Saturday, October 29, 2011

the experience

october 26.

that unforgettable night.

the experience.

10. 26. 11.

the day I saw les misérables.

After a long morning/early afternoon of shopping and monument viewing, we arrived at the Kennedy Center around 5pm. Because we were so early, Mama and I had time to enjoy the majesty of the Center itself, have a bite to eat at the Cafe, and explore the gift shops.

Then the lobbies started to fill, and then began that long wait where five minutes feels like thirty, but then, all of a sudden, you can go in.

for some reason i don't look normal - but that's okay :D

From our box way up high, I could see the entire stage. All was still.

Then, at pretty much exactly 7:30, the first epic chords of the Les Mis Overture rang out and filled the entire Opera House with reverberating sound that did not cease until the Intermission.
[note: all pictures from here on down are from the Les Mis website, Facebook page, and Google]
"My name is Jean Valjean"

Doesn't the despair and anger of that first song really cut to you? "Look down, look down, you'll always be a slave...." Hopelessness.

Probably because I have the original Broadway cast recording, and Randy Graff sounds like a much older Fantine, I was pleasantly surprised with the light voice and youth of Betsy Morgan.

"She has nothing to fear? She has nothing to hide?"

The factory scene was touching and eye-opening. Actually, the whole view of life through the eyes of the poor throughout the entire musical was really interesting.

I felt sorry for Javert - trapped into his sense of duty, without compassion. His religion is justice. And he believes God is on his side. Fascinating.

"And I am Javert. Do not forget my name."

I wondered, could Betsy Morgan sing this song "properly"? (oh, the joys of being a always "know" how everyone's "supposed" to sound, even though you couldn't actually do it "right" yourself :D) Well, it was a Dream.
"Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung, no wine untasted..."

Oh. Right. The Thenardiers.
"Seldom do you see, honest men like me
A gent of good intent, who's content to be
Master of the House..."

So pleasant, such friendly people.


The scene was mostly funny - both of them were phenomenal in their roles.
"What to do? What to say?
Shall you take our treasure away?"

And then, after the touching scene with Valjean and Cosette, life marches on. 

And then...

Oh, Marius.
"My heart is on fire..."
"My world if she's not there..."

Doesn't his boyish passion want to make you laugh? He's so serious (and so's Cosette) and they're both so young, so pretty (or handsome, as the case maybe) and innocent. I wish I could find a picture of their adorable little song together "A Heart Full of Love". I couldn't have envisioned it any better myself. :) Justin Scott Brown and Jenny Latimer are Marius and Cosette. And I don't know of a better compliment to give an actor or actress.

I loved Eponine. Her voice had a different ring to it, and was very full. Chasten Harmon sang with passion, an essential when performing a character like Eponine. I cried during "On My Own" - partly because the words effect me strangely, but mostly because of the feeling they were delivered with. Thank you, Chasten! I was soooo worried that I wouldn't like the way the touring cast did Eponine - but was thrilled. Thrilled. Chasten Harmon will forever be "my" Eponine :)
"And I know it's only in my mind,
that I'm talking to myself, and not to him..."

Enjolras - always wondered what his exact vision was for the uprising, but I appreciated the romance of it all. Love the curly hair too :) 
"Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men"

And of course, the epic finale of Act One - "One Day More"
"Tomorrow we'll discover what our God in heaven has in store
One more dawn, one more day, One Day More!"

Just for the record - the sets were incredible. 



They were based on artwork by Victor Hugo himself (painted long ago, of course) and they added such a unique feel to the show. I loved the "moving" projections....but more on that in a minute. 
street for the barricade and "one day more"


Back to the barricade.

Eponine's death scene is rather a delicate task to undertake. How to show her pain, her joy, her life, her love for Marius and Marius's brotherly love for her in one song? I cried, simply because it was beautiful, tragic, and powerful.
"She was the first to fall..."

You see the behavior of the students - first blood, first death of someone they knew. You see them begin to think that maybe this was a little more than they bargained for.

"He's like the son I might have known..."

