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How were you introduced to Les Miserables? 
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Fresh Face
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Post Re: How were you introduced to Les Miserables?
When I was a little kid, my mom used to play the Original Broadway Cast recording in the car. My sister and I got so into it that we eventually put on a mini Les Mis' play with a few neighborhood kids. :D


Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:43 am
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Post Re: How were you introduced to Les Miserables?
When I was a sophomore in high school, the musical had just been released, and made a splash, so the novel ended up on our reading list for the year. Basically, we were assigned to read it over winter break. Somehow I managed to leave for break without my copy and was locked out. So, I went to the library. They had only one copy -- the unabridged, in French.

Fortunately, I was a pretty good student in second-year French, so I decided to give it a go, with the aide of my big dictionary and some Cliff's Notes to help make the path a bit smoother. It was a close-run thing, but I did finish, and what's more, VSASTLY improved my French that winter.

Oh, and the musical? Umm, in College, Men's Glee did a medley from the show, but I've never actually seen the musical staged. The movie was my first exposure there.

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Wed Jan 16, 2013 10:49 am
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Post Re: How were you introduced to Les Miserables?
in 5th grade a friend had tickets and invited my mom and I - these people were not theatregoers but that had wonderful seats to the National Tour in SF.

I still remember that Eponine and Valjean. My mom had seen it in NYC and explained the story - this was the original version of the tour. the really incredible one not the toned down revival one. it was in 2001.

It is one of my dad's favorited and I probably knew "On My Own" casually but when I saw the show I fell in love and bought a random highlights CD - the International recording. Then I graduated to the full OBC and started singing "I Dreamed A Dream" , Eponine's parts and sometimes Cosettes as vocal exercises. Eponine got me through middle school.

2 years later the school edition was presented at summer drama camp and we had 2 guys (Valjean and Thenardier) so the rest of the roles were girls. I was Enjolras and I loved it.

now my voice is better and I can easily sing all the material...yay! and almost got an appointment to audition for Eponine on the National Tour. wasnt quite meant to be but looking forward to more les miz experiences in the future. I tried reading the book once...after seeing the movie I want to get back to that!

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Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:38 pm
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Tony Winner
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Post Re: How were you introduced to Les Miserables?
When I was about fourteen, my English teacher introduced me to the cast recording of The Phantom of The Opera which had only just recently opened on Broadway. I was hooked and bought Michael Crawford's first solo album which included "Bring Him Home."

I fell in love with that song.

At the time, though, I knew almost nothing about Les Miserables in any form. My sole exposure to the story came from a set of vintage encyclopedia we had at home. The back of each volume had these very, very abridged (and illustrated) classic novels. I would read those pretty voraciously, but not this story. Even the summary was a bit long and there were just too many names. I did, however, remember the two drawings - one of Valjean and Petite Gervais, the other of Marius watching Valjean and Cosette in the park.

Still, I knew nothing about the context of the song or the story...but I loved it. And when the first national tour came to my city, I just HAD to see it. Except I was told that, if I wanted to go, I'd have to pay for my ticket and I'd already spent my birthday/holiday money on David Bowie LPs.

I guess I was meant to see the show because I found $40 lying on the ground and it was enough to get a ticket.

I remember sitting in terrible seat behind a man with extremely bad hygiene. But the show itself was just overwhelmingly wonderful. On the way home, I insisted on stopping at the mall and went sprinting through pouring rain to get the cast recording and the novel.

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Fri Jan 18, 2013 9:31 am
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Fresh Face
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Post Re: How were you introduced to Les Miserables?
Hi everyone

I was introduced to "les Misérables" in 1982 at school by our music teacher who made us sing all year round songs from the Album (the one called OFCA here).
A friend of mine had a vinyl copy that I borrowed, then copied on a tape that got used to the bone!

(vinyl, audiotape, I must sound like a caveman to most of you ...)


Sat Jan 19, 2013 11:09 am
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Post Re: How were you introduced to Les Miserables?
How interesting that you were introduced to the original French version first! What was it like when you heard the English version for the first time? Did it take some getting used to? :D


Sat Jan 19, 2013 12:05 pm
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Tony Winner
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Post Re: How were you introduced to Les Miserables?
I was introduced to the OFC first too... Then the Paris Revival and THEN the english one.
I can say that it am getting used to the English version theese days only.

The original version is still far superior to me...


Mon Jan 21, 2013 12:57 am
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Fresh Face
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Post Re: How were you introduced to Les Miserables?
@ Vanessa

After my childhood I kind of lost interest to les Mis, until I saw Miss Saigon in NY back in 1995. I then got hooked to Miss Saigon so I bought the English version of Les Mis in the same time.
What's really funny as I really liked the "broadway style" arrangements and ways of singing in Miss Saigon, I was really disappointed with the treatment that les Mis had recieved. I think I listened to the CD once and left it to catch dust on my shelves for the next 10 years....

