Nitpicking in general and Les Mis in particular

I am a nitpicker. There, I’ve admitted it. It’s funny, because I’m not good at details. I mean, my memory consists of general impressions, emotional responses, and odd, random facts floating for the most part aimlessly.

I am good, however, at noticing details that I find annoying. (Maybe that’s not such a unique trait.)

We were privileged to see Les Misérables over the weekend, with the 25th anniversary touring company. It was a thrill, because while we’d been planning for years to see it with the girls, since seeing it nearly 20 years ago without them, the ticket prices were numbing. Even the cheapest seats were out of reach.

And then… a miracle occurred. Okay, not really a miracle. But it seemed like a miracle. I checked my spam folder and saw an announcement that Fred Meyer was sponsoring discounted tickets. We paid half-price for our “cheap” seats. It was still a strain on the budget (we won’t be going out to eat for birthday meals for the next year) but it was doable.

Last time dh and I saw the show, we were in cheap seats in the second-to-the-last row in the farthest balcony behind a pillar. Seriously. I sat back, folded my arms, and sulked. What a waste of money! …and then the music started, and within five minutes we were leaning to our respective sides of the pillar and as far forward as possible, riveted. The stage was impossibly small and far away, the figures practically microscopic, but we were pulled in by the power of the story, the music, the voices, the staging.

The cheap seats for this visit were five rows back from the stage, way over on the right side, which meant we could see the left side of the stage, all the way to the center and a little beyond. The show was staged in a way that we didn’t feel as if we were missing a whole lot. We know we missed some things, but didn’t feel bereft.

Actually, I was glad of some of the things we missed. Youngest was at the far end of the row, so more of the stage was cut off from her sight, which meant that she missed some of the more lascivious action during “Master of the House” and “Lovely Ladies.”

(While we’re on the topic of grumbles, I was mortified that someone leaned over to shush the girls, who were apparently talking to each other, maybe whispering, maybe not, during the show. We had seats in two different rows, so dh and I weren’t with the girls. They’re not little, so I’d expect them to know how to behave.)

(Don’t misunderstand me; I wasn’t mortified at the shusher, I was upset at the girls for not having the sense to keep quiet. I was very glad that the lady in their row leaned over and asked them to be quiet. They learned a lesson (seeing a public event is a lot different from watching it in your living room), and I think they were quiet for the rest of the show because I didn’t see her lean towards them again.)

We could see a little of backstage, dark-clad people moving about adjusting things. It wasn’t too bothersome until the last fifteen (?) minutes or so — the climax of the show. Someone apparently didn’t pull the back/side curtain all the way, which left us staring over Valjean’s shoulder at a monitor with a bright image of the conductor, waving his arms at the orchestra. Come to think of it, we could see the conductor through the whole wedding scene that preceded Valjean’s death scene. It was a distraction.

So don’t let me give you the impression that I thought we wasted our money. Les Misérables is amazing. The composer is a genius. The translator did a masterful job. The performance earned a prolonged standing ovation from the audience. (Girls grumbled a little that not all the voices were as good as on our original cast CDs.)

It was worth every penny, and more (I want to move up a seat category, next time the show comes to town, if it does. Maybe if we start saving now…).

I just wish I could get that white waving figure out of my head!

But seriously, great show. And now I’m enjoying the music all over again, as the girls have hauled out the book of Les Misérables sheet music and are getting piano time in sight-reading and learning the pieces.

Contented sigh.


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