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A-Sides Music: My Heart's Full Of Love Over Les Mis

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So many thoughts ran through my head the other day as I sat with my parents and waited for Les Misérables to start after 101 trailers that preceded it at my local theater. I was also insanely nervous. Let me explain why...

To this day, I still remember my parents coming home after seeing the show with the original Broadway cast in 1987. They were floored. My dad instantly said he would take us to see it, and my mom explained the story of Jean Valjean even though it was way beyond our bedtime. Weeks later, I'd see the cast perform on Donahue (I feel old), and was sucked in. And true to his word, my dad eventually took us to the show, and my sister and I instantly fell in love with it, overplayed the soundtrack, and plotted seeing it again. Thankfully, we did - many, many times and each time it struck us. If you're wondering how we could afford so many Broadway tickets - we got lucky. My dad ran a theater group at his high school and every time they saw the show at student group rates, we went along for the ride with my mom. Additionally, I went to see the show with my ninth grade class and others at Lincoln High including my sister. Clearly, as I watched the film's opening sequence, I remembered Mr. Briley taking us to see it that year, and me sitting next to my late best friend Stephen Spruck and getting frustrated that a classmate couldn't sit still during it.

As I got older, I kept coming back to the show - whether it was at the Broadway Theatre or Imperial Theatre. I ended up seeing the show half a dozen times - one time featuring my crush Debbie Gibson, who nailed "On My Own" as Eponine. The last time I saw the show was my favorite. In 1998, I surprised my then-girlfriend (now wife) with tickets to see it one night. It was definitely during the first few months we were dating, and I wanted to do something special. I told her to meet me in the city to see a Dr. Doolittle screening. How this got her to take a busride into the city I'll never know, but she did. She wanted to spend time with me, and clearly wasn't making the trek to see Eddie Murphy talk to any animals. Anyway, as we walked by the Imperial Theatre, I suggested we blow off the movie, and see the show. She had no idea what I meant until I whipped out a pair of orchestra tickets. It was our first Broadway show together and I loved the show even more that night. As the years went by, I heard rumblings that a film version was in the works, and I wondered to myself who could play who. Personally, I thought Robert Downey, Jr. would've nailed Javert, and wondered if Ewan McGregor could pull off Marius, but that's neither here nor there. There was a time I even thought Robin Williams might've made a great Thenardier, but I must've been taking crazy pills. Phew. Anyway...

I'm hoping all of this paints a picture on how my nerves were when I watched the film. Would it be a classic like Moulin Rouge or cinematic turd like Nine did a few years back. My gut told me it'd be the former, and thankfully as Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe faced off on screen for the first time, I was right. Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper should be commended for capturing the magic of the Broadway classic, and for breathing cinematic life into it. The real credit, however, should go to the casting department. Almost each role is nailed. I'm not a huge Anne Hathaway fan, but it's safe to say, she delivers an Oscar-winning performance as Fantine. She'll likely win on the basis of her showstopping "I Dreamed a Dream" number much as Jennifer Hudson did with "Dreamgirls." But Hudson was showy as Effie, and Hathaway tells her character's struggles with not only her voice but her facial expressions, which are heartbreaking. Jackman and especially Crowe are also dynamite in their roles. It's easily a career best performance from Jackman. I hope he gets an Oscar nod and Crowe, too. To cut to it, all of the performances register in some way or another but it's Jackman, Crowe, and Hathaway's show.

Look, I'll be honest....not everything works with the film. I wasn't a huge fan of the new song "Suddenly," some tweaks to song lyrics, and other minor nitpicky things I won't mention here. Overall, however,it's quite easily one of the best, if not the best, movie musical I've ever seen. You can read a more indepth review elsewhere. Just see it. Mr. Briley would've dug it. So would've Steve. My sister will love it... And how fitting I sat next to my parents to watch it.