Last night I treated myself to a completely unrestricted view at the Broadhurst, where the present Broadway reanimation of Les Miserables is playing. Ordinarily I wouldn't feel the need to be front and center for Les Miz -- proximity to the stage shouldn't be a factor in enjoying this show, even in a relatively scaled-down production. As long as you can see that red flag, you're probably doing fine. But this was a special case, because I actually know a couple of the principals, and so it was worth springing for great seats.
Here's the part where I brag! I once had the honor of sharing a stage with Ali Ewoldt, this production's luminous Cosette, back when we were just the names in tomorrow's papers -- we were both in the chorus of a college production of Merrily We Roll Along ("Have you seen? How was it? You're not SE-rious!" etc.), which was the beginning and end of my onstage career, but happily not of hers. And that's how I ended up grinning at her from the audience as she transitioned from menacing factory worker to listless whore to trilling ingenue. (This show has a very hardworking ensemble -- none of this hanging around backstage until your character gets introduced! Put on a shawl and look destitute!) You can read an interview with Ali here, and for a peek backstage you can read her blog from the early months of the production.
The other reason my sister and I attended last night's show was to see her college friend, the fabulous Marya Grandy, as an exceptionally funny Madame Thenardier (opposite the one and only Chip Zien!). So I felt very cool by proxy.
The cast includes many other performers whom I'd love to claim as friends, but do not actually know. These include Drew Sarich, the youthful and faintly heavy-metal Jean Valjean (you need to hear him wail "I am warning you, Javert!"), who turns in a super rendition of "Bring Him Home" -- even if his claim of "I am old" doesn't quite ring true. Also, Megan McGinnis, a more endearing Eponine than I imagined possible. And, of course, Chip Zien, who makes an energetic and vivid Thenardier -- and whom I finally got to meet, backstage after the show! Amy and I slipped inside the stage door to say hello to our old schoolmates (and her old neighbor). Four Yalie performers, three of them talented, all in one spot! Notify the class notes!
I have just remembered that Ali, Marya and I actually performed together on Broadway, in a technical sense, a few years ago. We were all participants in a Yale-related concert called I Get a Kick out of Blue, which was held on a Monday night in the New Amsterdam Theatre. I'll save that story for another post, but suffice it to say, Broadway is lucky to have them both back.