A young child, maybe around eight or nine years old, with shoulder length blonde hair and a freshly trimmed fringe sits on the plush red seat. Her little legs swing back and forth and her head sways left and right, admiring the spectacle around her.
She can see so many different people in front, to the side, up above and behind her. A man with jet black hair and a tie as blue as a smartie taps on his phone. A pretty young woman as pale as snow with hair as red as jelly-beans calls the usher for water. An older woman with peach coloured skin dusts her nose with foundation as fine as sherbet. Two tall men in tops chequered like battenburg hold hands as they briskly walk to their retractable seats.
An excited hum resonates around the large room so much so that she can feel it vibrate through her chair. The air conditioning is switched on a touch too high and softly blows her fringe to one side. Goose pimples prickle up on her skin. The stage is empty and dark with wooden objects to each side. There’s a dusty look to the floor that reminds her of something she had seen in a pirate movie.
But she knows this isn’t a pirate show. Her beautiful mother, with thin white and blonde hair, had told her about the story. She has listened to the songs on repeat. Mostly when dancing in her living room. She likes that her class has just started learning French so thinks maybe she will pronounce the characters names better.
The ushers wearing their funny boxes of treats make their last call and head up the aisle. Some flash their torches angrily, some rebalance their tray of items but most glance at the audience one last time.
The young girl looks up to her glowing mother with a weary smile but not from nerves, no, from an unconfident kind of excitement and anticipation that a young child might experience at their first musical. Then, in a memory she treasures for a long time after, the lights quickly go down, the orchestra powerfully strikes up and her heart swells from the impact.
Les Miserable may not have been my first musical like the young girl in my story, but I truely wish that it had been. As a seasoned theatre goer, shamefully I had never ticked this off my list, but after a long wait I can finally say I have. And in style may I add, as I watched it in the big apple!
The staging was simple but effective with very clever props and a back wall projection, which added a touch of glam. The performers of this melodramatic story were incredible, in particular J. Michael Finley who played the lead character Jean Valjean and actually floored me with his talent.
But at the very heart of this whole production is undoubtedly the pop operatic score, with some of the most iconic songs of them all, and it is this that sweeps you off your feet and immerses you into a bleak and heart wrenching world.