One act of kindness opens a man’s heart.
Victor Hugo’s story rests on this simple concept: keeping an open heart.
Hearts are astonishing, aren’t they? We’ve all suffered heartbreak in our lives; be it from betrayal or tragedy, we’ve felt anguish and pain. Through the carelessness and callousness of others we get hurt over and over again, trusting new people a little bit less each time, becoming wary, protecting ourselves from what may come. But we press on.
We are a defensive species. Look at how most people idly stand: arms crossed over the chest, guarding their hearts. If we aren’t careful our hearts can blacken from being burned, wither from disuse, become as hardened and unfeeling as steel.
If we allow people in, despite the hardships we face, something beautiful can happen. We can heal, and we become better than we were. Undoubtedly we all have trying times in the days ahead, moments of grief and awful uncertainty, but as the song goes “Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.” A heart can break, can shatter like glass, and yet pieced together it will shine; a unique new pattern, a new reflection, a new life will form itself from the debris of the past.
Les Misérables shows us this truth, that even though the world is unfeeling and the populace often unsympathetic, all it takes is an open heart and no matter what is thrown our way, we can rise above it.
If I walk away from this show only having learned that lesson, then I’ve been very fortunate indeed to be a part of this cast. During the audition process and in the days leading to the first of many, many rehearsals I found myself second-guessing my participation. I worried I wouldn’t be able to handle it all: the powerful and often deeply profound music, the many new and unfamiliar faces, the monumental task of presenting this heartbreaking tale…
However, I slowly let it all in, and I am so glad I did. New faces have become familiar, though the music remains powerful, as it likely will forever. Mirroring Jean Valjean’s experiences, little by little we find ourselves further along in our journey than we knew. But no matter how long the rehearsals may run, or how tired we all are, I see nothing but open hearts. Hearts that shine.
In less than one month Les Misérables will open, and I hope this show is as wonderful an experience for you as it has been for me.
Story written by a Les Misérables cast member