Les Misérables (musical)
|Basis||1862 novel by Victor Hugo
|Premiere||September 1980 – Palais des Sports, Paris|
Les Misérables (pronounced / / or / /; French pronunciation: [le mizeʁabl(ə)]), colloquially known as Les Mis or Les Miz (/ /) is a sung-through musical based on the novel Les Misérables by French poet and novelist Victor Hugo. It has music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, original French lyrics by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel, with an English-language libretto by Herbert Kretzmer.
Set in early 19th-century France, it is the story of Jean Valjean, a French peasant, and his quest for redemption after serving nineteen years in jail for having stolen a loaf of bread for his sister's starving child. Valjean decides to break his parole and start his life anew after a kindly bishop inspires him by a tremendous act of mercy, but he is relentlessly tracked down by a police inspector named Javert. Along the way, Valjean and a slew of characters are swept into a revolutionary period in France, where a group of young idealists make their last stand at a street barricade.
- 1 Background
- 2 Reception
- 3 Emblem
- 4 Synopsis
- 5 Musical numbers
- 6 Characters
- 7 Productions
- 8 Concert productions
- 9 Touring Productions
- 10 International productions
- 11 Regional productions
- 12 Film adaptation
- 13 Cast recordings
- 14 Awards and nominations
- 15 See also
- 16 References
- 17 External links
Originally released as a French-language concept album, the first musical-stage adaptation of Les Misérables was presented at a Paris sports arena, the Palais des Sports, in 1980. However, the first production closed after three months when the booking contract expired.
In 1983, about six months after producer Cameron Mackintosh had opened Cats on Broadway, he received a copy of the French concept album from director Peter Farago. Farago had been impressed by the work and asked Mackintosh to produce an English-language version of the show. Initially reluctant, Mackintosh eventually agreed. Mackintosh, in conjunction with the Royal Shakespeare Company, assembled a production team to adapt the French musical for a British audience. After two years in development, the English-language version opened in London on 8 October 1985, by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Barbican Centre, then the London home of the RSC. The success of the West End musical led to a Broadway production.
At the opening of the London production, critical reviews were negative. The Sunday Telegraph's Francis King described the show as "a lurid Victorian melodrama produced with Victorian lavishness" and Michael Ratcliffe in the Observer dubbed the show "a witless and synthetic entertainment", while literary scholars condemned the project for converting classic literature into a musical. Public opinion differed: the box office received record orders. The three-month engagement sold out, and reviews improved. The London production, as of March 2013, has run continuously since October 1985: the second longest-running musical in the world after The Fantasticks, the second longest-running West End show after The Mousetrap, It is the longest-running musical in the West End followed by The Phantom of the Opera. In 2010, it played its ten-thousandth performance in London, at Queen's Theatre. On 3 October 2010, the show celebrated its 25th anniversary with three productions running in London: the original production at the Queen's Theatre; the 25th Anniversary touring production at its 1985 try-out venue, the Barbican Centre; and the 25th Anniversary concert at London's O2 Arena.
The Broadway production opened 12 March 1987 and ran until 18 May 2003, closing after 6,680 performances. It is the fifth longest-running Broadway show in history and was the second-longest at the time. The show was nominated for 12 Tony Awards and won eight, including Best Musical and Best Original Score.
Subsequently, numerous tours and international and regional productions have been staged, as well as concert and broadcast productions. Several recordings have also been made. A Broadway revival opened in 2006 at the Broadhurst Theatre and closed in 2008. The show was placed first in a BBC Radio 2 listener poll of Britain's "Number One Essential Musicals" in 2005, receiving more than forty percent of the votes. A film version directed by Tom Hooper was released at the end of 2012 to generally positive reviews.
The musical's emblem is a picture of the waif Cosette sweeping the Thénardiers' inn (which occurs in the musical during "Castle on a Cloud"), usually shown cropped to a head-and-shoulders portrait superimposed on the French flag. The image is based on an etching by Gustave Brion based on the drawing by Émile Bayard. It appeared in several of the novel's earliest French-language editions.
In Bagne prison in Toulon, France, in 1815, the prisoners work at hard labour ("Work Song"). After 19 years in prison (five for stealing bread for his starving sister's son and her family, and the rest for trying to escape), Jean Valjean, "prisoner 24601," is released on parole by the policeman Javert. By law, Valjean must display a yellow ticket-of-leave, which identifies him as an ex-convict ("On Parole"). As a convict, Valjean is shunned by society though the Bishop of Digne offers him food and shelter. Overnight, Valjean steals the Bishop's silver and flees but is captured by the police. The Bishop tells the police that the silver was a gift and not only lets him keep the silver he stole, but also gives him two more valuable candlesticks. The Bishop tells Valjean that he must use the silver "to become an honest man" and that he has "bought (Valjean's) soul for God" ("Valjean Arrested, Valjean Forgiven"). Ashamed, yet humbled by the Bishop's kindness, Valjean decides "another story must begin." He tears up his yellow ticket, breaks his parole and resolves to redeem his sins. ("Valjean's Soliloquy" / "What Have I Done?").
Eight years later, in 1823, Valjean has assumed a new identity as Monsieur Madeleine, a wealthy factory owner and mayor of Montreuil-sur-Mer. One of his workers discovers that Fantine (another worker) is sending money to her secret illegitimate daughter, Cosette, who lives with an innkeeper and his wife ("At the End of the Day"). Fantine and the worker fight, and the Mayor breaks up the conflict but asks his factory foreman to resolve it. The other women demand Fantine's dismissal, and because she had previously rejected his advances, the foreman dismisses Fantine. Fantine reflects on her broken dreams and about Cosette's father, who left her ("I Dreamed a Dream"). Desperate for money, she sells her locket and hair, finally becoming a prostitute ("Lovely Ladies"). When she fights back against an abusive customer (Bamatabois), Javert, now a police inspector stationed in Montreuil-sur-Mer, arrives and arrests her. The Mayor arrives and, realising his part in Fantine's circumstances, orders Javert release her before taking her to a hospital ("Fantine's Arrest").
Soon afterwards, the Mayor rescues a man pinned by a runaway cart ("The Runaway Cart"), reminding Javert of the abnormally strong Jean Valjean, whom he has sought tirelessly for years. Javert apologizes for comparing the Mayor to a criminal, and assures the Mayor that Valjean has in fact been arrested recently. At first, Valjean thinks the man could be his chance to escape his past life, but is unwilling to see an innocent man (Champmathieu) go to prison in his place, and so confesses his identity to the court ("Who Am I?—The Trial"). At the hospital, a delirious Fantine dreams of Cosette. Valjean arrives and promises to find Cosette and protect her ("Come to Me" / "Fantine's Death"). Relieved, Fantine succumbs to her illness and dies. Suddenly, Javert confronts Valjean. Valjean asks Javert for three days to fetch Cosette, but Javert refuses to believe his honest intentions. They struggle, but Valjean overpowers Javert. Valjean once again promises to Fantine he "will raise (Cosette) to the light" and escapes ("The Confrontation").
