Monday, December 31, 2012

"To love another person is to see the face of God."

Our family capped off our Christmas season by attending this film.
First let me say that I have anxiously awaited this film since hearing it was a go.
In fact, when the casting directors were still trying to find their Eponine,
with a list including Scarlett Johansen, Lea Michelle and Taylor Swift,
I had to make my voice heard.
No disrespect intended toward these women, but they were all wrong.
I, along with many, tweeted, wrote and pleaded with the casting director
to consider the wonderful Samantha Barks for the role.
I sat 10 rows away from her as she performed that role at the
Queen's Theatre in London 2010.
Her performance was breathtaking and I just knew it would
translate beautifully to film.
So thrilled when the decision was made in her favor.

Now, as for the movie.
I loved it.
It was magnificent.
Heartbreaking, uplifting, exquisite
and masterfully directed. 
When I learned who would be directing I knew it was in the right hands.
Tom Hooper, who also directed "The King's Speech," one of my recent favorites,
was a brilliant choice.

I was troubled to read so many negative comments about the singing voices
right after the movie opened. My twitter feed was filled with mean-spirited 
criticism. Particularly about Russell Crowe. Even several film critics were
less than kind towards his performance.
So I went expecting something awful.

In Russell Crowe's defense, I thought he did a fine job.
He embodied the driven-by-duty Javert.
He is NOT a Broadway-styled singer. He has a pleasant, on-pitch, one-dimensional voice.
And there-in lies the problem for the audiences who adore the beloved stage musical.
The expectation was that the voices would be musical theatre voices,
the kind they had heard in the stage productions and on the CD's.

I was amazed when I learned that Hooper, rather than have the actors record in the 'safety' of
the sound studio and later lip-sync while filming, would have the actors sing live with an ear
piece and a rehearsal piano following in their ears. (No auto-tuning here folks.)
Never before have actors sung live on set with the orchestra added post-production.
Thus allowing the actors to perform their full-range of emotion with the song
becoming an extension of that emotion.
This is an actors film.
As a former actress/singer myself, I was absolutely stunned by how the actors could sing with
such vocal control whilst tears streamed.
I loved how the actors were given the freedom to act the song.

And yes, some of the actors had stage-singing backgrounds, some did not.
Give or take a few numbers, this is not a soundtrack you would want to own.
Instead buy the Original London West End CD, the Original Broadway CD
 or the 25th Anniversary CD instead. 

Some of the actors were a revelation. 
I have been a fan of Eddie Redmayne (Marius) for quite some time.
He is a classically trained actor, Cambridge graduate and Oliver Award winner.
I had no idea he could sing so beautifully.
His gut-wrenching "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" just leveled me.

And Anne Hathaway. When I heard she was willing to cut off all her hair on film, be the vulnerable 
actress, bare her heart and soul through this character, I knew this would be her moment.
Give her the awards already. Wow!

 Hugh Jackman. He was outstanding.
So in awe of how he prepared for this role.
He read the entire novel twice. No easy task.
And he reread particular passages right before filming certain scenes.
He lost 30 pounds and went 36 hours without fluid to look gaunt for opening scenes.
After a particular bad rehearsal he told his wife,
"I might have bit off more than I can chew here. Maybe I'm not the right person."
She cut him off and said, "Hugh, if you didn't feel like that you wouldn't be
right for the part. You should be daunted by this challenge." (Parade)

And I mustn't forget the children.
Excellent casting.
Awesome little actors and singers.

Could you tell that Aaron Tveit has starred on Broadway?
He has performed in Wicked, Hairspray and originated leading roles in
Next to Normal and Catch Me If You Can.
Love his vocals and the passion he portrays in his Enjolras.

(The guy front right below Eddie Redmayne was the Marius we saw in London cast 2010.)

In my opinion.
Perfectly cast.

And now may I suggest, if you have not already,
go read the book.
All 1200 pages.
I did.
A masterpiece.
Nothing compares.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Magical Christmas

Photo by Caitlyn

This was one of the highlights of our Christmas.
(More photos to come.)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Hark the Herald Angels Sing...

 Brian Kershisnik's "The Nativity"

Glory to the Newborn King.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Past

It goes by so fast.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Lovers of Les Mis...A must hear!

As a vocal coach I just had to share this.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

'Tis the Season...

 photo by Court

Once in a lifetime 12/12/12
My trickster daughter, Court,
decided to play a prank on her office. 
When no one was looking she did this.
Apparently the reactions in the office were priceless,
if not a bit gullible:)
Throughout the afternoon people just couldn't
believe the clock had stopped at 12:12.
Several posted this "amazing occurrence"
  on their Facebook pages.


Blessed to attend this MAGNIFICENT concert on Thursday.
I have been a huge Alfie Boe fan for some years.
(You may recognize him from the 25th Anniversary "Les Miz" concert on PBS.)
After his exquisite rendition of "The Prayer" 
best known as "Bring Him Home"
he received a spontaneous standing ovation.
I even yelled out a "bravo" with several others.
How often do you get to do that?

 Respected news anchor and author Tom Brokaw narrated
the wonderful story of the World Ward II "Candy Bomber"
who dropped bits of rationed candy with tiny parachutes
to German children. A healing and kind act.

