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Les Misérables (musical)

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Les Misérables
MusicClaude-Michel Schönberg
LyricsHerbert Kretzmer
Original text
  • Alain Boublil
  • Claude-Michel Schönberg
BasisLes Misérables
by Victor Hugo
Premiere24 September 1980: Palais des Sports, Paris
ProductionsMultiple global productions since 1985

Les Misérables (/l ˌmɪzəˈrɑːb(əl), -blə/ lay MIZ-ə-RAHB(-əl), -⁠RAH-blə, French: [le mizeʁabl]), colloquially known as Les Mis or Les Miz (/l ˈmɪz/ lay MIZ), is a sung-through musical with music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, lyrics by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel, and a book by Schönberg and Boublil, based on the 1862 novel of the same name by Victor Hugo. The original French musical premiered in Paris in 1980 with direction by Robert Hossein. Its English-language adaptation, with lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer, produced by Cameron Mackintosh, has been running in London since October 1985, making it the longest-running musical in the West End and the second longest-running musical in the world after the original Off-Broadway run of The Fantasticks. A film adaptation was released in 2012.

Set in early 19th-century France, Les Misérables is the story of Jean Valjean, a French peasant, and his desire for redemption, released from jail in 1815 after serving nineteen years for stealing a loaf of bread for his sister's starving child. Valjean decides to break his parole and start his life anew after a bishop inspires him with a tremendous act of mercy. But a police inspector named Javert refuses to let him escape justice and pursues him. Along the way, Valjean and a slew of characters are swept into a revolutionary period in France, where a group of young idealists attempt to overthrow the government at a street barricade in Paris.


Les Misérables was originally released as a French-language concept album in 1980,[1] and the first musical-stage adaptation of Les Misérables was presented at the Palais des Sports in September.[2]

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, before transferring to the West End. The success of the London production led to a Broadway production.

Critical reception and milestones[edit]

Critical reviews for Les Misérables were initially negative. At the opening of the London production, The Sunday Telegraph's Francis King described the musical as "a lurid Victorian melodrama produced with Victorian lavishness" and Michael Ratcliffe of The Observer considered the show "a witless and synthetic entertainment", while literary scholars condemned the project for converting classic literature into a musical.[3][4] Public opinion differed: the box office received record orders. The three-month engagement sold out, and reviews improved. The London production has played over 15,000 performances, making it the second longest-running musical in the world after The Fantasticks,[5] the second longest-running West End show after The Mousetrap,[6] and the longest-running musical in the West End.[7] 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 the Barbican Centre; and the 25th Anniversary concert at London's O2 Arena.[7]

The Broadway production opened 12 March 1987 and ran until 18 May 2003, closing after 6,680 performances. At the time of its closing, it was the second-longest-running musical in Broadway history.[8] As of 2022, it remains the sixth longest-running Broadway show.[9] The show was nominated for 12 Tony Awards, of which it 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, and a second Broadway revival opened in 2014 at the Imperial Theatre and closed in September 2016. 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.[10] A film version directed by Tom Hooper was released at the end of 2012 to generally positive reviews as well as numerous awards.


The book illustration of Cosette by Émile Bayard that served as the model for the musical's logo.

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"). It is usually cropped to a head-and-shoulders portrait, superimposed on the French flag. The image is based on an etching by Gustave Brion, which in turn was based on the drawing by Émile Bayard. Bayard's drawing appeared in several of the novel's earliest French-language editions.



In 1815 in France, a chain gang of prisoners work at hard labour ("Prologue: Work Song"). After serving 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread, Jean Valjean, "Prisoner 24601," is released on parole by the prison guard 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 wherever he goes and cannot find regular work with decent wages or lodging. Only the Bishop of Digne offers him food and shelter. Discontented, Valjean steals the Bishop's silver. He is captured by the police, but rather than turn him in, the Bishop tells the police that the silver was a gift, also giving Valjean a pair of silver candlesticks. The Bishop tells Valjean that he must use the silver to become an honest man. ("Valjean Arrested, Valjean Forgiven"). Humbled by the Bishop's kindness, Valjean resolves to redeem himself ("Valjean's Soliloquy (What Have I Done?)") and tears up his yellow ticket, breaking his parole.

Act I[edit]

Eight years later, in 1823, Jean Valjean assumed a new identity as Monsieur Madeleine, a wealthy factory owner and mayor of Montreuil-sur-Mer. Fantine is a single mother working in his factory, trying to support her daughter Cosette, who is being raised by an innkeeper and his wife while Fantine labours in the city. The factory foreman lusts after Fantine, and when she rejects his advances, he takes it out on the other workers, who resent her for it. One day, a coworker steals a letter about Cosette from Fantine, revealing to the other workers that Fantine has a child. A fight breaks out, and the foreman and workers use the incident to manipulate Valjean into firing Fantine ("At the End of the Day"). Fantine reflects on her broken dreams and about Cosette's father, who abandoned them both ("I Dreamed a Dream"). Desperate for money, she sells her locket and hair, finally becoming a prostitute ("Lovely Ladies") and attracting local sailors. When she fights back against an abusive customer named Bamatabois, Javert, now a police inspector stationed in Montreuil-sur-Mer, arrives to arrest her. Valjean passes by the scene and pities Fantine when he realizes she had worked for him. He orders Javert to release her, and Valjean takes her to a hospital ("Fantine's Arrest").