In Montfermeil, the duplicitous innkeepers, the Thénardiers, use Cosette as a servant while extorting money from Fantine claiming that Cosette is seriously ill, all the while indulging their own daughter, Éponine. Cosette dreams of a life where she is not forced to work and is treated lovingly. Madame Thénardier arrives and angrily accuses Cosette of "slacking," and orders Cosette to retrieve water from the woods, while Éponine teases Cosette and pushes her out the door ("Castle on a Cloud"). The Thénardiers successfully cheat their customers in various ways, though Madame Thénardier shows contempt for her husband ("Master of the House"). Valjean finds Cosette in the woods and accompanies her back to the inn ("The Well Scene"). He offers the Thénardiers payment to take her away, and informs them of Fantine's death ("The Bargain"). The Thénardiers feign concern for Cosette and bargain with Valjean, who pays them 1,500 francs to let him take her away. The Thénardiers accept the money, but later realise they could have asked for much more. Valjean and Cosette leave for Paris ("The Waltz of Treachery").
Nine years later, in 1832, Paris is in upheaval because of the impending death of General Lamarque, the only man in the government who shows mercy to the poor. The young street urchin Gavroche mingles with the prostitutes and beggars on the street, while students Marius Pontmercy and Enjolras discuss what will happen after Lamarque's death ("Look Down"). The Thénardiers have since lost their inn, and Thénardier now leads a street gang. They prepare to con some charitable visitors who turn out to be Valjean and Cosette. Éponine also takes part. Before taking watch, she has a conversation with Marius, whom she secretly loves. As the gang is about to con the visitors, Éponine warns Marius to stay out of it and runs away. As Marius chases after her, he bumps into Cosette and falls in love with her at first sight, much to the dismay of Éponine. Thénardier suddenly recognizes Valjean, and he and the gang attack him, while Cosette is shielded by Marius. Éponine then warns that Javert is coming ("The Robbery"). He arrives on the scene and thwarts the robbery, not recognizing Valjean until after he and Cosette escape. Thénardier informs Javert of a brand he saw on Valjean ("Javert's Intervention"). Javert vows to the stars that he will find Valjean and recapture him ("Stars"). Meanwhile, Éponine remembers Cosette from when they were children. Marius persuades Éponine to help him find Cosette. Despite her own feelings for him, she reluctantly agrees to help ("Éponine's Errand").
At a small café, Enjolras prepares a group of idealistic students for revolution. Marius interrupts the serious atmosphere by fantasizing about his new-found love, Cosette and is mocked by Grantaire ("The ABC Café—Red and Black"). When Gavroche brings the news of General Lamarque's death, the students march into the streets ("Do You Hear the People Sing?"). At Valjean's house, Cosette thinks about Marius and laments that she doesn't truly know herself, having never been told about her mother or Valjean's history ("Rue Plumet—In My Life"). Marius and Éponine arrive, and Marius confesses his love to Cosette, which she reciprocates, while Éponine looks on sadly ("A Heart Full of Love"). Thénardier and his gang arrive intending to rob Valjean's house, but Éponine stops them by screaming ("The Attack on Rue Plumet"). The scream alerts Valjean who believes that Javert must have found him. He tells Cosette that they must flee the country.
On the eve of the 1832 Paris Uprising, Valjean prepares to go into exile; Cosette and Marius part in despair; Éponine mourns her unrequited love for Marius; Enjolras encourages all of Paris to join the revolution as he and the other students prepare for battle; Marius is conflicted whether to follow Cosette or join the other students, but after Éponine takes him to the other students, he ultimately decides to stand with his brothers, while Éponine joins in secret; Javert briefs the soldiers under his command while he reveals his plans to spy on the students; and the Thénardiers hide underground and look forward to robbing the corpses of those who will be killed during the battle. Everyone ponders what this "tomorrow" will bring ("One Day More").
As the students build a barricade, Javert, disguised as a rebel, volunteers to "spy" on the government troops. Marius discovers Éponine, who disguised herself as a boy, and sends her to deliver a farewell letter to Cosette. Valjean intercepts the letter, promising Éponine he will tell Cosette about it. In the letter, he learns about Marius and Cosette's romantic relationship ("Building the Barricade—Upon These Stones"). Éponine walks the streets of Paris alone, imagining that Marius is there with her, but laments that her love for Marius will never be reciprocated; nevertheless, she decides to rejoin him at the barricade ("On My Own").
The French army arrives at the barricade and demands that the students surrender ("At the Barricade—Upon These Stones"); though Javert tells the students that the government will not attack that night ("Javert's Arrival"). Gavroche exposes him as a spy, and the students detain him ("Little People"). Éponine returns but is shot by the soldiers crossing the barricade. As Marius holds her, she assures him that she feels no pain and reveals her love for him before dying in his arms ("A Little Fall of Rain"). Marius is devastated over her death, while Enjolras and the other students mourn this first loss of life at the barricades. The students resolve to fight in her name, and they carry her body away, while Enjolras attempts to comfort Marius. Valjean arrives at the barricades, disguised as a soldier, in search of Marius ("Night of Anguish"). As the first battle erupts, Valjean saves Enjolras by shooting a sniper. In return, he asks Enjolras to be the one to kill the imprisoned Javert, which Enjolras grants. As soon as Valjean and Javert are alone, Valjean frees Javert and tells him to leave the barricades. Javert warns Valjean that he will not give up his pursuit and rejects what he perceives as a bargain for Valjean's freedom. Valjean says there are no conditions to his release, and holds no blame toward Javert for doing his duty. As Javert leaves, Valjean fires a shot in the air to make it appear that he has executed Javert ("The First Attack"). The students settle down for the night and reminisce. Enjorlas tells the other students to stay awake in case the enemy strikes unexpectedly in the night, but he tells Marius to get some sleep, knowing he's still too devastated over losing Eponine to stay awake. Grantaire gets angry and asks Marius if he fears to die as Marius wonders if Cosette will remember him if he dies ("Drink with Me"). Valjean overhears this, and as Marius sleeps, Valjean prays to God to save Marius from the onslaught that is to come, even at the cost of his own life ("Bring Him Home").
As dawn approaches, Enjolras realizes that the people of Paris have not risen up with them, but resolves to fight on ("Dawn of Anguish"). Gavroche is shot attempting to gather ammunition ("The Second Attack / Death of Gavroche"). The army gives a final warning to surrender, but the rebels fight to the last man with Enjolras exhorting "let others rise until the Earth is free!". Enjolras, Grantaire and the students are killed except Valjean and a gravely wounded Marius who escape into the sewers ("The Final Battle"). Thénardier, also in the sewers, has been looting bodies ("Dog Eats Dog"). He takes a ring from the unconscious Marius, while Valjean sleeps. When Valjean carries Marius to the sewer's exit, he finds Javert who has been waiting for him. Valjean begs Javert for one hour to bring Marius to a doctor, and Javert reluctantly agrees. Javert finds himself unable to reconcile Valjean's mercy with his conception of Valjean as a convict and his need to bring him to justice. Shaken by the questions over his belief in absolute justice, Javert commits suicide by throwing himself into the Seine ("Soliloquy - Javert's Suicide)".
Back on the streets, women mourn the deaths of the students ("Turning") as Marius mourns his friends ("Empty Chairs at Empty Tables"). As he wonders who saved him from the barricades, Cosette comforts him and they reaffirm their blossoming romance. Valjean realises that Cosette "was never (his) to keep" and gives them his blessing ("Every Day"). Valjean confesses to Marius that he is an escaped convict and must go away because his presence endangers Cosette ("Valjean's Confession"). He makes Marius promise never to tell Cosette, to which Marius agrees. A few months later, Marius and Cosette marry ("Wedding Chorale"). The Thénardiers crash the reception in disguise as "The Baron and Baroness du Thénard". As Marius sees through their disguise, Thénardier attempts to blackmail Marius, telling him that Valjean is a murderer and that he saw him carrying a corpse in the sewers after the barricades fell. When Thénardier shows him the ring as proof, Marius realizes that it was Valjean who saved his life. Marius strikes Thénardier, the newlyweds leave to find Valjean, and the Thénardiers enjoy the party and celebrate their survival ("Beggars at the Feast").
