Saturday, February 18, 2012

ÅST Les Mis: A Love Letter

Dear Åbo Svenska Teater's production of Les Misérables,

I suppose you know that you are my favourite musical production of all times.

Now that you've closed for good, I could spend ages speaking about how sad I feel, how upset I am that I'll never sit in the auditorium again, breathing in theatre smoke and feeling amazing.

But, reminiscing about all the times I've spent with you, either visiting you or just talking, writing and thinking about you, I feel something else is more important here. More than anything, more than mourning what has been taken from me now when I can't see you anymore and when memories of every single detail I'd want to remember forever are becoming fainter by each day... I need to thank you for all that you gave me.

I don't know if you know it, but you gave me lots.

Your first gift to me was letting me feel truely independent for the first time in my life.

The first time my parents let me stay overnight in another town all on my own, without even a friend to keep me company - it was because I wanted to see you. I know that sounds like a lonely, boring way to spend a weekend, going to a theatre all alone... But, to me, it wasn't. It was glorious. Still is.
But especially back then... That weekend, for the first time, I was trusted to be able to take full care of myself. For once, I could do exactly what I wanted to. I could come and go as I wished, without having to explain my actions to anyone. I could sit in the theatre foyer for an hour before the show, just breathing in and out and feeling good.

I have never enjoyed the show as much as back then. After the performance had ended I took a long walk around the city and just felt amazing. Can it be called a walk, though? My feet hardly touched ground.

Thank you for being a part of what I still hold as one of the best moments in my life.

Your second gift was showing me that sometimes the impossible happens.

I've always been a sceptical, pessimistic person. I still am. But, nowadays, I simply don't say that something will never happen anymore.

I know that what happened to me is simply one fangirl's silly dreams coming true. To some people it must seem small and insignificant. Meeting some actors, who cares? But, you see, my attitude had been quite different. Before last year, people I admired existed in their own reality and I existed in mine. I could write fanmail or adoring blog entries, but I'd never get to meet them for real, they'd never know or care about that I exist. That just was the way the things were... in my own, pessimistic mind.

Getting a message from one of you, then another message, then an invitation to meet you all, then a backstage tour, then a free ticket, then... Those were some of the most exciting, nervewracking, insane, fun weeks of my life. I still have a hard time believing that it was real, that I was the lucky fangirl to get it all. My life has been a little insane ever since that first message, in the best possible way. Especially going to the theatre... During the last few months, every new performance was a small adventure for me. Just going to the theatre and leaving wasn't an option, there was always a little something exciting in store.

And during your last week of performances you welcomed me and my friend (whose presence was nothing short of being another miracle, we'll come to this) to meet you again. I'm grateful. Even though my brain replays the moments I think I embarrassed myself somehow on a regular basis, I'm glad I got to meet you. I know I was a giggling mess, but I hope you understood how much the production means to me, anyway.

Thank you for letting me live a couple of dreams and showing me that anything can happen.

Your third gift to me is the most important one of them all. Without you, I would lead a much more lonely life.

I'm not a very social person by any means. I don't make friends that easily, I'm not friends with popular kids. I can't be open about myself easily or always say the right things at the right times...
But, through you, I've met many people. Many amazing people that I wish will stay a part of my life even now when you have closed. Running into them in the theatre, gushing about the show with them, getting messages from them, planning future adventures with them... My life is more fun now, thanks to the people you helped me to find.

I also want to thank you for the amazing times I've had with you and my old friends. I bet some of them are tired of my constant talking about you... But coming to see you with them has been a lot of fun, too. I can't help grinning when I think about those days!

Above all, however, I'm grateful for the two people that I can call some of the best friends I have ever known.

Even though I first met them both through some other matter than you... I can't know if we would ever have crossed the line from acquaintances to true friends without you. It could be - but as it is, you were maybe the most important thing for us to talk about when becoming friends.

You're so woven into my relationship with these people that I can't even think about them without thinking about you. First, I only knew them through the internet, but even back then, we had some amazing times. The nights coming back from the theatre and telling everything about the day's performance to them in great detail... Sharing every single new production photo we could find with each other... Calling them to an emergency chat meeting when we got messages from you, when I met with you all, when one of our favourites was leaving... Discussing, speculating, fangirling.
Even meeting them for the first time was all about you. The one I met first... I met her for the first time when we went to see you together. We had been looking forward to it for months and months, and you didn't disappoint - we had a magical day, a day to cherish in memories forever. The other... After giving up, lack of faith, insane plans and waiting for months and months, she flew from America to see you... and to meet me, along the way. We visited you together and had a magical week, a week we will always remember.

There usually aren't too many people in your life that you know you can tell everything to. With your help, I have found two more of them. That alone is a reason to be eternally grateful.

Thank you for them.