Soon afterward, Valjean rescues a man who is pinned by a runaway cart ("The Runaway Cart"). Javert, who has pursued the fugitive Valjean all these years, witnesses the incident. He becomes suspicious, remembering the incredible strength Valjean displayed in the work camp. However, it turns out a man who looks like Valjean has been arrested and is about to go to trial for breaking parole. The real Valjean realizes that this case of mistaken identity could free him forever, but he is not willing to see an innocent man go to prison in his place. He confesses his identity to the court ("Who Am I? (The Trial)"). At the hospital, a delirious Fantine dreams of Cosette. Valjean promises to find Cosette and protect her ("Come to Me (Fantine's Death)"). Relieved, Fantine succumbs to her illness and dies. Javert arrives to take Valjean back into custody, but Valjean asks Javert for time to fetch Cosette. Javert refuses, insisting that a criminal like Valjean can never change for the better. They struggle, but Valjean overpowers Javert and escapes ("The Confrontation").

In Montfermeil, the duplicitous innkeepers, the Thénardiers, use Cosette as a servant and treat her cruelly while extorting money from Fantine to indulge their own daughter Éponine. Cosette dreams of a life with a mother where she is not forced to work and is treated lovingly ("Castle on a Cloud"). The Thénardiers cheat their customers, stealing their possessions and setting high prices for low-quality services while living a life of criminal depravity ("Master of the House"). Valjean meets Cosette while she's on an errand drawing water, and offers the Thénardiers payment to adopt her ("The Bargain"). The Thénardiers feign concern for Cosette, claiming that they love her like a daughter and that she is in fragile health. Valjean negotiates with the Thénadiers, for whom he pays 1,500 francs in the end. Valjean and Cosette leave for Paris ("The Waltz of Treachery").

Julie Lund as Éponine in a Danish production of the musical

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. Among those mingling in the streets are the student revolutionaries Marius Pontmercy and Enjolras, who contemplate the effect Lamarque's death will have on the poor and desperate in Paris. The Thénardiers have since lost their inn and now run a street gang that consists of thugs Brujon, Babet, Claquesous, and Montparnasse. The Thénardiers' daughter Éponine is also now grown and has fallen in love with her oblivious friend Marius, as well as the streetwise young urchin Gavroche who knows everything that happens in the slums ("Look Down"). The Thénardiers prepare to con some charitable visitors, who turn out to be Valjean and a fully-grown Cosette. While the gang confounds her father, Cosette runs into Marius, and the pair fall in love. Thénardier recognizes Valjean, but Javert intervenes before they can finish the robbery ("The Robbery"). Valjean and Cosette escape, and only later does Javert suspect who they were. Javert makes a vow that he will find Valjean and recapture him ("Stars"). Meanwhile, Marius persuades Éponine to help him find Cosette ("Éponine's Errand").

At a small café, Enjolras exhorts a group of idealistic students to prepare for revolution. Marius interrupts the serious atmosphere by fantasizing about his new-found love, much to the amusement of his compatriots ("The ABC Café/Red and Black"). When Gavroche brings the news of General Lamarque's death, the students realize that they can use the public's dismay to incite their revolution and that their time has come ("Do You Hear the People Sing?"). At Valjean's house, Cosette thinks about her meeting with Marius. She confronts Valjean about the secrets he keeps about his and her own past ("Rue Plumet/In My Life"). Éponine leads Marius to Cosette's garden. He and Cosette meet again and confess their mutual love, while a heartbroken Éponine watches them through the garden gate and laments that Marius has fallen in love with another ("A Heart Full of Love"). Thénardier and his gang arrive, intending to rob Valjean's house, but Éponine stops them by screaming a warning ("The Attack on Rue Plumet"). The scream alerts Valjean, who believes that the intruder was Javert. He tells Cosette that it's time once again for them to go on the run, and starts planning for them to flee France altogether.

On the eve of the 1832 Paris Uprising, Valjean prepares to go into exile. Cosette and Marius part in despair, while Enjolras encourages all of Paris to join the revolution. Éponine acknowledges despairingly that Marius will never love her, and Marius is conflicted about whether to follow Cosette or join the uprising. Meanwhile, Javert reveals his plans to spy on the students as the Thénardiers scheme to profit off the coming violence. Marius decides to stand with his friends, and all anticipate what the dawn will bring ("One Day More").[7][11]

Act II[edit]

John Owen-Jones as Jean Valjean

The students build a barricade to serve as their rally point. Javert, who is disguised as a rebel, volunteers to "spy" on the government troops. Marius discovers that Éponine has disguised herself as a boy to join the rebels. Wanting to keep his best friend safe from the impending violence, he sends her to deliver a farewell letter to Cosette. ("Building the Barricade (Upon These Stones)") Valjean intercepts the letter and learns about Marius and Cosette's romance. 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 ("On My Own"). She then returns to the barricade.

