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Les Miserables, Cormac Thompson

Cormac Thompson sings "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables."

If you've never seen "Les Miserables," you may not know that the musical includes one of the saddest songs ever written. "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables," which is sung by a young man (Marius) after his friends were killed in an uprising in post-Revolutionary France, is a heart-wrencher both with and without the context of the story.

In the show, Marius sings the song as he sits alone in the cafe where he and his friends had gathered to sing and plan and gather support for their cause. He sings to the ghosts of his friends, lamenting that he lives while they are gone and questioning what their sacrifice was for. It's a haunting moment of despair and grief that even the hardest of hearts can't help but feel.

We've experienced no shortage of despair and grief in the past two years, as the COVID-19 pandemic has claimed a million lives in the U.S. alone and millions more around the globe. Add in the social and political upheaval of recent years, the continuing dire effects of climate change and scenes and stories of war, and there's a clear, collective need for a catharsis of some kind.


That's where Cormac Thompson comes in. The 13-year-old from England recorded "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" as a charity single to raise money for Acting for Others, and it's giving people a release for some pent-up emotions.

Thompson gained internet fame when he was 11, after a video of him singing "Danny Boy" for his Irish grandparents during pandemic lockdowns went viral. People loved the angelic nature of his voice, and the video led to Thompson getting a record deal.

His rendition of "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" was shared by The Music Man Facebook page on May 13 and has been viewed more than 2.6 million times. The video alternates between Thompson singing in the studio and clips of empty streets and scenes with healthcare workers, drawing the connection between the loss spoken of in the song lyrics and the loss of humanity during the pandemic.

Watch and listen:

The Music Man

Thompson's pitch-perfect performance has received thousands of comments from people thanking him for the song and describing how moving it was.

"Visions of hospitals, ventilators and so many gone," wrote one commenter. "Visions of so many buildings destroyed, homes, schools, factories, bodies in the streets, so many gone. Covid. Ukraine. Hauntingly beautiful performance bringing chills and tears, so many tears."

"I'm in tears!" wrote another. "Although written for Les Miserables, this song and the words is so relevant today with all that's going on in the world. Wonderful performance!! Bless."

"He is AMAZING!" wrote another. "Having worked on Les Miserables for 17 years I thought I was immune to it but this is extremely emotional!"

"Amazing talent Cormac! You brought tears to my eyes," shared another. "The echoes of your beautiful voice will linger in people's minds as they reminisce the loss of their loved ones. Wishing you the very best for the years ahead."

Music can be a powerful way to process emotions, and we've been living through a time of heightened emotion. Perhaps we could all use this kind of release for our collective pain and grief and sadness. Thank you, Cormac Thompson, for the gift.

Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

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10/10. The Mayyas dance.

We can almost always expect to see amazing acts and rare skills on “America’s Got Talent.” But sometimes, we get even more than that.

The Mayyas, a Lebanese women’s dance troupe whose name means “proud walk of a lioness,” delivered a performance so mesmerizing that judge Simon Cowell called it the “best dance act” the show has ever seen, winning them an almost instant golden buzzer.

Perhaps this victory comes as no surprise, considering that the Mayyas had previously won “Arab’s Got Talent” in 2019 and competed on “Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions.” But truly, it’s what motivates them to take to the stage that’s remarkable.

“Lebanon is a very beautiful country, but we live a daily struggle," one of the dancers said to the judges just moments before their audition. Another explained, “being a dancer as a female Arab is not fully supported yet.”

Nadim Cherfan, the team’s choreographer, added that “Lebanon is not considered a place where you can build a career out of dancing, so it’s really hard, and harder for women.”

Still, Cherfan shared that it was a previous “AGT” star who inspired the Mayyas to defy the odds and audition anyway. Nightbirde, a breakout singer who also earned a golden buzzer before tragically passing away in February 2021 due to cancer, had told the audience, “You can't wait until life isn't hard anymore before you decide to be happy.” The dance team took the advice to heart.

For the Mayyas, coming onto the “AGT” stage became more than an audition opportunity. Getting emotional, one of the dancers declared that it was “our only chance to prove to the world what Arab women can do, the art we can create, the fights we fight.”

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