How were you introduced to Les Mis?

Any discussion related to any production or staging of Boublil and Schönberg's Les Misérables.
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Olivia_y
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Re: How were you introduced to Les Mis?

Postby Olivia_y » Sat Feb 23, 2013 2:21 pm

I went into excruciating detail about this in my intro post (sorry!), but the abridged version would be: first exposure was the 2012 film, didn't really like the movie but two of the songs (Red&Black, DYHTPS) got my attention, and afterwards I started looking around for recordings. Watched the 25AC and was disappointed. Found the OLC and started to get more interested. Finally watched the TAC and fell madly in love with it.

Currently about halfway through the brick (Julie Rose edition, which sounds awfully modernised but it was the only one I could find, I figured if I really liked it I could always get another edition later). Really hoping to catch the stage musical when it gets the promised revival in Australia in the next year or so.

At the moment I'm trying to get my hands on more foreign language recordings (is there a thread where we can ask for recommendations?), the only one I have the moment is the OFC. Is there a good official German language recording out there (I love that language and trying to learn it)? I bought a few songs from the Vienna cast recording (from iTunes) but I'm not really fond of the way it sounds.

Sadly I don't think there'll ever be a production of Les Mis in my native language, which is a great pity because some of the amateur translations/renditions are really quite lovely.

Random sidenote: it's interesting how some characters can leave a real impression on people; my father read the book so long ago that he can't remember half the character's names or most of the plot, but still got annoyed when he heard Javert referred to as "the villain", and was all like "he's not the bad guy he's just doing his job etc etc'. Heh...

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Acaila
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Re: How were you introduced to Les Mis?

Postby Acaila » Sat Feb 23, 2013 5:11 pm

I think the Duisberg recording is meant to be quite good?
Definitely post a thread to ask for recommendations though, I think we've got a few German speakers on the board :)
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Re: How were you introduced to Les Mis?

Postby Auf die Barrikaden » Sat Feb 23, 2013 5:40 pm

Acaila wrote:I think the Duisberg recording is meant to be quite good?


Duisburg as in "castle", not Duisberg as in "mountain". ;) Sorry but that typo comes up way too many times for my taste.

And yes, it is a great recording.
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Acaila
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Re: How were you introduced to Les Mis?

Postby Acaila » Sat Feb 23, 2013 5:43 pm

Apologies :D I've lost my copy alas, so no opportunity to revise my spelling by listening :D. Nicely explained though, I didn't know that meant castle!
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Re: How were you introduced to Les Mis?

Postby Inspector » Sat Feb 23, 2013 8:29 pm

...Here we go. Be prepared.

I'm a bit embarrassed to say my first experience of any kind with any song from any form of Les Mis was hearing Susan Boyle sing I Dreamed a Dream. Yeah... That was a few years back, or however long ago that happened. 2009 maybe? Anyways, I remember thinking about how wonderful that song was, but I was too young and stupid to look into it.

Fast forward a couple of years. I was in the middle of a French I class, since my German teacher was forced to retire the year before. My new and moderately annoying French teacher decided that we were going to watch the 1998 version of Les Misérables. Back then, I knew almost nothing other than that there was a book, a musical, and this movie. I had entirely forgotten about I Dreamed a Dream; I'm not even sure I had paid attention to the fact that the song was from Les Mis at all. And since this movie was non-musical, I wasn't reminded. I liked it well enough at the time, so I looked it up on the internet and read the synopsis of that movie and of the musical, and perhaps even of the novel, to get a better understanding of something that I finally understood was a bigger deal than I'd previously thought.

Then we come to the end of 2012. I had been upgraded to French II, and I'm still there now. The new musical movie was about to be released, and I remembered the brief research I'd done after seeing the 1998 film. I read about it all over again and finally decided that I needed to see this movie. Unfortunately I never did until last week. I'm a bit of a procrastinator...

So, in short, I fell - no, crashed - in love with it, and my entire everything has now been taken over by the tastiness that is Les Mis. I am no longer the same person I was before. All I think about now is this. I don't even want to go to my friend's birthday party anymore; I'd rather stay at home and work on expanding my knowledge of the brick and the musical, both of which I know very little about. In fact, I almost love and feel closer to the characters than I do with real people. Then I end up feeling like a terrible person, and I give in to reality, but then I remember Les Mis and its beautiful songs a few seconds later, and I become addicted all over again.

I swear, if people had been this obsessed with Les Misérables back when Victor Hugo was alive, he could've started his own entire army of devoted fans. He probably could've taken over the world. Just imagine...

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Acaila
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Re: How were you introduced to Les Mis?