The French army arrives at the barricade and demands that the students surrender ("At the Barricade"). However, Javert tells the students that the government will not attack that night ("Javert's Arrival"). Gavroche recognizes him and quickly exposes him as a spy, and the students detain him ("Little People"). The students plan to spark a general uprising with their act of defiance, hoping that all the people of Paris will side with them and overwhelm the army. Éponine returns to find Marius but is shot by the soldiers who were 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 (Eponine's Death)"). The students mourn this first loss of life at the barricades and resolve to fight in her name. Enjolras attempts to comfort Marius, who is devastated and heartbroken over the death of his best friend. Valjean arrives at the barricade, crossing the government lines disguised as a soldier ("Night of Anguish"). He hopes that he can protect Marius in the coming battle for Cosette's sake. The rebels are suspicious of him at first, but accept him after he saves Enjolras from a soldier. Valjean asks Enjolras to allow him to be the executioner of the imprisoned Javert, which Enjolras grants. But as soon as Valjean and Javert are alone, Valjean frees him. 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 grudges toward Javert for doing his duty ("The First Attack").

The students settle down for the night and express anxiety about the battle to come. Enjolras tells the other students to stay awake for a surprise attack, but he tells Marius to get some sleep because of the latter's devastation over losing Éponine. Grantaire gets angry and asks the students if they fear dying, and Marius wonders if Cosette will remember him if he does ("Drink with Me"). Valjean prays to God to protect Marius, even if the cost for his safety requires Valjean's 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 in spite of the impossible odds ("Dawn of Anguish"). Their resolve is further increased when the army kills Gavroche, who snuck out to collect ammunition from bodies on the other side of the barricade ("The Second Attack (Death of Gavroche)"). The army gives a final warning, but the rebels fight to the last man. Everyone at the barricade is killed except Valjean and a gravely wounded Marius, who both escape into the sewers ("The Final Battle"). Javert returns to the barricade to search for Valjean, and he finds the open sewer grating.

Valjean carries Marius through the sewers but collapses from exhaustion. Thénardier, who has been looting bodies, comes upon them and extracts a ring from the unconscious Marius. He flees when Valjean regains consciousness ("Dog Eats Dog"). When Valjean carries Marius to the sewer's exit, he finds Javert 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 merciful acts with his perception of Valjean as an irredeemable criminal. Finding himself torn between his beliefs about God and his desire to adhere to the law, Javert commits suicide by throwing himself into the Seine ("Javert's Suicide").

In the wake of the failed revolution, many women mourn the deaths of the students ("Turning"). Marius, wounded but alive, despairs at the deaths of his friends and perceives that their sacrifice was for nothing ("Empty Chairs at Empty Tables"). As he wonders who saved his own life, Cosette confronts him and they reaffirm their blossoming romance. Valjean realizes that Cosette will not need him as a caretaker once she is married 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. A few months later, Marius and Cosette marry ("Wedding Chorale"). The Thénardiers gatecrash the reception disguised as nobility and attempt to blackmail Marius, telling him that Valjean is a murderer and that Thénardier saw him carrying a corpse in the sewers. When Thénardier shows him the ring he stole as proof, Marius realizes that it was Valjean who saved his life. The newlyweds leave to find Valjean (in some productions, Marius pauses to give Thénardier a punch in the face). The Thénardiers are not discouraged, instead gloating that their craven practicality has saved their lives time and time again ("Beggars at the Feast").


At a convent, Valjean awaits his death, having nothing left to live for. The spirit of Fantine appears to him and tells him that he has been forgiven and will soon 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 ("Valjean's Death"). Valjean gives Cosette a letter confessing his troubled past and the truth about her mother. 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, all of whom sing of the coming of a better world ("Do You Hear The People Sing? (Reprise)").[11]

Musical numbers[edit]


  • "Work Song (Look Down)" – Chain Gang, Jean Valjean, Javert
  • "On Parole" – Jean Valjean, Farmer, Laborer, Innkeeper, Innkeeper's Wife, Bishop
  • "Valjean Arrested/Valjean Forgiven" – Bishop, Constables
  • "Valjean's Soliloquy (What Have I Done?)" – Jean Valjean

Act I[edit]

