To the Barricades, Vol. 5

I can't believe we made it through the whole thing.  With the assembled masses, three long rows of chairs in the rehearsal hall filled with excited performers, we sang through the entirety of what the audience will hear when we open Les Mis on February 14th.  It was great to hear the arc of the show, from beginning to end.

I felt both good and not-so-good with my run through: good, in that I was able to make it through some of the rhythmically clunky bits;  not-so-good, in that I missed hitting the right harmony notes in two separate places.  One you start off on the wrong pitch, it's incredibly difficult to get back on track.  I guess if it was perfect, it would defeat the purpose of the six-week of rehearsals still to come, so I shouldn't feel too disappointed.

The work ahead of us over the holidays is comprised of both working through the music - including those pesky errant notes - and getting "off book". A familiar theatrical term that strikes fear into the hearts of many of us, "off book" day is when we have to put down our security blanket, in this case, the libretto, and fly free. For some of us that have a manageable number of lines, it shouldn't be too onerous a task, but for others, like Tim (Valjean), Sheldon (Javert), Misty (Eponine), Kimerica (Cosette) and Kyle (Marius), it is going to be a Les Mis-filled Christmas and New Year.

This is a show peppered with moments of heart-wrenching heroism, self-sacrifice, loss, longing and love. To date, we have focused on the music, the incredible lyrics, melodies and counter melodies that form the landscape of Les Mis.  Soon, we dive into the movement, the characterizations, the motivations and the emotional undercurrent that will take the music into an undiscovered country, where the story will leap from the score and into our hearts.  This is my favourite leap.

"You sounded really good," said Ben to Dylan as we piled into our frozen vehicle to go home.  "I didn't recognize your voice."

The value for both boys of being able to go through this experience is impossible to quantify.  I'm so proud of them for jumping in with their complete attention and intention.  That Keyano Theatre Company provides these kinds of opportunities to so many of us is part of the reason that Heather and I contribute annually to the Theatre Angels program.  I've seen the personal growth, life-long friendships, and creative collaborations that have come out of the rehearsal hall, on to the stage, into the community and out in to the world.  It's a beautiful thing worth supporting.

To the cast and crew of Les Mis: many blessings to you and yours for a safe and sentiment-filled season.  Thanks for allowing us to join you on this remarkable journey To the Barricades! It is an honour.

To the residents of Fort McMurray:  mark down these dates and pick one (or several) and give yourself (and others) the gift of Les Mis in 2014.  February 13 (preview), 14 (opening), 15, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, and 23.

See you all in 2014.


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