I'm one of those handful of Les Mis fans who have a little bit of hard time (not much, but some) with Colm Wilkinson (original London and Broadway casts) when he sings "Bring Him Home" and "Who Am I?" (yes, his two main songs :P) For me, it's mainly because he has to hit high notes, and sometimes they don't quite get there with the umph that I love. So I told Mama during the beginning of Act Two that even though J. Mark McVey was doing a splendid job as Valjean so far ("Who Am I?" was *gorgeous*), I would refrain from saying whether I liked him or not until he sang "Bring Him Home."

What a song.

What a performance.

"Bring him peace, bring him joy,
He is young, he is only a boy..."

So, verdict: I like J. Mark McVey as Jean Valjean.

"Will the world remember you when you fall?
Could it be your death means nothing at all?
Is your life just one more life?"

The lyrics of "Drink With Me" are filled with so many difficult questions. Only Grantaire could voice what they were all thinking - that's why they were angry with him at first, but then brought him back into the circle. More tears here.

I thought they did the barricade very well. Live gun shots, strobe lights, theater smoke, and dramatic death scenes all at the same time? That's Les Mis for ya.

One of the neatest things in the whole show was the scene in the sewers of Paris
the Victor Hugo painting used for as the projection of one of the sewer tunnels

First of all, Valjean actually carried Marius the whole time. That's a feat, and very important to the story.

And then there were the amazing projections. There was one with huge stone buttresses (you can sort of see it in the picture below) - that was my favorite :)
"It's a world where the dog eats dog..."

Javert was phenomenal. What a conflict that man has with himself! Too bad he felt the only way out was to jump off a bridge. A powerful scene - and the part when he falls off into the "water" is actually pretty cool.
"There is nothing on earth that we share
It is either Valjean or Javert!"
(And yes, I am aware that the picture is actually from "Stars", not his death scene, but it gives you the general idea)

I'll say this again just so you don't forget.

Justin Scott Brown is Marius.
"There's a grief that can't be spoken, there's a pain goes on and on..."

Oh. These guys again.
"Life is easy pickings if you grab your chance..."

I just love the end of Les Misérables. Well, I wish it would never end, but still, if it has to end, it better end well. 

Just downright sweet. And right. 
"To love another person is to see the face of God."

The finale ties it all together.
[note: the next two photos are actually with Lawrence Clayton as Valjean. Couldn't find pics with McVey. I'm sure Clayton was amazing too, and he's part of the Les Mis company as well, so I don't mind giving him "screen time"]
"Take my love, for love is everlasting..."

and those ringing words of hope....
"Will you join in our crusade? Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade, is there a world you long to see?
Do you hear the people sing? Say, do you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that they bring when tomorrow comes!"

My experience with the 25th anniversary production on tour of
les misérables

One of those "my life will never be the same again" nights. 

And this time I'm serious :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

i love....

....signing into my email account this morning to see a whopping 10 birthday emails waiting to be read! a daze after my Les Miserables experience last night

...signing into Blogger and spending forty minutes reading blogs - many of which had a "stolen" picture of myself at the top of them :) Thank you for all the lovely posts and messages and comments! Y'all are wonderful, fantastic, awesome, kindred spirits :) at Tyson's Corner all morning yesterday

...eating at the Kennedy Center Cafe before the show

...J. Mark McVey singing "Bring Him Home" in the barricade

...finding a new scarf and new boots at Nordstrom's (Tyson's Corner)

....Justin Scott Brown. He. Is. Marius.

...spending the night with Nana and Co. 

...the amazing background projections for "Javert's Suicide" and the sewer scenes

...holding Winnie for the first time!

...the Les Miz costumes - all of them. (well, *almost* all of them *chuckle*)

...pumpkin spice lattes

...Marius and Cosette in "A Heart Full of Love" - absolutely adorable :) Seeing live was much better than the soundtrack :)

...the Roger Moore Muppet Show at midnight. "But I don't *want* to make it work!"

...having an absolutely out-of-this-world birthday and trip to D.C. with Mama. Will never forget it. Ever.

"...It is the future that they bring when tomorrow comes!" 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

i see you!

Well, it's here!

October 25, 2011.

I am now


Thank you all for being such great friends, and making these past two years of blogging so much fun!



Friday, October 21, 2011

right now.

I'm sipping tea, reading blogs, and thinking about my week ahead.

I'm going to a square dance on Saturday.

I'm getting baptized (along with six other members of my family) on Sunday.

