I am an unabashed fan of Les Miserables, the show and the movie. I suspect I would like the book, as well, although having picked it up at Books-A-Million yesterday, I realized I would need a camel caravan to carry it home. But Les Mis (and The Christmas Carol) are productions I never miss in any form.
Why those two? That’s another blog.
Recently I had the treat of seeing both the movie and the touring company of Les Mis within the same month. While neither were perfect, both were outstanding in their own ways. I found myself distracted, though, by the overdramatization of the stage version. Hence, the subject of melodrama vs. plain old-fashioned drama.
Dictionary.com defines melodrama as: A dramatic form that does not observe the laws of cause and effect and that exaggerates emotion and emphasizes plot or action at the expense of characterization.
Just as written the musical Les Mis borders on melodrama. Fantine’s fall from grace into prostitution, Jean Valjean’s heroic attempts to become a better man, the barricades where the best and brightest give their lives for very little. These are huge, sweeping events, and in any audience at any time you will hear the zippers and clasps of handbags as women rummage for tissues for themselves and their male companions. The music is so stirring, the melodies so easy to hum, the staging is so . . .
And that’s where the distractions occurred for me.
Let’s clear the air first. Melodrama is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is what it is. Melodrama is like cotton candy. It’s so wonderful going down, but in the end, if it weren’t for sticky fingers, you wouldn’t be sure you really ate it. There’s nothing left, not even a lingering taste on the tongue.
Compare that with chocolate mousse? (more…)