My first shock was to hear J Valjean singing with high pitched, full of falsetto and tremolo voice ! In the French psyche Valjean is always portayed as a rough, rugged, robust style of man, in the films played by actors such as Harry Baur, Lino Ventura, Jean Gabin or Gerard Depardieu. That's why I always thought Maurice Barrier fitted the role to prerfection even if he's not a really good singer.
Then the musical arrangements left me a bit puzzeled. I know they had to fit a more "international" taste, but I really love the Pop/Rock feel that the Original Paris version has (has anyone ever heard "La révolution Française? the first musical show by Boublil and Shönberg?). The cast (on the album) is full of high profiled french pop singers of the time...

Then as good as they may be, I never really got into the "new" songs (stars, bring him home, empty tables..)

But to me the real letdown was the impoverishment of the lyrics. Witch I only really realised when I first heard the Paris 1991 Mogador (revival) version, just ... a few days ago. This deserves I think a whole post of its own .. if anyone is intrerested to discuss that particular topic (unless it actually exists soewhere..)

The greatest improvement to me is the final of "one day more", absolutely fantastic ! It thrills me every time I listen to it. I also like the addition of the prologue and the great epilogue with the reprise of "Do you hear the people sing?". It's even greater on stage!

I probably will get stoned to death or thrown out of the forum for what i just said but it genuinally reflects what I think. You mustn't forget that the Original Version is also a childhood cherished memory, and when it comes to those memories, things tend to get a little irrationnal ....

That said, I still think les Misérables is a fantastic musical and the english version is slowly growing on me as I am getting ready to watch the film which is yet to arrive on french screens, on Feb 13th (cant' wait ](*,) )


Mon Jan 21, 2013 1:50 am
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Tony Winner
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Post Re: How were you introduced to Les Miserables?
Welcome to the boards, Emmanuel! And trust me when I say that the last thing you should *ever* apologize for on this forum is having an opinion. Plus, you just name-dropped Harry Baur as an all-time great Valjean of the screen, so at least as far as I'm concerned -- no worries. :) I think you'll find there's plenty of love for the OFC on these forums, both for the album and the original production. I agree with you that the rough edge of Maurice Barrier's low baritone is extremely well-suited to the the role of Valjean, particularly as the character has been traditionally portrayed across other media. As for how the character has been portrayed in the musical since the creation of the English adaptation, Colm Wilkinson originally had a similar edge to his vocal presentation when the show premiered at the Barbican in 1985 (this is reflected on the OLC recording). When the show was mounted in America, though, his portrayal leaned far more in the direction of the "purity" you described (this is reflected on the OBC recording), and that vocal quality would become the template for future portrayals of the character, at least in the musical. Some people prefer the rougher treatment, some the more legit sound -- I'm all-inclusive, personally. Plenty of room for a broad spectrum of interpretations, as far as I'm concerned. I was introduced to the show in the mid-'90s, when a friend sent me an mp3 of Philip Quast's "Stars" around the same time that I caught pieces of the Royal Albert Hall Concert on my local PBS affiliate, so my earlier memories of the musical are from well past the point that the English adaptation's sound had become standard. But I can certainly appreciate how jarring a transition going from the OFC to that must have been. I'm still not used to the "new" sound of the show, and I don't think I ever will be.


Mon Jan 21, 2013 3:33 pm
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Fresh Face
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Post Re: How were you introduced to Les Miserables?
I guess my first Les Mis experience was when I attended a performance of the Australian production in Melbourne in 1990...when my mum was pregnant with me! The next was seeing the 10th Anniversary Concert on VHS, rented from the video shop, sometime in primary school, but I can't really remember it too well.

Then when I was 12 I auditioned for a production. My school had announced that they were doing 2 musicals the next year with 2 different boys' schools (as we were all girls). One would be Fiddler on the Roof with our brother school and the other would be Les Mis with another boys' school. Originally they asked us to learn On My Own, but then changed it to a section of I Dreamed a Dream and a section of Matchmaker. I got into Fiddler (which was my first choice and we couldn't do both shows) - they actually only wanted girls in year 9 and above for Les Mis because that boys' school only started at that age, plus I guess they didn't want 12 and 13 year olds playing prostitute, and they picked a girl from our Junior School to be Young Cosette (plus both she and Cosette were Asian, and I'm not). It was lucky though, as the boys' school ended up deciding to do the show with a DIFFERENT girls' school (and as these schools are probably the best-known brother-sister school combination it really made a lot more sense!), so I didn't get to see the show. But I did come away loving On My Own!

Then I saw the 25th Anniversary DVD last year, fell in love, bought multiple cast recordings, saw the movie, then will hopefully finally see a staged production later this year when it comes to Melbourne (*fingers crossed*)


Thu Feb 07, 2013 2:47 am
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Fresh Face
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Post Re: How were you introduced to Les Miserables?
Paula74 wrote:
I guess I was meant to see the show because I found $40 lying on the ground and it was enough to get a ticket.


Paula, you know that that money might have been dropped by some innocent kid. And when he said "move your foot, can't you?" you probably told him to "clear out!" :cry:


Tue Feb 19, 2013 5:04 am
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Post Re: How were you introduced to Les Miserables?
I see what you did there :)


Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:46 am
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