When Les Miserables came through town recently, I found out that one of that production’s actors, Felipe Bombonato, was a veteran of a local company, Glow Lyric Theatre. I’ve long enjoyed the work GLOW does (and actually got to appear as Doc in their production of West Side Story a couple of summers ago).
I met up with GLOW’s founding power couple, Jenna Tamisiea and Christian Elser, to talk about their upcoming season and their memories of Felipe. I also talked to Felipe on the phone and then put together this story for the Greenville Journal.
I was thumbing through a notebook just now and saw a note that reminded me of this song.
Back in February, a social media friend lamented that no one had ever written a song for her, so I did. One of her points was that her name is not pronounced in the typical fashion claw-deen. So I tried to pronounce it the way I thought it was pronounced based on what I’d seen. And I think I did it completely wrong. I think, now, that the first syllable is pronounced “cloh” (rhymes with low). But I somehow got it into my dumb head that it was “clow” (rhymes with cow).
So on the plus side, I wrote her a song. On the way big minus side, I — like every other casual acquaintance in her life — screwed up the pronunciation of her name.
(Also I asked my son to hold the camera when I shot this, so, it’s not as steady as your average viewer might like.)
Today I started listening to the book How Music Works by David Byrne.
I was struck by the opening sections, by the thesis he lays out, and am looking forward to hearing how he develops it further.
context largely determines what is written, painted, sculpted, sung, or performed. That doesn’t sound like much of an insight, but it’s actually backward from conventional wisdom, which maintains that creation emerges out of some interior emotion, from an upwelling of passion or feeling, and that the creative urge will brook no accommodation, that it simply must find an outlet to be heard, read, or seen. The classical composer gets a strange look in his or her eye and begins scribbling furiously. The rock-and-roll singer is driven by desire and demons, and out bursts this amazing song. This is the romantic notion of how creative work comes to be, but I think the path of creation is almost 180º from this model. I believe that we unconsciously and instinctively make work to fit preexisting formats.
My thoughts immediately drifted to the theatre, and how certain choices – particularly the choice of where you stage your show – determine a lot about the overall shape of the production. I also thought about theatre classes I took in college, and the methods of play analysis I learned. Essentially, the whole point of the classes was learning that the context of the play’s creation – the historical and cultural forces at work when the play was written – are fundamental pieces required to help understand the work itself.
These are just half formed thoughts, typed here while one of my kids babbles to the dog in a very annoyingly distracting singsong voice, so I can barely think at all. So that’s the context of this blog post and the reason why it’s likely not coming together as a coherent piece.
Last night I saw (for – shockingly – the first time), a production of Les Miserables. This was the current North American tour and it was pretty darned good.
One moment, at the opening of act two, Phoenix Best as Eponine sings “On My Own.” At one moment, she holds a note. The music stops. Then she stops and in otherwise utter silence, her last note echoed, resonated, lingered through the Peace Center auditorium. It was quite literally breathtaking.
I can see why people get emotionally attached to Les Miz.
Here’s my review of Les Miserables on BroadwayWorld.