association obsession with Les Miserables dates back to 1993 when Lawrence University music professor Ken Bozeman sang “Bring Him Home” at my dad’s funeral.
The first music book I purchased when my husband bought me a piano he couldn’t afford 20 years ago was the Les Miserables score.
Later that year we saw the show in Chicago with an enthralled four-year old Katherine and a squirmy six-year old Charlie (who turned out to be suffering from an allergic reaction to penicillin that required an emergency hospital visit and a shot with a really big needle.) Thereafter Katherine costumed herself appropriately and sang “Castle on a Cloud” whenever she had to clean her room or clear the kitchen table.
The Les Mis sound tracked killed a good 2 1/2 hours on a typical family road trip (after one of which I walked into a Blockbuster Video with first grader Charlie sweetly belting out “Lovely ladies smell them through the smoke. Seven days at sea can make you hungry for a poke.” “That might be an inside-the-house song, Charlie,” I whispered hastily.)
A decade later, Charlie hoisted several characters including a singing Gavroche and a dying Eponine and carried them around the revolving stage in his high school’s production of Les Miserables.
That high school production, which my husband saw five times, stands as one of his favorite shows of all time.
We’ve seen the show professionally several times and this year we capped a perfect Christmas day with a spontaneous family trip to the movie theater to catch an opening night showing of Les Miserable. Charlie and Vinnie sang the pivotal confrontation scene all the way home.
Beyond the fact that we can trace 20 years of family history to the world’s longest running musical, we just really like this show. The twin themes of redemption and hope give us all reason to smile and the memorable score gives us all reason to sing.
If you haven’t seen it yet, hustle on down to your nearest movie theater and see Les Miserables — Anne Hathaway’s heartbreaking Fantine will give you reason enough to go.
In March, make your way over to Appleton North where one of the best theater departments in the country, according to Stage Directions 2012 High School Honor Roll, will be presenting the full length version of Les Miserables.
You’ll be awfully glad you did.
Here is Katherine as Cosette in the 1996 Franklin Elementary School Talent Show:
And here is how Vinnie chose to recuperate from shoulder surgery last night with his big brother Charlie’s support: