He had given me a personal invitation to attend a performance of Les Misérables, not knowing if he would be selected for a part in the musical. Auditions had not been scheduled.
His home turned into a gathering place for friends planning to audition for roles in the musical. Fifteen pairs of shoes sometimes sat by the front door, abandoned by teens taking the stairs to couches or seats on the floor to listen to music or watch DVDs of professionals performing roles they would audition for. The teens encouraged each other, bonding like family.
Auditions closed. Casting was completed. He and his friends were selected to be part of the cast! Months of hard work paid off. The all-important production crew and orchestra would work tirelessly to ensure excellent performances. The school edition of Les Misérables was coming to life.
I attended the second night’s performance with four family members. Afterwards, we went back stage. Tired but smiling cast members and crew were showered with congratulations, hugs, and flowers from relatives and friends. The excitement was palpable. I left with his parents. While driving to the house, he called his mom to ask her to order pizza for his friends. “How many are coming? What kind of pizza? Are you sure?” she asked.
Five cast members arrived at the house. We talked with “Jean Valjean, the Bishop, Marius, Enjolras” and others while they were eating pizza, discussing the performance. Conversation turned to family. Between pizza slices, one cast member said that grandparents would be arriving from New Mexico. Others told of their family’s plans. It was after midnight.
The family room was prepared to accommodate the cast for a few hours of sleep before a 7:20am performance the next morning. Pillows, quilts and blankets dropped from an upstairs landing. A mattress from an adjacent room was moved to the family room floor. “Javert” arrived after most cast members had retreated to the family room. He joined them after having pizza.
Midnight pizza with friends on a school night may be unusual.
I observed the teenagers treating each other with care like I imagined they had treated each other while preparing for auditions and performances.
In Les Misérables, Jean Valjean experiences the mercy and grace of God through the Bishop’s actions when he was caught stealing. Valjean’s life turned around in a significant way though he suffered from his past. I watched this group of high school students care for each other, bound together through a musical, yet bound deeper through sharing God’s love with each other.
Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables was published in 1862. The life lessons remain relevant today.
Take a few minutes to watch this short video for a spiritual perspective.