At a convent, Valjean awaits his death, having nothing left to live for. The spirit of Fantine appears to him, thanking him for raising her daughter, and tells him that he has been forgiven and that he will be with God. Cosette and Marius arrive to find Valjean near death. Valjean thanks God for letting him live long enough to see Cosette again and Marius thanks him for saving his life. ("Epilogue - Valjean's Death"). Valjean gives Cosette a letter confessing all about his troubled past and the truth about her mother Fantine. As he dies, the spirits of Fantine and Éponine guide him to Heaven reminding him that "to love another person is to see the face of God." They are joined by the spirits of those who died at the barricades who ask once more: "Do You Hear the People Sing?" ("Finale").
|Jean Valjean||dramatic tenor||Prisoner 24601. After being released from imprisonment for serving nineteen years (five for stealing a loaf of bread and fourteen for multiple escape attempts), he breaks parole and, after receiving mercy from Bishop Myriel, turns his life around to live for God, showing the effects of God's grace that bring a corrupt man into virtuous and selfless living. He changes his identity, becoming the wealthy mayor of a small town. He later adopts Cosette, the only daughter of Fantine. At the end, he eventually dies and the spirit of Fantine thanks him for raising her child.|
|Inspector Javert||baritone or bass-baritone||Respects the law above all else and relentlessly pursues Valjean, hoping to bring the escaped convict to justice. He firmly believes in the justice of the law, and has no room for mercy. In the end he commits suicide, broken by the mercy he experiences from Valjean.|
|The Bishop of Digne||baritone||Houses Valjean after his release from jail and gives him gifts of silver and absolution. His acts of kindness move Valjean to surrender his ways to God, escaping the label of "criminal" and living in a new identity.|
|The Factory Foreman||baritone||Foreman of Valjean's (Valjean has assumed the name Madeleine) jet bead factory in Montreuil-sur-Mer which employs Fantine and other workers. The Foreman fires Fantine from the factory when she persists in resisting his overt sexual advances and because it is discovered that she is the mother of an illegitimate child (Cosette) living elsewhere.|
|The Factory Girl||lyric mezzo-soprano||In the original Broadway and London versions of the musical, the Factory Girl is mistress to the Factory Foreman. The Factory Girl discovers that the Foreman has his eyes set on bedding Fantine, so she does what she believes is necessary to see to it that Fantine gets fired. At the factory (in "At the End of the Day"), the Factory Girl intercepts a letter that the Thénardiers have sent to Fantine requesting that Fantine send them more money to care for Cosette who is ill (a lie). The letter exposes Fantine as the mother of an illegitimate child, and the Factory Girl shows it to the Foreman, insisting that Fantine be fired. The Foreman complies.|
|Fantine||lyric mezzo-soprano||A poor worker who loses her job and, as a result, turns to prostitution in order to continue paying the Thénardiers to care for her illegitimate daughter, Cosette. As Fantine dies of consumption, she asks Valjean to look after her child. Ultimately she appears as a spirit and escorts the dying Valjean to Heaven.|
|Old Woman||contralto||Affectionately called "The Hair Hag" in many of the original US companies, the Old Woman is the character who talks Fantine into selling her hair before Fantine becomes a prostitute.|
|Crone||soprano||Also called "The Locket Crone," this character is the woman who talks Fantine into selling her precious locket for much less than it is worth.|
|Bamatabois||baritone or tenor||An upper-class "fop" who tries to buy Fantine's services. He treats her abusively so she refuses him. When Javert enters the scene, Bamatabois tries to cover the fact that he was soliciting a prostitute by having her arrested for attacking him.|
|Fauchelevent||baritone or tenor||In a role reduced from the novel, Fauchelevent appears only in the Cart Crash scene, where he is trapped under the cart and rescued by Valjean. He is an elderly man who has fallen upon hard times.|
|Champmathieu||silent||A man who is arrested and on trial because he is believed to be Jean Valjean. Valjean, still under the name Madeleine, confesses his true identity at the trial in order to save the man.|
|Young Cosette||treble||The eight-year-old daughter of Fantine. Cosette is in the care of the Thénardiers who are paid by Fantine to take care of her child. Unknown to Fantine, the Thénardiers force Cosette to work, and they use Fantine's money for their own needs.|
|Madame Thénardier||contralto||Thénardier's unscrupulous wife.|
|Young Éponine||silent||Eight-year-old Éponine is the pampered daughter of the Thénardiers. She grows up with Cosette and is unkind to her.|
|Thénardier||comic baritone||A second-rate thief, Thénardier runs a small inn.|
|Gavroche||boy soprano||Gavroche is a streetwise urchin who dies on the barricade helping the revolutionaries. He is actually the abandoned son of the Thénardiers, though this is not mentioned in the musical.|
|Enjolras||baritone or tenor||Enjolras is the leader of the student revolutionaries and a friend of Marius.|
|Marius Pontmercy||baritone or bari-tenor||Marius, a student revolutionary, is friends with Éponine, but falls in love with Cosette, and she with him. He is later rescued from the barricades by Valjean, who ultimately gives Marius and Cosette his blessing, allowing them to be married.|
|Éponine||mezzo-soprano||Daughter of the Thénardiers, Éponine, now ragged and a waif, secretly loves Marius. She is killed while returning to the barricades to see Marius. In the end she appears as a spirit alongside Fantine and they guide the dying Valjean to Heaven.|
|Brujon||baritone or tenor||The brutish and cowardly but dissatisfied member of Thénardier's Gang, Brujon's role in the musical expands to cover Gueulemer.|
|Babet||baritone or tenor||A foreboding member of Thénardier's Gang.|
|Claquesous||baritone or tenor||Quiet and masked, expert at evading the police, Claquesous might in fact be working for the law.|
|Montparnasse||baritone or tenor||A young member of Thénardier's Gang, Montparnasse a handsome man appears to be close to Éponine.|
|Cosette||soprano||Cosette, the daughter of Fantine, has grown-up to become a beautiful young woman of culture and privilege under Valjean's adoptive and loving fatherly care and protection. She falls in love with Marius, and he returns her equally strong and pure romantic feelings. She marries him at the end of the musical.|
|Friends of the ABC||baritone or tenor||Student revolutionaries who lead a revolution and die in the process, the Friends of the ABC become martyrs for the rights of citizens. (See Members listed below)|
|Combeferre||baritone or tenor||Combeferre is the philosopher of the ABC group. Enjolras' second-in-command. He is described as the guide of the Friends of the ABC.|
|Feuilly||baritone or tenor||Feuilly is the only member of the Friends of the ABC who is not a student; he is a workingman. An optimist who stands as a sort of ambassador for the "outside," while the rest of the men stand for France. He loves Poland very much.|
|Courfeyrac||baritone or tenor||Friendly and open, Courfeyrac introduces Marius to the ABC society in the novel. He always has many mistresses, and is described as the centre of the Friends of the ABC, always giving off warmth.|
