I just listened to most of Les Miserables for the first time in years, and…wow. It’s no wonder I loved the show when I was a teenager. Someone took the melodrama knobs, turned ’em up to eleven, and then ripped them off because they wouldn’t turn any farther. It’s that kind of show.
The guy playing Valjean (this is the original cast recording) is so earnest and dedicated to selling his anguish it about makes you ill*. The song “Lovely Ladies”: the hookers are all about their job and their depravity, but no! they really hate it and are so sad! “And tell Cosette I love her and I’ll see her when I wake–” *dies*. Javert is trying to make up for having been born in jail by being Lawful Stupid. The Thenardiers, milking Fantine for money until she turns to prostitution.
It’s all just a bit much.
*: I cannot imagine backstage life with that kind of actor in the ranks–although I could be being unfair; it’s possible he was just hamming it up for the recording, or that he’s a perfectly nice guy when not onstage.