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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How were you introduced to Les Mis?

Postby Enjolvert » Thu Feb 21, 2013 10:44 pm

Fairly standard topic although I haven't seen it around at all. Anyway, lots maybe have posted their stories in the intro section, but if not then this can be the place for them.

So my story's one most of you know in more detail so I won't go into too much here. Basically got introduced back when my school did it and it's been my favourite musical and book since.

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Re: How were you introduced to Les Mis?

Postby Gervais » Thu Feb 21, 2013 11:02 pm

Heard the Epilogue during my Phantom phase, but didnt really get into it.

A little later, my seventh-grade history teacher did a presentation of the French Revolution using Do You Hear the People Sing. Well, I guess it kinda fits... :?
That got me more interested, and ended up getting the 1998 movie for Christmas, and read the brick not long after that. I was obsessed with other things at the time, though, so I didn't really become so totally into it until April or so last year, when I found the OLC at Barnes and Nobel.
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Re: How were you introduced to Les Mis?

Postby Pointless Star » Thu Feb 21, 2013 11:29 pm

Back in elementary school I saw commercials on TV for Les Mis on Broadway. After a while I forgot about it until around November last year when I saw the movie trailer. Ever since then, I went to buy the book and I LOVE the storyline. :D
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Re: How were you introduced to Les Mis?

Postby Acaila » Fri Feb 22, 2013 12:44 am

Oh my darlings, let me tell you of the story of a little girl who has never been allowed to forget this

There lived a little Scottish girl of 12 years old, who, with all the authority of a 12 year old thought she was so cool (spoiler warning: she wasn't). And one weekend, she, with her parents, found herself in Manchester. Wandering around town that Saturday morning, her mother found out that Les Mis was in tour there. The little girl was aware of this "Les Mis" thing because of her mother. It was that thing she'd gone on a trip to and talked about how much she and everyone else cried at. And that thing she had a video of, and had tried to persuade the little girl to watch with her one Christmas. The little girl had asked at that point what it was about, heard "It's about this man called Jean Valjean who steals a loaf of bread to feed his starving family and gets sent to prison for 19 years and then breaks his parole..." and with words like parole coming up, she was definitely not going to sit through this boring sounding nonsense, but was going to go and watch a Boyzone video instead. Because that's what COOL kids do!
Anyway, back to Manchester. Since they didn't have any plans for that evening, the girl's mother marches right up to the theatre and asks if they have tickets left. The nice lady at the box office says that they have three tickets just released, that they'd been holding as disabled spaces until the day of the show - the very last three in the theatre. They're poor seats however, right in the back row of the upper circle and on the end of a row, so restricted view. Worst seats in the house! But the girl's parents have both seen the show before, so they're happy with that. The girl makes noises about "If it's so popular, we shouldn't really take seats away from people who really want it! Don't worry about buying one for me!". She gets ignored.
A few hours later, back at the hotel, the girl's mother is trying to force her to wear a smart outfit. Not something a totally cool (see previous spoiler) 12 year old wants to do. Cue a tween tantrum over "If I have to wear this I'm not going!". And even once she loses that argument, she begs "Can't I just stay here and watch tv? It'll be much better". The mother holds firm.
Later still, they're sitting having a light dinner in the cafe across the road from the theatre and the little girl again pipes up "Can I just stay in this cafe in the centre of a big scary city on my own for 3 hours rather than going to the theatre?" "Nope, you're coming" comes the reply.
It still doesn't stop the whining however "Can I take my walkman in?" "No". "I don't want to go! I don't want to see some stupid French opera that I'm not going to understand!!!!!"
The mother must be some sort of martyr for dealing with this, even sweetly offering to buy a programme for the child. "Why would I want one of those? I'm not interested in this!"
And so, she is eventually wrestled into her seat, pouting with every inch of tween melodrama. And the show begins....
Midway through act one, her mother leans over to comment "That lady was the little girl in the last scene". The grumpy response comes "I know mum! Shush! I'm trying to watch!"
And then the really cool policeman sang a really cool song.
And then some really cool guys with puffy shirts and funky flag belt sashes sang some cool songs about overthrowing authority!
And then this chick sang a song about loving a guy who doesn't love you back! IT WAS LIKE SHE TOTALLY UNDERSTOOD ME!...I mean the little girl....
And then everybody died.
And then everybody came back.
And she was Not Going To Cry.
Cool people do not cry at the theatre.
There was totally not water in her eyes. And she was totally not biting her cheeks ridiculously hard to keep sobs in. Nope. Not this girl.
Just like it wasn't that girl who sang the 4 lines of Do You Hear The People Sing she had managed to pick up all the way on the hour long car trip back to the hotel.

