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My books can be purchased as e-books for only $1.99. If interested, just click here: Books.
Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life is the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
In case anyone is interested in any of my past posts, you can find an archive list at the bottom of this page.

Thursday, March 19

Les Misérables


Arizona Broadway Theatre’s The King and I was all about the two leads and their voices, how well they portrayed Anna and the king, how well they sang, how well they waltzed enthusiastically around the stage. It was a great show. But now I’ve seen even greater. Every theatrical aspect of ABT’s production of Les Misérables was better than any previous show in their ten seasons: the costuming, the lighting, the set design, the orchestra, the voices, ah, the voices. Where did they find so many great singers for this mammoth, intricate, difficult score? Kiel Klaphake, co-founder of ABT and now the executive producer, played Jean Valjean with a vocal range that went way up, best heard in the moving “Bring Him Home” in Act 2. In most musicals you can find two, maybe three, great voices and an ensemble of lesser voices for lesser roles. In Les Miz the approximately two dozen cast members all had great voices. Back to my question, where did all these great singers come from? It’s refreshing to know that in an age of hip-hoppers, rappers, and funky screamers who dominate the charts, there are still young people who sing as singers are supposed to sing. All right, enough about the vocal excellence. The set design for such a small stage was amazing with the back wall dominated by a large circular opening used to show a star-filled night sky, a stained glass cathedral window, a portal for the arrival of various dead spirits, a barred prison doorway. There was a fixed set of stairs and railed balcony on each side of the stage with entrances and exits above and below, a metal bridge that could be lowered from above the back wall, and a variety of circular stairs left and right near the rear that could be moved on and off the stage along with a pillared gate to indicate Valjean’s courtyard. The stage floor was covered with a circular flooring that extended toward the audience and sloped down near the front. At one point, when the young students were marching to their battle with the authorities, twenty or more men and women stomped to the front of the stage, right above the orchestra pit, their enthusiasm shown in their exuberant footwork. I’m sure the orchestra members were praying that the flooring would hold up and not come crashing down on their heads. I’m always puzzled by how ABT acquires and can afford the props it uses, in this case five or six 19th century rifles and one pistol, all of which fired blanks during the students’ fight with the authorities from behind the barricade. And, again, the number of and the diversity of the costumes, all of which have to be made by the costume department. The lighting made use of a variety of follow spots for the several duos and trios sung from distant parts of the stage, and whenever someone died, the spot would brighten dramatically to indicate the passing. When Javert stood on the bridge above the Seine, about to leap to his death, I didn’t know how they were going to create that moment. The lighting did it. He threw out his arms in a flash of light with the bridge going up behind him to give the impression that he was going down instead of only standing on a black support. Fade to black. Get him offstage. One must remember that this is a small local theater group replicating all the theatrical niceties of a Broadway show. Never before having seen a stage production of Les Miz, I can only assume that all productions use the same lighting trick to show Javert’s death. Again, I was amazed and impressed by the pit orchestra, eight members all of whom can play a variety of instruments, and in this case, provide for the nearly continuous musical background for this operatic production. Have I missed anything? I should mention the meal and the service. Excellent, as usual. We are so very lucky to have such a professional theater here in the West Valley. There were two bus-tour groups here for Les Miz, one from Wisconsin, one from Canada. I’m sure the eighty or so tourists were impressed with our Arizona Broadway Theatre, and most were probably envious of our good fortune. One more comparison: This ABT production was better than the film version that was out last year. I mean, Russell Crowe as Javert? No way.

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