Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Seeing it in a New Light

I am a huge Les Mis (the musical) fan. I was squealing with delight to hear that they were making the musical into a movie with an incredible cast. Hugh Jackman is playing Jean Valjean. Anne Hathaway plays Fantine. I could go on and on. Here is the trailer. You can see for yourself.

But what I wanted to share was a conversation I had with my sister this past weekend. My sister is in theater, graduated in vocal performance, does musicals in Southern California where she lives. She, too, is a rabid Les Mis fan. For her and her theater fans, this musical is almost sacred. And Anne Hathaway's performance here, according to them, is not up to "theater" standard.

I would agree with that, but I also disagree with the premise: that because Les Mis was a musical, that is the only way it should be performed. On stage, by stage performers. I loved this trailer, and I loved Anne's vocal performance of it. Film is so much more intimate a setting. It would be too much, too over the top to have these actors performing these songs as they would if they were on stage. (The Producers, anyone?) The performance has to be so much bigger, so much broader, so that the last person sitting in the worst seat in the house can feel like they're right in the middle of the action. On film it's the opposite. The actor has to be subtle, they have to bring in the audience by the gentle nuances of their face and voice. So in my mind, this trailer promises fabulous things, because it will bring you right into the heart of the story and music without pushing you way with its intensity.

That's what having other people read your work can do for you. It lets you see where you maybe over reaching or where you may have been so subtle that your character is flatlining. And it's good to have people from all walks of life read it. Other writers, people who just like to read, your Mother who will just say it's marvelous (because we need that too). So get it out there. Let them read it. And learn to see your sacred baby in a new light.


  1. I cannot wait for this movie. I think you've also made some very valid points in this post. I'm learning just how important readers truly are in helping my writing to grow.

  2. So true, Megan! I couldn't get along without my critique group. They also call me on my lazy writing! I love it!



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