  • "At The End Of The Day" – Fantine, Foreman, Jean Valjean, Factory Workers, Townspeople
  • "I Dreamed A Dream" – Fantine
  • "Lovely Ladies" – Fantine, Sailors, Old Woman, Pimp, Crone, Prostitutes
  • "Fantine's Arrest" – Bamataobis, Fantine, Javert, Jean Valjean
  • "The Runaway Cart/Valjean Found" – Fauchevelant, Jean Valjean, Javert
  • "Who Am I?" – Jean Valjean
  • "Fantine's Death (Come To Me)" – Fantine, Jean Valjean
  • "Confrontation" – Jean Valjean, Javert
  • "Castle On A Cloud" – Little Cosette, Little Eponine, Madame Thénardier
  • "Master of The House" – Thernadier, Madame Thénardier, Inn Guests
  • "The Bargain/Thernadier's Waltz of Treachery" – Jean Valjean, Little Cosette, Thénardier, Madame Thénardier
  • "Look Down" – Gavroche, Marius, Enjolras, Townspeople
  • "The Robbery" – Thénardier, Madame Thénardier, Marius, Eponine, Jean Valjean, Javert
  • "Stars" – Javert
  • "Eponine's Errand" – Eponine, Marius
  • "The ABC Cafe/Red and Black" – Enjolras, Marius, Grantaire, Gavroche, Students
  • "Do You Hear The People Sing?" – Enjolras, Marius, Students
  • "In My Life" – Cosette, Marius, Eponine, Jean Valjean
  • "A Heart Full of Love" – Marius, Cosette, Eponine
  • "The Attack on Rue Plumet" – Thénardier, Eponine, Marius, Cosette, Jean Valjean, Montparnasse, Claquesous, Babet, Brujon
  • "One Day More" – Company

Act II[edit]

  • "Building The Barricade" – Enjolras, Javert, Grantaire, Marius, Eponine, Students
  • "On My Own" – Eponine
  • "At The Barricade" – Enjolras, Marius, Army Officer, Students
  • "Javert's Arrival" – Javert, Enjolras
  • "Little People" – Gavroche, Enjolras, Javert
  • "A Little Fall of Rain (Eponine's Death)" – Eponine, Marius
  • "Night of Anguish" – Enjolras, Students
  • "The First Attack" – Enjolras, Marius, Jean Valjean, Javert, Students
  • "Drink With Me" – Grantaire, Students
  • "Bring Him Home" – Jean Valjean
  • "Dawn of Anguish" – Enjolras
  • "The Second Attack (Gavroche's Death)" – Enjolras, Marius, Jean Valjean, Gavroche, Grantaire, Students
  • "The Final Battle" – Army Officer, Enjolras, Students
  • "Dog Eats Dog" – Thénardier
  • "Javert's Soliloquy" – Javert
  • "Turning" – Townspeople
  • "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" – Marius
  • "A Heart Full of Love (Reprise)" – Marius, Cosette, Jean Valjean
  • "Valjean's Confession" – Valjean, Marius
  • "The Wedding" – Wedding Guests
  • "Beggars At The Feast/Master of The House (Reprise)" – Marius, Thénardier, Madame Thénardier


  • "Valjean's Death" – Valjean, Fantine, Marius, Cosette
  • "Finale – Do You Hear The People Sing? (Reprise)" – Company


Character[12] Voice[13] Description
Jean Valjean tenor Prisoner 24601. After serving nineteen years in prison after stealing a loaf of bread, he leads a virtuous and selfless life. He changes his identity, becoming the wealthy mayor of a small town. He later adopts Cosette, the only daughter of Fantine.[14]
Javert bass-baritone Police officer who relentlessly pursues Valjean to bring the escaped convict to justice
Fantine alto Impoverished factory worker who turns to prostitution to be able to pay the Thénardiers to care for her illegitimate daughter, Cosette.
Marius Pontmercy tenor Student revolutionary; friend of Éponine, who falls in love with Cosette.
Cosette soprano The daughter of Fantine, has grown up to become a young woman of culture and privilege after being adopted by Valjean. She falls in love with Marius.
Éponine Thénardier mezzo-soprano Daughter of the Thénardiers, Éponine, becomes a ragged street waif; secretly loves Marius.
Thénardier baritone A second-rate thief, Thénardier runs an inn where he cheats his customers. In Paris, he becomes the leader of a gang of street thugs and con men.
Madame Thénardier mezzo-soprano Thénardier's unscrupulous wife and collaborator, who abuses Cosette but dotes on her own daughter, Éponine.
Enjolras baritenor The leader of the student revolutionaries and a friend of Marius.
The Bishop of Digne bass Shelters Valjean after his release from jail and gives him absolution.
Gavroche boy soprano A streetwise urchin. He later joins up with the revolutionaries.


Original casts[edit]