I have group class on Monday - first one of the year! Y'all know how much I <3 group classes :) I'm playing Chopin's Csharp minor waltz...not sure if it's ready, but it'll be alright :)

Tuesday? MY BIRTHDAY!!! And class, and driving up to MD to see the Wachters and spend the night because...

On Wednesday, Mama and I are going to Washington D.C. to see Les Miserables on STAGE!!!! Only slightly exciting, of course. I'm so stoic. You can't even tell....

On Thursday, we drive home in time for Spanish.

Friday afternoon is the start of our church's annual retreat - always such a sweet time.

Saturday - retreat all day long, with a church-wide football game :)

Sunday - Reformation Sunday, which is just neat.



That's what I'm looking at for the next eight days.

So if you don't see me around the blog for a little while - you'll know why :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

my answers

Finally getting around to posting my answers for the blog party. Join the fun HERE! (it's open till the 31st)
{1} When you think of "old movies", what immediately comes to mind?
this adorable little lady. no matter how predictable, no matter how sappy, i love all the shirley temple movies :)
{2} Who's your one of you favorite film or literary heroes (or heroines) and why?
Oh, boy. I'm not sure why I chose to ask such difficult questions...I guess it's because I don't actually answer them till after I make everyone else do it *haha* As an FYI, Aragorn is my favorite hero *ever*, but since I'm doing a whole post on him at some point, I'll do someone else right now :) Actually, I'll give you one heroine, and one hero (ironically, they're both film and literary):
Elizabeth Bennett of Pride and Prejudice
Despite the fact, dear Anna, that we both love Frodo....we can't always agree on everything *smile*
Elizabeth is my hands-down favorite Jane Austen heroine, and one of my favorite "historical" heroines. Lizzy and I are very much alike in more ways than you think *mysterious grin* We both have four sisters, although I am the oldest - not second (thank goodness!), we both have long dark hair, we both love to dance, we like to read, we both have personalities more like our fathers (although my mother is *nothing* -read: nothing- like Mrs. Bennett *chuckle*) and a few other things....but I'll stop here :) I. Love. Lizzy!

John Thornton from North and South
"I believe I have seen hell - and it is snow white."
Mr. Thornton - what a character. He lost his father, he worked from the bottom, he made a life for himself and his mother and sister, he struggled, he saw pain, he saw death, he found love - and nearly lost it. Depth. Love it. (click here to read more)

{3} If you could live in a movie, which one would it be and why?
Oh, right now, Lord of the Rings.
I would love to talk and dress like the LOTR characters everyday of the week - and twice on Sundays :) I love the way Aragorn and Legolas just start speaking Elvish at critical moments - too bad no one speaks Elvish 'round here :/
But sometimes I wish I lived in Star Wars, or Pride and Prejudice (dancing!!!), or Narnia, or even Pirates (though I've never seen it - their costumes are scrumptious and I've always wanted to try being a pirate for a little while :P)

{4} Music has changed a lot since 1900 - which "modern" type of music is your favorite?

{5} Any songs you'd like to share with us? (lyrics, video, etc.)
...hey, after my birthday, it's time for Christmas music. What did you say? It's too early? Oh, posh.

{6} If your life had soundtrack, what would it sound like?
A mixture of Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean with some seventies band-like stuff thrown in at odd places, oh, and lots of regency dance music - like this:

{7} When do you start counting down till your birthday? I really need to answer this? October 26th - duh! *chuckle* Actually, more like April 14th or June 11th or somewhere in between :)

{8} What makes your birthday special?
It's a day all my own - no sharing necessary! Okay, that sounds selfish, but I really do love that one day a year when I have a "me" day - I pick the meals, the activities, and whether I do school or not :)

{9} Do you ever wish you were born in a different month?

{10} pick and post five words to describe your personality - you can add a description under each if you like.
musical - i *breathe* music. i sing all day long. there is a song for everything, and i'm working on finding out what it is :)
romantic - <3
slighty crazed - had to put this in for leia...simply because it's true *wink*
happy - i'm a generally happy person, i want everyone to be happy with me. and when they aren't....i'm not. so please be happy *grin*
leader - nat-ur-uhl-ly! being a born-leader (whether you wanted to be or not) has its drawbacks, but in general, i love it!

