Sunday, August 10, 2008

A miserable night at the Hollywood Bowl, or should I say Les Miserables night...

There was nothing miserable about our second visit to the Hollywood Bowl. We learned a few lessons from arriving late to our first night of culture and fireworks at the Hollywood Bowl in July, so this time we were able to really enjoy the experience.
Les Miserables in Concert at the Hollywood Bowl Los Angeles on 9 August 2008
We accompanied some of our L.A. friends, who are old hats at attending the Bowl and know all the tricks - when to arrive, where to park and where to picnic. So beforehand we enjoyed a lovely early evening picnic in one of the local parks and then took our seats in plenty of time for the 8.30pm performance. There was no rush and no hassle and it was much more relaxed this time.
Hollywood Bowl entrance
We also had the added benefit of our 'dog whisperer' friend puppy-sitting mischievous Cooper, rather than worrying about leaving him in his crate for hours on end. However, I do think that Barry now does realise how much of a handful a sixteen week old puppy terrorising three other dogs (and one owner) can be.

The picnic hamper from a local restaurant was lovely and abundant with courses, the champagne and wine went down a treat and dining outside in the lovely summer evening was all very civilised.
Les Miserables in Concert at the Hollywood BowlI was a 'Les Mis virgin' until last night, the only one in our group. I'd never really wanted to see it in London, fearing as its name suggested it would be a miserable show - bland and dull and after running on the West End stage for so many years, a bit stale. But fortunately that was not the case last night and I really enjoyed it.

I'm told that the Hollywood Bowl performance of Les Miserables in Concert was a condensed version of the phenomenally successful Boublil and Schonberg musical, and I'm surprised to say that some of the songs and music were familiar to me, so I must have seen and listened to some of the show in some form or other over the years.
Les Miserables sold out at the Hollywood Bowl
I'm still slightly in awe of the Hollywood Bowl. It's a fabulous venue. The sound is perfect (aside from the sound of occasional helicopters flying nearby, which kind of adds to the charm of the open air amphitheatre), the stage lighting is amazing and it's just such a pleasant experience to be sitting outdoors watching a musical performance (as I'm not one for festivals and concerts in muddy fields).
Les Miserables in Concert at night at the Hollywood Bowl
J. Mark McVey played the lead role of Jean Valjean and was great, although with good reason as he's no stranger to the part after being the first American to perform as Valjean in London's West End (for seven years and 2,912 performances). 

Brian Stokes Mitchell played a vocally strong Javert, Michael McCormick, who we'd seen in Curtains on Broadway in New York, played a wonderfully evil innkeeper, Thenardier, and Melora Hardin from the American version of The Office was Fantine.Les Miserables at the Hollywood Bowl on 9 August 2008Disappointingly Rosie O'Donnell was a no show as Madame Thenardier (replaced by Ruth Williamson), but Broadway star Lea Michele made up for it with her fantastic performance as Eponine.

Even though I don't think I ever need to see Les Miserables at the theatre in the future, I really did enjoy this concert at the Hollywood Bowl.
Hollywood Bowl banner
My next Bowl visit will be a change of pace as I'm off to see Donna Summer, the Queen of Disco, at the end of August. I imagine the Hollywood Bowl filled with 18,000 gay men will be a sight to behold...

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