Friday, September 10, 2010

Flashback Friday: Everything Emo I Learned From Eponine: A Les Miserables Tribute

Welcome to Week Nineteen of Flashback Fridays where the old and new collide on everything from books to movies to first loves to favorite vacations. This week we're flashing back to my experience with the musical Les Miserables and how Eponine brings the Emo!

Flashback to March, 1997... the moment of truth. After grueling auditions for Les Miserables at my high school, I inched forward outside the theater windows, desperate to see the cast list. I’d belted out I Dream a Dreamed the best I ever could. Would I get the part of Fantine? All the dreams of seeing my name in lights I'd harbored since I wowed audiences as Auntie Em in Buffington Elementary School's production of The Wizard of Oz hinged on this moment....

My name wasn't there.


Losing out on the part induced epic emoness....for awhile. Theater had been one of those Godfather type activities for me in high school: just when I thought I was out, it drew me back in. I'd kinda given up on doing much until I took a drama elective senior year, and BAM, the drive was back!
Fortunately, I did get to see Les Miserables live at the fabulous Fox Theater in Atlanta, and during my teaching career, I have used the song lyrics to I Dreamed a Dreamed to help teach poetic devices and figurative language. And from time to time, I might belt out I Dream a Dream at home where only my dogs and cats can have their ears offended!

But at the moment, I wanted to examine the character of Eponine and how she brings the Emo and could easily transport from the French Revolution to a modern day YA novel.

(1). Emo brought on by The Absent or Negligent Parents
A YA cliche seems to be absent parents or parents who are oblivious to what is going on with their children. Charlie sleeps tight each night not ever imagining Edward Cullen is upstairs getting his stalk on with Bella. In Les Mis, Eponine has got some epically craptastic parents. Sure, they might have one of the best musical numbers with Masters of the House, but the Thenardier's are not good people. They are money hungry opportunists who are more than willing to sell Cosette, their ward, away, and they’re the first ones on the battlefield ready to strip the Revolution corpses of valuables.

(2). The Love Triangle
Les Mis brings the love triangle, and it wouldn't be a YA these days without a love triangle, right? I say that with all due reference since I have love triangles myself. Here's the abridged version that sounds kinda like Adam Sandler's rendition of Love Stinks in The Wedding Singer: Eponine loves Marius. But Marius loves Cosette. Cosette loves Marius, and Eponine is basically screwed. It's the true, "You Belong to Me" Taylor Swift scenario since Marius only sees Eponine as a friend and even has her play errand girl to find out about Cosette. FAIL! Yeah, and *spoiler alert* the only time Eponine really gets some huggy, huggy, "Oh, I love you time" from Marius is when she's dying from a bullet wound. *Cue the music to A Little Fall of Rain*

Eponine's great "I love him, he doesn't love me, my life sucks" musical number is On My Own. Here's some of the great lyrics.

And now I'm all alone again, no where to go no one to turn to,
without a hope without a friend without a face to say hello too.
And now the night is near, and I can make believe he's here.

Sometimes I walk alone at night when everybody else is sleeping.
I think of him, and then I'm happy with the company I'm keeping.
The city goes to bed, and I can live inside my head.

On my own pretending he's beside me.
All alone, I walk with him till morning.
Without him, I feel his arms around me.
And when I lose my way, I close my eyes, and he has found me.

(3). Using the Emoness for a good cause aka Teenage Rebellion
Regardless of her emoness, Eponine does have a moral compass despite her unfortunate lineage. And in true teenage form, she rebels against her parents' less than noble deeds to do the right thing.
So what are other musicals that have great YA potential?


Catherine said...

Fiddler on the Roof - from the point of view of either Hodel (falls for Bad Boy Perchik) or Chava (forbidden romance with Russian soldier).

Anne from A Little Night Music - worried about losing her virginity, married to the cool dude (Fredrik) but doesn't notice the sweet geek (his son Henrik).

Tere Kirkland said...

Very cool post!

Love the idea of Fiddler from more of the daughters' pov!

One of my favorite songs is We Kiss in a Shadow, from The King and I. It's about forbidden love, worse than Romeo and Juliette, because poor Tuptim is already a concubine to the king, and Lun Tha could be killed if they're found out!

Tuptim rebels against the king by creating a character that's a parody of him in their theatrical version of Uncle Tom's Cabin, and runs off with Lun Tha. Of course, in true tragic fashion, Lun Tha drowns while they're trying to escape.

I think a version of this from Tuptim's pov would combine history with modern sensibilities about love that today's YA audience would get. Except I hate sad endings!

Catherine said...

Sorry to comment again but I just switched on the radio to hear 'Music of the Night'...Phantom is (obviously) YA gold in the Twilight mould!

- creepy 'paranormal' guy who stalks heroine - CHECK
- love triangle - of sorts - CHECK
- other side of the triangle is sweet guy she's known for ages - CHECK
- but we all know she's really drawn to the dark, brooding creepster - CHECK

I know it's already a novel...

Also, The Boyfriend ('any girl who's reached the age of seventeen or thereabouts, has but one desire in view...)

Krista Ashe said...

Catherine, I've never seen Fiddler on the Roof, but i've always wanted too. Sounds like it would transcend to YA well. And I haven't seen A Little Night Music eitehr...I'm falling behind on my musicals! LOL

And don't feel bad for posting twice. Phantom is my all time favorite; I've seen it twice. Lol, and you're so right how it transcends to YA. Thanks for sharing!!

Tere, I love the King and I. I got to see it a couple of years ago--took my Grammy for her bday. Sandy Duncan was playing Anna. It was awesome! But yeah, that's a very tough love triangle they have there. Thanks for sharing!