Costumes, Pictures

Les Mis in Pictures: Epilogue

By now, we’re roughly 2 and three quarter hours into the serial drama that is Valjean’s life and we’ve almost come to expect it: he’s at death’s door. He’s all alone in some dark place, with a chair, a desk, and a blankie as his sole companions.Yes, he’s made good on his promise to extricate himself from Cosette’s life, just so she’ll never be disgraced in case his real identity is revealed. Mmm. Is anyone non-fictional ever that self-effacing? We have the feeling that in real life our pal Valjean would fill his last days nibbling on some kind of provençale-sauced amphibian and/or showing off his fine marksmanship to a growing number of grandchildren, but this is a major sung-through dramatic musical. So we’re going with it.




Ah, we know her! Last we saw her, she hugged nuns. Her hair grew back nicely, though. They must have good stylists in heaven.
We get the idea: he’s not lonely anymore.
He’s ready, Fantine, but has to finish the song first…
with cosette and marius
…and who comes running in but his baffled daughter and son-in-law, so it takes really, really long for him to finish the song now, because tears and questions and confessions…

Wait! Confessions? Oh, so that was what he must have been scribbling earlier on with that massive feather. A long, long list of all the stuff he’s ever done wrong. Eeeeeew.  Where is that bishop when you need him? Because it’s just NOT what every girl on her wedding day wants to read: a deathbed confession. Of her own father.

“You got married? Congrats. Sorry I didn’t get you a gift. But I have this confession here for you to read. Oh, and by the way, I hope you won’t be too shocked when you get to the part where you find out your mother was a whore.” And that’s not the kind of wedding speech any bride will ever anticipate.

Then, after a lot more singing and sobbing and sobsinging, Valjean finally gets up (to all you dense people: he dies) to leave with Fantine and Eponine. (Why her? Sure, she’s also dead, but he just met her briefly when she delivered a letter. This confuses us. Does that mean we’ll be greeted by our dead mail carrier too, when we die? Ours was a 300 pound whale with badly fitting dentures and halitosis. Now we’re very, very worried about dying. Way to go, creators of Les Mis!)

Anyhow, Cosette is left behind and very sad. As is Marius. But they’re still forced to march with the rest of the peasants, and again, this doesn’t seem to be the kind of climax every young couple is dreaming of when planning a wedding. But they’re tough cookies…. When there’s marching required, it’s marching they do.

Cosette marching 2
That’s the adoring couple we all know and love: marching like a two-man army
cosette marching
Oh look,  for our convenience, they put the five dead people together in the back. So those complimentary tissues will really be put to good use. Waaaah.

The end.


Costumes, Photographs

Les Mis in Pictures: Every Day/A Heart Full of Love (Reprise)/the Wedding

Marius is still bogged down by remorse because he’s the only one of the students who survived. Who else can he march with? Who will make fun of him now? Who will understand his innermost secrets? Luckily, Cosette helps to remind him that they are in love and forever will be. Yes, but how does she know? And how long is forever? Is it very long? Marius continues to worry.

“Remember what we promised each other?”
“No, not that song again!” Marius thinks.
Cosette knows there’s nothing that a deep tissue massage can’t fix.
Just as papa Valjean comes shuffling near, Marius proposes. Valjean’s now left under the Ficus, like Eponine was before, to ponder his ownership of his daughter. Rats! He doesn’t even have that anymore. He ends the self-flagellation session with this perplexing gem: “Love is only for young people.” Whoa! Thank you for sharing, Mr. Mayor. Thus, nothing but damp hatred to look forward to for the rest of us over um…25?
While Marius and Cosette bask in the joy of their engagement, Valjean’s demeanor reflects worry. Does he already anticipates to hear the pitter patter of little Pontmercy feet ruining his costly parquet?
Unaware of her father’s forlorn thoughts, Cosette is ecstatic…
…and well on her way to star in the next episode of “Say Yes to the dress,” 1833 edition.

While Cosette dashes off, Valjean doesn’t waste a minute dumping his misery on Marius.

Way to ruin your future son-in-law’s fragile happiness!

Valjean wants to move far away, so no one will ever find him. Marius believes that’s a bit radical. Who would be looking for him now that Javert has bought the farm? “Why not get a nice condo in Florida, wear plaid pants pulled up all the way under your arm pits and play golf? Like the rest of all you disposable old people?”


