My brief history with the ‘Les Miserables’ fandom

Samantha Barks and Eddie Redmayne in the "Les Miserables" film.

Samantha Barks and Eddie Redmayne in the “Les Miserables” film.

What is it about a musical based on a book with more than 1,000 pages written in 1862 that resonates with so many people?

Whether you identify as a “total Courfeyrac” or “Combeferre with some Jehan” (don’t worry if that doesn’t make sense, I’m still trying to figure out what it all means), there’s a sense of community and involvement with Les Miserables that runs deeper than other fandoms.

(For the record, I have been called R, Enjolras and a combination of Combeferre and R – I’m not really sure why or how.)

As someone who became involved with the Les Miserables fandom in an unconventional way, I am able to look upon the fandom as an outsider. I have never read the book, seen a stage production and I didn’t know most of the actors until someone educated me about it. (Thanks Caitlin.)

What has always been clear to me is the love and the camaraderie within the fandom. Being a Les Miserables fan, especially right now, means you are instantly connected with hundreds of other people who share your passion. Through the past month, I have seen the excitement, the agony and the humor that surrounds this story.

I say with utmost certainty that the passionate group of Les Miserables fans who I have interacted with are some of the most loving, kind and wonderfully adorable people I have had the good fortune of encountering.

It’s their passion and enthusiasm that makes it so much fun to seek out interviews with the cast, to write features and to even dedicate an entire week to celebrating the release of the deluxe album and film. And admittedly, I sometimes get more excited to talk with the fans than the actors.

(With the exception of Ramin and Hadley but that should be expected, right?)

Originally this editorial was going to be titled “What I learned from the Les Miserables fandom” and I’m not sure there are too many new lessons learned but that isn’t to discredit what a fantastically fun experience all of this has been. Nor will I ever apologize for “breaking” the fandom many times over.

So instead of writing a list of silly things that the Les Miserables fandom has taught me, I’m going to offer my most sincere gratitude. Thank you for talking with me on a daily basis, for filling my email and Tumblr ask box with questions you want me to forward to the actors, for showing so much enthusiasm for and for sharing your love for the site with others.

Whether you speak to me regularly (Kate), annoy me on a daily basis (Danielle), have only appeared as gray face (E), or haven’t talked to me at all, your support is so important to me and it has made me appreciate Les Miserables in a way I never would have.

About Samantha S.

"I found the theatre and I found my home.” ― Audra McDonald
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6 Responses

  1. Am I allowed to say I hate you on here? Well I am. We both know it’s not true, but I’m saying it anyway. I’m like your sister. You know you love me :)

  2. As someone who, up until recently, had been a bit of a hermit when it came to musical theatre fandoms, I just wanted to say that the Les Mis fandom has honestly swept me entirely off of my feet, both with their general friendliness and with their passion for their subject.

    I poked my head (very hesitantly) into the fandom this February, and then was quickly yanked the rest of the way in by the people as much as by everything else. It’s been a lovely ride all ways ’round.

  3. You’re welcome. 😉

    • I’m laughing just thinking about our early conversations…

      • Let me tell you a thing about these West End actors, Sam.

        • Well now I know… And give me some credit, I knew Ramin (so what if he’s not in it?) and Hadley before seeing the film!