Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I dreamed a dream (it came true)

"That’s the scary thing about theatre—it doesn’t live on. But that’s actually the most beautiful thing about it, too. That’s why it’s more beautiful than film and certainly more beautiful than television, because it’s like life. Real life. Any picture that you take or any video that you make of yourself is not really you, it’s only an image that represents the experience you had. In theatre, the process of it is the experience. Everyone goes through the process, and everyone has the experience together. It doesn’t last—only in people’s memories and in their hearts. That’s the beauty and sadness of it. But that’s life—beauty and the sadness. And that is why theatre is life." -Sherie Rene Scott

Back when I fell in love with Les Misérables--the novel, the songs, the story, the musical--I dreamed about being in the show someday. Never in a million years figured I'd ever be "good enough" or that I'd "make it" to be in a production of Les Mis. It was one of those "wow it'd be great but it'll never happen" type things. Looking back at the way things worked out--not getting into a show I auditioned for at my university, another show I auditioned for being cancelled--it all led to me being right here, with this cast, telling this story, on a couple chilly days in November, giving everything we had.

A part of me hesitates to share pictures of this show because it just seems too personally real--because nothing can do justice to that "theatre is life" mentality, of everyone having the experience together. It's not the same seeing stills, you know? We poured our hearts out on that stage. It's hard not to bond with a cast you work with, but Les Mis? That's my family. I've tired to describe to people what an exceptional cast it was (and is)--the passion and the guts we spilled in telling this story. Everyone had this deep-rooted love and dedication to doing this epic justice--and honestly it only grew from there, as we grew together.

It wasn't perfect by any means. Les Mis is inherently uncomfortable, and it's supposed to be that way, and yes please laugh at me being a lovely lady because I still laugh about it, to be honest. Our orchestra and venue were both less than ideal, we had only one legitimate full dress and tech rehearsal before opening, we were e x h a u s t e d from long nights singing and long days not talking to save our voices for the weekend. Les Mis isn't a show you can put on lightly. You give all or nothing. Looking back, our three performances went by so quickly, but when you're singing through that monster twice in one day, you better have brought extra tea and tylenol.

What am I even saying anymore. Performance weekend. So many people I know came to see it--some of them for the first time on stage, some for the first time ever, some for the twentieth, fiftieth time. Maybe it wasn't more than any other show that I've been in, but this show meant more to me, so it meant more when friends came, and it was so very dear to me.  I was told we were better than the national tour (what?!)--because there was just more to our production. Probably the best compliment. I'm not sure anyone really knows what it means to me that they pay money to see me help tell stories. I was overwhelmed at the people who came to see me playing a small part in my favorite one.

During the epilogue, as we sang the final refrains (do you hear the people sing?), we in the ensemble walked from the back through the audience and sang right in the aisles. Every night, I got a lump that would swell in my throat that I had to force myself to sing over. Not sad--so so overcome with j o y. Closing night, people in the crowd were standing and singing with us. That's the time I could have cried.

OKAY MAN. I'm gonna stop with this emotional drama, wow. Let's all take a deep breath and look at some pictures, cool? Cool. Caution spoiler alert and all that jazz. (I shall caption some of them to explain and point myself out since I know ya'll obviously want to see me). And when no one was spotlighted, lighting was very warm, so that's fun and orange on-camera. You will also see orchestra members heads peeping up (along with other tech issues--these are from dress rehearsal which was ahem still a work in progress). Oh oh oh and guys I got mic'd for one of my solo lines for the first time ever! It was exciting. Okay this is pretty chronological along the story, let's go.

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valjean's soliloquy
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the bishop
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that's me coughing on the ground sniff
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me as a factory worker yay photo lm-8.jpg
me hatin' on fantine
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I dreamed a dream
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me as a lovely lady to the left of green hat girl...yup.
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me gettin' money as a lovely lady, oops
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I wish you should see our lovely lady make-up closer because it was suitably wretched
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fantine </3
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who am I? 24601!
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come to meeee
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master of the house...this scene was so flippin' fun
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you can't see me well, but I'm in shadow on the floor with my mouth open (drunk, ya know)
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lil baby cosette
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gavroche and the street urchins
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marius and eponine
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javert singing stars...oh chills
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friends of the abc!
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lovestruck marius sigh
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lovestruck cosette sigh
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uh oh peeps startin' to die ('ponine's death though...tears)
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bring him home
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more peeps be dyin' (gavroche, cue gross sobbing)
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all the peeps be dead now, even e
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seeing the dead boys at the barricade...that's me above the kneeling girl with a hand at my throat looking quite distraught
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javert's suicide...UGH SO GOOD
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empty chairs at empty tables
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the wedding!
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beggars at the feast
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the epilogue ugh kill me dead
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"to love another person is to see the face of God"
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"do you hear the people sing, lost in the valley of the night? it is the music of a people who are rising to the light!"

Wow, is trying to scroll through that story so fast in a couple pictures emotionally exhausting for anyone else? No? Just me? Ahem okay moving on. Here's backstage pictures of me as both a normal townsperson (with our lovely Cosette!):

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...aaand as a lovely lady (with a street urchin, and ugh that make-up, so gross to cake on my face, enjoy that):

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Also for your viewing pleasure, a collage of some of my faces as captured candidly in character.  I've been laughing over this for a good three days.  I suppose it's called Les Misérables for a reason.

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These next pictures are just...ahh my heart swells when I see them. I was so happy. These are from closing night. My heart was so full of joy and beauty and gratitude and love and HAPPY. Can you see my face?! Nothing beats moments like these, they come one in a million: when you know you're where you're supposed to be, when you're so happy and proud and tired and blessed and content and full of everything you've accomplished and yet so sad it's over and yet so whole knowing that even though it's something you can't go back to, it will be a forever life-changing-or-at-least-defining experience in your heart. ugh. tears. Thankful I got to share these moments with such dear friends.

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GUYS IT'S BEEN TWO MONTHS AND STILL. I still get chills talking about it sometimes, and I don't know how I'll really top that theatrical experience. I'm so grateful. Grateful that I ended up in this show, grateful for how much I've grown through this musical, grateful for the friends I've made, grateful for how much I've l e a r n e d (oh so much), grateful for the support of so many dear people who came to see it, grateful for this heart-wrenching story that touches me in so many ways. Oh joy. I need to go have a good musical-induced cry now. Vive Les Misérables.
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