We prepped for the show by listening to the Les Miz soundtrack while drinking red wine at home. The two-disc set was among the first CDs we'd ever owned, and for the past decade, we've skipped around it, finding and playing our favorite songs, completely jumbling the storyline. This worked out fine until discovering Claude-Michel Schonberg's musical didn't exactly coincide with our imagined version and resulted in confused, whispered questions to our friend.
Even though it's approximately 200 degrees outside, we want to continue drinking red wine once we got to the Muny. It's an appropriate quaff, especially given that we began our foray into red winohood in Paris: Almost as soon as the wheels of the plane hit Paris' Charles de Gaulle runway, it became apparent that wine was oftentimes cheaper than soda. Ordering ice was another fiasco, so we grew accustomed to ordering wine everywhere, as both an economical way to drink ourselves through Europe and as a salve against certain residents of France who made it a point to yell at us for some faux pas each and every day we were there.
It would have been nice to have seen a larger selection of red wine (we just saw one, the Glen Ellen merlot) at the Muny. But to be fair, we aren't sure what the demand for red would be on this stifling, windless summer night when every leaf is still and the only flag rippling belongs to Enjolras. All of the Muny's wine comes in those airplane-size bottles which concession workers pour into plastic glasses. The Glen Ellen merlot does hint of plum but has an acidity that we typically associate with inexpensive wine. At $5, it's about half of what we'd spend at the ballpark for a beer, so it seems like a steal. But it's nothing wonderfully interesting or complex, so we don't feel guilty about asking for a half cup of ice and dumping the wine over it. The ice doesn't ruin the wine's integrity any more than Fantine ruins hers when she sells her hair.
Later, we notice two ladies seated a few feet apart from each other. They perfectly personify the cross section of the Muny audience: one's clad in a dress and peering through opera binoculars, the other wears shorts and a banana clip. We now want to whisper something about the bourgeoisification of the theater to reconcile our earlier observations and perhaps appear classier than we really are. But then we catch the sun glinting off the ice cubes bobbing in our cheap red wine and meekly think the better of it.