LES MIS?RABLES….Last night Marian and I went with some friends to see the traveling production of Les Mis?rables. It’s a great show and this is the third or fourth time I’ve seen it. The audience obviously enjoyed the show too and lustily booed Javert when he made his curtain call, which I thought was pretty funny (and the actor obviously got a kick out of it it too).

The first time I saw Les Mis?rables was about a decade ago. We got tickets for a local production, but shortly before the show date I got stuck with a business trip to Europe. This was a drag, especially since I had decided to read the book in preparation and I hated to waste all that time. But when I got to London it occurred to me that there was no reason to miss out. The London production was basically sold out, but there were still a few odd single seats left, and since I was by myself I was able to get one pretty cheaply from the box office. It was a lousy, partially obstructed seat, but when I got there I found out that it was in the middle of a row of seats occupied by a group of four. They wanted to sit together, so they traded seats with me and I ended up watching the show from a nice (but still nosebleed) seat at about the same time that Marian and a friend of mine were seeing it in Orange County.

You don’t need to read the book to enjoy the musical, of course, but it certainly gave me a greater appreciation for the seamless work that the creators did in writing the show. The novel is over 1,400 pages long, but the show does a remarkably good job of maintaining its narrative and emotional flow in under three hours of stage time. Of course, it doesn’t tell you exactly what it was that Jean Valjean wrote on the piece of paper he handed to Cosette during the final deathbed scene. For that you’ve got to read the book….