Monday, April 02, 2012

"This never-ending road to Calvary..."

This coming Saturday will be the 22nd anniversary of the first time that I saw Les Miserables on stage, at the Schubert Theatre in Boston. This past Saturday was the 4th or 5th time, at the Boston Opera House. The first time, we were engaged but not yet married. This time, we had three of our four kids with us.

Now, how do I know the date of that first trip? Because the one time that I've been to Fenway Park for the Red Sox opening day game was in 1990. Bill Buckner's return got the largest standing ovation, and the National Anthem was done by the actor who I'd seen play Jean Valjean two days earlier, on Saturday night. I've forgotten his name, over the years, but he was an excellent Valjean, and did a wonderful National Anthem.

And actually, it would be more appropriate to say that I had forgotten his name. Because I now know what it was. When we sat down and opened our Playbills on Saturday night, there was a little slip of paper telling us that we were getting the Valjean understudy. But the regular Valjean was being played by J. Mark McVey. Who has done it over 2900 times. Including the first time that we saw the show, 22 years ago...

They've changed some of the staging for this 25th anniversary production. Some of it works a little better, some is a little less effective. (The Javert suicide was always good - it's spectacular now.) There's no new music (though apparently Boubil and Schonberg have written a new piece for the film version coming in December) but there's nothing big cut, either. There have been a few verses trimmed, and the pace seems a little quicker - I remember a 3:10-3:15 show that's now coming in at about 3:00.

And I'm surprised by how surprised I was to realize, again, how effective it is on stage. Just a magnificent show, in almost all respects...

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