Friday, October 14, 2011

sixty-eight-degree happiness

song in my head: "dance of the cucumber" sung by Larry, translated by Bob
Oh. My. Word.
Today is absolutely gorgeous, so fall-ish and lovely. It's only about 68 degrees outside, so I'm wearing my new sweater jacket from Kohl's. The wind is up, and guess what:

the leaves are changing!!!

That makes me want to dance :) I love the fact that leaves *change color*. And not just any color. They turn red, orange, yellow, light brown, gold - all those wonderful autumnal shades that I love so much. Hey, they're my blog colors too - in case you didn't notice. :)

I just love fall.

You know, *thinking hard* I think I love fall more than I love Phantom and even Frodo.

That's probably a good thing.

Know what I love most?


'Cause only God could make leaves change color when and the way they do.

He doesn't have to do it either.

He chooses to.


Because He loves beauty, and He wants to bless us with beauty too.

I love that most. God blesses us, poor sinful us, because He loves us.



I took a power nap this afternoon (I know, my thought processes move quickly - do try and keep up :P), and then decided to take pictures of myself. I'd only been awake for about five minutes. 
Enjoy my expression. This is what 68 degree weather does to Southern girls. It makes us joyful, happy, random, sleepy and generally goofy. Well, at least, that's what it does to Titty and I. *grin*

Found this video this morning, and it has greatly contributed to my high spirits. I'm going to use in it my Spanish presentation next month:

"La Cancion del Pueblo" from Los Miserables
(the Spanish version of Les Miserables)

Okay folks. I'm going outside to enjoy this lovely God-given day.

One last thing before we go....

Only ELEVEN days left of being 16!

Thursday, October 13, 2011


note: This is one of those "I love" posts, when you wonderfully forbearing readers sigh and say "Oh, Jo", because you know that the truth is, I love *lots* of things, and I have *lots* of favorite characters, favorite movies, favorite songs, etc. and you just read my "favorite character of all time" and just smile :) That's why I love you :) xoxo. Jo.

When we first started watching The Fellowship of the Ring, I was absolutely *thrilled* with Frodo. (Actually, I was thrilled with all the characters - there literally wasn't a *single* one I would've done differently.) He was exactly what I hoped he'd be, plus more.

The first thing I hoped he'd be was interesting.

Yeah, pretty simple. Just plain old interesting.

In the books, Frodo irritated and bored me sometimes. I wished the story would move off of him and Sam and get back to the action (read: Aragorn and Legolas) I got mad over the times Frodo made a bad decision (a.k.a. put on the ring) and was just plain tired of him.

But, in the movies, I didn't mind at all :) The more Frodo, the better! *grin* I was able to feel and understand his internal "war" with the ring - instead of just moaning and groaning and thinking "If I were Frodo...." I watched it take over him, and realized that if I probably would've done the same thing if I really were him.

To start, Frodo isn't quite as crazy as the other Hobbits (read: Merry and Pippin), but he does have that humorous personality that comes out in unexpected places and leaves you chuckling to yourself.

He has that quietness that makes you think, "He knows something. He gets it." And sometimes you feel a little left behind - like Frodo lives a world all his own.

I admire his character in choosing to let Gollum live. "Maybe he does deserve to die." He recognized that Gollum still had "good left in him" (sorry, that's a Star Wars quote :P) and when he has that "heart to heart" conversation with Gollum, calling him Smeagol, I almost cried. Frodo was so gentle, "That was your name once, wasn't it?" and Smeagol's eyes changing from harsh and suspicious to soft and gentle....mmm. You could see all the pain, hurt, confusion, remembrance, all of it, in Smeagol's eyes.

And of course, Frodo and Sam. I don't remember if it was here, or on in my chat status (too many things to keep up with!! :P) but I said something about the first time in a long time I've really just cried during a movie was at the end The Fellowship of the Ring when Sam joins Frodo in the boat. Dear Frodo. He so much wanted to keep anyone else from having to share in the difficulties he had to work through, but then, "I'm glad you're with me, Sam."

Last, but *definitely* not least: dear Frodo is a Hobbit. And I love Hobbits. Like I mentioned in a previous post, I think I'm part Hobbit. Frodo is some kind of relative. Well....yeah.

