Friday, July 17, 2015

I finally published Kindle Versions!

Since starting these projects in 2009, I've finally finished, and published them on Kindle:

Here is the version for Children: Les Miserables: Children's Edition

It's 44,308 words: written so that a 10 year old can read and enjoy the entire book. $2

Here is the version for High School Students:Les Miserables: High School Edition

It's 97,832 words: written with more details, more French terminology preserved, yet still 80% shorter than the full book. (The original text by Victor Hugo contains over 540,000 words). Also $2

...and Here is my version.  The one I like to read.  Les Miserables: Ultimate Fan Edition

It's 251,566 words: Includes all the descriptions and details that have anything to do with the plot, 1/2 the length of the original.  And yes, of course, it also costs just $2

Monday, June 10, 2013

Review: California Musical Theater Production of Les Miserables.

This show was spectacular.  I went in expecting a good show - but I knew it wasn't the Broadway production, or the North American Touring group - so I didn't expect it to be great.  It was.

The staging, the orchestra, and the lighting were perfect.  Really.  It was perfectly staged with great use of set pieces for multiple scenes with nothing seeming out of place.  The orchestra was perfect, volume was great, and I was amazed to hear an orchestra sounding just as good as the 25th Anniversary concert in the O2 in London.  They really were that good.

Director's staging choices: Most of it was perfect, there were only a few moments when I said "that was really awkward."
 1. When Marius and Cosette are singing "A Heart Full of Love" their voices and words sound like they are in rapture while there bodies stand stiffly 6 feet apart and they take one awkward step toward each other every four measures.  It was contrived and didn't work.
 2. I understand the Thenardier's Chop-house is full of whores, vermin and scum.  Did we need to have a couple having sex upstairs for the ENTIRE song "Master of the House?" It wasn't appropriately crass, it was just plain dumb and offensive.

Now - to the on-stage performers.

ValJean - Amazing!  I knew when Peter Lockyer sang the Soliloquy that this was a man who could nail it.  He could put in the emotion without sacrificing the musical quality. He had the ability to sing like Alfie Boe, but could let emotion come through like Hugh Jackman, but without losing the pitch or the sweetness.  I listened in serene ecstasy as Lockyer sang "Bring Him Home,"  it was perfect.  Well done sir!


Javert - Couldn't keep up with the tempo.  Andrew Varela sang well; he had the physical presence, but the songs were too fast for him.  He sounded rushed and like he couldn't enunciate well enough at that speed to make it work.  Noble effort - but poorly timed for his talent.

Fantine - Genevieve Leclerc's voice is amazing and she held her own acting.  There were a few awkward blocking moments, but she was convincing, and "I Dreamed a Dream" was felt rather than heard - which is exactly as it should be.  She let the emotion come through her, and I appreciated her sincerity.

Thenardier - Good, not great.  Timothy Gulan seemed like he remembered every few minutes that he was supposed to more evil, or more humorous.  The rest of the time he was going through the motions.

Madame Thenardier - This role has been defined for the last 2 decades by Jenny Galloway.  I have never seen anyone else come close - until Shawna Hamic.  Seriously?  That was incredible!  She is the embodiment of the character, from the book and the musical.  It was perfect, brash, funny, and at all times I thought "That's her! There is no acting, she has become the character."  Bravo Madame.  Bravo!

Cosette - Julie Benko did well.  She didn't stand out to me as good or bad, so I say well done.  If you aren't analyzed it means you played the roll so well the story just flowed on perfectly.


Marius - Devin Ilaw's voice was perfectly boyish and infatuated.  This will sound odd - but my only complaint was over enunciation.  He said and sang the words so exactly that it sounded odd, not like a young revolutionary with passion and abandon.  He had energy, and when he said "I'm doing everything all wrong" I cracked up - he did it perfectly.


Eponine:  Wow.  I've had trouble deciding who I liked better - Lea Salonga or Samantha Barks.  Well, Briana Carlson-Goodman just gave them a run for their money.  She sang "On My Own" with passion, grief, and sweetness.  Her death scene was perfect - sung in physical pain but emotional tranquility.  My only complaint was her blending - when singing with the Company or in the trio, she didn't blend well with the others.


Enjolras - Jason Forbach held his own.  That is a difficult role to sing and he did it better than Michael Maguire, but not as well as Ramin Karimloo. 

Young Cosette - Castle on a Cloud was stunning.  Well done Erin Cearlock.



Gavroche - Julian Silva was a perfect little Gamin.  He had the smiles, the winks, the great physicality and personality to make it all work.  He stood up to Javert and his last song was as heartbreaking as it could be.



Grantaire - This character finally had a memorable role when performed in the 25th Anniversary concert by Hadley Fraser.  This production had Joseph Spieldenner - he sang well, but missed a chance to make a name for himself. He was sadly, forgettable.

Overall Grade A-  

It was thoroughly enjoyable, but a few poor choices detracted from a wonderfully staged show.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Why Les Miserables Matters

Les Miserables is about belief, faith, and conversion. It is about moments of Crisis that test us and try us.
Do you live what you profess? What would it take to change your mind? Can people change? What is worth living for? What is worth dying for?

