At the End of the Day…

…if you witnessed something as powerful as ASF’s production of Les Miserables, then you have walked away with knowing you received quite a powerful gift.  It has been difficult to next to impossible to find the words to take all the experiences that flowed from so many sources and direct them to a solid, definite focus of feeling that wraps up what exactly happened on stage over the past five shows. Yet, there is the need to truly make the effort to get across the sense of achievement that did occur.

After a long day, or a stressful one, or even a loud one, often when I return home, I know I am one of the luckiest people to have a home to return to, where I can close the door, and instantly, literally, I get this sense of being able to melt into my couch, bed, or favorite reading spot, and the world and all the things that are on my To Do list disappear and what remains is that feeling of being perfectly content.  That sense of safety, security, and just being truly at home, relaxed, and just HOME, it is always the place, if it is home you appreciate, a home that fits your personality, where you just feel absolutely right.  Every single one of the members of the Les Miserables cast were able to turn the Fine Arts Center into that exact type of home base, magnet for a place to be, for five shows.  If they were able to do that for attendees, think of how difficult it was to walk away from this moment on the very last evening of May 24, 2014.  I do believe everyone left with a lump in their throat and a weight in their heart, and still carry the memories that reached past the stage and touched them the most.

Attending every show to some I am sure seems like overkill.  It would from the sound of it if being told this is what you planned or even did.  Yet, believe it or not, for myself I wanted more shows, I felt that comfort of seeing familiar friends, and that feeling of being uplifted from so many scenes.  You could easily look to the technical aspects that sometimes could blur the image for some, as there will be technical issues that involve sound, reverb, and such – yet, the power, talent, and passion for what was being delivered came through every single time and never allowed such events to get in the way. On top of that, add the details that often go overlooked and you realize there is so much more here than meets the eye, touches the hearts, and than is first heard.   I found myself too fixated on the very elements of voice, emotion, and a powerful storyline for anything to get in the way, and I found this every single night.  I am not sure I could point out an event that was as powerful thanks to the Drama Club, Theatre Technical Club, parents, and sponsors, and let the audience feel as if they were a part of the amazing storyline that make up Les Miserables.

What I did discover was the many unseen facets of this production, that made individuals even more dear to my heart.  Being able to see the excitement and preparation behind the stage, in the light and sound booth, on stage, in the dressing rooms, outside, was a re emphasis in witnessing the passion, the humbleness, the commitment, and the striving for truly bringing Les Miserables to life to everyone involved, and I mean everyone.  Despite this journey through emotions for five shows, I found I would still discover new revelations that I had taken for granted, right up to the last night.

Meeting Paloma M. was yet one more page that had been left unturned while I soaked in Les Miserables night after night.  If you truly sit down and make a list of all the events that occur without much thought of how, that list becomes quite extensive.  Considering the elaborate makeup, adding just the right amount to not seem freakish, an at first, it does some like there are way more layers of makeup on characters than needed, until you see the lights down and the characters on stage. Then you realize Paloma has just made magic.  Every time there is a scene change, every time a character grows older, every time a character runs off staff and nowise another character, think of the countless transitions that need to occur based on makeup rather than prosthetics like fake noses, eyebrows, etc. I never had and realizing the depth of commitment Paloma and so many others brought to this production willingly is a statement about what this production meant to everyone involved.

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In talking with Paloma on that last evening’s show, many things were expressed that rang true I think for many.  Being a part of a family from day one, being supported by everyone, a sense of humbleness for being a part of this production seeped from Paloma’s words.  Having never done this type of work before, Paloma truly pulled off a masterpiece with the supporting makeup artists for this production.  As you listened to Paloma tell of how much she took away from this experience, learning how to be patient, not pressuring yourself but supporting others, you begin to realize how everyone in this production became a better person overall from the very things that tied them to one another.  Trial and error helped her perfect the process of improving aspects of this production, and that element of always being here, being there, rapidly moving from one location to another, is shockingly surprising win the last day of production appears like a ghost out of the mist. Paloma’s amazing contribution to Les Mis, and support of all the makeup members (it is worth checking that program for all their names) was just one of many groups that did go unseen as I found out in a previous look at the sound, light, and stage crew) that overall contributed to a smashing success.

As I sat there on the last show, I dimly had a difficult time finding the words.  At all.  Even today.  It was perhaps the greatest gift ever given to be asked to helped unveil a plaque and be a part of this experience for five shows, and I recalled the first day I walked into the FAC and saw a rather large group circled on stage, watching the UTube videos of scenes.  I had no idea what would become perhaps the most emotional walk through the storyline of Les Miserables.  I feel even today, each contributor to this production has created their own storyline as a result of this product, which is always bittersweet when it comes to a finality.  I am truly amazed at the humbleness that poured from every individual involved, it was impossible to miss this in just observing, talking, and listening to what unfolded since day one.

I remember the natal high I felt when I was younger and came back from a winter camp far away from home, where I made friendships overnight with individuals I previously never know.  Be it from the inner tube adventures in the snow, the late night bonfire where we revealed how much we had grown in a short time among what used to be strangers to so many things that could not be explained and put into words fro anyone outside that experience.  I felt the same feeling each night I returned from this  Les Miserables production, and all the members were gracious enough to open the door to let me in time after time.  For that I cannot possibly reach any level of thanks, because somewhere wrapped up in that, is the fact that I can’t shake that feeling even after the production, nor do I want to.  Each individual, whether I knew them or not, caused me, and still do, to smile constantly becauseI saw the spring in their step, the smile they produced, and saw the heavy heartedness of a production that became their for so long come to a closing. It remains in me as well.

Yet, truly perhaps the most famous quotes from Les Miserables,

“To love another person is to see the face of God.”

stood to represent what each member responsible for Les Mis brought to each of us.  From the amazing and soul reaching voices, the acting, the details that normally go unnoticed, and the heartfelt passion each member did feel and sent our way, because they lived that quote on and off stage, the Les Miserables members brought each of us home every night.  I can think of no other place I would be, among the lights, the sound, the voices, and the beauty, that became Les Miserables thanks to so many people I came to love over the course of five shows.  I know everyone felt this as well from the silence, as well as from the emotions we felt that very last night.  There can be no greater gift when this is realized and given freely from one individual to another.  I realize this as I carry with me each smile, each hug, each kind word I received each and every moment I was lucky enough to be around each and every contributor to the production.  As a result, I am made whole again 🙂

About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
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1 Response to At the End of the Day…

  1. Helga Klein says:

    Beautifully written! Thank you for writing in such an inspiring and kind manner! You made my daughter Paloma feel very special, she worked very hard! All the students who participated were incredibly talented and dedicated at what they do best, your writing makes them shine! Thank you!

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