Well, long threatening has come at last. I finally have seen Les Miserables. Yes, I know. What can I tell you. I’ve still never seen Cats or the Phantom either. But Les Mis can now get a little check in the Yes column.
Here’s what I decided somewhere in the second act (and a 3-hour show? Really, people? Butt numbing.), I’ll call it the Whitney/Dolly Transversal. I Will Always Love You is a terrific song – classic even. Dolly Parton is a helluva songwriter. Whitney Houston’s performance of this song is EPIC. Her vocal range and power is irrefutable. She could blow the paint off of a Buick when she hits that last chorus. I still prefer Dolly’s rendition. And it’s not about a country/R&B thing (I dig both). It’s a scale thing. Dolly’s version is fragile, and comes from a broken heart that still loves. Whitney’s is bombastic. It’s the same level that she put into the National Anthem. Too big. At least for me. I never really connect. (Come to think of it, now that Miss Whitney’s voice is showing a little wear and tear, I’d love to see her revisit this.) And I’d say 90% of Les Mis is at the Whitney end of the spectrum. I was just fatigued by the time the show ended. And not in a good way.
But, I know I’m in the minority on this one. And it was definitely not the production; they do what they do and they do it well. People just loved the show last night. Happy faces all around. And that’s really what’s important. They don’t program the Performing Arts Center just for me (if they did, they’d be running a production of White Christmas starring Hugh Jackman and Harry Connick Jr. – from my blog to God’s ears).
The best moment of the night for me was when the actors were doing their run-through of the fight scene. No costumes, just t-shirts and sweats. Then the Winspear techs brought down the chandelier like they do before nearly every show so that it’s lit when the guests come in. And they all just turned to watch the lights come down – “Hey, there it goes!” All their faces turned up to the blue light. Pulling out their cell phones to take pictures. This is a touring cast that has been in theaters all over the country. And they stopped to watch our chandelier. Even applauded. I love that. Happens nearly every time. When you work at the center, you get kind of used to what is actually a pretty glamorous venue. It’s nice when visitors remind you.