These are the themes of Les Miserables. Each main character must face a moment when their view on life, their professed reason for happiness, is challenged.

The story begins with an old Bishop. He gives up the large church to make it a hospital, and moves his alter and house into the old small hospital. He helps the poor, the needy, and never keeps anything nice or expensive for himself, except a nice set of silver dinnerware.
Along comes a poor convict – fresh out of prison. The Bishop gives the man dinner on his silver, lets him sleep on a feather bed, and calls him “brother.”
The convict steals all the silverware from the cupboard. He runs away in the night and is caught by the gendarmes and brought back to the Bishop.

The bishop has always professed to be a forgiving man of God. He lives a poor simple life, but has somehow kept this silver all along. Will he still be forgiving to a man that betrayed his trust and mocked his hospitality? Will he still keep his little guilty pleasure – the silver, or will he give it up, and forgive the convict? Where does his happiness lie? Is it in Justice or Mercy?

She falls in love. She is in the prime of her youth and can’t imagine a better life. Then her wealthy boyfriend abandons her one day and she is left alone, pregnant, with no employment. She passes a woman on the street who had two daughters of her own. Those two little girls look happy and content. Her daughter could possibly have a better life living with them for a time. Will the mother give up her daughter to grant her the chance at a better life?
The mother attains work, but is eventually cast out because she has a child and no husband. She can’t find any good work and must decide between her pride and dignity, and supporting her daughter financially. Will she sell her locket, her hair, her teeth, her virtue? What can she sacrifice for the love of her daughter? Where does her happiness lie? Is it in her own life, or her daughters?

His father left when he was young, and never returned. His Grandfather is rich and wants to dictate how his grandson lives his life. Will this young man live a rich privileged life that he is entitled to? While he live poor? When he finds out his father was a good honest man, will he follow his footsteps?
The revolutionary believes in the people of France. He believes in the cause of freedom. His life is dedicated to the revolution. Then he falls in love - completely and absolutely head-over-heels in love. His love is leaving, going away to England forever. Will he follow her and find happiness in a life of love and happiness? Will he stay and fight at the barricades in the cause of freedom?

The revolutionary knows his father’s life was saved by a man named Thernardier. He swears to his father to help this “Thernardier” if they ever meet. He swears to help him anyway he can. When they do meet, Thernardier is a the worst and most vile of men. The revolutionary watches as his girlfriend and her father are threatened, kidnapped, and held hostage by Thernardier.
Should the Revolutionary save his girlfriend, or the man he swore to serve and protect? Is his happiness in love, or in honor?

(this story line is mostly in the musical, not the book)
She loves a young man. He is handsome; he is brave; he is rich but lives like he’s poor.; and… he is in love with someone else.

She would be his at any moment if he asked, but he sees them as “just friends.” He asks her to help him court his love. He asks her to find her, find her address, take him to her, deliver her love notes.
Where does the happiness of ”the other woman” lie? Is it in being with him, or in making him happy by helping him be with another?

When he breaks her heart over and over again, should she still defend and help him? When his life is in danger, will she sacrifice her life for his, even though he is in love with someone else?

Life is just. You reap what you sow. There are no hand-outs. There are no gray areas. There is hard work and honest living, and that’s the way to be happy.
He is just in all things. He gives people exactly what is required by law. He has no need to pass judgment because that is for God and the courts. He enforces.

Men are good, or men are bad. They choose, and they keep their course. He has seen it time and time again.
When Javert wrongly accuses a man, he asks for demotion and reprimand. He asks that justice be meted out on him as it is on everyone else.

What does he do when a convict, a man who broke his parole and is on the lam, appears to be good? The man helps others and lives a seemingly honest life. How can this be?
When a man he has hunted, chased, and found has a chance to kill the inspector, the convict instead lets him live. He lets him go.

When the convict should be running for his life, he stops to help an injured young man, to carry him to safety.
The convict never asks for help for himself, only to be allowed to help others. He needs an hour, a day, a short time to finish helping someone else, then he’ll turn himself in. Can he be believed?

The Inspector must decide: Is happiness found in never breaking a single rule? Is it found in justice? Is there room for mercy, and if so, how can he reconcile that in his mind?

He is the main character of the story. He has many of these moments of Crisis. When he is shown kindness and love, will he steal and be who he has become in Prison? Will he steal the silver from the Bishop?
When he is forgiven and given a new lease on life – will he change, will he become a better man?

When another man is accused in his place. When the convict could have someone else jailed in his place, will he let it happen and live a free man, or will he confess to save this stranger from a lifetime in Prison?
When the convict sees a prostitute being abused and mis-accused, while he stand up for her?

When he is asked to care for a little child, what will he do for her?
When she grows up and has become all he cares about in the world, can he let her go when it is her time to move on, marry, and live her own life?

When he is given a chance to exact punishment and vengeance on the officer who had been chasing him his entire adult life, will he take it.? When the officer has done “wrong” and the convict has ”the right” to kill him, will he?
When the convict realizes he is a liability to his daughter, will he exit her life for good, for her good?

