Friday, May 11, 2007

Empty Chairs

Michael Ball as Marius in the original London Production (1985)

"Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" is in my opinion possibly the very saddest of the songs from Les Misérables, but also very powerful. While I've always thought it was a great song (especially if the performer is great), it wasn't until I saw a live performance of Les Miz (last summer), that I really felt I "got" the song. The effect of seeing the dead students appear in the shadows behind the grieving (and singing) Marius...and then see them fade back into the shadow is really memorable.
It's rather ironic that Marius, who was the student who seemed least interested in the rebellion, is the only student to survive. He watched his friends dream of a better tomorrow, and really give everything they had to make a difference, yet Marius seemed to have doubts for a really long time, before finally deciding to join it.
But although he seems very grateful to have been saved (by Valjean), and to be back together with Cosette, he still of course has a lot of saddness. It's a very dark moment when we see Marius back at the now empty ABC Café... and hear him sing about how he misses all his friends.

Oh my friends, my friends, forgive me
That I live and you are gone.
There's a grief that can't be spoken
There's a pain goes on and on.
There has been A LOT of great "Mariuses" ... some of my biggest favourites would be: Niklas Andersson, Mike Sterling, Michael Ball & Jon Lee - all amazing singers who were perfect for the part!