Valjean thinks that’s absurd. “Are you mad, man? Plaid? On me? Do you have any idea what that does for my hips?”
“A nice black and white print, then?” pleads Marius.

Something with an elongated crotch to better accommodate a Depends? Trendy, yet comfortable.



Valjean gets so irate he looks ready to dislocate a recently relaxed shoulder. One man’s love for drop-crotch pants isn’t another’s, apparently. Let there be no confusion about Valjean’s intent. If the man has decided to disappear, disappear he will.

While pragmatic feminists may wonder who will pay for the wedding now, radical feminists will immediately point out the terrible offense committed against Cosette in this scene. Her fate is simply decided by two men. She doesn’t get to decide for herself whether she wants her father to stay, or whether she’d courageously accept the risk of disgrace if he’s exposed as the forever-on-the-run con.

True theater buffs would point out that it advances the plot and leads to a cathartic finale. With tons of tears. Also, it’s 19th century France. Shut up, bitches.

As for the wedding? You may admire the lovely couple here.



Costumes, Pictures

Les Mis in pictures: Javert’s suicide/Turning/Empty Chairs



Valjean manages to drag Marius down to the sewers where he passes out. My sewer pics all came out shaky, so I’ll sum it up like this:

00001 mouse with pizza
Metaphor for Marius (pizza) and Valjean (mouse with superhuman power)

Marius, to be clear, was already unconscious, so he doesn’t notice when Thenardier robs him of his ring. Which is all a bit far-fetched, because c’mon, Thenardier? At that same spot? He’s hanging out in the sewers as well? What business do people have moseying in the Parisian sewage system? They do know what flows there, don’t they? That’s right, the product of many thoroughly enjoyed coq-au-vins and fresh baguettes. Anyway, Thenardier is scared off after he recognizes Valjean and sees him waking up, clearing the stage for Javert. Who is clearly not happy with him trying to escape. Again. But Valjean cannot be bothered with Javert’s threats, throws Marius over his shoulder, and walks away. And Javert watches but does not stop him.  It’s quid pro quo time, apparently, though we’ve seen Javert be kindhearted before, when he ordered a ceasefire after Gavroche’s death. But he cannot live with the thought that his main mortal enemy now knows he’s a wuss. With feelings. Gasp! The horror! So on to the suicide scene.

In the 2012 movie, Javert jumps off a bridge into the Seine. Remember the spine cracking sound when he hit the water? That was disgusting, no? Sam and his director have a more nuanced yet definitely more gut-wrenching approach. In deep distress (magnificently projected by Sam) he reaches for the rope that used to pull the cart in his first opening scene (nice bookending here!) and jumps into the blackout. A scene we won’t easily forget. Nor Sam’s stunning portrayal of Javert.


So the Revolution has failed, and pretty much everyone is dead. Everyone except Marius, Cosette, Valjean and some girls who are mopping up blood in the street.


Time for something uplifting, right? Wrong. Next, Marius comes limping in, plagued by survivor guilt.


Marius is overcome by survivor's guilt
He sees his dead friends and is overcome by remorse.







Costumes, Pictures

Les Mis in pictures: Gavroche’s Death/The Final Battle

It’s daybreak. Time for some long-overdue battle etiquette: “Let the women and fathers and children go from here,” orders Enjolras, when he concludes that the people who were rallying behind him the day before decided they weren’t quite up to singing that rousing marching song in front of a French firing squad.

“Off with the women,” commands Enjolras. “And fathers and children. Eeeh… Not so fast, Gavroche!”
These are the men without an excuse to go forth from here…
…who are pretty determined to defend the cause until the end. Wait! What was the cause again? Never mind. They’re determined to fight on.


