When I was in high school I sang in choirs. I especially loved Broadway songs, always have, always will. I was listening to the Sirius XM Broadway channel this weekend and "On My Own" from Les Misérables came on and it brought back a memory of being asked to sing this song as part of a medley type thing we were doing. I hadn't seen Les Mis at the time.
I immediately picked up on the fact that this song was a girl singing about a guy who, as we would say today, was "JUST NOT THAT INTO HER". I actually started laughing in rehearsal once and had to stop the music and ask, "Who sings this, seriously! Who is this woman who needs to get the hell over herself? There are other fish in the sea, kid! WOW!"
I was like 14 and hadn't even had a boyfriend when I was saying this... already starting into my feminist journey because I'd seen way too many girls at my school making WAAAY too big a deal over who had a boyfriend. I was like I don't know if I can sing this. The choir director assured me that in the musical, in context, this song was loaded with substance and so sad and all about unrequited love and if I'd see it I'd really feel for the character.
Years later I watched the musical. If you haven't seen it, Les Mis is about some huge, sad, dramatic topics... in fact I can't even watch it anymore because as a mother, I hurt so much for Fantine. A woman being told she has to give everything for her daughter, and she TRIES, because that's what we do! I feel the same way about Miss Saigon - it just hits too close to home. How can we even watch this for enjoyment?
Another broadway fan told me, "I'll watch those shows again when somebody writes a musical about a father dying for his kids."
So there's Fantine dying for her daughter, Jean Valjean trying so hard to escape his past, Cosette trapped in abuse, Javert basically wasting his life on bureaucracy, Marius launching a revolution, and then in the second act, here comes...
Eponine singing about her boy trouble!
Ever watch a movie where it's obvious that two central good-looking characters are falling in love? And then you realize everyone else is just sort of a prop written in just to die? I think that's Eponine. So why give her a song? And in the middle of the effing paris uprising of 1832! Good night lady... is there anything more important you could be focused on right now?
Call me unsympathetic, okay. And maybe if I read Victor Hugo's book I'd feel something, maybe one of you can fill me in. But if I was remaking this musical, there would be no Eponine. And definitely no Eponine singing about her love interests. Be strong and walk away, dear. Just walk away.