - while perhaps not a perfect comparison – aren’t that far apart from today, in terms of showing the way many people in the world feel about their leaders today.
• Vive la France – Normally, my inner Italian would be telling me not to write a reason such as this. However, in light of the recent tragic events in Paris, we could use some more ways to celebrate the things that make France a great country. If you ask me, there aren’t many other shows that do a better job at showing the idealism and resilience of the French people than Les Miserables.
So there you have it. Any reasons that you have for loving Les Miserables that you didn’t see on the list? Are you, by any chance, one of those people that have a reason for believing that Les Miserables is overrated? Either way, be sure to let us know in the comments section!
This column was written by Anthony J. Piccione: Student, playwright, actor, poet and blogger currently based in Connecticut. To learn more about Anthony and his work, please visit his personal blog at www.anthonyjpiccione.tumblr.com. Also, be sure to like him on Facebook (www.facebook.com/AnthonyJPiccione.OfficialPage), follow him on Twitter (@A_J_Piccione) and view his work on the New Play Exchange (www.newplayexchange.org/users/903/anthony-j-piccione
Hi my name is Alex and I am a Millennial. Something I really hate to admit.
As a performer and a theatre goer and fellow millennial, I have seen the decline in the audience member. They have no clue as to how to behave at a show. And to be perfectly honest the "normal" theatre goer is dying out. I also blame social media and reality TV, and guess what? I blame my fellow Millennial's. Our attention spans suck.Read More
Stage Presence. Star Quality. The X-factor. Whatever you call it, it is the difference between an adequate actor and a good actor and often times, between a good actor and a star. Many people say it is an indefinable quality that someone is either born with or not. As a college professor who is charged with teaching students how to be solid actors and musical theatre performers that does not cut it. It is my responsibility to teach my students everything in my power to make them stronger and “you’ve either got it or you don’t” is a mantra that does a disservice to my students and my profession.Read More
I am intensely passionate about attending live theatre, mainly because of its immense power. It makes reality melt away, drawing me within a into a world different than my own for a few hours, playing my emotional keys through sentimental ballads and show stopping soliloquies, and provoking thought and subsequent change. Due to the fact that I myself aspire to become a professional performer (especially a musical theatre performer), I swell with the admiration I feel towards the extraordinary people I see gracing the stage. I adore the fact that when I attend a Broadway musical, I am able to exit the theatre directly after the curtain call and approach the stage door in the hopes of meeting one of these exceptional performers.Read More
As a POC(Performer of Color), I celebrate anytime Broadway demonstrates inclusion whether it's with casting or show selection. However there is one group that is massively getting left out from this new wave of diversity awareness, Native Americans.
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From the moment Lola steps on stage in Kinky Boots, she sparkles – and not just because of the rhinestone-studded wardrobe. While the sequins help, much of that glow comes from long-time performer J. Harrison Ghee, who has played Lola both on tour and on Broadway.
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Over the years, I have written many articles that offer advice to performers. Whether it's audition pieces, college choices or just ways to be more sought-after. And while it's certainly great to have a much advice out there for performers, I realize there are a lot of areas where directors, designers, and even theatre groups could improve as well.Read More
Last year Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 received the ninth annual "ACCA" Award for Outstanding Broadway Chorus. Presented by Equity's Advisory Committee on Chorus Affairs (ACCA), the ACCA Award is the only industry accolade of its kind to honor the distinctive talents and contributions made by the original chorus members of a Broadway musical.
Past winners include Past Broadway chorus recipients of the ACCA Award are Legally Blonde (2007), In the Heights (2008), West Side Story (2009), Fela! (2010), The Scottsboro Boys (2011), Newsies (2012), Pippin (2013) Beautiful (2014), An American in Paris (2015) and Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed (2016).
Upon hearing this news, I was thrilled for the cast but it got me wondering, "why isn't there a Tony Award for this yet?"
Now before the Tony "purists" start in on me, let me make a couple things clear:
1. I don't think a Tony Award should become a participation ribbon.
2. I know there are some areas of theatre that would be near impossible to properly adjudicate, ie. Stage Manager.
However, the overall performance of members in the ensemble is an area that certainly could be adjudicated as part of the Tony nomination process. From the performance of various roles, conciseness of choreography and harmonization, there is a lot to consider.
And it's not like entire casts or ensembles aren't awarded in other industries. In addition to the ACCA Award, the Screen Actor's Guild also awards entire casts of movies and television shows, even more so, they are the final awards of the ceremony.
I'm not looking to add competition into the Broadway season, but it would be nice to truly recognize these incredibly hard-working performers with more than just a group performance during the telecast(or not, ahem Hello Dolly!).
With all due respect to talent in the lead and featured roles, a quality performance from the ensemble is, in many cases, just as important. They are the bullets in Hamilton, Ozians in Wicked and the groundhog in Groundhog Day. These people play more roles in more performances for less money. And for far too many of them, this might be the only time they perform on these stages.
I sincerely hope the Tony Awards truly step up and recognize these performers and etch their names in Tony history.
UPDATE: Since I wrote this article last year, AEA has started a campaign to make this award a reality at the Tonys. The campaign is title . Everyone On Stage. More info is listed here. The idea? The title. If this happens, I'm taking credit for giving them the idea :)