Introducing a friend to LM

Any discussion related to any production or staging of Boublil and Schönberg's Les Misérables.
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Prisoner 24653
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Introducing a friend to LM

Postby Prisoner 24653 » Sun Jun 30, 2013 3:40 am

Not sure if this is necessarily the best place for this topic (if not, feel free to move it!), but I was wondering if anyone had any advice on how to introduce LM to someone with no prior exposure to the story or music other than maybe bits of individual songs. Should I go for one of the anniversary concerts, a cast album, the movie, or something else?

Or more generally, have any of you introduced the show to a non-fan, and if so, how did you do it? I'd be interested to see what ideas pop up here. :D

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Re: Introducing a friend to LM

Postby deHavilland » Sun Jun 30, 2013 4:11 am

If you yourself enjoyed the movie, I would say the movie might be a good way to go, and then introduce them to the concept of different performers by suggesting whatever your favorite recording might be; CSR, OBC, 25th Anniv Tour, whatever floats your boat. If they're the kind of person who takes to theatre, that's probably all they're going to need before they start looking at things in relation to their own interests.

If you aren't a fan of the movie, you might want to go the route of the concerts or maybe a bootleg video of a performance, though if you're sitting down with someone who doesn't habitually watch boots, they might find the quality distracting and have trouble following the action.

In the sixth grade, I sent around my copy of the CSR. Which was probably ripped and burned to disc way more times than the government would be happy to hear about - it was like 2002, iPods weren't mainstream yet! - and that worked for me back then! Let us know what your success rate ends up being like for future people who ask this question! :D
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Re: Introducing a friend to LM

Postby Rachel » Sun Jun 30, 2013 6:13 am

I'd go with the movie, personally. I'd avoid the TAC because I don't think it makes much sense (at least, to me) if you don't already know the story. I like the 25AC, but I know that's not a popular opinion so if they're not particularly forgiving in terms of kind of suckish acting and singing, I wouldn't do that either.

CSR, maybe, for completeness? Though, if you fill in the gaps for them and they're not watching alone what I said about the TAC is irrelevant and you could show them that.

(Though when one of my friends was watching the TAC, he spent about half of it going "WHY ARE SOME PEOPLE ACTING THE SCENES AND SOME PEOPLE SINGING WHAT'S GOING ON."
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Re: Introducing a friend to LM

Postby Flynn » Sun Jun 30, 2013 9:51 am

I introduced a group of friends of mine using the TAC, occasionally pausing to fill in necessary blanks (on rare instances pulling out the CSR). Surprisingly worked pretty well, I think a large part because of Wilkinson, Quast, and Ball going over immensely well.

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Re: Introducing a friend to LM

Postby Acaila » Sun Jun 30, 2013 1:11 pm

Hmm, I've often refused to use the anniversary concerts as an introduction because they're so static and cut down that I don't find the story clear enough or the staging exciting enough. I always want people to have the same Wow factor I had when I first saw it. To be honest, I prefer to introduce them to the show live. My boyfriend for example, was not allowed to watch or listen to any version of the show until I dragged him to London :D But I know that's not always an option!

I would probably use the movie because it explains the story reasonably well, and back it up with a good recording for the bits it misses/changes and for better singers.
(I guess one of the best examples of video footwear might be an option too, you can probably guess which I'd recommend for that but if not you know where I am)

After I took my boyfriend, he asked me to recommend a CD version on the train home so he could listen to it further. I insisted on making a mixtape version of it for him, because it's so difficult to choose between the recordings for me. So I made him one with an ideal recording cast of Wilkinson, Quast, Henshall, Ball, Caine, (can't remember who I chose as Éponine actually), Warlow, Armstrong and Galloway. Always good to reinforce their new found fandom with something :D
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Re: Introducing a friend to LM

Postby humanracer » Sun Jun 30, 2013 2:36 pm

I would say you have to experience Les Mis visually before you can appreciate it on audio. So unless you want to buy tickets for the theatre show I would suggest the movie. I had to be dragged to the movie but afterwards I couldn't believe what I had been missing for the past ten years. If I had discovered Les Mis in the late 90's I would have been on this forum long before now.

And Rachel, believe it or not there are people who went to see the movie and were shocked to find it was mostly all sung!

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Re: Introducing a friend to LM

Postby Acaila » Sun Jun 30, 2013 2:43 pm

I will confess to doing some twitter trolling of the odd person who walked out after 10 minutes when they found out it was all sung :D
Though I would figure James' friends have a bit more knowledge and openmindedness than that :D (I know that none of my friends would have the option to be otherwise ;) :D)
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Re: Introducing a friend to LM

Postby humanracer » Sun Jun 30, 2013 2:52 pm

I have a confession to make. I didn't realise it was a musical either until the day before I went to see it. I said to myself "if this musical is so popular then why haven't heard any of the songs apart from that one sung by Boyle?" I also told myself that the songs were unlikely to be that memorable. I was SO wrong.

