Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Les Miz or The Miserable Attendees

Buying birthday gifts for our kids seems to get harder each year. I really like consumable gifts or gifts that make memories.
Last year we decided to take Daisy to go see the Broadway production of Mary Poppins. It was truly supercalifragilisticexpial...well, you get the point!
This year we surprised the two older girls with tickets to see Les Miserables. Our little created package included taking BART (the local rail transportation) into the City (that would be San Fransisco), have a light dinner at a local French Cafe and great seating at the Orpheum.
After our trusty babysitter arrived (thank you, Amy!), we drove to the closest BART station and headed under the Bay for Union Square. Our dinner was delightful and except for a drama on the streets starring the local police and a bunch of angry pedestrians, we had a great evening. We made it to the Orpheum theatre early and anxiously awaited to hear and see the beautifully written redemptive story of Jean Valjean in musical form.
This is the 25th anniversary of this production and I can't help but think that it must have seen some changes over the years. As our culture has accepted more licentious behavior, so our different modes of entertainment have done the same.
You can probably tell, by now, that my critique of the musical is not altogether favorable. I will say though that most of the music and the performers were wonderful. This musical's dialog is all done through song. I enjoyed that...even when the orchestra and singers were not quite tracking with each other. The choral parts were absolutely amazing...full, strong chordal structure that made my heart melt from the beauty. The gentleman who played Jean Valjean had a stunning falsetto and the gal who played Cosette continued to amaze me with her high B flat while in an embrace with her beloved.
But, amidst the beautiful music was a crassness that was incredibly disappointing. The sexual innuendos were rampant and some being down right disturbing. Of course, I knew that prostitution was a part of the story but the body language during the 'prostitution' song and the 'Master of
the House' song was disturbingly explicit.
As we were driving home, I thought of how beautiful the music was and yet I had this sinking feeling...disappointment. I sure didn't feel this after seeing Mary Poppins or Wicked! The prolific use of Jesus' name, homosexual references, and crude sexual gestures left me feeling dirty as I walked out of the auditorium.
It was as if I was sitting in front of a fabulous plate of food at a Michelin rated restaurant and there is a small portion of dog poop sitting smack dab in the middle of the plate.
My husband said "As you could see, many people had a taste for dog poop." And, he was right. There was not only laughter at the crudest parts but thunderous applause. It doesn't surprise me...pagans will be pagans. Dogs will be dogs. But, I feel rather disappointed that I didn't know what was coming. There are many, many musicals that I will not ever, ever watch because I KNOW the content is not worthy of my time or money. But, man, did this blind side me. I am sure Victor Hugo would have been very disappointed.
The best part of the evening was spending it with my man and two of my daughters.


The Wife said...

How sad. It's been more than 20 years since I've seen it (can I really be old enough to say that??), but I was able to see it in both London and on Broadway. Definitely my favorite musical ever. I'm so disappointed to hear that it has degraded the way it has. I'm sure seeing it in San Fran didn't help any, either...

The Clark Kids said...

Aw man, that really stinks! I hate seeing something you think is going to be great and finding it really inappropriate. Well, lesson learned. Now you'll know to call in advance and ask about content. I'll have to remember that too.
We recently took the kids to see Peter Pan with Cathy Rigby. It was fabulous, and they advertised Mary Poppins coming to town next year. Oh and The Addams Family, with Mrs. Addams wearing a dress cut down to her navel almost. Thanks for the heads up guys, we'll skip that one!

Anonymous said...

If Valjean is to be shown to have been redeemed, then the world around him that tempts him has to be shown on the stage as well. Otherwise the story lacks meaning.

You should remove your appraisal of Hugo's book. The novel was attacked over 700 times by the Catholic church, and Hugo himself was a Freethinker who engaged in seances.

Melissa Romonakov said...

I saw the Sound of Music onstage once. Harmless enough right? Not so fast. The woman playing the Baroness walked around so sexy and it made me uncomfortable. It wasn't like this in the movie. My husband was furious and we left. A show about kids and music and a woman has to walk around so sexy like that? Ridiculous. Only in California...

Molly said...

We took our 3 oldest boys to see Les Mis in Atlanta last spring, and had the exact same experience.