Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Schonberg Says Adding New Song, "Suddenly" to Stage Version of Les Miserables "is a possibility"

As all die-hard theatre fans know, composer/lyricist team Boubil and Schonberg wrote a new song "Suddenly" for the recent Les Miserables movie. This was so that the song could be nominated for and win Best Original Song at the Academy Awards (...and it has been nominated! Step 1 complete! Easy. Now onto Step 2). Now, Schonberg is saying that they may add the song into the stage version as well. I think I just heard an outcry of, "Blasphemy!" come from every Miz Freak. Tony Peters from WhatsOnStage.com reported that at a BAFTA Masterclass, an audience member asked Schonberg if the song might be put on stage, to which he said, "It's possible. It is something we are looking at, although changing stage musicals is like causing earthquakes. So while I’m not saying no, it is a work in progress." 

Don't get me wrong, I liked the placement of the song, and I even liked the song itself. I think it makes total sense to put a song in there to show what Valjean is feeling when he adopts Cosette. However, because it was written almost 30 years after all of the others, the style sounds completely out of place. It really sounds like it wasn't even the same composers. After all, as my dad likes to say, there are really only a few tunes in Les Mis; they just reuse them and set them to different lyrics throughout the show. (Think about it: "On My Own," Fantine's death, and Jean Valjean's death all have the same tune; of course "What Have I Done?" and "Javert's Suicide" symbolically are set to the same tune as you see the contrast between Jean Valjean and Javert's reaction to mercy, and the list goes on)

In this featurette, the makers talk about why they added it, saying that this encompasses a whole chapter from the book.

But wait: there's more! Apparently lyricist Boubil said that they are also thinking of moving the song "I Dreamed a Dream" in the stage show to the spot it is in the movie (In the show, it's right after Fantine gets fired, but for the movie, they changed it to right after "Lovely Ladies" which is later). Now I'm sure we'll find a couple die-hard fans bypassing the outcry and going straight to sobbing in a remote corner.

A lot of people were also wondering why, with the plethora of songs in Les Miserables as it is, Boubil and Schonberg had to write another one to get an Oscar. Well because of the new Academy Awards rules concerning the requirements for a song to win the Oscar for Best Song, Les Miserables, they had to. Ok, well they didn't have to, but a musical not winning any music awards would look lame.

Here's how I understand the Academy rules as of now: it has to be a song originally composed for that movie, and now it has to be sung by one of the characters. It didn't used to be like that. That's why for the Phantom of the Opera movie, they got to put "Learn to be Lonely" into the credits, and they were still nominated for Best Song. That's also why if you look at the list of nominees for Best Song within the last few years, it's ridiculously short. I want to say last year there were only two. But I'm confused because having read the rules, it seems like they changed it back. I have no idea. Try to decipher for yourself on the Academy Awards rules website.

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