|Joly||baritone or tenor||A medical student and a hypochondriac; best friends with Lesgles.|
|Grantaire||baritone or tenor||Grantaire is a member of the Friends of the ABC. Though he admires Enjolras and is one of his truest friends, Grantaire often opposes Enjolras' fierce determination and occasionally acts as a voice of reason. Grantaire is also very close to Gavroche and attempts to act as his protector. Grantaire has a weakness for spirits of the alcoholic kind and is often tipsy throughout the musical, carrying a bottle of wine wherever he goes.|
|Jean Prouvaire||baritone or tenor||Prouvaire is the youngest student member of the Friends. He is a poet and embodies the Romantic Era. He affects the medieval spelling "Jehan" and grows flowers. Jean Prouvaire has the honor of waving the giant red flag during "One Day More" at the end of Act One.|
|Lesgles||baritone or tenor||Best friends with Joly. A very unlucky man, but also a very happy one.|
|Character||Original French Stage Cast (1980)||Original London Cast (1985)||Original Broadway Cast (1987)||10th Anniversary Cast (1995)||First Broadway Revival (2006)||25th Anniversary Cast (2010)||Current London Cast||Second Broadway Revival (2014)|
|Jean Valjean||Maurice Barrier||Colm Wilkinson||Alexander Gemignani||Alfie Boe||Peter Lockyer||Ramin Karimloo|
|Javert||Jean Vallée||Roger Allam||Terrence Mann||Philip Quast||Norm Lewis||David Thaxton||Will Swenson|
|Fantine||Rose Laurens||Patti LuPone||Randy Graff||Ruthie Henshall||Daphne Rubin-Vega||Lea Salonga||Celinde Schoenmaker||Caissie Levy|
|Éponine||Marianne Mille||Frances Ruffelle||Lea Salonga||Celia Keenan-Bolger||Samantha Barks||Carrie Hope Fletcher||Nikki M. James|
|Thénardier||Yvan Dautin||Alun Armstrong||Leo Burmester||Alun Armstrong||Gary Beach||Matt Lucas||Tom Edden||Cliff Saunders|
|Madame Thénardier||Marie-France Roussel||Susan Jane Tanner||Jennifer Butt||Jenny Galloway||Wendy Ferguson||Keala Settle|
|Marius||Gilles Buhlmann||Michael Ball||David Bryant||Michael Ball||Adam Jacobs||Nick Jonas||Rob Houchen||Andy Mientus|
|Cosette||Fabienne Guyon||Rebecca Caine||Judy Kuhn||Ali Ewoldt||Katie Hall||Emilie Fleming||Samantha Hill|
|Enjolras||Christian Ratellin||David Burt||Michael Maguire||Aaron Lazar||Ramin Karimloo||Michael Colbourne||Kyle Scatliffe|
|Adam Searles||Brian D'Addario
|Robert Madge||Beau Cripps
Original French production
French songwriter Alain Boublil had the idea to adapt Victor Hugo's novel into a musical while at a performance of the musical Oliver! in London:
As soon as the Artful Dodger came onstage, Gavroche came to mind. It was like a blow to the solar plexus. I started seeing all the characters of Victor Hugo's Les Misérables—Valjean, Javert, Gavroche, Cosette, Marius, and Éponine—in my mind's eye, laughing, crying, and singing onstage.
He pitched the idea to French composer Claude-Michel Schönberg, and the two developed a rough synopsis. They worked up an analysis of each character's mental and emotional state, as well as that of an audience. Schönberg then began to write the music, while Boublil began work on the text. According to Boublil, "...I could begin work on the words. This I did—after myself deciding on the subject and title of every song—in collaboration with my friend, poet Jean-Marc Natel." Two years later, a two-hour demo tape with Schönberg accompanying himself on the piano and singing every role was completed. An album of this collaboration was recorded at CTS Studios in Wembley and was released in 1980, selling 260,000 copies.
The concept album includes Maurice Barrier as Jean Valjean, Jacques Mercier as Javert, Rose Laurens as Fantine, Yvan Dautin as Thénardier, Marie-France Roussel as Mme. Thénardier, Richard Dewitte as Marius, Fabienne Guyon as Cosette, Marie-France Dufour as Éponine, Michel Sardou as Enjolras, Fabrice Bernard as Gavroche, Maryse Cédolin as Young Cosette, Claude-Michel Schönberg as Courfeyrac, Salvatore Adamo as Combeferre, Michel Delpech as Feuilly, Dominique Tirmont as M. Gillenormand, and Mireille as the hair buyer.
That year, in September 1980, a stage version directed by veteran French film director Robert Hossein was produced at the Palais des Sports in Paris. The show was a success, with 100 performances seen by over 500,000 people.
Most of the cast from the concept album performed in the production. The cast included Maurice Barrier as Valjean, Jean Vallée as Javert, Rose Laurens as Fantine, Maryse Cédolin and Sylvie Camacho and Priscilla Patron as Young Cosette, Marie-France Roussel as Mme. Thénardier, Yvan Dautin as M. Thénardier, Florence Davis and Fabrice Ploquin and Cyrille Dupont as Gavroche, Marianne Mille as Éponine, Gilles Buhlmann as Marius, Christian Ratellin as Enjolras, Fabienne Guyon as Cosette, René-Louis Baron as Combeferre, Dominique Tirmont as M. Gillenormand, Anne Forrez as Mlle. Gillenormand, and Claude Reva as the storyteller.
Original West End production
The English-language version, with lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer and additional material by James Fenton, was substantially expanded and reworked from a literal translation by Siobhan Bracke of the original Paris version, in particular adding a prologue to tell Jean Valjean's backstory. Kretzmer's work is not a direct "translation" of the French, a term that Kretzmer refused to use. A third of the English lyrics were a "rough" translation, another third were adapted from the French lyrics and the final third consisted of new material. The majority is performed in recitative style; the vocalists use natural speech delivery, not musical metrics.
The first production in English, produced by Cameron Mackintosh and adapted and directed by Trevor Nunn and John Caird, opened on 8 October 1985 (five years after the original production) at the Barbican Arts Centre, London. It was billed in the RSC Barbican Theatre programme as "The Royal Shakespeare Company presentation of the RSC/Cameron Mackintosh production", and played to preview performances beginning on 28 September 1985.
The set was designed by John Napier, costumes by Andreane Neofitou and lighting by David Hersey. Musical supervision and orchestrations were by John Cameron, who had been involved with the show since Boublil and Schönberg hired him to orchestrate the original French concept album. Musical staging was by Kate Flatt with musical direction by Martin Koch.
The original London cast included Colm Wilkinson as Jean Valjean, Roger Allam as Javert, Ken Caswell as the Bishop of Digne, Patti LuPone as Fantine, Zoë Hart, Jayne O'Mahony and Joanne Woodcock as Young Cosette, Danielle Akers, Gillian Brander and Juliette Caton as Young Éponine, Susan Jane Tanner as Madame Thénardier, Alun Armstrong as Thénardier, Frances Ruffelle as Éponine, Rebecca Caine as Cosette, Michael Ball as Marius, David Burt as Enjolras, with Ian Tucker, Oliver Spencer and Liza Hayden sharing the role of Gavroche.
On 4 December 1985, the show transferred to the Palace Theatre, London and moved again on 3 April 2004, to the much more intimate Queen's Theatre, with some revisions of staging and where, as of January 2013[update], it was still playing. It celebrated its ten-thousandth performance on 5 January 2010. The drummer from the original cast album, Peter Boita, stayed with the show for the first 25 years of its history.
