Finally, the op-ed page gets around to addressing one of the most important issues of our time: musical theater. Michael Gerson’s lovely analysis of why the movie version of “Les Miserables” brought him to tears — for reasons scientific, social, artistic and spiritual — is a wonderful start to what PostScript, little theater nerd that she is, can only hope blossoms into some kind of tax crisis so we can talk about it EVERY DAY.
For while “Les Mis,” or any play that she can remember, has not made her cry, she wore out her VHS copy of the tenth anniversary concert version in middle school. The singing was gorgeous — and who knew, at the time, maybe PostScript would turn out to sing gorgeously as well but was just undiscovered! Like Lea Salonga! But mostly it was the achingly beautiful music reaching mutli-layered harmonic crescendo roughly every three minutes, and the terrifying disgorgement of lifetimes’ worth of human emotion in little perfect chunks. How glorious to be able to express precisely and exhaustively and somehow PLEASANTLY with one’s whole being that, for example, it’s totally great to have been shot because you get to die in the arms of the guy who never noticed you loved him and pretty much would never have given you the time of day except you’re dying in his arms? Also, how lucky nobody got shot in the lungs.
So there’s the less-sophisticated analysis of “Les Mis’s” appeal to some people (theater nerds). PostScript hasn’t seen the movie and doesn’t plan to after what the big-stars-can’t-sing-movie-version procedure wrought on “Sweeney Todd,” which was supposed to be a comedy, by the way.
But there is no denying that, basically, liking overwrought musical theater makes one a sap. Even if it’s “Next to Normal.” So there is an uncharacteristic, even round these parts, amount of hating in the comments. Les Haterables gonna hate.
It’s not even a good MUSICAL. It is sub-Webber in quality and that’s REALLY getting down there.
I cried when I took my children to a double feature of “Salo” and “The Silence of the Lambs.” I empathize.
I fear I would cry because I have seen the musical on stage, performed by those whose voices are equal to the music. These performers should have stayed with acting and left the singing to Sarah Brightman, Colm Wilkinson, and their vocally talented peers. I have only watched clips of the film, but those were enough to convince me that Russell Crowe et al singing gives reason for tears.
Having Colm Wilkinson play the bishop was a nice touch. And having the actors who can’t sing do so softly made it halfway tolerable.
But then it gets … personal. Readers express shock that an avowed conservative, even one who exemplifies the best in the “compassionate conservative” movement, is moved by poor peoples’ suffering. Really!
Does the weeping wash away Mr. Gerson’s conservative moral certitude about God, war, the irresponsibility of the poor, American Exceptionalism and many other conservative ideals? Or does he really want to be a liberal?
If Mr Gerson emerged from the theater with a greater sensitivity to the poverty and injustice that existed not only in the France of the 1830′s but also the America of today, and if as a consequence he decided that in the New Year he would try to be a bit more like Valjean and bit less like Javert, then I would say the admission was well spent.
Not only is Mr. Gerson’s political opinion usually frighteningly myopic and ill-informed, but [he] has absolutely no business whatsoever being either a theatre or film critic – - you see, anyone with a cultural brain out there realized long ago that the musical version of “Les Miserables” is a piece of MANURE. The tunes could be pounded out by a 3 year old at a toy piano. Read the review at the New Yorker and learn an accurate POV on the tripe that makes you weep so easily. And while you’re at it, decide to absorb some facts about the damage that conservative non-thinkers like yourself have wrought on our nation.
This article made me happy, because it’s always a good day when neo-cons like Gerson are shedding tears.
But the column also made some readers feel for Gerson:
I cried when taking the kids to Bambi, so I’m with Gerson here.
One benefit of being an effete elitist is that when your sons call you a pansy, the whole world can read your eloquent response.
Very sloppy, Michael. Me, too.
Ah, the spectrum of human emotion, disgorged. There’s a reason PostScript likes Internet commenters so much.