Music postsSunday September 08, 2013
After the Revolution: An Interview with Michael Maguire, the original Enjolras in 'Les Miserables'
It's less a lazy Sunday than a Les Miz Sunday.
To go along with my sister's chance encounter with Hugh Jackman at the Toronto airport, here is part of my Q&A with Michael Maguire, who played the original Enjolras on Broadway, and is now a family law attorney in Beverly Hills:
Q: You won a Tony for playing Enjolras in the original Broadway production of Les Miserables. You perform with symphonies all over the country. So I have to ask: Why law?
A: I wanted to go to law school for years. I just wanted the intellectual challenge. I mean, I do recognize that I have a physical gift. Itís almost like being a fast runner or something. I have a talent that I needed and still need to share.
But while I was singing with symphonies, I was also buying and restoring old houses in Hancock Park in Los Angeles. I love historic restoration. I made good money doing that. But the market started looking soft to me in 2005 and I thought, ďIf Iím ever going to go to law school I should do it right now before Iím just too old and lazy to do it.Ē
Q: And why family law?
A: I had a nasty divorce. During the course of that divorce, I started recognizing that my attorneys were billing me a tremendous amount of money for basically regurgitating what I told them. Or they were checking boxes that I could have checked. And they didnít understand numbers like I did because Iíd been a broker on Wall Street prior to going into the theater. I just had a mission in my life, and it continues to this day, to try to keep other people from going through that. ...
Q: Does it ever get in the way of your family law practiceóthe fact that you played Enjolras?
A: I donít tell anybody about it.
Q: Right, but Ö
A: So if somebody knows, it may, and only for a minute, get in the way. Actually, if anything, it gets in the way of the opposing counsel. Because they think, ďOh, this guyís just a singer.Ē
Q: So theyíll underestimate you.
A: They underestimate me big time. And thatís their big mistake.
Maguire dominated the “Les Mis” cover of Newsweek magazine in 1987. In a bit of coincidence, that cover was designed by Patricia.
Maguire's voice still gives me chills, by the way, particularly the way he sings the following:
With all the anger in the land
How long before the Judgement Day?
Before we cut the fat ones down to size
Before the barricades arise?
It's my favorite part of the musical, give or take an “oo and ah.” Or an empty table or empty chair.
You can hear the person sing here. He shows up at 1:54:
Song of the Day
-- David Bowie, “Young Americans,” 1975
See also: “American Car,” “American Idiot,” “American Tune,” “American without Tears.”
Song of the Day: 'Tired of Being Alone' by Al Green
Patricia's brother Jack posted this on Facebook the other day. Two words: Holy shit.
I've been paying so little attention to the news this week that I didn't know why the five living presidents got together, why George H.W. Bush was wearing pink socks (which I liked), and why George W., his ne'er-do-well son (and a truer compound adjective was never used), was the center of attention. Then I read past the headlines: The George W. Bush Presidential Library. Cue “The Pet Goat” jokes.
Seeing W. with H.W., and surrounded by Dems, and hearing echoes of the usual bullshit from the far right, who seem to know nothing but the smell of their own bullshit these days (I'm talking the FOX-News/Rush Limbaugh/Glenn Beck triumverate), I flashed back to a good early 1990s R.E.M. song called “Drive.” Great opening lyrics. Back then, it really fit H.W. and the War on Drugs. Now it fits W. and his War on Terror. Astonishly so.
Smack, crack, bushwhacked
Tie another one to the racks, baby
Hey kids, rock and roll
Nobody tells you where to go, baby
The smack/crack is for the first Bush, tying another one to the racks for the second.
There are about two dozen videos of the song on YouTube, none particularly good, but the song's genius. Love the dead way Michael Stipe sings, “Nobody tells you where to go. Baby.”
Ollie Ollie in come free.
Hey kids, shake a leg/ Maybe you're crazy in the head, baby
My State of the Union
Oh, we come on the ship they call the Mayflower
We come on the ship that sailed the moon
We come in the ageís most uncertain hour
And sing an American tune
Oh, itís all right, itís all right
Itís all right, itís all right
You canít be forever blessed
Still, tomorrowís going to be another working day
And Iím trying to get some rest
Thatís all Iím trying to get some rest
-- Paul Simon, “American Tune,” 1973
I was dicking around YouTube last night and came across this clip of Paul Simon singing “American Tune” on the old “Dick Cavett Show” in September 1974--a month after Richard Nixon resigned, which was a few months after my parents separated. It's a melancholy song but I was feeling particularly melancholy last night so it really sunk in. Particularly that last stanza. Since the State of the Union is tonight, I thought I'd share.