Cleaning up some files today, I came across a small collection of notecards I created, to thank the cast of “Les Miserables,” which was a wowser and rouser at Paliku Theatre at Windward Community College in October, 2013.
This production likely to be Hawaii’s most astonishing accomplishment in local theater, directed, of course, by the late and legendary Ron Bright. It was Mr. B’s favorite show, part of a bucket-list of shows he wanted to do; “Phantom of the Opera” and “Miss Saigon,” which he also directed with his impeccable touch, completing his wish list.
The notecards – in the shape of T-shirts – depict a Cosette-in-Hawaii motif. The cards were meant to commemorate and thank the cast and crew of this stupendous show; and yes, did enough cards so each performer and techie received one on opening night
See, in many tour stops made by the official touring company of “Les Miz,” the iconic child that is the symbol of this enduring Broadway and London show, takes on the flavor of the city being visited. In Canada, Cosette had a flag with a maple leaf; in France, the French flag gets prime time; in Scotland, she might don a kilt. In Hawaii, it’s a hula skirt. And so on.
I took some liberties, borrowing the Cosette image and adding a local element. For one card, “Lei Miz” was the subtitle, because she was wearing a lei. In another, she is in hula pose, so I labeled it as “Lovely (Hula) Lady,” borrowing a tune from the show. The third card depicts Cosette with a surfboard and donning sunglasses, and an apt title: “Catch the waif.” This was an official authorized trademarked image the first time the show played here.
I gave the images a splash of color, and each Cosette wears a hibiscus in her hair. Lei color varied, but red and yellow were prevalent, as I recall.
The show – loaded with music that speaks to a generation of theater players – featured a protagonist who delivers one of blockbuster ballads (“Bring Him Home”), neither he nor the song is promoted in the “Les Miz” annals.
So, I thought Jean Valjean’s prisoner number would be a code to his valor and vigor; did a limited number of cards that simply addressed his numbers: 24601
On the back of the T-shirt card, I expressed my appreciation for a job well done. And borrowed that show’s most quoted line: “To love another person is to see the face of God.”
This expression of dedication and performance — the core of theatrical life — inspired Mr. B’s family and followers to create the I’m a Bright Kid Foundation to preserve and perpetuate his enduring spirit and inspiration. The journey continues.