But we know there’s trouble brewing when they have to use that spade again…


One dead, (and, fair warning!) a lot more to come…


Enjolras is cleaning his gun again…. Old Faithful keeps giving him more grief than happiness… 
Another reason to panic: ammunition is running low!
So this is that time when dauntless men love to play this little game called “Let the Real Hero Stand up”
“I’m the hero,”claims Marius. He volunteers to retrieve the bullets off the dead soldiers, risking his own life, because: hero.
“No, me me me!” says Valjean. Though he looks remarkably spry for his age, he is old, remember? With a daughter who canoodles behind his back. Ugh. What’s he got to live for? “Who cares if I die? Let me get the ammunition.”
“But I’m quicker,” says Gavroche.
He’s a doer, not a reasoner.
Admittedly, those first couple of bullets sting.
Ouch. They sting a lot.
Crawl back, now, please.
“Ah, perfect! .69 caliber for muzzle-loading, smoothbore muskets.”
He manages to toss a couple of bullets to his buddies. And expires. Much to the chagrin of Grantaire…
….and the rest of the Revolutionaries. They gather in a sadness huddle. Except for Marius and Courfeyrac, who are in shock. 
Even Javert feels a touch of melancholy he cannot explain and orders a ceasefire, so that Grantaire can retrieve Gavroche’s body and weep. Whoa! The man has a beating heart after all.
He also warns that the students don’t stand a chance and instructs them to consider their options. But everyone knows that students don’t respond well to warnings. Or instructions.
3 fighting
The result is some fierce fighting, during which Marius is hit. That’s him on the right dangling upside down over a cannonball crate, with Valjean in the background thinking,”Sh*t! Now I will be forever stuck at home with a bawling female!”
Though it’s reassuring to see that the French National Guard encouraged women to engage in hand-to-hand combat as far back as 1833 (rah-rah girl power!) please, please, please don’t hurt his poofy shirt, sweetheart!
With a dazed Enjolras surveying the battlefield’s carnage, only one question remains:”DID THE SHIRT SURVIVE?”
Also good to see that Valjean still seems able-bodied, and as for Marius…
….we have to believe he’s breathing…
However, we fear this may be the last time we’ve seen Enjolras standing. That’s some ferocious power coming his way.
Costumes, Pictures

Les Mis in Pictures: Bring Him Home

To put it in a nutshell: while reading the letter, Valjean discovers that Cosette’s fallen in love behind his back and that the object of her devotion is at the barricades about to get his pretty rich-kid head blown off. What is a father to do? He goes to retrieve said object. But first, he recognizes Javert and shows him mercy (the kind of mercy that Javert has always been too rigid to ever show him) and sets him free. Stuff gets real now: there’s blood everywhere, people are dying and Valjean sings this beautiful song begging God to spare Marius’s life. The guns are fake. So is the blood. My goose bumps are real.

I still manage to take these:


And not to overload myself with praise, but these are rather decent, right? (Except the last one, where his face is little overexposed, but I can cover that up by calling it “divine light” or use another inventive excuse from my bad photographer’s past.)  I shoot these during the private performance. Since most of the audience is confined to the first couple of rows, I am relatively free to wander around the auditorium. I only have this nagging little problem: every closeup becomes a splendid shot of Charlie’s throat. The more I shoot, the more throat I get. And it isn’t until then that I realize: he’s looking up,  in prayer, towards God, and I’m a good couple of feet below. Impossible to get a good closeup of his face.

I try again during the last performance on July 31. Kudos to Judy for tipping me off on the perfect spot. It’s all the way up on the second floor, in the director’s booth. Being chained to my sewing machine in the girl’s dressing room for weeks, I’m not even aware of its existence. But she is right: it is a most excellent position for a photographer to hide with a camera. The music begins, he steps from the shadows into the light, makes perfect eye contact….and for a little under 60 seconds, I am God on high. As you are now, looking at these pictures.




Then he walks towards Marius and crouches down.

No longer God, I still am able to shoot some other nice pictures.


Bring Him Home is a haunting song, and a masterclass in dramatic musical performance at the same time. Charlie is totally in character at every moment, and when he emerges from the shadows, or disappears into them, his presence either precedes or lingers. He fully earns the extended ovation and cheers the responsive audience gives.




Les Mis in pictures: The Barricades/Eponine’s Death/Drink with Me


The moment the students have finished the barricades, Javert shows up. Disguised as a French commoner, he tries to infiltrate the club of “the little schoolboys” as he refers to them. He volunteers to sneak behind enemy lines to figure out the strategy of the National Guard. Enjolras, even though he’s never seen the man at any of the ABC café meetings, responds with, “Sure, buddy! Way to go!” and sends Javert on his way. He returns of course with bogus info, but everyone is duly impressed. Luckily, Gavroche, the top banana of the street urchins, recognizes him. “This is Javert, you morons,” he says. “The one who calls us whores and  vipers. Remember?” They do and mutter, “Whoopsee!” and point their guns, spades and whatever other farm equipment they have lying around at the cop in disguise.

