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.