At the end of August, Abe and I trekked our way to New York City. We did a lot of fun things while we were there, but the highlight of the trip was something I've wanted to do for a loooonnnggg time: see Les Miserables on Broadway.
I first read Les Mis when I was in high school, and at that time I fell in love with the epic tale of Jean Valjean. His journey to self-redemption and redemption in the eyes of God is masterful, and while an incredible novel, the story lends itself perfectly to both screen and stage as well.
For those of you who don't know the story, let me summarize it for you: Jean Valjean stole a loaf of bread to give to his sister's starving children and was sent to prison. Fast forward ten odd years and he's living in society as a scorned convict, with no prospects and no place to live and he is bitter. A kindly priest gives him shelter for the night, and in his bitterness he steals the man's silver and steals away into the night. However, he is caught and sure to go back to prison when the policemen take him back to the priest - but something unexpected happens. The priest tells the authorities that he gave Jean Valjean that silver, and some candlesticks too. With this truly kind and forgiving gesture Jean Valjean's life starts to change. He promises from that point forward to be a man of God, to be a man that deserves to live good and freely.
This is all good and well, of course, but he is still a convict. So he runs off, dashes that identity and creates a new one. But one policeman, Javert, will never give up on searching for this escaped convict.
Throughout the tale there is a stark contrast between Jean Valjean, the godly man who wants nothing but to help others, and Javert, the rigid rule follower who doesn't care about the reasons but only the law. They are perfect foils to each other, and in the play I loved seeing how this contrast played out. One of my favorite scenes was the one in which Javert has an internal struggle with his purpose - once again Valjean has showed him mercy, but he feels that if he gives up on his search for justice with this man, he is betraying not only himself but his country. In the end, he cannot handle it anymore and jumps to his death.
There were numerous more scenes in the play that had me riveted - actually I don't think I relaxed the entire show. The music, the set, everything was incredible.
I was hugely impressed with the performance and I wish I could see it again and again. Unfortunately, the show ended on September 4th, so unless it comes back someday that won't be possible :'( However, though you cannot see the show right now, I do recommend reading the novel! Though it is long, it is, plainly, amazing. I also do recommend BabyLit's version of the tale for your baby as an easy introduction to the tale and to the French language. It's one of Abe's favorite stories as well ;)