The co-production has generated valuable income for the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Original Broadway production
The musical then premiered on Broadway on March 12, 1987 at The Broadway Theatre. Colm Wilkinson and Frances Ruffelle reprised their roles from the London production. The $4.5 million production had a more than $4 million advance sale prior to its New York opening.
The show underwent further tightening and an improved sewer lighting and Javert suicide scene effect was incorporated. Boublil explained: "The transfer from London to the United States has prompted further modifications. 'We are taking this opportunity to rethink and perfect, to rewrite some details which probably no one else will see, but which for us are still long nights of work,' Mr. Boublil says. 'There are things that nobody had time to do in London, and here we have a wonderful opportunity to fix a few things. No one will notice, perhaps, but for us, it will make us so happy if we can better this show. We would like this to be the final version.'" Two songs were deleted—the complete version of Gavroche's song "Little People" and the adult Cosette's "I Saw Him Once". A short section at the beginning of "In My Life" replaced "I Saw Him Once". The lyrics in Javert's "Stars" were changed. It now ended with the line, "This I swear by the stars!", while the London production and cast recording ended with the repeated line, "Keeping watch in the night".
The original Broadway cast included Colm Wilkinson as Jean Valjean, David Bryant as Marius, Judy Kuhn as Cosette, Michael Maguire as Enjolras, Frances Ruffelle as Éponine, Braden Danner as Gavroche, Donna Vivino as Young Cosette, Jennifer Butt as Madame Thénardier, Leo Burmester as Thénardier, Randy Graff as Fantine, Terrence Mann as Javert, Chrissie McDonald as Young Éponine, and Norman Large as the Bishop of Digne.
Other members of the original Broadway cast included Kevin Marcum, Paul Harman, Anthony Crivello, John Dewar, Joseph Kolinski, Alex Santoriello, Jesse Corti, Susan Goodman, John Norman, Norman Large, Marcus Lovett, Steve Shocket, Cindy Benson, Marcie Shaw, Jane Bodle, Joanna Glushak, Ann Crumb, Kelli James, Gretchen Kingsley-Weihe, Chrissie McDonald. Michael Hinton was the original drummer and credited on the cast album.
The musical ran at the Broadway Theatre through October 10, 1990, when it moved to the Imperial Theatre. It was scheduled to close on March 15, 2003, but the closing was postponed by a surge in public interest. According to an article in The Scotsman, "Sales picked up last October, when Sir Cameron made the announcement that the show would be closing on March 15th...its closure postponed to May 18th because of an unexpected increase in business." After 6,680 performances in sixteen years, when it closed on May 18, 2003, it was the second-longest-running Broadway musical after Cats. It was surpassed by The Phantom of the Opera, in 2006.
This Broadway production of Les Misérables and its advertising in New York City is a reoccurring theme in American Psycho. The reviewer for the Financial Times wrote that Les Misérables is "the book's hilarious main cultural compass-point".
2006 Broadway revival
Only three years after the original run closed, Les Misérables began a return to Broadway on 9 November 2006 at the Broadhurst Theatre for a limited run that was subsequently made open-ended.
Using the set, costumes, performers, and other resources from the recently closed third US national touring production, the production was only slightly altered. Minor changes included colourful projections blended into its existing lighting design, and a proscenium that extended out into the first two boxes on either side of the stage.
Some cuts made to the show's prologue during its original Broadway run were restored, lyrics for Gavroche's death scene (known in the revival as "Ten Little Bullets") cut during the development of the original London production were restored, and much of the show was re-orchestrated by Christopher Jahnke, introducing a snare and timpani-heavy sound played by a 14 member band, a reduction of about 8 musicians from the original production's 22 musician orchestration.
The original 2006 Broadway revival cast included Alexander Gemignani as Jean Valjean, Norm Lewis as Javert, Daphne Rubin-Vega as Fantine, Celia Keenan-Bolger as Éponine, Aaron Lazar as Enjolras, Adam Jacobs as Marius, Ali Ewoldt as Cosette, Gary Beach as Thénardier, Jenny Galloway as Madame Thénardier, Brian D’Addario and Jacob Levine and Skye Rainforth and Austyn Myers as Gavroche, James Chip Leonard as The Bishop of Digne, Drew Sarich as Grantaire, and Tess Adams and Kylie Liya Goldstein and Carly Rose Sonenclar as Young Cosette/Young Éponine.
Lea Salonga, who previously played the role of Éponine in the 10th Anniversary concert, replaced Rubin-Vega as Fantine beginning on March 2, 2007. Zach Rand replaced Jacob Levine as Gavroche on March 15, 2007. Ann Harada replaced Jenny Galloway as Mme. Thénardier on April 24, 2007. Ben Davis joined playing Javert, and Max von Essen playing Enjolras. Ben Crawford and Mandy Bruno joined the cast that day too, playing Brujon and Éponine respectively. On July 23, 2007, Sarich took over the role of Valjean, following Gemignani's departure. On September 5, 2007, it was announced that John Owen-Jones (who was playing Valjean in London) was to join the Broadway cast. In return, Sarich would join the London cast in Owen-Jones' place. Judy Kuhn, who originated the role of Cosette, returned to the show after twenty years as Fantine, succeeding Salonga.
The revival closed on 6 January 2008.
2013 Toronto revival
A sit down production played at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto, Canada. Previews began on September 27, 2013 with the opening night on October 9. The production closed on February 2, 2014. Laurence Olivier Award nominee, Ramin Karimloo, starred as Jean Valjean. He was joined by fellow West End star, Earl Carpenter, who reprised the role of Inspector Javert. Other cast members included Genevieve Leclerc as Fantine, Samantha Hill as Cosette, Melissa O'Neil as Éponine, Cliff Saunders as Monsieur Thenardier, Lisa Horner as Madame Thenardier, and Mark Uhre as Enjolras. The roles of young Cosette and young Éponine were shared by Ella Ballentine, Saara Chaudry and Madison Oldroyd. Gavroche was shared by David Gregory Black and Aiden GlennRead.
2014 Broadway revival
The show returned to Broadway in March 2014 at the Imperial Theatre with previews beginning March 1, 2014 and had an official opening on March 23, 2014. The creative team includes the direction of Laurence Connor and James Powell, the set design by Matt Kinley, costumes by Andreane Neofitou and Christine Rowlands, lighting by Paule Constable, sound by Mick Potter and projections by Fifty-Nine Productions. Cameron Mackintosh once again produced the show. On October 22, 2013, it was announced that Ramin Karimloo, Will Swenson, Caissie Levy, and Nikki M. James would be headlining the revival cast as Jean Valjean, Javert, Fantine, and Éponine respectively. Andy Mientus, Samantha Hill also star as Marius and Cosette respectively. Angeli Negron and McKayla Twigg share the role as Young Cosette. The 2014 Broadway revival was nominated for 3 Tony Awards, losing out on all 3. This in contrast to the many wins the original Broadway production garnered at the 1987 Tony Awards, winning 6 out of the 10 nominations including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical (Claude-Michel Schonberg & Alain Boublil), Best Original Score (Claude-Michel Schonberg & Herbert Kretzmer), Best Director (John Caird & Trevor Nunn), Best Lighting Design (David Hersey), Best Scenic Design (John Napier), and best actor awards went to Frances Ruffelle (Eponine) and Michael Maguire (Enjolras).
