Nous sommes misérables

images PG and I have season tickets to one of our local theatre companies. Saturday night was the final show of the season for us, and I was really looking forward to it: Les Misérables.

I was a bit – okay, very – sketchy on the details of the story, and PG hadn’t a clue at all, so the first thing we did upon arrival at the theatre was to grab a program and read the synopsis.

The damn synopsis was a page and a half of teeny tiny print. PG, who has been putting off getting his eyes properly tested for about five years now, could not make out such small print. (“The lighting is bad,” he insisted. Ha. I know better. It’s his eyes that are bad! He is over forty, after all.) So I started to read it to him, but I couldn’t make much sense of it. Poorly written, I thought. But basically, I got bored and just put the program in my purse. I hoped that it would all be fine once the play started.

It started ten minutes late. That was unusual, but whatever.

Just into Jean Valjean’s first solo, his mike crapped out. At first, I was rather surprised that he actually had a mike hidden somewhere on his person, then I was a bit peeved that he was unable to project his voice well enough without the mike to be heard throughout a small theatre that had been originally designed for live shows back in the 30s or 40s. I mean, this place has acoustics! But I could still hear him, just not as well. I could live with the situation, I thought, and they probably could fix the problem in the intermission or find a spare mike or something.

Then, in the very next scene, where Valjean first meets the bishop, as they were singing, there was a sound like firecrackers. Is this supposed to be gunshot? I thought. (I told you I didn’t know the story very well, and also that I didn’t bother to finish reading the story synopsis.) Not thirty seconds later, it happened again.

Then a woman’s voice came on the theatre PA system.

“We’re so sorry for the interruption, but we seem to be experiencing some difficulties with our sound system. We’ll have to take a short break to fix the problem.”

The actors disappeared off the stage, the house lights came up, and the audience started buzzing.

We watched as Mr. Techie Guy came loping down the aisle, hopped up on stage, and disappeared. Then we watched him climb down a ladder at the side of the stage, lope back up the aisle, and muck about with the sound board. He left our view briefly, came back to the sound board. This went on for half an hour. PG was muttering darkly beside me.

Then came the announcement.

“Ladies and gentlemen, in order to fix our sound system, we’ll need to reboot the computers. Unfortunately, that will take quite a long time, so we are forced to cancel tonight’s performance. Of course we will refund your tickets if necessary, but if you can, please call our box office on Monday afternoon to arrange tickets for a future performance. We are playing until the beginning of August, so we hope that there will be a date that will suit you. Thank you for your understanding.”

More audience buzz. We all slowly filed out of the theatre, our disappointment evident. It was not yet 9 pm. PG and I went out for crepes, wine, and special coffees.

I called the box office today, and rebooked us to see Les Mis next Saturday. Maybe I’ll be able to finish reading the stupid synopsis by then.

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8 responses to “Nous sommes misérables

  1. Maureen – I have a friend at work who is going on Thursday night, so I’ll be able to ask her: a) Is the sound system working properly again? and b) Is the play actually good? If she says no to either one, I swear I’m going to call the box office and ask for a refund!

  2. Firest, I had to laugh at your hubby’s “it’s the lighting”. No, “it’s a guy thing not to admit you’re getting old”… I know all too well, because mine is EXACTLY the same way.

    I have never seen Les Mis… wish I had. Hope you have a good time at the second attempt!

  3. Gossamer Woman – That’s exactly what I’m afraid of happening to me too! However, PG is a very logical, methodical thinker with an amazing memory for anything he’s ever seen, so I’m hopeful that he’ll be able to put it all together for me if I can’t manage it on my own.

  4. I saw Les Mis quite a few years ago and did not read the synopsis and could not make heads or tails of it, but was impressed by the performance anyway, but don’t ask me what it was about. Lovely songs, though. At least I can say, I’ve seen it, but that is about it. I guess you have to read the Victor Hugo novel to really know what it’s about, but that is a daunting task.

  5. XUP – Good point. The only thing they truly need the sound system for is the music, because they don’t have space for an orchestra. And music is kind of important in a musical like Les Misérables.

    Hannah – I’m sure they have the system up and running properly now, since they’ve had two full days to work on it. A single ticket to a performance costs around 70$, though ours are a bit cheaper since we are season ticket holders.

    Jazz – Yes, I was actually really astonished that we could get good seats at another Saturday night performance just a week later. The person I spoke to on the phone said that someone must have just cancelled, and I happened to call at the right time.

  6. XUP beat me to it. But at least you’ll be able to see it again.

  7. That’s disappointing! But hopefully the next performance will go more smoothly!
    How much does it cost to see that show anyway?

  8. Comment amateur! Seriously – it’s a small theatre with excellent acoustics…why mess around with a sound system at all? Just because we have technology doesn’t mean we have to use it ALL the time. It’s perfectly possible to walk without being plugged into earbuds; and organize your life without an electronic device; and talk to people without email or Facebook. ERGO it’s perfectly possible to entertain without a sound system. These people have no business being in the theatre if they can’t project and sustain their voices for one performance in such a venue.