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Topic: Les Miserables

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  1. #1

    Les Miserables

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    I had a fun weekend, and am looking forward to another in a few days. My son (senior) and daughter (frosh) are both in the cast of the local high school's production of Les Miserables. (He's Enjolras; she's in the chorus.)

    I'm simply amazed at the complexity and depth of this production. Sure, they don't give Broadway-level performances, but there are no bad deliveries from top to bottom.

    The music itself is quite complex. The number of tempo, meter and key changes is daunting. The orchestra is 100% students with three keyboards, drums, bass, guitar, four violins, two flutes, two clarinets, alto sax, two horns, trumpet, two coronets and a trombone. Or something like that.

    One thing is clear: playing brass at piano level is tough. The biggest giveaway that they aren't pros is their lack on intonation during quiet passages. And it's almost all played quietly to allow the actors to be heard. Strings are the next most difficult to play in tune. A bigger section would really help smooth things out. The rest of the players were spot on with no clunkers, good intonation and tight timing. They have a great overall sound, and deliver some really lovely moments.

    They've got everything else nailed too. Sets and stagecraft, lighting, sound, costumes, fast changes. The whole deal. It's been an amazing experience for my kids. (Whoever says that kids should just stick to the three Rs, should be forced to read, write and do arithmetic all day.) This training of how to work with others to attain great things will last them a lifetime.

    Anyway, keep tabs of your local high school and college productions. There are some real gems out there.

    -JF

  2. #2

    Re: Les Miserables

    Quote Originally Posted by JonFairhurst
    I had a fun weekend, and am looking forward to another in a few days. My son (senior) and daughter (frosh) are both in the cast of the local high school's production of Les Miserables. (He's Enjolras; she's in the chorus.)

    I'm simply amazed at the complexity and depth of this production. Sure, they don't give Broadway-level performances, but there are no bad deliveries from top to bottom.
    It was a thrill, wasn't it? I went to a high school production of Sondheim's Into the Woods this weekend. It was BETTER than some L.A. Productions I've seen. The singing, acting and orchestra were top notch. I was amazed at how good it was. I had tears in my eyes, and my kid wasn't even in it....
    --
    Robert Gregory Browne
    KISS HER GOODBYE (now available)
    KILLER YEAR: Stories to Die For (Jan. 2008)
    WHISPER IN THE DARK (2008)
    St. Martin's Press
    http://www.robertgregorybrowne.com

  3. #3

    Re: Les Miserables

    Ern, I'm sure you were paid nearly twice the rate that your single instrument buddies were making.

    Funny Girl is also pretty ambitious!

    Last year the local HS did Cinderella. It's probably R&H's worst work. It was originally commissioned for TV by CBS. What a step up from Cinderella to Le Mis!

    Then again, last year the audience was full of little girls in princess dresses who fawned over Prince Charming after the show. It seems that they're all boycotting this French, er, Freedom musical this year.

    -JF

  4. #4

    Re: Les Miserables

    Quote Originally Posted by robgb
    It was a thrill, wasn't it? ... I had tears in my eyes, and my kid wasn't even in it....
    There are a bunch a tear jerking scenes in Les Mis as well. The fourth grader who sings "Castle on a Cloud" IS Broadway quality for her age group. She left no dry eyes. And so many death scenes! You can't help but cry.

    My son's character is the last to die at the barracades. On opening night he waves the flag in defiance, is shot, and happened to break the flag pole as he fell to the ground. A few players in the pit told him that they choked up and had trouble playing after that. Even after all those rehearsals...

    This play has definitely been the emotional high point of the year for many of the students.

    -JF

  5. #5
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    Re: Les Miserables

    Quote Originally Posted by JonFairhurst
    Anyway, keep tabs of your local high school and college productions. There are some real gems out there.
    How true Jon. I am amazed by the talent in these productions. It's a great learning experience. Young musicians learn a great deal playing in these productions. It is a good thing to support local high school and college showst. This can be the incubator for the shining stars of tomorrow.

    Gary Garritan

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