Character West End[15] Broadway Australia First U.S. National Tour[16] First U.K. National Tour First Broadway Revival 25th Anniversary U.K. Tour 25th Anniversary U.S. Tour Second Broadway Revival International Tour
1985 1987 1992 2006 2009 2010 2014
Jean Valjean Colm Wilkinson Normie Rowe William Solo Jeff Leyton Alexander Gemignani John Owen-Jones Lawrence Clayton Ramin Karimloo Simon Gleeson
Javert Roger Allam Terrence Mann Philip Quast Herndon Lackey Philip Quast Norm Lewis Earl Carpenter Andrew Varela Will Swenson Hayden Tee
Fantine Patti LuPone Randy Graff Debbie Byrne Diane Fratantoni Ria Jones Daphne Rubin-Vega Madalena Alberto Betsy Morgan Caissie Levy Patrice Tipoki
Marius Pontmercy Michael Ball David Bryant Simon Burke Hugh Panaro Mike Sterling Adam Jacobs Gareth Gates Justin Scott Brown Andy Mientus Euan Doidge
Cosette Rebecca Caine Judy Kuhn Marina Prior Tamara Jenkins Sarah Ryan Ali Ewoldt Katie Hall Jenny Latimer Samantha Hill Emily Langridge
Éponine Thénardier Frances Ruffelle Jodie Gillies Renee Veneziale Meredith Braun Celia Keenan-Bolger Rosalind James Chasten Harmon Nikki M. James Kerrie Anne Greenland
Thénardier Alun Armstrong Leo Burmester Barry Langrish Tom Alan Robbins Tony Timberlake Gary Beach Ashley Artus Michael Kostroff Cliff Saunders Trevor Ashley
Madame Thénardier Susan Jane Tanner Jennifer Butt Robyn Arthur Victoria Clark Louise Plowright Jenny Galloway Lynne Wilmot Shawna Hamic Keala Settle Lara Mulcahy
Enjolras David Burt Michael Maguire Anthony Warlow John Herrera Daniel Coll Aaron Lazar Jon Robyns Jeremy Hays Kyle Scatliffe Chris Durling
Grantaire Clive Carter Anthony Crivello Michael Turkich Michael McCormick Allan Hardman Drew Sarich Adam Linstead Joseph Spieldenner John Rapson Unknown
The Bishop of Digne Ken Caswell Norman Large Unknown Kevin McGuire Kenneth Orr James Chip Leonard David Lawrence Benjamin Magnuson Adam Monley Rodney Dobson
Gavroche Ian Tucker
Oliver Spencer
Liza Hayden
Braden Danner
RD Robb
Brian Rooney
Tobi Monique Harris
Adam Lloyd
William Snow
Lantz Landry
Andrew Renshaw
Adam Booth
Laurence Porter
Edward Crangle
Brian D'Addario
Jacob Levine
Austyn Myers
Jordi Clark
Robert Madge
Josh Caggiano
Ethan Paul Khusidman
Joshua Colley
Gaten Matarazzo
Nicholas Cradock

Notable replacements[edit]

West End (1985–)[edit]

Broadway (1987–2003)[edit]

Australia (1987-91)[edit]

Broadway revival (2006–08)[edit]

25th Anniversary US tour (2010–13)[edit]

Broadway revival (2014–16)[edit]

International tour (2014–16)[edit]


Sit-down productions[edit]

Original French production[edit]

The Palais des Sports, now Dôme de Paris, in Paris where the musical was first performed.

Alain Boublil's initial idea to adapt Victor Hugo's novel into a musical came 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.[20]

He shared the idea with French composer Claude-Michel Schönberg, and the two developed a rough synopsis and analysis of each character's mental and emotional state, as well as that of an audience. Schönberg then began work on the music, while Boublil 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."[21] Two years later, a two-hour demo tape of 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.[citation needed]

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.[22][page needed][23][24]

Most of the cast from the concept album performed in the production.[22][25] 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.[22][25][26][27]

Original London production[edit]

Les Misérables at Sondheim Theatre in London

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 background story. Kretzmer's lyrics are 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, not musical metrics.[28]

The first production in English, produced by Cameron Mackintosh and adapted and directed by Trevor Nunn and John Caird, played in preview performances beginning on 28 September 1985 and formally opened on 8 October 1985 at the Barbican Centre, London. It was billed in the programme as "The Royal Shakespeare Company presentation of the RSC/Cameron Mackintosh production". 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, Justine McIntyre, 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, Clive Carter as Grantaire/Bamatabois, with Ian Tucker, Oliver Spencer and Liza Hayden sharing the role of Gavroche.[29][30][15]

On 4 December 1985, the show transferred to the Palace Theatre, London and moved again on 3 April 2004, to the smaller Queen's Theatre, now called the Sondheim Theatre, with some revisions of staging.[31] The show celebrated its 10,000th performance on 5 January 2010,[32] and its 30th anniversary in October 2015.[33] The co-production has generated valuable income for the Royal Shakespeare Company.[34]

The show closed temporarily at the Queen's Theatre on 13 July 2019 to allow for theatre refurbishments, while a staged concert was performed at the adjacent Gielgud Theatre for a four-month run.[35][36]

2019 updated staging[edit]

Using the updated staging developed for the 25th anniversary production at the Barbican, the musical began previews at the newly renamed Sondheim Theatre on 18 December 2019, with opening night on 16 January 2020.[35][37] The production is co-directed by James Powell and Laurence Connor with set and image design by Matt Kinley, lighting by Paule Constable, sound by Mick Potter and costumes by Andreane Neofitou and Christine Rowlands. The first cast for this version included Jon Robyns (Valjean), Bradley Jaden (Javert), Carrie Hope Fletcher (Fantine), Shan Ako (Éponine), Lily Kerhoas (Cosette), Harry Apps (Marius), Gerard Carey (Thénardier), Josefina Gabrielle (Madame Thénardier) and Ashley Gilmour (Enjolras).[38]

The show was forced to close temporarily from 16 March 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.[39] It reopened on 25 September 2021.[40] Considered one continuous production despite revisions, Les Misérables celebrated its 15,000th performance in London on 28 September 2023.[41]

Original Broadway production[edit]