Hobbits are innocent. They are strong in spirit, strong in constitution, strong mentally, and hardy physically. And they're short. And they have big feet (I didn't just say that....did I?) And they are just Hobbits. *deep sigh* And I love Hobbits. And because I love Hobbits, I love Frodo. 
(and Sam and Merry, and Pippin, of course, but they get their own posts :D)

But I probably wouldn't name one of my children Frodo. Just because.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

late night musings

listening to: “Any Dream Will Do” sung by Donny Osmond
It’s been a great evening, and consequently, I’m not ready to go to bed just yet. I’ll probably be up till eleven, which means I’ll have trouble getting up in the morning…and tomorrow is “in-town” day which means we’ll be leaving ridiculously early in the morning, and I’ll be tired. But that’s okay. I can handle it :)
I’m typing this on a Word doc on our upstairs laptop. I find it much easier to say what I want when I’m in the comfort of the closet, without the scores of “rubber neckers” walking past, desperate to see what you’re typing :P Life in family of ten. *sigh* I just finished editing the final draft of a paper due in Spanish class tomorrow, this is my "reward"  :)
Today we cooked the meal for our church’s Wednesday night fellowship supper. It was a lot of work, we were baking all day long. The menu consisted of ham delights, cream of tomato soup, sliced peaches, and “Aunt Della May’s Chocolate Cherry Cake”. Completely worth the effort. It was a church conference night, and the main topic was the budget. Not the most interesting thing in the world, and we spent the evening in the downstairs sanctuary playing piano, teaching games to each other and the younger children, and having fun. Our friends’ cousins are still visiting, so it was great seeing “Matthew” again *wink*
Guess what I have tomorrow? Spanish exam! Kind of. We voted in our last class (at our teacher’s suggestions – told you he was awesome) to *not* have our test. We’re just going to do the oral/listening exercises in class, and then we take the written part home to do over fall break. Our teacher gave us only two rules:
1: Trabaje sólo.
2: Use su libro.
That’s my kind of test - open book. :)
My playlist just finished playing “Billy Don’t Be A Hero”. I don’t think I agree with the “young and lovely fiancée” in the song. She’s sorta negative. I would be depressed if my girlfriend was telling me to “keep my head low” and “don’t be a fool with [my] life”. Oh, well. He didn’t listen to her :) Moving on…
Thanks to all those who have entered my blog party/giveaway so far! The party goes on…please join in! If you’re a frequent reader, but can’t follow my blog ‘cause you don’t have a Blogger account, just comment on the party post and say who you are and that you read my blog often, and I’ll count that as the mandatory “follow me” entry. :)
 “I gave you my music/Made your song take wing/And now, how you’ve repaid me/Denied me and betrayed me/He was bound to love you/When he heard you sing…..” The undying beauty and mystery of the Webber musicals. *peaceful sigh*
Okay, I’m signing off. Time to get this published so I can head off to bed. Long day tomorrow…but hey, it’s Thursday, and that means that the week is *almost* over, and that means that my birthday is almost next week! (if that makes any sense….it probably doesn’t…but that's okay. I'm just excited, 'cause my birthday week brings my birthday (of course), Les Miz, group class, AND I get to see Nana!!! All the more reason to be excited.

Okay, really off now.



Tuesday, October 11, 2011

why i love the country

we can camp. without paying for a campsite. just grab some friends...

...set up tents...

...and wake up gloriously early in the middle of God's creation...

....prepare the food... well...

...freeze, since it's cold outside in late September (these are my feet, btw)... 

...chill (literally) with friends... around a little...

...or a lot...

...(our new "after church sport" is soccer)... have loyal dogs to guard ya...

...(I can't believe how much my puppies have grown! Remember THIS post almost exactly two years ago?)...

....lotsa little munchkins to play with... can be creative with drink cups (guess whose this is? *sheepish grin* brownie points to anyone who knows what it means!)...

...and then we put out the fire...

...and it's over. 

IMHO, you can never camp too often, so maybe we can do another one before the frost sets in :) *crosses fingers*

This particular campout was about two weeks ago. It's about half the size of our normal campouts (only three other families, and all from our church), but it was still fun.