Things To Do This Weekend: See Les Miserables In Charlotte

Les Miserables
Les Miserables: Mary Kate Moore as Fantine

It’s almost the weekend and we don’t have to give this week to the kiddos and Halloween [Happy Halloween, by the way]. The kids get today. That’s it. This weekend can be yours! So here’s what you need to do. Get dressed up, go out to dinner with your friends and catch Les Miserables at Ovens Auditorium in Charlotte, NC. You can thank me later.

Things To Do This Weekend: See Les Miserables In Charlotte

Tuesday night, my friend Leigh and I did just that. Neither of us had seen Les Miserables on the stage previously. And I really knew very little about the plot of the musical except what my friend, Jason, told me: that a man’s life was forever changed after he stole a loaf of bread to feed a child.

Les Miserables
Les Miserables: Allison Guinn as Madame Thenardier

Cameron Mackintosh presents the new production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s Tony Award-winning musical phenomenon, Les Misérables, direct from an acclaimed two-and-a-half-year return to Broadway. With its glorious new staging and dazzlingly reimagined scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo, this breathtaking new production has left both audiences and critics awestruck, cheering “Les Miz is born again!” (NY1). Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, Les Misérables tells an enthralling story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption – a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit. Featuring the thrilling score and beloved songs “I Dreamed A Dream,” “On My Own,” “Stars,” “Bring Him Home,” “One Day More,” and many more, this epic and uplifting story has become one of the most celebrated musicals in theatrical history.

Les Miserables may have been written by Victor Hugo in the 19th century, but the story still resonates. Poverty is an issue that is, unfortunately, quite prevalent today. And the punishment and “invisibility” to other members of society that can often come with an impoverished existence is something that we may never overcome. Why is it that the people who have often feel like the people who have not deserve their placement in life? Why is it that the people who have often feel that their fortunate placement in life at birth has more to do with their rights than sheer luck?

Les Miserables
Les Miserables: Josh Davis and Nick Cartell

Instead of giving a hand up and out of poverty, we often punish those that are poor with anything from late fees [more money they don’t have] to punishments that are both biased and disproportionate to the actual crime committed. These “deterrents” often drive the convicted, and also their family, further into poverty, thus producing a virtually impossible to break cycle of recidivism. It’s hard to change your life when the system seems to work against you.

Les Miserables
Les Miserables: Jillian Butler as Cosette

The themes of Les Miserables are relevant today and the music will break your heart. When Fantine tearfully sings, “I Dreamed A Dream,” how many of us can relate? We’ve all experienced heartache, sadness, loss and desperation. And many of us have felt utter hopelessness at some point in our lives, as well.

Through all of the heartbreak and loss, in the end, Les Miserables is a story about hope and redemption. Though life can sometimes seemingly beat us into submission, there is still always the possibility for change just around the corner. Most of the characters in Les Miserables have no material possessions. But what they do have is hope. Though “..life [may have] killed the dream I dreamed,” it will never stop me from dreaming a new one.

See Les Miserables now through November 3rd at Ovens Auditorium. Get tickets here.

Les Miserables
Les Miserables [Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy]

Things To Know Before You Go

Ovens Auditorium has convenient parking in a lot right beside the building. I had not been to Ovens Auditorium prior to this night and was glad for the ease of parking as that is not always the case in cities. One of the parking lot security guys also told me that Ovens Auditorium has been in operation since 1955.

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“Mary, Queen Of Scots” At Piedmont Opera + Tips For First Time Opera Attendees

tips for first time opera attendees

I love music. What I find funny is that, since I was an on air personality at a country radio station, I have run across many people that mistakenly assume that ALL I like is country music. And that is not even remotely close. I think my musical tastes are pretty well rounded and I like at least a few artists in in most any genre from Bluegrass to Rap.

“Mary, Queen Of Scots” At Piedmont Opera + Tips For First Time Opera Attendees

Here’s an example: in high school, I went on a trip to Canada and saw “Phantom Of The Opera” off Broadway and I was mesmerized. I came home and immediately found the Broadway soundtrack and played that poor cassette into the ground. “The phantom of the opera is here inside your mind…”

tips for first time opera attendees

Fast forward to the present where I found out that the Piedmont Opera was doing a production of “Mary, Queen of Scots.” Since “Phantom Of The Opera” is the closest thing to an opera I have ever actually seen, I really wanted to expand my cultural repertoire and check this out.

tips for first time opera attendees

Freedom. After 18 years of being held prisoner by Queen Elizabeth, her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots breathes fresh air. Believing herself to be the true heir to the throne, Mary has been imprisoned first for plotting against her cousin, and ultimately for attempting to murder her. This day of freedom turns to condemnation as these empowered women have a momentous meeting.

My Thoughts On “Mary, Queen Of Scots”

On Friday night, I took myself to Winston-Salem. I went shopping and then to the Piedmont Opera’s production of “Mary, Queen of Scots” [starring Yulia Lysenko as Elizabeth I and Jodi Burns as Mary Stuart] at the Stevens Center in Winston-Salem, NC and I thoroughly enjoyed my evening. I don’t know all of the proper terminology to describe my opera experience sufficiently to you, but I did attend the opera pre-talk so that I can start educating myself. If given the opportunity, I think you should always choose to learn. You are never too old to expand your horizons and to expose yourself to new things. You never truly know what you will like until you try it. And I absolutely loved the opera! The singing was amazing, I mean next level amazing. The costumes were gorgeous, the educational experience beforehand was interesting and I had a great experience overall that I hope to get to do again really soon.

tips for first time opera attendees

Tips For First Time Opera Attendees

Don’t let your not having previously experiencing something stop you from ever experiencing that thing. That’s absurd. I had many questions before I went to the opera, but I really wanted to go and I did not let my questions stop me. Let me share some tips for first time opera attendees with you so that hopefully I can alleviate any fears you might have before going to the opera yourself.

  1. Is there parking near the Stevens Center? Yes, there is. I parked in a nice garage about 1 block away and paid for my parking in advance with my card. The machine takes cash, as well, so it’s super convenient. The deck was not crowded and I was able to easily pull away after the opera as my parking was already covered.
  2. Do people dress up for the opera? Yes, many do. Most men were wearing suits and ties, but I did see a few in nice pullovers or button down shirts. Many of the women were in cocktail dresses, but many were also dressed business casual. I was wearing a nice top, leggings and slip on shoes and felt completely comfortable. I do not recommend wearing jeans, tshirts, or other super casual clothing.
  3. Is the opera in English? I am sure that many of them are, but “Mary, Queen of Scots” was in Italian. However, there was a screen above the stage with the dialog in English for you to easily follow along. No, it was not running super fast like you sometimes experience with movies with subtitles. I find that stressful. I think the opera subtitles shared just what was necessary so that you could follow along and still be engaged with the production taking place on the stage.
  4. Can you donate to Piedmont Opera? Yes you can! Click here to learn how you can make a tax-deductible donation to the Piedmont Opera.
tips for first time opera attendees

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