Postby Acaila » Sat Feb 23, 2013 8:40 pm

Oh there were big fans then, believe me!
Oscar Wilde was a Les Mis fanboy who fanboyed at Hugo until he fell asleep.
The French anarchist Louise Michel was an Enjolras fangirl and used his name as a pseudonym.
And Tolstoy, if I remember right, found Les Mis partly his inspiration for writing War and Peace and said it was the greatest book ever written.
And those are just a few famous ones!
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Re: How were you introduced to Les Mis?

Postby freedomlover » Sat Feb 23, 2013 9:02 pm

GenJ Book Club :) A bunch of my friends read it for that, and told me about it :)
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Re: How were you introduced to Les Mis?

Postby Auf die Barrikaden » Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:58 pm

Vic had his fandom already in his lifetime, after he wrote Hernani they were known as Hernanistes. Not to mention the processions in front of his house in the late 1870s and 1880s.
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sekibun
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Re: How were you introduced to Les Mis?

Postby sekibun » Mon Feb 09, 2015 10:24 am

Here is my story. I'm from Toronto, and I now live in Japan (since 2004).

Firstly, here's a brief recounting about how I got interested in musicals in general. I'm born and raised in Toronto, Canada. Back in 1991, Canadian Airlines was a major sponsor of the Toronto production of the Phantom of the Opera, then starting Colm Wilkinson. In the autumn of 1991, my grandfather (who lived in Japan) passed away, and it turns out that they were playing the Original Canadian Cast Album of Phantom non-stop on one of the audio channels on my flight to and from Japan so I ended up listening to the soundtrack for 14 hours each way between Toronto and Tokyo. I saw the Toronto production of Phantom a few months later, and I've enjoyed listening to and watching musicals ever since.

On to Les Misérables. Sometime in 1992, I bought the Original Broadway Cast recording of Les Misérables, on audio cassette in Rochester, New York, of all places, which coincidentally featured Colm Wilkinson, whom I recently saw at the (then) Pantages Theatre as the Phantom. Although I have come to appreciate the Phantom score much more since then, at the time, the music in Les Misérables was much more approachable and easier for me to understand and to relate to. (I was 11 years old at the time). When I find some music that I like, I will listen to it over and over thousands of times and as a result, I end up quickly memorizing each song. Unfortunately, I missed the various Canadian productions of Les Misérables that played on and off at the Royal Alexander Theatre downtown. I still have a copy of an Ad in the Toronto Star stating "Final Toronto Performances this week" which gave me much anguish in that I wasn't able to see the show. At the same time, I had also started listening to other recordings (OLC Phantom, OLC Miss Saigon, OLC Les Mis) that I borrowed from various libraries. I also obtained copies of the Japanese Cast Recordings of Phantom and Miss Saigon which were interesting, but quite unapproachable since I could only understand about 5% of what was being spoken at the time. Flash forward to the summer of 1994 (and tens of thousands of repeated listening to these cast albums), I had just finished grade 8 and the Canadian school year was over and I went on summer vacation in Japan. Unfortunately, since the school year is arranged differently in Japan, I had to go to a local school in Japan for two weeks because they couldn't have me "wandering around aimlessly" when I should be in school. (Considering that I am visually indistinguishable from Japanese people born in Japan, I suppose I had no choice in the matter.) However, luckily, knowing that I liked musicals, my cousin bought me tickets to see Les Misérables which was playing that summer in Tokyo at the Imperial Theatre. (At that time I was actually more interested in seeing Miss Saigon which I had already seen in Toronto, but had closed in Tokyo already earlier in 1994.)

So in August 2014, I saw Les Misérables for the first time, in a language that I didn't really fully understand at the time. However, knowing the synopsis very well and all of the key songs from my repeated listening to the OBC, I had no issue following the story and I was totally and utterly impressed by the visuals, stage direction, lighting and the amazing cast. (The cast I saw was basically the Japanese "Red" Cast album of 1994, except Javert was played by Kiyotaka Imai of the "Blue Album." The 1994 cast is probably one of the strongest Japanese casts ever assembled in my opinion.)
Another cousin of mine bought me both of the cast albums and over the years, these two cast albums were also listened to many thousands of times and are still in my ipod today. Before this summer trip in 1994, I had pretty much given up trying to learn Japanese at all because the obstacles in learning the language seemed incredibly insurmountable, especially in Canada. (As all Asian kids growing up in Canada can probably relate, pretty much all of us got forced against our will to take "heritage" language classes on Saturdays. Since we couldn't watch any Saturday morning cartoons, this produced a bunch of bitter asian kids who weren't really interested in learning their parent's mother tongue at all.)