The musical opened as a pre-Broadway tryout at the Kennedy Center's Opera House in Washington, D.C., on 27 December 1986. It ran for eight weeks through 14 February 1987.[42]

The musical then premiered on Broadway on 12 March 1987 at The Broadway Theatre. Wilkinson and Ruffelle reprised their roles from the London production.[43] The $4.5 million production had a more than $4 million advance sale prior to its New York opening.[44]

The show underwent further tightening, namely with improved sewer lighting and the incorporation of the Javert suicide scene effect.[45] A New York Times report consisted of the following: "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.'"[44] 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 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, and Chrissie McDonald as Young Éponine.[43]

Other members of the original Broadway cast included Anthony Crivello (Grantaire/Bamatabois), Kevin Marcum (Brujon), John Dewar (Joly), Paul Harman (Combeferre/Foreman), Joseph Kolinski (Feuilly), Alex Santoriello (Montparnasse/Labourer), Jesse Corti (Courfeyrac/Farmer), Susan Goodman (Old Woman/Innkeeper's Wife), John Norman (Prouvaire/Pimp), Norman Large (Bishop/Lesgles), Marcus Lovett (Babet/Constable), Cindy Benson (Old Woman), Steve Shocket (Claquesous/Fauchevelant/Constable/Pimp), Marcie Shaw, Jane Bodle, Joanna Glushak, Ann Crumb (Factory Girl), Kelli James, and Gretchen Kingsley-Weihe. Michael Hinton was the original drummer and credited on the cast album.[43]

The musical ran at the Broadway Theatre through 10 October 1990, when it moved to the Imperial Theatre.[43] It was scheduled to close on 15 March 2003, but the closing was postponed by a surge in public interest.[46] 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."[47] After 6,680 performances in sixteen years,[47] when it closed on 18 May 2003,[43] it was the second-longest-running Broadway musical after Cats.[48] It was surpassed by The Phantom of the Opera in 2006.[49]

This Broadway production of Les Misérables and its advertising in New York City is a recurring theme in American Psycho. The reviewer for the Financial Times wrote that Les Misérables is "the book's hilarious main cultural compass-point".[50]

Original Australia production[edit]

A production opened in Australia at the Theatre Royal, Sydney on 27 November 1987. The cast featured Normie Rowe as Valjean, Philip Quast as Javert, Anthony Warlow as Enjolras, Debbie Byrne as Fantine, Simon Burke as Marius, Marina Prior as Cosette, Jodie Gillies as Eponine, Barry Langrish as Thénardier, and Robyn Arthur as Madame Thénardier. Rob Guest later took over the role of Valjean. The production closed on 17 August 1991.[51]

1989 Toronto production[edit]

The first Canadian production of Les Misérables began performances at the Royal Alexandra Theatre on 15 March 1989. The cast was headed by Michael Burgess as Jean Valjean, with Thomas Goerz as Javert and Louise Pitre as Fantine. After 14 months, the production toured other Canadian cities, including Vancouver, before returning to Toronto where it played another year, before finally closing on 5 July 1992.

2006 Broadway revival[edit]

The 2006 Broadway revival of Les Misérables at the Broadhurst Theatre

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 finished 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.[citation needed]

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, Drew Sarich as Grantaire, Brian D'Addario, Jacob Levine, Skye Rainforth and Austyn Myers as Gavroche, and Tess Adams, Kylie Liya Goldstein and Carly Rose Sonenclar as Young Cosette/Young Éponine.[52]

Lea Salonga, who previously played the role of Éponine in the 10th Anniversary concert, replaced Rubin-Vega as Fantine beginning on 2 March 2007. Zach Rand replaced Jacob Levine as Gavroche on 15 March 2007. Ann Harada replaced Jenny Galloway as Mme. Thénardier on 24 April 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 29 June 2007, Chip Zien joined the cast as Monsieur Thénardier. Sarich took over the role of Javert, and on 23 July 2007, took over the role of Valjean following Gemignani's departure. On 5 September 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 after 17 previews and 463 performances.[53]

2013 Toronto revival[edit]

A production starring Canadian Ramin Karimloo was mounted at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto. Co-directed by Lawrence Connor and James Powell,[54] the production was based on the 25th Anniversary touring production.[55] Previews began on 27 September 2013 with the opening night on 9 October. Preparatory to a Broadway transfer, Toronto performances ended on 2 February 2014.[56][57][58][59] In addition to Karimloo as Jean Valjean, Carpenter reprised the role of Javert.[60] Other cast members included Genevieve Leclerc as Fantine, Samantha Hill as Cosette, Melissa O'Neil as Éponine, Perry Sherman as Marius, Cliff Saunders as Monsieur Thénardier, Lisa Horner as Madame Thénardier, and Mark Uhre as Enjolras.[61] 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.[62] Colm Wilkinson, who originated the role of Jean Valjean, portrayed the Bishop of Digne in a one-day performance symbolically handing the torch (along with the candlesticks) to Karimloo.[63][64]