2014 Australian revival
In mid 2013, a brand new Australian production was announced, with Simon Gleeson as Valjean, Hayden Tee as Javert, Patrice Tipoki as Fantine, Trevor Ashley and Lara Mulcahy as the Thénardiers, Kerrie Anne Greenland as Eponine, Emily Langridge as Cosette, and Euan Doidge as Marius. The production premiered on the 4th of July at Her Majesty's Theatre, Melbourne.
10th Anniversary Concert
On 8 October 1995, the show celebrated its tenth anniversary with a concert at the Royal Albert Hall. This 10th Anniversary Concert was nearly "complete," missing only a handful of scenes, including "The Death of Gavroche" and the confrontation between Marius and the Thénardiers at the wedding feast. Sir Cameron Mackintosh hand-selected the cast, which became known as the Les Misérables Dream Cast, assembled from around the world, and engaged the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The concert concluded with seventeen Valjeans from various international productions singing, "Do You Hear the People Sing?" in their native languages. The concert cast included Colm Wilkinson as Jean Valjean, Philip Quast as Javert, Paul Monaghan as the Bishop of Digne, Ruthie Henshall as Fantine, Hannah Chick as Young Cosette, Jenny Galloway as Madame Thénardier, Alun Armstrong as Thénardier, Adam Searles as Gavroche, Michael Maguire as Enjolras, Michael Ball as Marius, Judy Kuhn as Cosette, Lea Salonga as Éponine, and Anthony Crivello as Grantaire. The concert was staged by Ken Caswell and conducted by David Charles Abell.
25th Anniversary Concert
The 25th Anniversary Concert of Les Misérables was held at The O2 in North Greenwich on Sunday, 3 October 2010 at 1:30 pm and 7:00 pm.
It featured Alfie Boe as Jean Valjean, Norm Lewis as Javert, Lea Salonga as Fantine, Nick Jonas as Marius, Katie Hall as Cosette, Jenny Galloway as Madame Thénardier, Ramin Karimloo as Enjolras, Samantha Barks as Éponine, Matt Lucas as Thénardier, Mia Jenkins as Young Cosette, Robert Madge as Gavroche and Earl Carpenter as the Bishop of Digne. (Originally, Camilla Kerslake had been selected to perform as Cosette, however she was unable to attend. Katie Hall was selected in her place. Hall had previously acted the role at the Queen's Theatre from 2009 and in the 25th Anniversary Tour production at the Barbican.) Casts of the current London, international tour, original 1985 London, and several school productions took part, comprising an ensemble of three hundred performers and musicians. The concert was directed by Laurence Connor & James Powell and conducted by David Charles Abell.
Other concert performances
The musical has also been performed in concert at Cardiff Castle and several venues in southern England, produced by Earl Carpenter Concerts. A concert version starring Jeff Leyton was also performed at the Odyssey Arena, Belfast. In 1989, a one-night concert performance was performed at SkyDome, Toronto, and the largest concert production attracted an audience of approximately 125,000 as part of the Australia Day celebrations in Sydney's Domain Park. The Scandinavian concert tour, produced by Cameron Mackintosh in association with Noble Art, starred Danish musical icon Stig Rossen in the leading role and commemorated author Victor Hugo's 200th birthday. Venues on the tour included the Stockholm Globe Arena, Oslo Spektrum, the Helsinki Hartwell Areena, and the Gothenburg Scandinavium, with audiences totalling over 150,000 for the complete tour.
In November 2004, to celebrate the centennial of the Entente Cordiale, the Queen invited the cast of Les Misérables in the West End to perform for French President Jacques Chirac at Windsor Castle. It was the first time the cast of a West End musical had performed at a Royal residence. The cast was the same as in the West End, supplemented by several guest singers and a choir of former performers. The part of Jean Valjean was played by Michael Ball – the original 1985 London and 1995 Dream Cast Marius - and the part of Javert was played by Michael McCarthy.
In February 2008, Les Misérables was performed at the Bournemouth International Centre, England with a cast of West End stars accompanied by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. In August 2008, a concert version, directed by Richard Jay-Alexander, was performed at the Hollywood Bowl. The cast included veteran Les Misérables star J. Mark McVey as Valjean, The Office star Melora Hardin as Fantine, Broadway star and Bowl veteran Brian Stokes Mitchell as Javert, Spring Awakening and Glee star Lea Michele as Éponine, Tony-winning Jersey Boys star John Lloyd Young as Marius, West End star Tom Lowe as Enjolras, Michael McCormick as Thénardier, Ruth Williamson as Madame Thénardier, Michele Maika as Cosette, Maddie Levy as Young Cosette, and Sage Ryan as Gavroche.
In September 2008, it was performed at the St John Loveridge Hall in Guernsey with a cast of West End performers—the first time that it had been professionally performed on the Island where Victor Hugo wrote the novel. Former London Valjean Phil Cavill reprised his role alongside Les Misérables veteran Michael McCarthy as Javert. In March 2009, the Guernsey production was remounted at Fort Regent in Jersey; and in July 2009, the musical was performed in concert at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.
National US Tours of the Original Broadway Production
The show had three national touring companies of the original Broadway production in the US, all of which shared the Broadway producer and manager, creative teams, as well nearly identical sets, costumes, and lighting. While the touring production and the New York production were running simultaneously, the staff, cast members, crew, and musicians of the two productions interchanged often, which contributed to keeping both companies of the show in form. When the New York production closed in 2003, the Third National Tour continued for another three years, and enjoyed the influx of many members from the original and subsequent New York companies.
The First National Tour opened at Boston's Shubert Theatre on 12 December 1987, and continued to play major cities until late 1991. The Second National Tour (called "The Fantine Company") opened at Los Angeles' Shubert Theatre on 1 June 1988. The production played for fourteen months then transferred to San Francisco's Curran Theatre where it enjoyed a similar run. The Third National Tour of Les Misérables (called "The Marius Company") was one of the longest running American touring musical productions. Opening on 28 November 1988, at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center in Florida, and closing on 23 July 2006, at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis, Missouri, the tour ran for seventeen years and 7,061 performances. The tour played in 145 cities in 43 states. The same touring company also frequently performed in Canada, made a 1994 diversion to Singapore, and another diversion in 2002 to be the first Western musical production to visit China, opening in Shanghai's Grand Theatre for a three-week engagement.
All US productions (including Broadway and its revival) were visually identical in scale and design but the third national tour was notable for its portability without sacrificing the Broadway-caliber experience. Thanks to innovative touring techniques borrowed from the pop/rock concert industry, the 4.5 million dollar production was adaptable to smaller and larger venues and traveled complete in all of 8 semi tractor trailers. It was set up and ready to go in less than 24 hours and broken down and packed up in about 16 hours. This allowed it to reach many cities and venues in its acclaimed, original Broadway form.
The final company of the Third National Broadway Tour included Randal Keith as Valjean (Keith also played Valjean in the final company of the original Broadway engagement), Robert Hunt as Javert, Joan Almedilla as Fantine, Daniel Bogart as Marius, Norman Large (from Original Broadway Cast) as Monsieur Thénardier, Jennifer Butt (from Original Broadway Cast) as Madame Thénardier, Melissa Lyons as Éponine, Ali Ewoldt as Cosette, Victor Wallace as Enjolras, Meg Guzulescu and Rachel Schier alternating as Young Cosette and Young Éponine, and Austyn Myers and Anthony Skillman alternating as Gavroche.