Some time overe the next few months the girl's mother offered to show her the video that had once been offered. The girl said yes this time. The video mysteriously disappeared soon afterwards. The music coming from the girl's room everyday while she did her homework surely had nothing to do with it. And the same happening to the Original London Cast album her mother found, well, that was surely a coincidence. By the time her 14th birthday rolled around, and the girl was asked "What would you like for your present?" Well, she had maybe decided that being cool was the most important thing, because asking for a trip to London to see Les Mis again was the only thing she wanted. It was on that very trip that she bought a very big book full of rambles, because if there was MORE to know about that cool inspector who was totally not a bad guy, and those awesome dudes with the rousing songs who wanted to overthrow things, then she HAD to have it! And so, happily, she went along to the show again, and mouthed along to all of the words, laughed unselfconsciously at the jokes, fell madly in love with a pretty blonde revolutionary and the actor who played him, and maybe let a few tears fall. Just a few. I mean, you can't turn off being cool that easily...

So yeah....completely fictional story....
I'd never behave like that....
And surely, if I did, my mum would never let me forget it.....oh wait....she doesn't! :oops:
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Re: How were you introduced to Les Mis?

Postby YoungStudentMarius » Fri Feb 22, 2013 12:51 am

That's probably one of the cutest stories I've heard in a while. :shock: Not to mention the fact that man, why on earth did you not go into writing in some form, Acaila? That was brilliantly executed.

I'll have to do mine in a bit, as, um, there's no way anything coherent or somewhat resembling the above awesomeness is coming out of my mouth right now...
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Re: How were you introduced to Les Mis?

Postby Trompe-la-Mort » Fri Feb 22, 2013 12:57 am

After a friend of mine who likes musicals introduced me to "Dance of the Vampires" (the German version) and we went to see it in Hamburg, I was more open to musicals as a genre. So only a month later, she suggested to go to Berlin to see Les Mis. I was immediately hooked. Borrowed the Vienna recording from her and got the book from our library. Strangely enough, they only had an English translation; not unabridged original or German translation... Finished the book in three days; went home the next week-end (I was in a boarding school at the time) and got the French original from our library and my first adaptation (2000)...
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Re: How were you introduced to Les Mis?

Postby deHavilland » Fri Feb 22, 2013 1:25 am

It had always been a thing in my house. My mother's a ballerina who once she retired from the National Ballet did a couple ballet related roles in musicals; Cats, Phantom, etc. and my father's a Production Carpenter (re: stagehand). So I knew about it, but I don't think I cared about it until I auditioned for Young Cosette in the '98 Toronto production when I was 8 years old.

It's okay, though, I didn't make it. ;) (Not my finest hour. Or fondest memory.)
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Re: How were you introduced to Les Mis?

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:36 am

Book first: Was forced to read it in high school. Groused at first, then became the biggest Les Mis fan in the batch.

We listened to parts of the musical and staged excerpts while we studied the book.
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Re: How were you introduced to Les Mis?

Postby Courgette » Fri Feb 22, 2013 11:00 am

The very first time I ever heard of 'Les Misérables' was when the whole world was going gaga over Susan Boyle. But, I didn't care too much about that (don't blame me, okay - I avoid reality shows like the plague!). It was only much later (late 2010-early 2011; after the O2 concert), out of sheer curiosity alone, that I decided to see what the fuss was all about back then - and I visited Youtube, typed in 'I Dreamed a Dream', and the first video I encountered was that of Ruthie Henshall in the 10AC (yep, managed to avoid Boyle! :wink: ). Needless to say, I fell in love with THAT performance of Henshall's, and the song itself.

As I began watching and listening to more and more renditions of the song - I ended up becoming a Lea Salonga fan overnight!! I found a video in which she sang a medley of 'I Dreamed a Dream', 'On My Own', and a few other people joining her for 'One Day More'. I loved the energy and passion of 'One Day More', so I searched for more 'One Day More' videos on Youtube, and I landed up with a video of the final encore performance of 'One Day More' in the 25AC. I saw the crowd loudly applauding each and every performer in that song, and that completely blew me away!! Wow, who are these wonderful people? The wonderful people were none other than the OLC :D

My next task was to get familiarized with the plot of 'Les Misérables'. So, I got lazy a bit (still staying away from the Brick, you see!!), and it was the 25AC DVD (lying around at my uncle's place) that did the trick for me (my first BIG introduction to 'Les Misérables' - until then, I never knew the context in which the songs were being sung). It was during 'Valjean's Death', and those tears in Alfie Boe's eyes in that particular scene, that completely sold the story for me. I began doing my own research on 'Les Misérables', and got to know the story even better. I also ended up watching the 10AC. Please don't ask me to compare the two concerts - I love 'Les Misérables' mainly because of the story, and the musical melody, and the emotional journey that we, as an audience, go through each time. And, as long as I feel the emotions :cry: :cry: :cry: , it's all that matters to me (also, why I personally love the film too).

I finally read the Brick for the first time ever around late 2011-early 2012. It felt like one of the greatest achievements of my life. What did I like the most about the Brick? It is so doused in realism, and humanity. It is basically a treatise on social injustice, a critique of the 19th century French society - my heart simply aches for Fantine even today. And what do I say about the Les Amis? :) "Lessons in humanity for eternity" is how I would describe the Brick.

And before I knew it, I decided to start my own little Mizzie collection (you know - cast recordings, brick translations, video bootlegs, images, and the like). And today, 'Les Misérables' occupies a great source of pride in my life.

(Great, I'm already starting to cry, talking about all this...) :oops:
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Re: How were you introduced to Les Mis?

Postby macaron » Fri Feb 22, 2013 4:04 pm

I love reading these stories. :D

I mentioned my story briefly in my introduction post, but what the hell. After I saw my first musical when I was twelve and completely fell in love with theatre, my parents would usually take me to see one show every year. When I was fourteen or fifteen, the Opera announced that they would be doing Les Misérables. I knew the songs One Day More and On My Own from a mixed musicals CD I'd listen to a lot; I'd seen some of the actors in other things and loved them, so I begged my parents for it to be that year's theatre visit. They agreed.

I knew absolutely nothing about the story going in, so was completely unprepared. It was a gorgeous production on a stage that was perfect for the show, and I was absolutely blown away by parts of it (meaning I sang Red And Black in the shower for weeks afterwards). But funnily enough my dad was actually the reason why I started to love the songs that might take a little longer to appreciate, because he totally fell for the music as well - over the next few days he acquired a bunch of different cast recordings and played them all the time, and within a week I pretty much knew it by heart.

To finish it off I got the 10th Anniversary Concert DVD for my birthday, and the rest is history. I read the book, and started boring my friends to death.

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Re: How were you introduced to Les Mis?

