Last night my mom and I took Chris and Kieran to see "Les Miserables" at Jesuit High School. I'd never heard of a high school tackling that musical, but if anyone can do it, Jesuit can. They have amazing musical and theatrical talent, not to mention production capabilities and funding. Their theatrical productions are stellar.
The first time I heard the music from "Les Miz" was when my college pal Kristin sent me a cassette tape (yes, I'm old!) when I lived in Japan. She painstakingly wrote out the entire synopsis of the play and sent it along with the cassette, so I would have a better appreciation of the music. (Thanks, Kristin!)
Mike and I saw "Les Miz" in London in the early 1990s--it was my first taste of London theater--and loved it. But I had not seen it since then, and I forgot how terribly tragic it all is. Nearly everyone dies!
I read the synopsis to Kieran on Wikipedia before we went and also encouraged Chris to read it as well. At the intermission, they both pronounced it "good." But that second act! I cried my way through. (I leak at the drop of the hat ever since the NICU--and really good theater, or just any theater sometimes, moves me to tears. Often.) The kids had some difficulty following the complex plot, but seemed to be enjoying it. Until the end.
When we left the theater, I could tell that Chris was upset by the play. When we were leaving, the death of so many characters really seemed to sink in. All the way home, and after we arrived home (around 10:45!), both kids were lamenting about how sad it was. Kieran woke up and came downstairs around 1 a.m., saying he was too scared to sleep in his bedroom. His departure woke Nicholas, so I ended up with both of them in my bed.
Last night I was worried that I'd traumatized them for life. But by today, they had recovered--and in fact, keep replaying the Les Miz songs on the Broadway Kids CD over and over again! Emotional scarring of my children aside, it was truly a breath-taking show. All of the actors were students, and the young man playing Javert had the deepest voice I have ever heard. Simply amazing.
Then this morning we had the fortunate gift of witnessing a dress rehearsal of Portland Opera to Go (POGO), which goes out into schools teaching kids about opera. My cousin Tim's wife, Ginger, works for the Portland Opera and invited us to attend. We thoroughly enjoyed it! The POGO company is doing "opera improv," where not only did they teach us about opera (much of it I did not know--like that all the various parts are typically reserved for certain characters), but they also created the opera based on audience participation. It was totally up my kids' alley and great fun.
Tomorrow afternoon we will see "39 Steps" at Portland Center Stage!