25th Anniversary Tour
A tour to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the show began performances on 12 December 2009, at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff. Differences from the original production included a new set, new costumes, new direction and alterations to the original orchestrations. The tour also did not use a revolving stage and the scenery was inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo. Locations have included Manchester, Norwich, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Bristol, Salford, and Southampton. The tour also played a special engagement in Paris. From September through October, the show returned to the Barbican Centre, London, site of the original 1985 production. The tour cast featured John Owen-Jones as Valjean, Earl Carpenter as Javert, Gareth Gates as Marius, Ashley Artus as Thénardier, Lynne Wilmot as Madame Thénardier, Madalena Alberto as Fantine, Rosalind James as Éponine, Jon Robyns as Enjolras, Katie Hall as Cosette (with Eliza Jones as Young Cosette), and David Lawrence as the Bishop of Digne. The tour ended 2 October 2010, at the Barbican.
In the fall of 2010, The tour moved to the US with a new company presented by Broadway Across America to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the show opening on Broadway. The tour had its opening on 19 November 2010 at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey, running until 19 December 2010. This tour originally starred Lawrence Clayton as Valjean, Andrew Varela as Javert, Betsy Morgan as Fantine, Jenny Latimer as Cosette, Justin Scott Brown as Marius, Chasten Harmon as Éponine, Michael Kostroff as Thénardier, Shawna Hamic as Madame Thénardier, Jeremy Hays as Enjolras, Josh Caggiano and Ethan Paul Khusidman as Gavroche, Maya Jade Frank and Juliana Simone alternating as Young Cosette and Young Éponine. J. Mark McVey's daughter, Kylie McVey was the understudy for Young Cosette and Young Éponine. Clayton left the tour in April 2011. Ron Sharpe later took over as Valjean until June 2011. J. Mark McVey was then Valjean (McVey previously played the role on Broadway), but McVey and his daughter left the tour on 1 April 2012. Peter Lockyer replaces him as Valjean. Betsy Morgan left the tour on December 2, 2012. She was replaced by Genevieve Leclerc. The tour ran until August 11, 2013, closing at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas. The tour's final cast included Peter Lockyer as Valjean, Andrew Varela as Javert, Genevieve Leclerc as Fantine, Lauren Wiley as Cosette, Devin Ilaw as Marius, Briana Carlson-Goodman as Éponine, Timothy Gulan as Thénardier, Shawna Hamic as Madame Thénardier, and Jason Forbach as Enjolras, In 2011 it was reported that the tour is one of six US national Broadway tours that are grossing over $1,000,000 per week.
The show has been produced in forty-two countries and translated into twenty-one languages: English, French (original and re-translated), German (Austria and Germany), Spanish (four versions: two from Spain, one version each from Argentina and Mexico), Japanese, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Norwegian (Bokmål and Nynorsk), Polish, Swedish (in Sweden and in Finland), Dutch (Netherlands and Belgium), Danish, Finnish, Brazilian Portuguese, Estonian, Czech, Mauritian Creole, Basque, Catalan and Korean. Including singles and promos, there have been over seventy official recordings from worldwide productions.
The first full West End / Broadway production in Europe ( mainland ) was set up in Oslo, Norway at Det Norske Teatret and opened on 17 March 1988. The production was in Norwegian and starred Norwegian singer/actor Øystein Wiik as Jean Valjean, Paul Åge Johannessen as Javert, Øivind Blunck as Thénardier, Kari Gjærum as Fantine, Amund Enger as Enjolras and Guri Schanke as Éponine. The first Oslo production was hugely successful and some 10% of Norway's entire population saw the show in the first 6 months. Øystein Wiik went on to also star as Jean Valjean in the in productions in Vienna and London in 1989-1990.
Interestingly, the stage show, which had changed so significantly since its Parisian conception as a stadium concert in 1980, was only finally translated back into the language of Victor Hugo for its French World Première in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, in 1991. This production, which in fact boasted a cast that presented five shows a week in French and three a week in English, was a great success. It gave the producers a clear indication that Les Misérables was finally ready to go "home", to Paris, later that same year.
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In September 2008, a mini-tour produced by Atlanta's Theater of the Stars played Eisenhower Hall at the United States Military Academy, in West Point, New York; the Filene Center at the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna, Virginia; Kansas City Starlight Theatre; and the Fox Theater in Atlanta. The show featured a new set of original pictures painted by Victor Hugo himself. Robert Evan played Valjean, returning to the role he played in the mid-nineties on Broadway. Also featured were Nikki Rene Daniels as Fantine and Robert Hunt as Javert, both reprising their roles from the Broadway revival. Fred Hanson directed the production. The creative team included Matt Kinley as Scenic Designer, Ken Billington as Lighting Designer, Peter Fitzgerald and Erich Bechtel as Sound Designers, Zachary Borovay as Projection Designer, and Dan Riddle as Musical Director and Conductor.
In 2008, the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia staged a small venue "black box" version of the play. Signature received Mackintosh's special permission for the production: "One of the great pleasures of being involved with the creation of Les Misérables is seeing this marvelous musical being done in a completely different and original way. Having seen many shows brilliantly reimagined at Signature I have no doubt that Eric and his team will come up with a revolutionary new take on Les Miz unlike anything anyone has seen before. Viva la différence!" The production officially opened on 14 December 2008 (after previews from 2 December), and ran through 22 February 2009 (extended from 25 January 2009).
A 2014 production at the Dallas Theater Center modernized the staging in a way rarely attempted in productions of this play, set visually in the modern-day United States rather than 1830s France. The concept was thought to be refreshing as a change from typical production styles and effective as a commentary on modern inequality.
The school edition cuts a considerable amount of material from the original show. It is divided into thirty scenes and, although no "critical" scenes or songs have been removed, it runs 25–30 minutes shorter than the "official" version making the total running time about 2 1⁄2 hours. A few subtle changes of vocal pitch have been made: "What Have I Done?", Valjean's Soliloquy, "Stars" by Javert, "A Little Fall of Rain" by Éponine and Marius, "Turning", and "Castle on a Cloud" lose a verse each. During "Fantine's Arrest" Bamatabois loses two verses. The song "Fantine's Death/Confrontation" is edited, and the counterpoint duel between Javert and Valjean is lost, as well as a verse by Fantine. "Dog Eats Dog" by Thénardier is heavily truncated. "Beggars at the Feast", is shortened, with Thénardier losing a verse, and the song before it, "Wedding Chorale", is excluded entirely although the rest of the wedding remains in place. Also, the drinker's introduction to "Master of the House" is cut completely.
Although numerous films of the Les Misérables story have been made, no film adaptation of the stage musical was produced for many years. A film adaptation has been in development several times since the late 1980s. Alan Parker was reported to be connected to an adaptation at an early stage. In 1992 Mackintosh announced planning for a film to be directed by Bruce Beresford and co-produced by Tri-Star Pictures, but the project was later abandoned.