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Re: Introducing a friend to LM

Postby Acaila » Sun Jun 30, 2013 3:01 pm

Teeheehee :lol:
"But mum! I don't want to go and see some stupid French opera! If it's all in French, I won't understand it!" :roll:
I think one of the greatest things about Les Mis is its ability to win over even the most stubborn of misconceptions. Hence why I believe in introducing people to it in the most awe-inspiring way possible.
Revolution: like Christmas come early only with more death
Abaisse Chief/Chef
"Les Amis Fun Package - The Awesome Traits of Each"
"She's basically Enjolras meets Amy Pond"
Sings Stars "way better than Russel Crowe"

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Re: Introducing a friend to LM

Postby humanracer » Sun Jun 30, 2013 3:06 pm

Acaila wrote:Teeheehee :lol:
"But mum! I don't want to go and see some stupid French opera! If it's all in French, I won't understand it!" :roll:
I think one of the greatest things about Les Mis is its ability to win over even the most stubborn of misconceptions. Hence why I believe in introducing people to it in the most awe-inspiring way possible.

For me that would be the movie, unless the show comes to Hawaii. Yes the movie has dubious singing and at times dubious acting but I believe it is awe inspiring on a visual level. I think it is enough to rope anyone in. My gut feeling would be that someone who hated the movie would probably also dislike the musical (i.e. those people walking out because it was mostly sung)

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Re: Introducing a friend to LM

Postby Acaila » Sun Jun 30, 2013 3:31 pm

Well, you do get musical fans who hate the movie. And even as someone who likes the movie generally, there are negatives about it that are not universal to Les Mis, so while it would probably work for a lot of people, it's not a guarantee. Theatre is a different experience really, and that can affect people in a different way to sitting watching something on their own couch in their own living room. So "most awe-inspiring way possible" will always be the theatre (and the original staging!) as far as I'm concerned.


For all my "I never use the concerts", it has happened a couple of times. With the people I am closest to who came to know Les Mis because of me:
2 were taken to the show as their first experience. Both really enjoyed it and it got a much more vocal response. One subsequently hated the movie, the other hasn't seen it yet. One requested recordings, one has said she would be up for seeing the "proper show" (her introduction was a good Schools Ed production)
2 were shown the TAC (one by me, the other was introduced to Mis by me but watched the TAC of his own volition). Of those both would say they like it. One went on to see the stage show of her own (25th anniversary tour alas, though she did love it) and one went off to read the Brick and collect the main recordings and would like to see the stage show if an opportunity arose. Both enjoyed the movie.

So it did work, they just didn't have quite the same "Holy guacamole this is awesome :shock:"
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Re: Introducing a friend to LM

Postby humanracer » Sun Jun 30, 2013 3:48 pm

The theatre is ideal but it is probably harder to get people to invest in a ticket and travel than get them to sit down and watch a DVD. I think if I got into the musical first then I would hate the movie as it has many flaws. But seeing the movie first was a really great introduction for me. I think the movie would work for a lot of people who say they don't like musicals. I would say I am not a fan of musical theatre really but I still think Les Mis is one of the greatest things ever.

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Re: Introducing a friend to LM

Postby Rachel » Sun Jun 30, 2013 5:27 pm

My friend passionately described Les Mis up to Fantine's death, and then stopped to avoid spoilers (beyond, I don't know, the fact Fantine dies) but my thoughts were pretty much:

"It sounds like a cheesy combination of Prince of Egypt and Aladdin. It sounds pretty bad, to be honest."

Oh, how wrong I was.

All of the singing didn't bother me the first time I saw it, actually. I watched the whole movie and then as I was leaving the theatre I turned to friend and was like, "hey, was all of that sung?"

After I saw the movie, I saw all of these people talking about the "TAC" (I was so confused as to what that meant) and the 25AC. Also, I found out that Grantaire and Courfeyrac were different people. But once I figured out what the anniversary concerts were, I watched the 25AC and then the TAC. I liked them both.

And a while ago, my friend saw the movie (with a little bit of urging) and loved it, so I told him to watch the TAC. He also loved that, and I told him to watch the 25AC and he thought it was meh. He mostly preferred the TAC cast, with the exception of Samantha Barks as Éponine and Robert Madge as Gavroche. I'm not sure whether he likes Maguire or Karimloo, now that I think about it.
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Re: Introducing a friend to LM

Postby Prisoner 24653 » Sun Jun 30, 2013 7:45 pm

Well, there is a community theatre version opening here in September... :wink:

Now I'm trying to decide whether to wait 'til then and encourage them to buy a ticket, or show them the TAC (possibly with pauses for explanation) first. Much as I enjoyed the movie for what it was, I don't think I'd use that as a first exposure to the show... and the 25AC is a no, though there were things I liked about it.

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Re: Introducing a friend to LM

Postby Acaila » Sun Jun 30, 2013 7:47 pm

I'd hold off til September. It's only a couple of months. Maybe try going with them so you are there to explain anything? And then the TAC to be "Ok now here are some *great* performances".
Revolution: like Christmas come early only with more death
Abaisse Chief/Chef
"Les Amis Fun Package - The Awesome Traits of Each"
"She's basically Enjolras meets Amy Pond"
Sings Stars "way better than Russel Crowe"


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