However, the summer of 1994, of which Les Misérables was a large part of, inspired me to learn Japanese. The next three years were a blur of reading dictionaries, listening to musicals in Japanese and befriending any Japanese speaker that I met. I did a one year exchange program at a Japanese high school and by the time I returned to Canada, my Japanese was fluent. When went back to Canada in the summer of 1998, the 3NT was playing an extended stop with Colm Wilkinson playing Valjean and I ended up seeing the show in Toronto 4 times that year. During University, I caught the 3NT in various locations such as the National Arts Centre in Ottawa or in Buffalo as well. I stayed in Canada until 1 year after graduating from university, when I learned that Miss Saigon was to be remounted in its original form in 2004 and that was the main "kicker" for me to move to Japan. (Les Misérables is my second favorite musical after Miss Saigon.)

I Since 2004, Les Misérables has be remounted at least 5 times and I've seen the show here in Tokyo at least 30 times since then. 2011 was a special year for me since I went to London for the first time and caught the show at the Queen's Theatre for the first time. (I noticed how much smaller and compact the set was compared to Toho's set, but the cast was amazing, despite the revised orchestrations.) Also, a few weeks later, I had the chance to catch the 25th Anniversary Tour in Washington DC at the Kennedy Center. I remember being really underwhelmed by both that cast and the revised staging, particularly Gavroche's death which at the time was not visible on stage.

2013 was another special year for me in regards to Les Misérables. The show was remounted in Tokyo, but this time, using the 25th anniversary staging. I wasn't looking forward to the show remembering how disappointed I was with the show in Washington two years earlier. I was pleasantly surprised that the directors had continued to develop the show and updated many of the details which bothered me before. The cast was very strong as usual and they had implemented the revised version of Gavroche's death as well. Unfortunately, due to the popularity of Tom Hooper's film the previous year, the show sold out quickly and I was "only" able to see the show 6 times in Tokyo that summer. (The theatre is actually just 5 minutes from my office...) I wasn't about to give up, so I went to see the Seoul production which was playing simultaneously only two hours away by airplane where I saw two performances. Since I don't understand any Korean, I focused on watching the acting, the staging and physical production which were slightly different from the Tokyo production. One example of the slightly different staging is that Éponine got shot returning to the barricade, as opposed to jumping in front of Marius to block the shots fired at him. The Korean production was similar to the US Tour where the stage did not wrap against the two walls on either side of the stage, so all of the action (Valjean released Javert etc.) took place within the bounds of the proscenium. Apparently, the revised version of Gavroche's death was first implemented in Korea and the physical "wrapping" of the stage was first implemented in Tokyo. Both of these were implemented in the Toronto Production which I saw 6 times in December 2013. That was the year seeing the show 14 times in three different countries.

The last time I saw the show was in December 2014 where I saw all of the incremental changes made in Korea and Japan implemented and further improved on Broadway. (First time seeing the show on Broadway!) To be perfectly honest, I prefer and miss the original Caird/Nunn staging and I probably won't get a chance to see it again before the rumoured "upgrade" to the flagship London production takes place. However, I am quite happy that the directors have allowed the show to evolve and improve gradually since I first saw the production in Washington. The Japanese production will be remounted once again this Spring, and it will have been 21 years since I first saw the show at the Imperial Theatre in Tokyo, back in 1994. I have high hopes that this year's production will be just as good as my experiences in the past.

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Re: How were you introduced to Les Mis?

Postby 1886 » Sat Apr 18, 2015 11:50 am

My mate, the late Rob Guest appeared in the 10th Anniversary production that was filmed for DVD, he came out at the end for the final when they had all the JVJ from around the world, now don't laugh but when i put it on the TV, I was watching and I was thinking what is this shit, then After Phantom of the Opera Finished in Melbourne I went to see The Boy from oz when that finished I needed a new show to fall in love with, I went to Les Mis the 10th anniversary in Melbourne, I didn't realise this was the same one I had previous watched on TV. I fell in love, I ended up seeing it 30 times, now it is back in Australia with the 25th anniversary edition I have seen it a further 12 times bringing my total to 42, thus being my all time fav musical ever.

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Re: How were you introduced to Les Mis?

Postby Artemis » Tue Jul 14, 2015 8:39 pm

I was eight years old an we preformed On my Own and Castle on a Cloud in an acting class I became obsessed with the songs and then the entire musical

dnaylorau
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Re: How were you introduced to Les Mis?

Postby dnaylorau » Tue Jul 28, 2015 4:29 am

The year was 1986 or maybe 1987 and Les Mis had taken up residency at the Palace in London. Driving past one day I saw this huge hording with the Cosette logo. That seemed interesting and decided to give it a go. Hooked! Bought the CD, read the book understood the story and went to see it again after about a month. Went every week after that, even to the Saturday matinees. When it went to Broadway I was over there like a shot! Then it became an obsession, which it still is today! However, living in Australia makes London and New York a little too far away (and too expensive) to go more than once a year.


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