My favorite musical? Even easier to answer than my favorite Shakespeare play (Much Ado About Nothing).
Les Miserables. Specific performance? The 10th Anniversary Dream Cast, of course. Philip Quast? Michael Ball? Colm Wilkinson?? Yes, please and thank you!!
I have two “watching Les Mis” modes: the one where I sing with gusto (even the songs outside of my range) and sometimes replay songs with multiple leads so I can sing each one before continuing, etc. — that’s the mode where, for a moment, I dust off old dreams and imagine what it might be like to have that level of talent and to share it in public and everything. I fly on borrowed wings and it’s glorious!…
…and then there’s the mode where I just watch, although “watch” seems a poor, pale term for what I do.
It’s more akin to coming inside on a cold day to find your favorite fluffy blanket and warm, dry clothes and a mug of something hot and sweet waiting for you. You just curl up in the moment and you’re so damned grateful to be breathing right then, which is sometimes overwhelming in its beauty, because life can be very unkind and excruciatingly accurate in its punches.
I put on this version of Les Mis when I’ve become numbed by the daily grind, or I’ve self-muted my emotions for survival, and I’ve gotten stuck. This performance makes me feel again — a whirlwind of deep valleys and triumphant swells, to be certain, but it’s me alive again, and that’s always going to be some shade of cathartic, no matter what else is going on. (And to get so swept up in the music…both the raw power of these legendary voices and the poignant notes that make the little hairs on your arms and neck stand on end…ahhh!) It’s a gift that’s always there to be enjoyed, a bright and shining aural treasure.
A good cry can be healing, and there always is that one moment that makes me cry. Sometimes there are others, but I can always, even in my most stoic times, count on “A Little Fall Of Rain” to bring on the tears. Michael Ball is the ultimate Pontmercy; you would have to be made of stone to not have your heart broken along with that of poor Marius as he holds his dying anam cara. (And Lea Salonga…you have to adore her Eponine.)
When the last notes fade and the applause thunders on and on, I am myself again, raw and pink and renewed.