Your last gift, though still noteworthy, was giving me - along with every other person who ever saw you - an amazing version of my favourite musical. The most amazing I've ever encountered.

You were very close to being perfect. Your few little flaws were easily forgiven on the grounds that, as a whole, you always left me feeling ecstatic when I left the theatre. No other piece of theatre has ever made me feel that good, lifted me that far off the ground. You deserved every single clap, scream and standing ovation the audiences gave you - and, judging by how much I saw those happening, I'm sure I wasn't the only one who thought you were brilliant.

After you, seeing Les Misérables will never feel the same.

Thank you for those thirteen beautiful performances you gave me.

I hope you can see how much you are being missed.

With all my love and then some more,


  1. ALL THE FEELINGS. ;____;

    You almost made me cry with this. Seriously.

    I agree with all of this. Especially with not being a social butterfly or friends with popular kids. Having such a rare (at least in Finland) interest as musical theatre is rather lonely sometimes, as there are no many people who you can talk of it with. But after seeing (or rather, deciding to go see) ÅST Les Mis I've realised that those people do exist! ♥ You're just hard to find. ::D

    1. I'd be all "oh no, don't cry"... But I guess that's useless since I already knew this would be a tearjerker for some when writing... :P

      But yes, so true! For the first couple of years after getting into musicals I felt very alone. I wasn't even sure if other Finnish musical fans existed! But now you fellow fans have started appearing in my life, I couldn't be happier about that! <3

  2. No words to describe how much I wanted to see this production... Sad it's closed now...
    Anyway, I totally know what you mean about thinking people you admire are somehow superior until you actually get to meet them. I have discovered that especially stage actors tend to be absolutely lovely to fans. Not to mention that amazing special circle of friends you make when you properly get down with a hobby like this.

    1. I'm sad for everyone who didn't get to see it - if it was up to me, forget the 10th and 25th anniversary concerts, this was the one deserving a DVD release! :P

      But yep, so true. Now I realise how silly I've been - every person I admire that I've been lucky enough to meet in person has been incredibly nice! Nothing to be afraid of after all!

  3. Sounds very familiar, though for me that happened with another musical. But it's amazing how much one musical can affect your whole life, give friends, new meanings of life and open whole new realities besides the ordinary and dull one. In my case it led e.g. to warm friendships and studying something I didn't even know I was interested in. :)

    1. Aww, your experience sounds amazing, too! :) It's beautiful how things like musicals can change lives for the better! <3

  4. "Q - A ship you’ve abandoned and why: --- Also, never shipping real people again. At some point, luckily pretty early on, it occurred to me that that’s actually a really weird and potentially insulting thing to do."

    I'm not in Tumblr, but I just wanted to thank you for saying this out loud. Weird and insulting fans is one topic I've been meaning to blog about, and you seriously are one of the most sensible musical fans I have ever met ("met"?), which is one reason why I like to read your blog and Tumblr so much.

    Sincerely yours,

    Creepy Stalker

    1. Heh, one of the more embarrassing things of my history with fandoms, the real people shipping thing... Not proud of that - but, in my defence maybe, I was only 13 at the time.
      But thanks so much! Looking forward your text about fans - I really enjoy reading your blog, too! :)

      As a future reference to you (and everybody else who stalks my Tumblr, if there are others :D) - my Tumblr askbox should be open for everyone, even people who don't have their own account. I'm afraid it eats messages sometimes, though...

  5. Thank you Siiri for a beautiful letter! We loved to have you around. It means a lot to any performer when an audience returns to the same production. And it means more than a lot when it returns 13 times! Your devotion to the show made our nights at the theatre more important, and even more special than you think.

    I hope you had a great summer and that I'll see you in the front row in a near future!


    1. ...the last time reading a comment on this blog has made me burst into happy tears? Probably never. Thank you so much for your words.

      Hoping to see you onstage sometimes soon, too! :)

  6. Hey Siiri.
    Just read your letter about our production and must Thank you! It was so nice to read about the show again after so long time! To have such devoted musical theatre-fans is amazing! And just as Emil said, it's amazing to know that someone in the audience returns to the show! (13 times!!!!!) It means a lot! Reading your letter and the review you did, made me think about the time in Turku and Svenska Teatern and I will allways remember that time with happines!

    Come to Aarhus Teater in Denmark where Georg Malvius is directing Les Mis in the spring of 2014!
    Hope to see you there in the front row!


    1. Hi! I'm very glad if my text brought back happy memories – your comment definitely made me smile widely! :)

      You'll be in the Aarhus Teater Les Mis? That's awesome! I'd of course love to see it, and I've got to admit, I've been considering traveling... I'm not sure yet if I can really come, but who knows, maybe you'll indeed spot me in the audience one night – in the front row, of course! ;)