Students are building the barricades on Enjolras specifications.
“A little more to the left.”
“Are those termites? I cannot have termites undermining my barricades.”
“But, bros, I have come in piece. With sweet intel!”
No one fools Gavroche.


Though he’s no relation, Grantaire beams with fatherly pride.
Javert is dragged off to a nearby bistro and tied to a chair when Eponine enters.
12 eponine collapses
She’s not feeling so great.
Marius discovers that she took a bullet in her heart and that the bleeding is….well, as bad as you can expect from someone who took a bullet in the heart.
But she’s a tough chick, even tries to console Marius. “No worries, I’m happy now. You finally notice me.”
Everyone looks on in shock.


Shocked students respond in disbelief


The others try to comfort Marius


After Enjolras utters the shortest eulogy known to men, Eponine is carried away.

Another visitor enters:

Yup, Valjean. Enjolras flashes his skeptical smile. Valjean understands….

...and shows off his sharpshooter's skills

….and shows off his impeccable shooting skills, killing a National Guard sharpshooter. Javert looks worried.

Enjolras is in awe.
“Take anything you want!”
Valjean wants Javert. And a breath mint, apparently. But he chooses Javert. Then sets him free.
That makes no sense to Javert…
….who tries to impress/distract Valjean with a new hip hop move…
“You were always wrong about me,” says Valjean. Javert agrees as anyone is likely to agree with an enemy who keeps a knife and gun visibly tucked in his pants.
Valjean pretends to shoot him while Javert flees.
Then Enjolras decides it’s that favorite time in every Frenchman’s day…
…when the bottle is uncorked.
The students invite everyone to drink….
38b drink with me
…but there are NO bottles.
So they just raise a pretend glass in honor of the gorgeous girls who wouldn’t sleep with them and the funny girls who would…(Meanwhile, we were assuming all this time that being a French Revolutionary came with instant celebrity status. Not so.)
…proving that there’s nothing wrong with beauty, but that in a dire situation like this, you might prefer some women who can crack a joke.

38c drink with me


Grantaire adds his two-cents of cynicism into the ponderings…
…and wonders about the existential meaning of drinking and life in general…
….claiming it’s the century-old struggle between Eros and Thanatos…(years later Freud will gain notoriety on the same topic, but no one will know that he just copied/pasted from Grantaire)
He’s not exactly putting everyone in a cheerful mood…


Some male bonding going on between Enjolras and Grantaire…
…everyone ooooh-s along…
…Nina and Hannah are eeeeh-ing…
…overall some nice oooooh-ing going on…
…some girls aaaah-ing…
Michael’s too worried to utter any sound…
…and Marius wonders if Cosette will cry when he dies..


…and cannot be consoled by Enjolras…
He’s watching out for the French army’s retaliation while the rest settles down to sleep.



Costumes, Pictures

Les Mis in pictures: The Letter/On my Own

Here’s Eponine opening the gate to the Valjean mansion to deliver a love letter from Marius to Cosette. If only someone had invented Snapchat two centuries earlier….
“I’ll take that, little boy,” says Valjean
Eponine is not amused. First of all, it’s obvious the man needs some kind of corrective eye wear. Boy? Oh, c’mon! From two feet away?
And second, she promised Marius to only give it to Cosette. Wait! Really? Why is she even the go-between? Can’t he deliver his own damn letters? Is it because she thinks if she makes Marius feel indebted to her, he may fall in love with her? Jeez! We thought she was street-smart.
Valjean promises her he’ll give the letter to Cosette. She believes him. Oow, ‘Ponine, you’re getting soft there, baby.

Because what’s the first thing he does when she walks away? That’s right! He opens the letter…

v reads letter in agony
…and READS it, the snake

Not cool, J.V., not cool at all. Though we understand that it’s a way to advance the plot of the story (the knowledge that your daughter is infatuated with a boy who’s about to put himself into grave danger makes you dash off to “save” him) but still, Snakey, honesty would’ve suited you better.

Eponine runs back to the barricades, and on the way reminisces about her love for Marius.

6 on my own
…how she can make-belief when it’s night and she’s alone…
But it’s a whole different story during day time. And then…she smiles a little. Does she realizes that it’s a hopeless case? We believe she does. And that she’s fine with it. Rah rah girl power! Now there’s the girl we all know and love. And who’s also the reason why every single girl in the dramaclub auditions for her role.
Also, I’m so sorry I cut off your lovely feet, Lauren. But you move a lot. I was just trying to keep up.