Eight years ago, my friend Kim insisted on taking my two sons, Marco and Max, and I to the 25th Anniversary production of Les Miserables at the Ahmanson theater in Los Angeles, whether we liked it or not. I was sort of curious about the play as I used to see Kim and various members of her family go to all sorts of Les Miz productions over the years, including ones done in a high school auditorium. We went that night at her treat with husband Tony and her kids, AJ and Alexa. I was transformed and transfixed. Never had a play touched so deeply with music so searing it was as if it wrote its songs on your soul. Max was nine at the time and pierced as well by this production.
At Max’s insistence, we had to do the customary backstage door wait for his coveted cast member autograph. Adult Cosette came out and Max was having none of it. Can you please see if little Cosette can come out, I asked her? Max had been smitten to say the least. She was gracious enough to honor our request and out came the precious, young Cosette. Max got her autograph. At home that night he looked her up on Facebook and sent her a message. Two years later, we were sitting on the sofa one night with various technology on our laps, when Max said, “She answered”. Who answered, I asked. Cosette. She answered my Facebook message. The actress thanked him for his kind words of praise of her performance. She explained she had been busy touring with the play all this time and apologized for answering so late. There was an outright grin on his face from that one.
Kim had given me her Mom’s 25th anniversary CD to listen to and Max and I spent a few years riding around blasting the soundtrack and singing badly along, well me anyway. He can at least carry a tune. One night coming home by myself from a less than safe looking part of town from a football game I had to leave Max at, I decided that if I blast the Les Miz score really loud out of my car amidst the bass booming boom boxes of my fellow travelers, I was pretty sure no one would bother me. It worked.
The 25th anniversary performance in Los Angeles was a short-lived event; as big plays are want to do here. I promised Max at the time, that if Les Miz ever came back to Broadway in a new production, we would be there to see it. And that’s how I ended up taking about 13 family and friends to see the new Broadway production a few years ago. And what a treat to see it with the West End’s own Alfie Boe.
We all test the sensibilities of people, whether overtly or covertly, according to some inner litmus test, whether we are conscious of it or not. For many years, Les Miz was this test for me. I was thrilled to see my niece, Eliza, love the play and the music as much as we did this night. After my discovery of the play through my dear friend, I discovered it was the favorite of another dear friend of mine. No wonder, I thought. It’s Marjorie. Fast forward a few years and there I was on the isle of Guernsey with another Les Miz-er, who gladly stormed Victor Hugo’s house, under construction and not to be visited this time, so she can snap a few pictures for us. Sandi only left when the loud and frenzied French woman asked her to. A good friend she is.
Tonight, it’s Mother’s Day 2019 and that Broadway production is now on tour and so for the third time I will get to see this mother of all musicals. The best sound track ever. Sorry, Alexander, it just is. I will see it tonight with another dear friend, Patty, who rearranged her Mother’s Day to accompany me. Happy Mother’s Day to my Les Miserables moms, Kim, Marjorie, Sandi and Patty and to my Les Miz kids; Max, AJ, Alexa and Eliza.