Last year I found out Les Miserables was coming to Dothan. I remember thinking "this is it... If you ever want a shot at being in this musical, now's your chance." The night after auditions it all sunk in. I remember my conversation with Dean. It went something like this...
me - "I don't have a great shot at being a lead."
Dean - "that's ok, you're new here, you can still be a part of it."
me - "the women's chorus is mostly prostitutes. Are you ok with that?"
Dean - "I think you need to ask yourself if you're ok with that"
me - "really the only woman who won't eventually be a prostitute in this production is Eponine, and let's face it, I'm not going to be Eponine..."
So, there I was, cast as Lovely Lady #5. I was also Poor Woman #3 and On Looker #4, but the Lovely Lady role loomed over my head.
It was like everyone kept avoiding this scene. There were children in the cast, so whenever we got to Lovely Ladies, the directors would skip it, or send us to another room to practice only the music. We finally did a bit of blocking, but there was no shaking of hips and general sluttiness was avoided.
I was feeling good. I even told Dean they were keeping it really tame. We live in Dothan, AL, after all. But, my hopes of tame prostitution were shattered when they called in a choreographer. We showed him what we had so far and he sat us down for a little chat.
"You ladies know what you're supposed to be, right?" - cue uncomfortable silence...
"Look, if you can't do this you need to leave right now and I'll find someone who will..."
He had us slapping our thighs and raising our skirts before we knew it.
|A cast member added the "waffle house" caption just for the picture. I promise it wasn't there for the performance|
I have to say, in the end, this scene was my favorite. They gave us Lovely Ladies our own dressing room and curtain call. We bonded, and the crowds loved us. That said, it wasn't easy being a part of Fantine's descent into misery and despair night after night.
I'll leave you with some haunting words from our number. Words that hit me in the gut every time we sang them.
"C'mon dearie, why all the fuss
you're no grander than the rest of us
life has dropped you at the bottom of the heap
join your sisters, make money in your sleep..."
"...Dearie knows her place..."
"Lovely Ladies, going for a song...."
I have one more post about our Les Miz experience planned, but I knew the Lovely Ladies needed their own post. It sounds silly, but it is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. And though we were making light of it, with our swaying hips and provocative gestures, I know every single woman on that stage felt the plight of their character deeply. Lovely ladies indeed...