Friday, March 7, 2014

Do You Hear the People Sing?

Last night was opening night for Julia's high school spring musical - Les Miserables - so Amp, Grace and I were in the middle of the first balcony row (my seats of choice) for a prompt start at 6:30pm. These kids (...young adults...) have been working tirelessly since the Christmas holidays with after school practices and long weekend sessions. It has also pulled in Amp, who has spent lots of hours with the costume ladies, sewing, altering, distressing and revamping/re-purposing costumes and bits from previous shows (I will spare you all a picture of me modeling Thenardier's wedding banquet costume...). Despite having missed almost a combined two weeks worth of practice time due to all the snow storms and school closings, what we were treated to last night was simply amazing.

Bystander #2
There are only four shows in total; Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday matinee and Saturday night. The "Garnet" cast with the #1 leads performs Friday and Saturday nights, while the "White" cast performs opening Thursday and the Saturday matinee. As good as the "B" team was last night, I have a hard time imagining highs schoolers doing too much better than what we saw. And in six or seven group scenes, always on the right side of the stage, was my little angel, "bystander #2". Dressed in grubby peasant garb (hand crafted by Mom). And in the runaway cart scene, shouting out her one line: "Watch out!".

I should have prefaced all this by noting that the whole family loves music and musical theater, and that Les Miz is everyone's favorite (by far). Amp and I have seen the show three times in Philadelphia and once on Broadway (with Craig Schulman as Valjean one of those times). In January of 2013, we took Julia to see it with us in Philly (our time #4) when a touring company came to town after it had closed on Broadway. She tends to latch onto certain things, and Les Miz is one of those; it has been one of her favorite things for years now. Seeing it in Philly was a real treat for her, and when we found out the high school was doing it in her first year there, it seemed to good to be true. She knows the entire show by heart, and wanted to be involved. It has been a tremendous experience for her, and despite all the hard work, she has been on cloud nine for a few months now.

Some memorabilia
As for the actual show, I was anxious to see it, but wasn't quite sure what to expect. It's a long show, and not an easy one to do. The "school edition" turned out to be only the removal of a couple of lines in a couple of the songs. Other than that it was the full two and a half hours - not an abridged version by any means, and leaving most of the bawdy parts intact. Overall, I was amazed at the quality of what we saw. The sets looked just like the last time we saw it in Philly, the costumes were terrific, and the singing and acting was very good for high school. OK, so Valjean wasn't quite Colm Wilkinson, and Javert wasn't quite Philip Quast, but if they were, they'd have dropped out of school and been starring on Broadway at the age of 16 or 17. Sure, there were a few pitchy moments, but in general, it was fantastic, and exceeded my expectations.

And Julia nailed it. She hit her marks. Did all the right things. Played her tiny little part perfectly, and in the process enjoyed herself tremendously. I couldn't have been more proud, and happy for her. There is nothing like watching your child have one of those special moments, and last night was about as special a night as you could have. Brother Dave and his Darling Wife attended and brought flowers. She got flowers from us as well, and her Spirit Cheer squad coach dropped by in the afternoon before the show to drop off a third bouquet. Over the course of the next three shows there is a long list of others who will be going at least in part to watch Julia, so she is feeling like quite the little superstar. Which is how it should be.

1 comment:

  1. It was fantastic. Very impressive production, and Julia did great!