Thursday, July 17, 2008

"Les Miserables" Memory

I remember the first time I saw "Les Miserables". Roby and I had been listening to it since 1985 or early 1986 - the London Cast recording, of course. We saw the performance on the 1987 Tony Awards and we knew that we were DYING to see the show. In December of 1987, we flew to New York with Ms. Coburn and Mr. Erikson and a group of AHS Theater studens as "chaperones" - we found the whole concept ironic.

Anyway, we arrived on a Sunday and saw "Starlight Express". Monday was dark and we ate out and dinked around in the cold, took tours, etc. On Tuesday, we went to see Radio City Music Hall's Christmas Spectacular (I will tell about that another time) in the morning and "Into the Woods" (Original Broadway Cast - Bernadette Peters, Joanna Gleason, Chip Zien, etc.). On Wednesday, we went to see "Les Miserables".

"Les Miserables" was still at the Broadway theatre (I later saw it at the Imperial months before it closed). It was bitter cold and snowing that evening, so we took a cab to the theatre. The Broadway theatre is BEAUTIFUL. I was overwhelmed - this night was the whole reason I had flown to NYC - to see THIS show. We had perfect seats...I still have the stubs somewhere, so I will have to check where we were seated someday. We were in the orchestra about 2/3 of the way back - we could see the entire stage and could see their facial expressions.

The instant the lights dimmed and the first words appeared on the scrim and the first notes sang from the orchestra, I began to weep silently. I couldn't stop the stream of tears running down my cheeks. Jean Valjean was released and is given redemtion from the bishop when he steals the silver...the scrim came down and the next scene location and time appeared, the orchestra was playing...and the house lights were coming up... I could see the conductor looking around as if to say, "Why are the lights going up? They aren't supposed to be going up..." There was an announcement on the PA stating that there would be a brief and unexpected intermission for 15 minutes. Everyone got up, went to the restroom, milled around, returned to their seats, milled some more and got a little restless. No one really knew what was going on.

It turns out that a gentleman in the balcony had had a heart attack and the paramedics had come to help him. After the show, we found out that the man had died. We went to a talk-back with Gary Morris (who was Valjean) and the actors said that kind of thing happened once a week or so...people eat too much, get too excited, etc. But usually the patron survived.

Anyway, when the show finally started back up again around 45 minutes later, the music started again and so did my uncontrollable tears. Honestly, I thought I would not be able to see any of the show because I cried the entire show, stopping only for intermission. When the show was over and we were waiting for the talk-back participants, I continued to cry for 15-20 minutes. Roby was laughing at me for being such a dork.

After we left, Roby snapped a picture of Gary Morris as he was walking away into the night. I wish I had a copy of that.

Anyway, that is my "Les Miserables" memory. I will tell you more about the show I saw this week when I return to the blog.

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