2014 Broadway revival[edit]

The 2014 Broadway revival of Les Misérables at the Imperial Theatre

The 2013 Toronto production moved to Broadway in March 2014 with previews beginning 1 March 2014 at the Imperial Theatre and an official opening on 23 March 2014.[65][66] The creative team again was directed by Laurence Connor and James Powell, with 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 22 October 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.[67] Andy Mientus and Samantha Hill also starred as Marius and Cosette respectively.[68][69] Angeli Negron and McKayla Twiggs share the role of Young Cosette.[70] On 30 August 2015, Karimloo ended his run of the show and was replaced by Alfie Boe. After Boe's final performance on 28 February, the role of Valjean was played by John Owen-Jones beginning 1 March 2016 until the production closed on 4 September 2016, after 1,026 performances over two-and-a-half years.[71] The revival recouped its entire initial investment and grossed $109 million.[72]

The 2014 Broadway revival was nominated for 3 Tony Awards: Best Revival of a Musical, Best Leading Actor in a Musical for Karimloo, and Best Sound Design for Potter.

Touring productions[edit]

US national tours[edit]

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,[73] 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.

A new national tour began on 21 September 2017 at the Providence Performing Arts Centre (PPAC). It starred Nick Cartell as Valjean, Josh Davis as Javert, Melissa Mitchell as Fantine, J. Anthony Crane as Thénardier, Allison Guinn as Madame Thénardier, Joshua Grosso as Marius, Phoenix Best as Éponine, Matt Shingledecker as Enjolras and Jillian Butler as Cosette. The roles of young Cosette and Éponine were shared by Zoe Glick and Sophie Knapp, while the role of Gavroche was shared by Jordan Cole and Julian Lerner. It uses much of the staging and technical work of the 2014 Broadway revival.[74]

Another tour launched on 7 October 2022 at the State Theatre, Cleveland, with Nick Cartell as Jean Valjean, Preston Truman Boyd as Javert, Haley Dortch as Fantine, Matt Crowle as Thénardier, Christina Rose Hall as Madame Thénardier, Addie Morales as Cosette, Gregory Lee Rodriguez as Marius, Christine Heesun Hwang as Éponine, Devin Archer as Enjolras, and Randy Jeter as Bishop of Digne.[75] This tour has grown to a North American tour.[76]

UK and Ireland tours[edit]

1992–1993 tour[edit]

The first tour of the UK and Ireland opened at the Palace Theatre, Manchester 14 April 1992[77] with Jeff Leyton (Jean Valjean), Philip Quast (Javert, later replaced by Michael McCarthy)[78] Ria Jones (Fantine), Meredith Braun (Éponine), Mike Sterling (Marius, later replaced by Richard Burman),[78] Tony Timberlake (Thénardier), Louise Plowright (Mdme Thénardier), Sarah Ryan (Cosette) and Daniel Coll (Enjolras).[79][80] The production then moved on to the Point Theatre, Dublin, Ireland, opening 30 June 1993,[81] and then to Playhouse, Edinburgh, Scotland, opening 23 September 1993.[82]

1997–2000 tour[edit]

In 1997 a second tour began at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth, running from 6 May until 14 June,[83] the cast featured: Stig Rossen (Jean Valjean), Michael McCarthy (Javert), Julia Worsley (Fantine), Gemma Sandy (Éponine), Norman Bowman (Marius), Cameron Blakely (Thénardier), Cathy Breeze (Mdme Thénardier), Rebecca Vere (Cosette) and Mark O'Malley (Enjolras).[84] The tour then continued as detailed in the table below:

25th anniversary tour[edit]

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 scenery was inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo. Locations have included Manchester, Norwich, Birmingham, and Edinburgh. 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 Samara Clarke as Young Cosette), and David Lawrence as the Bishop of Digne. The tour ended on 2 October 2010, at the Barbican Theatre.[104][105][106]

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, Faith Perez and Juliana Simone alternating as 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 2 December 2012. She was replaced by Genevieve Leclerc. The tour ran until 11 August 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, Jason Forbach as Enjolras, Ava Della Pietra and Erin Cearlock alternating as Little Cosette and Young Éponine, with Mia Sinclair Jenness as Little Girl,[107][108] 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.[109]

2018–2023 tour[edit]

A UK and Ireland tour similar to the 25th anniversary production began at the Curve, Leicester on 3 November 2018, starring Killian Donnelly (Jean Valjean), Nic Greenshields (Javert), Katie Hall (Fantine), Tegan Bannister (Éponine), Bronwen Hanson (Cosette), Harry Apps (Marius), Martin Ball (Thénardier), Sophie-Louise Dann (Madame Thénardier) and Will Richardson (Enjolras).[110]

After a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the tour resumed performances on 23 November 2021 at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow.[111]

2014–2016 Australian and international tour[edit]

In mid-2013, a new Australian tour 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 Éponine, Emily Langridge as Cosette, Euan Doidge as Marius and Chris Durling as Enjolras and Nicholas Cradock as Gavroche.[112] The production opened on 4 July at Her Majesty's Theatre, Melbourne.[113] Additional stops for the Australian tour included the Crown Theatre in Perth,[114] the Capitol Theatre in Sydney,[115] and the Lyric Theatre QPAC in Brisbane.[116] The Australian revival production transferred to Manila, Philippines in March 2016, becoming an international tour.[117]

