Love, Les Mis, & Fandom: A Personal Story

Love, Les Mis, & Fandom: A Personal Story

Jonathon Frost is not his real name, but his real name is none of your business. He likes Nintendo and musicals, and this is his first piece for the Board.

When I was asked to contribute an article to this brilliant website, one story persisted in my mind above all others. This time of the year, with its focus on reflecting on what is important in our lives, always puts me in the mood for just such a story. So, today, I would like to offer a few thoughts on both a very special musical and person, and what that connection has meant to me.

Les Misérables came into my life at a time when I needed it most, though I didn't fully understand that in the moment. It was a time filled with heartbreak, self-doubt, denial, and turbulent transition for me. The themes of love, loss, and redemption, among many others present in Les Mis, could not have been more appropriate. It opened my mind and heart in ways that few things ever had. I don't think its importance, influence, and the wide range of human emotion and circumstances it presents to us can ever be overstated or denied. It is a universal story we can come back to time and time again, always learning something new.

But that is not the full story, for me at least. Les Misérables is not only special to me for what it represents and the lessons it taught me, but also for the person it brought into my life. Let's call her Joan. Through a chance encounter online over our mutual love of Les Mis, we met and began talking, which quickly became a daily routine. Joan is the most amazing person I've ever known. I know statements like that usually sound like hyperbole, but I truly can't describe her any other way. She was there for me at the lowest point of my life, lifted me up, and proved to me that I was still worthy of love. Her trust and belief in me were overwhelming, at a time when I had all but given up on myself. We have been inseparable ever since. No one has ever loved me as much as Joan does. And it all began through that one little spark of common interest.

In the years since, we have followed each other through many other fandoms and obsessions. To be fair, Joan is a far bigger fan of musicals than I could ever hope to be, in spite of the fact that we met through a common interest in one. Her enthusiasm is infectious, and she has taught me so much through that theatrical fixation. I have spent countless hours listening to her painstakingly detailed analysis of whatever musical is her current favorite, yet it never ceases to amaze me. I have watched and celebrated with her as more musicals have come along that allow her to see herself reflected on stage, and I have been there to offer a sympathetic ear for her disappointment as she has watched shows depict mental illness in far less than ideal ways.

There is a depth of understanding about the human condition that can only come from our dissection and critical view of art, in all of its forms. I believe that the more we share those thoughts and opinions with each other, the more we all grow and become better people. So, this holiday season, I think all of us should be thankful for the shared fandom we have in the theatrical community, and the people we meet through it. And may we all be so lucky to have a Joan in our lives.

(Photo by Matthew Murphy)