On Sunday, my family and I saw Les Miserables, which is touring the United States and is now in Boston. It is one of my favorite musicals, and I have seen it many times. This revival was particularly fun, however. The staging has been significantly altered from the original production. (The revolving stage is gone, for example.) This change was enough to give the performance a certain freshness that made me feel like I was seeing the play again for the first time.
Once, when I mentioned to one of my Harvard colleagues how much I like Les Mis, he expressed surprise. He had not seen the play, but based on what he had read, he thought it had a heavy-handed left-wing theme, which he thought I would find off-putting. From my perspective, while the play has a strongly political setting, it is not really about politics at all. Instead, it is about the potential and power of personal redemption in the face of adversity. The theme of the show is summed up in a line from the protagonist Jean Valjean near the end: "To love another person is to see the face of God." That moves me every time I hear it.