Postby Auf die Barrikaden » Fri Feb 22, 2013 8:22 pm

It's the mid 90s. My best friend and I have a kind of a cappella fun band thing going on, writing own songs and general being silly. It was he who, being into musicals discovered in late 96 this thing called Les Misérables, which had just premiered in Germany. He and his brother got totally addicted to it, even starting the first (IIRC) ever German fansite on the web (http://www.lesmis.de). Now he dedicated his life to get me into it, because of two reasons: he wanted to sing the Confrontation with me, and he knew I would love it. Why would I love it who has never liked the idea of musicals? Cos I'm a total history buff, especially when it comes to the 19th century. So he persuaded me to look and hear into it, he wrote a synopsis for me, and ultimately he showed me his VHS tape recording of the TAC. That was my first exposure to Les Mis. I can't really remember if it was "DYHTPS" or the Confrontation, but those plus One Day More must be the three songs I heard first. He got me. I took a leap into the story, lend an old and abridged copy at my local library and inhaled it. I still remember coming to the last pages...at a time of night where most others are sound asleep. I didn't want it to end. And of course I was in tears. Now it was my turn to persuade my mother to watch the whole thing on stage. On October 14, 1997 I saw the struggle, the misery, the fight for a better tomorrow for the very first time live. That was the first of six times total and one of the best theatrical experiences of my life. The Les Mis and musical fever had grabbed me. For Christmas I got the novel and the Vienna and Duisburg recordings. The TAC (CD and VHS) and the CSR followed. I joined the Le Café board of lesmis.com and became member of several LM mailing lists, made friends with other Les Mis fans in Germany. My best friend and I even started our own local musical lovers club with other like-minded friends. Something like analogue tumblr (yeah that's pretty matching). Through the CSR I discovered Anthony Warlow, which to this day is my number one favorite singer, with noone able to match him. Through Anthony I got hooked to Jekyll&Hyde...ok, that's a different story. Most of 1998 was spent watching, singing, reading and listening to Les Miz, recording every bit of it I caught on TV, discovering the movie versions (well at least two, the 58 and the 98 ones), entertaining my school class with the Confrontation...until the shock came: the producing company got into financial troubles and decided to close some of their running shows...including Les Miz. After barely 4 years. One thing was absolutely certain for me: I had to be there. I had to get a ticket. I had to see the last show. And I did. A night I will never forget. I never applauded so hard and so long in my life. That show, November 28, 1999 will forever stand as the best thing I ever experienced in a theater. Luckily it was captured for eternity...
After the closing in Germany my obsession fell flat. I hoped for the possibility of attending a 20th Anniversary Concert, but when that didn't come (at least in a big one) I kinda lost track of it. Le Café closed, robbing me of my primary source for any news. It took on a new life in Germany with many productions opening between 2001 and 2007, but I missed all of them. Then came my birthday 2011. As a present my best friend (again) got me the 25AC on DVD. I hadn't even heard that there was such a thing. Years ago I had registered for the notification for any anniversary event on the lesmis homepage but some serious shit happened to that and I never heard a word of it. Looking at the cast I barely knew any of them, except of course Lea and Jenny. Some nights later I finally took the time to watch it...and it got me. Again. Bang. By the last note of Alfie Boe's "Who am I" I was streaming in tears. My whole love for it errupted, like a volcano who was silent for centuries. Don't even ask me about the encores...OLC One Day More my goodness. Now I had to catch up on 7 years of abscence from the fandom. First thing though was something different. I had noticed the concert had left out the well scene again, which I rather prominently had in mind as something that I was looking for to hear after years of only reading about it. I remembered there was a discussion comparing the Well Scene of 1985 and 1997 so I googled for it...which gave me a link to the whole barbican recording. I could not believe it. I should be able to hear Les Mis as it was? The one I had read about in endless online discussions that took on forms of mythology and legend? Thank you, internet. Thank you so much. And thank you bootleggers of the 80s and 90s. You made it possible for me to enjoy shows and singers I could only wonder what they would be like a decade ago. 7 years of abscence plus some tiny letter announcement that there would be this "movie" thing in the future...I've been pretty busy catching up and preparing for this these last two years. :D I must admit though, now that the movie's out...I'm in a bit of a hole now. The Oscars this weekend will lift it again. However. Well. Hm. No professional long-term production in Germany in sight. Memorabilia to collect getting scarcer. Future doesn't look very bright right now. But I know for certain, Les Mis will remain as a part of my life. Forever. And tomorrow comes.
Last edited by Auf die Barrikaden on Fri Feb 22, 2013 8:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How were you introduced to Les Mis?

Postby Acaila » Fri Feb 22, 2013 8:26 pm

That's a great story :D
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Re: How were you introduced to Les Mis?

Postby Auf die Barrikaden » Fri Feb 22, 2013 9:09 pm

Thank you. I might add that when the whole Susan Boyle thing came I simply shrugged thinking "yeah it's IDAD from Les Mis so what". Little did I know...well, Paul Potts was far more popular in Germany anyways. Plus, it was fun catching up on FlyingThaxton and the whole bromance thing-although this is way overdone (I look at you, fangirls of the millenia years). Another reason why I never did and never will read fan-fic. Sometimes it's funny to read stuff in a review along the lines of "OMG R screamed out loud when Gavvy died new thing wow amazing" when you've seen and heard that being done 14 years ago...
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Re: How were you introduced to Les Mis?

Postby Acaila » Fri Feb 22, 2013 9:54 pm

Yeah, it's been thirteen years for me (former Le Cafe member too!) and it's quite bizarre to see people so dedicated to fandom and yet so comparatively new :shock:. And yes, fangirling over things that you want to say "Hey, but this guy did it even more brilliantly in 2002!" Theatre can be horribly fleeting like that sometimes, knowing that all the great things of Mis casts past are pretty much gone for good :(
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"She's basically Enjolras meets Amy Pond"
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Re: How were you introduced to Les Mis?

Postby deHavilland » Sat Feb 23, 2013 6:00 am

Acaila wrote:Yeah, it's been thirteen years for me (former Le Cafe member too!) and it's quite bizarre to see people so dedicated to fandom and yet so comparatively new :shock:. And yes, fangirling over things that you want to say "Hey, but this guy did it even more brilliantly in 2002!" Theatre can be horribly fleeting like that sometimes, knowing that all the great things of Mis casts past are pretty much gone for good :(


Please, you're going to make me weep. *clutches R's old stripey waistcoat and green cravat*
"Quand vous aurez besoin de Bahorel, capitaine, Bahorel est là! Je sais faire trébucher tous les chevaux du garde-corps avec une ficelle... Rien qu'une petite ficelle. Enfin, pensez à Bahorel du Café Musain!"


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