The 2010 DVD/Blu-ray release of Les Misérables: 25th Anniversary Concert included an announcement of revised plans for a film adaptation which was later confirmed by Mackintosh. Tom Hooper signed on in March 2011 to direct the Mackintosh-produced film from a screenplay by William Nicholson. In June 2011, Working Title Films and Mackintosh announced that the film would begin principal photography in early 2012 for a tentative December release date. The film was given its general US release on Christmas Day 2012. Principal cast members include Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, Russell Crowe as Javert, Anne Hathaway as Fantine, Amanda Seyfried as Cosette, Eddie Redmayne as Marius Pontmercy, Samantha Barks as Éponine, and Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter as the Thénardiers. Other notable actors who played roles in the film include Aaron Tveit as Enjolras, Bertie Carvel as Bamatabois, Colm Wilkinson as the Bishop of Digne and Frances Ruffelle as a prostitute.
The following recordings of Les Misérables are available in English: the Original London Cast, the Original Broadway Cast, the Complete Symphonic Recording, the 10th Anniversary London Concert, The 25th Anniversary UK Tour Cast and The 25th Anniversary London Concert.
Original London Cast recording
The Original London Cast recording was the first English language album of the musical. Recorded in 1985, when the show premiered, it is closest to the original French concept album. For example, "Stars" appears before "Look Down" and shortly after, the original version of "Little People" plays, which was later incorporated into the revealing of Javert. It also features a song entitled "I Saw Him Once", sung by Cosette, which was later incorporated into the first part of "In My Life". The album has sold 887,000 copies in the US.
The cast includes Colm Wilkinson as Valjean, Roger Allam as Javert, Patti LuPone as Fantine, Alun Armstrong as Thénardier, Susan Jane Tanner as Mme. Thénardier, Frances Ruffelle as Éponine, Ian Tucker as Gavroche, Michael Ball as Marius, David Burt as Enjolras, and Rebecca Caine as Cosette.
Original Broadway Cast recording
The Original Broadway Cast recording was produced in 1987. It included several changes to the songs that are still evident in today's performances. As with its predecessor, it is incomplete, and leaves out songs or parts that are more important narratively than musically (e.g., "Fantine's Arrest", "The Runaway Cart", "The Final Battle"). The album has sold 1,596,000 copies in the US.
The cast includes Colm Wilkinson as Valjean, Terrence Mann as Javert, Randy Graff as Fantine, Leo Burmester as Thénardier, Jennifer Butt as Madame Thénardier, Frances Ruffelle as Éponine, Braden Danner as Gavroche, David Bryant as Marius, Judy Kuhn as Cosette, Michael Maguire as Enjolras, and Donna Vivino as Young Cosette.
Complete Symphonic Recording
Recorded in 1988 and released in 1989, the Complete Symphonic Recording features the entire score. (The Czech Revival Recording is the only other album, in any language, to feature the entire score; on the other hand, the four 2003 Japanese recordings feature the entire score after the cuts first made on Broadway at the end of 2000.) Cameron Mackintosh's original plan was to use the Australian cast, but the scope was expanded to create an international cast featuring performers from the major performances of the musical. The cast was recorded in three different places.
The album, produced by David Caddick and conducted by Martin Koch, won the Best Musical Cast Show Album Grammy Award in 1991. The cast includes Gary Morris as Valjean, Philip Quast as Javert, Debra Byrne as Fantine, Gay Soper as Mme. Thénardier, Barry James as Thénardier, Kaho Shimada as Éponine, Michael Ball as Marius, Anthony Warlow as Enjolras, and Tracy Shayne as Cosette.
10th Anniversary Concert
The 10th Anniversary recording was of a concert version of Les Misérables, performed at the Royal Albert Hall in October 1995, featuring full orchestra and choir. All the parts were sung live, giving the performance a different mood from other recordings. The score was recorded consecutively without pauses or multiple recordings. The concert's encores are also included. As with the original recordings, however, they differed from the stage versions by excluding some songs (e.g., those vital to plot such as "Fantine's Arrest" and "The Runaway Cart" were kept, while unnecessary or complex songs, such as "At the Barricade", were left out).
The cast includes Colm Wilkinson as Valjean, Philip Quast as Javert, Ruthie Henshall as Fantine, Alun Armstrong as Thénardier, Jenny Galloway as Mme. Thénardier, Lea Salonga as Éponine, Adam Searles as Gavroche, Hannah Chick as Young Cosette, Michael Ball as Marius, Michael Maguire as Enjolras, Judy Kuhn as Cosette and Anthony Crivello as Grantaire.
A five-track album featuring members of the UK national tour was released in 1992 and includes "I Dreamed a Dream" (Ria Jones); "Stars" (Philip Quast); "On My Own" (Meredith Braun); "Bring Him Home" (Jeff Leyton); and "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" (Mike Sterling). The version of "Stars" is the same as that on the Complete Symphonic Recording.
25th Anniversary UK Tour Cast
Recorded live at the Palace Theatre in Manchester, this recording was released to commemorate 25 years of Les Misérables in English. This recording featured new arrangements and reinspired orchestrations, and included John Owen-Jones as Valjean, Earl Carpenter as Javert, Madalena Alberto as Fantine, Ashley Artus as M. Thénardier, Lynne Wilmot as Mme. Thénardier, Gareth Gates as Marius, Katie Hall as Cosette, Jon Robyns as Enjolras, and Rosalind James as Éponine.
25th Anniversary Concert
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The 25th Anniversary Concert was recorded live at The O2 (London) on 3 October 2010 and is available on DVD in the UK while the Blu-ray was released worldwide. It was shown in select US theaters via NCM Fathom Events. The release for the DVD and Blu-ray in the United States was 22 February 2011 to promote the film adaptation. A CD single of the 'Valjean Quartet' singing "Bring Him Home" was also recorded and released, with proceeds going to the charity "Tickets For Troops". The cast included Alfie Boe as Jean Valjean, Norm Lewis as Javert, Nick Jonas as Marius, Samantha Barks as Éponine, Katie Hall as Cosette, Ramin Karimloo as Enjolras, Lea Salonga as Fantine, Matt Lucas as Monsieur Thénardier and Jenny Galloway as Madame Thénardier.
There are also various non-English language cast albums of the musical.
Awards and nominations
Original West End production
|1985||Laurence Olivier Award||Best New Musical||Nominated|
|Best Actor in a Musical||Colm Wilkinson||Nominated|
|Best Actress in a Musical||Patti LuPone||Won|
|2012||Laurence Olivier Award||Audience Award for Most Popular Show||Won|
|2014||Laurence Olivier Award||Audience Award for Most Popular Show||Won|
Original Broadway production
2013 Toronto revival
|2014||Dora Award||Outstanding Production||Nominated|
|Outstanding Male Performance||Ramin Karimloo||Nominated|
|Outstanding Female Performance||Melissa O'Neil||Won|
|Outstanding Direction||Laurence Connor and James Powell||Nominated|
|Outstanding Scenic Design||Matt Kinley||Nominated|
|Outstanding Costume Design||Andreane Neofitou and Christine Rowland||Won|
|Outstanding Lighting Design||Paule Constable||Nominated|
|Outstanding Choreography||James Dodgson||Nominated|
|Outstanding Ensemble||Entire ensemble||Nominated|
2014 Broadway revival
|2014||Tony Award||Best Revival of a Musical||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical||Ramin Karimloo||Nominated|
|Best Sound Design of a Musical||Mick Potter||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Revival of a Musical||Nominated|
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Les Misérables (musical).|
- Official website
- Les Misérables at the Internet Broadway Database
- An Archive of Performers from the Original Broadway Run of Les Mis
- An Archive of Performers from the London Run of Les Mis