 An "awe" moment happened when the 92 year old 
"Candy Bomber" 
himself came onto the stage. Gail Halvorsen, 
who lives in Utah, wore 
his actual WWII pilot uniform. 
I couldn't believe how "spry" he was
as he bounded down the stairs to meet Tom Brokaw.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra
 were outstanding as always!
I have been filled by the light and spirit of this event for days now.

 photos by Court

 Friday night we held our annual Christmas Book Group.
Festive as always.
We had our cookie exchange and instead of a book this year
we all shared favorite games we enjoy playing.
I added several new ones to my list.

 I love these gals.
We've been hanging out for several years now.
And I hope it continues for a long time to come.

 photo by Robert Cowan

Saturday we received some much needed snow.
Coryn drove up the canyon to Sundance to
do a photo shoot for her bestie Courtney and her husband Tom.
An anniversary gift.
(She had missed their wedding while away on her mission.)

I got a sneak peak at the photos
and they are gorgeous!
So is the couple:)

 all photos Court

 The rest of the family went on our traditional
 all day Salt Lake City outing.
Checked out the new Trader Joe's.
Bustling with customers.
A popular addition to the city.

 Cammy liked the real snowman
and mini-men that greeted us at the door.

Had lunch at Hires Big H
a place I used to go with my dad when I was a child
to get eggnog milkshakes. 
(The year on my cup may or may not be my birth year...)

 Always love to visit the beautiful Grand America.
Lovely decorations.
My niece is a harpist at their tea room.

Also like to visit their fabulous toy store
Jou Jous.
Many vintage-styled toys, games and candies.
And then we dropped by
Le Bon Vie
a quaint French patisserie.

 City Creek was our next stop.
Busy with Christmas shoppers.
We enjoyed "window shopping."

 And "window gazing."
So many pretty decorated windows.
Especially loved this little gem at Tiffanys.
A miniature entry way.

 City Creek looked gorgeous lit up.

 Our final, and always favorite stop is
Temple Square.
After visiting the Nativity exhibit 
and "Arise and Shine Forth" Youth Art Exhibit
at the Church History Museum,
we arrived just in time to see the lights go on.

Nothing speaks Christmas more to me than this.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mary Did You Know?

Thank you for this beautiful montage, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. CeeLo, please sing more music like this.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Take a Moment to Reflect This Season

This is exquisite.
I adore the music the talented "Piano Guys" from my home state create.
Meshed with beautiful Bible videos produced by
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,
this is a spiritual Christmas treasure!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Unique Christmas Carols

via hueandhum
 Just wanted to share 
recently recorded by my talented friends
 Caitlin and Robbie Connolly.
I love the ethereal and heavenly sound
 their voices and guitars create together.
The unusual harmonies 
and unique blend of their voices
make it a beautiful listen.

 If you like what you hear
you'll want to add their EP
to your Christmas collection.
It has become a favorite in our home.
I always tear up every time I hear
these songs
because of the emotion and love in their voices.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

What happens in Vegas...or When in Rome?...

 So my husband let me tag along on his trip to Las Vegas
to attend a Gartner Conference for the University.
I've never had much love for Vegas,
but since we would be staying in Caesar's Palace
I thought I'd give it another chance. 
(Here are some photos of our stay.)

 If I never get to Paris,
at least I could pretend for a night.
(Of course Bill informed me that the 'real' Eiffel Tower is MUCH bigger.)

 The Bellagio fountain show is awesome.
This one featured the music of ol' blue eyes, Frank Sinatra.

 We both enjoyed the show.
And, hey! It was FREE:)

 We made a quick stop to check in on
my husband's saloon and see how business is going:)

 Would LOVE to have caught this lady's show!
But she wasn't 'back' just yet.

 We stayed on the 26th floor.
This was our view.

 I enjoyed roaming around and looking 
at all the art and pretending I was in Rome.
(There was even a full sized replica of Michelangelo's David,
but I couldn't bring myself to take a photo.
Just couldn't figure out which angle to take it from,
you know?)

 Check out this 'chiseled' gladiator.

 It was pleasant to get outside and read
near one of the many pools.
I felt very removed from The Strip
which is what I wanted.

 I liked this area of the palace.

 When I did venture out onto The Strip,
there were always many strange people.
This man was dressed in tiny mirrors
and doing weird mime moves to 
Michael Jackson music.
(Some of the people I would absolutely NOT photograph for this blog.)

 We ate at some wonderful restaurants.
I really liked this festive place:
Serendipity 3.
Cute decor, great service, fun atmosphere.

 I had to go into this store,
a favorite of Caitlyn and Coryn.
Three stories high.

 This was our view across the street.
And THIS is the show I really would love to see!
(And Caitlyn has seen it TWICE as a guest. Spoiled child!)
Unfortunately for was a dark week and D & M
were kicking off their Christmas Show in LA.

 The Forum Stores inside Caesar's Palace
are just incredible.
Gorgeous architecture.
I enjoyed eating gelato and people watching.

All in all I'd say this was my best experience in Vegas.
Perhaps because I stayed away from the things I didn't like
and because I got to enjoy a bit more time with my husband.
And we had a big surprise.
Our daughter, Caitlyn, now living in Los Angeles,
showed up at the palace on the day before we left.
She had driven to Vegas on her own.
(Which, I'll admit, freaked me out a little bit.)
We had a great visit with her and a yummy dinner
at The Cheesecake Factory. 
A great end to a fun get-away.