This story speaks to us. It speaks to the very core of why we live. What makes us happy? What makes life worth living, and death worth dying? What is the ultimate goal? Where is the line between right and wrong, good and bad, justice and mercy?

This is about conversion – do we really believe that which we profess? When it’s all on the line, who are we?
Who Am I?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Greatest Soundtrack of Les Miserables Ever!

I love the music of Les Miserables.  I decided to finally build my own soundtrack using my favorite version of each song. 

For Example  - I love Alfie Boe's version of "Bring Him Home", but Colm Wilkinson does "Who Am I better.  I actually like Hugh Jackman's "Soliloquy" best, and Anne Hathaway's "I Dreamed a Dream."  I prefer other singer's for their other songs.  There are some roles where I think one person just did the role best - period.

Best at their roles
Lea Salonga as Eponine
Michael Ball as Marius
Matt Lucas as Thernardier
Philip Quast as Javert
Ramin Karimloo as Enjolras

Here is my full compilation of songs in my soundtrack (it's obvious I liked the Anniversary Concert's better than any specific company)

Act I
  • Overture (Look Down)                                   25thAnniversary Concert        
  • On Parole/The Bishop                                    10th Anniversary Concert
  • Valjean’s Soliloquy (What Have I Done?)     2012 Motion Picture
  • At the End of the Day                                     10th Anniversary Concert
  • I Dreamed a Dream                                        2012 Motion Picture
  • Lovely Ladies                                                 25thAnniversary Concert
  • Fantine’s Arrest/The Runaway Cart               25thAnniversary Concert
  • Who Am I?                                                     10th Anniversary Concert
  • Fantine’s Death                                               10th Anniversary Concert
  • The Confrontation                                          10th Anniversary Concert
  • Castle on a Cloud                                            25thAnniversary Concert
  • Master of the House                                        25thAnniversary Concert
  • The Well Scene                                               25thAnniversary Concert
  • The Bargain                                                     25thAnniversary Concert
  • Look Down                                                     25thAnniversary Concert
  • Stars –                                                             10th Anniversary Concert
  • The ABC CafĂ© / Red and Black                     10th Anniversary Concert
  • Do You Hear the People Sing?                       25thAnniversary Concert
  • In My Life                                                      10th Anniversary Concert
  • A Heart Full of Love                                      10th Anniversary Concert
  • The Attack on Rue Plumet                              25thAnniversary Concert
  • One Day More                                                10th Anniversary Concert
Act II
  • At the Barricade                                              10th Anniversary Concert
  • On My Own                                                    10th Anniversary Concert
  • Building the Barricade                                    10th Anniversary Concert
  • Javert’s Arrival / Little People                        10th Anniversary Concert
  • A Little Fall of Rain                                       10th Anniversary Concert
  • Night of Anguish                                            10th Anniversary Concert
  • The First Attack                                              10th Anniversary Concert
  • Drink with Me                                                10th Anniversary Concert
  • Bring Him Home                                            25thAnniversary Concert
  • Final Battle / Dog Eats Dog                            25thAnniversary Concert
  • Javert’s Suicide                                               10th Anniversary Concert
  • Turning                                                            25thAnniversary Concert
  • Empty Chairs at Empty Tables                       10th Anniversary Concert
  • Every Day / A Heart Full of Love (Reprise)  10th Anniversary Concert
  • Valjean’s Confession                                       25thAnniversary Concert
  • Wedding Chorale /Beggars at the Feast          25thAnniversary Concert
  • Epilogue: Valjean’s Death                               10th Anniversary Concert

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Publishing Children's version

I have finally published the Children's Edition of Les Miserables.

You can purchase it for $2 from Kindle here: Les Miserables Children's Edition

Monday, January 21, 2013

Les Miserables Fanatic

I finally understand those ridiculous Star Trek fans.  I understand how they can remember the different casts, seasons, episodes, facts etc.

I am not a "Trekker" or a "Trekkie,"  I'm a "LesMiser?"  I can tell you most every fact about the entire book.  I know who wrote and produced the musical, who was in the original Broadway Cast, who performed in the 10th Anniversary Concert, who performed in the 25th Anniversary concert, the movie, the different non-musical film versions, etc...
I have read 6 different versions of the book and I own 3.  My dream gift is to someday be given a pair of silver candlesticks.
In the middle of Medical School I took the time to abridge the book myself.  I then made it into a PDF so I could read it on a tablet.  Then I posted my own abridgment of the book.  Now I have finally published a children's version for Kindle.

I have written 6 different posts (some quite long winded) about Les Miserables in the last year. Here they are in case anyone else is as ridiculously interested as I am.

1.Why Les Miserables Matters:Seriously - what could be so important about this story that I have made my own version and 7 different posts about it?

2.Explaining why the end of the stage musical makes no sense: Why does Eponine take Valjean to Heaven?

3. Predictions made 4 months before the release of the Movie Musical

4. My Review of the Movie Musical

5. Comparing two of my favorite fictional characters:  ValJean from Les Miserables, and Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof

6. Why we should limit Standing Ovations and Encores: using Les Miserables as examples of times where they were appropriate and wonderful.

Here is the free version of the e-book which you can download to your kindle, nook, tablet, etc...