The Australian tour continued with an international tour beginning in Manila, Philippines, at the Theatre at Solaire from March 2016 until 1 May 2016, and proceeded to the Esplanade Theatre in Singapore from May 2016.[117][118] It then played at the Dubai Opera in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from November 2016.[119]

The Manila and Singapore productions featured Gleeson as Valjean, Earl Carpenter as Javert, Helen Walsh as Madame Thénardier, Cameron Blakely as Thénardier, Kerrie Anne Greenland as Éponine, Emily Langridge as Cosette, Chris Durling as Enjolras, and Paul Wilkins as Marius.[120] Rachelle Ann Go played the role of Fantine in the Manila production, and Tipoki reprised the role in Singapore. The Dubai production featured Owen-Jones as Valjean, Tee as Javert, Tipoki as Fantine, Peter Polycarpou as Thénardier, Jodie Prenger as Madame Thénardier, Carrie Hope Fletcher as Éponine, Alistair Brammer as Enjolras, Emily Langridge as Cosette, and Paul Wilkins as Marius.[121]

Concert productions[edit]

10th Anniversary Concert[edit]

On 8 October 1995, the show celebrated the tenth anniversary of the West End production 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", "The Robbery" 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[edit]

The 25th Anniversary Concert of the West End production was held at The O2 in North Greenwich, South East London, United Kingdom, 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, Rob Madge as Gavroche, Hadley Fraser as Grantaire, Earl Carpenter as the Bishop of Digne, and Cameron Blakely as Bamatabois. 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.[122][123]

The All-Star Staged Concert[edit]

From 10 August to 2 December 2019, the musical was performed as a staged concert version at the Gielgud Theatre in the West End during the refurbishment of the adjacent Sondheim Theatre, where the original London production had been running and would be home to the production from December 2019 onwards.

Featuring a cast and orchestra of over 65, the 16-week concert run starred Michael Ball as Javert, Alfie Boe as Jean Valjean, Carrie Hope Fletcher as Fantine, Matt Lucas and Katy Secombe as the Thénardiers, and John Owen-Jones played Jean Valjean for some performances during the run. Further leads included Rob Houchen (Marius), Bradley Jaden (Enjolras), Shan Ako (Éponine), and Lily Kerhoas (Cosette). Also featured was Earl Carpenter playing Bamatabois and understudying Javert. Simon Bowman played the Bishop of Digne for eight days after which Carpenter took over the role alongside his other two parts.

The final concert was filmed and broadcast live to cinemas on 2 December and has since been released on home video and album, with a tour planned.[124]

In October 2020, on the final of Britain's Got Talent, it was confirmed that the stage concert would return for a limited six-week run at the Sondheim Theatre from 5 December 2020 to 17 January 2021. It was subsequently extended twice and was due to play until 28 February 2021.[125][126] Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the audience were socially distanced and capacity was limited to 50%. Due to local COVID restrictions, the show was suspended from 16 December 2020 after just 10 performances, in which Boe had performed as Jean Valjean on eight occasions and Owen-Jones on two occasions. It reopened on 20 May 2021 and ran until 5 September. Ball, Boe, Fletcher, Lucas and Owen-Jones did not reprise their roles at reopening. The cast featured Jon Robyns as Valjean, Jaden as Javert, Lucie Jones as Fantine, Gerard Carey and Josefina Gabrielle as the Thénardiers, Shan Ako as Éponine, Harry Apps as Marius, Jamie Muscato as Enjolras, Charlie Burn as Cosette, Carpenter as the Bishop of Digne and understudy Javert, Cameron Blakely as Bamatabois/Babet, and at certain performances Dean Chisnall playing the role of Valjean.[40]

Planned Arena Spectacular world tour[edit]

A concert production is planned to embark on a UK and European tour in September 2024, starting in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and visit at more than 15 countries. The tour will have a new design and include guest performers at some tour stops. It is expected to run until the show's 40th anniversary in October 2025.[127] Alfie Boe and Killian Donnelly have been cast to share the role of Valjean, and Michael Ball and Bradley Jaden are set to share the role of Javert.[128] Peter Jöback is set to reprise the role of Valjean at the Sweden performances.[129]

International productions[edit]

The show has been produced in at least 42 countries and translated into at least 21 languages: English, French (re-translated from the English version[clarification needed]), German (Austria and Germany), Spanish (six versions: two from Spain, two from Mexico, one from Argentina, and one from Venezuela), 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.[130]

The first full production in the European mainland was in Oslo, Norway at Det Norske Teatret and opened on 17 March 1988.[131] The production was in Norwegian and starred 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 production was a box office hit, with approximately 10% of Norway's entire population seeing the show in the first 6 months. Øystein Wiik went on to star as Jean Valjean in productions in Vienna and London in 1989–1990.

The stage show, which had changed so significantly since its Parisian conception as a stadium concert in 1980, was translated back into the language of Victor Hugo for its French world première in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, in 1991. Five shows a week were in French, and three per week were in English.

In 1998, a concert version in English was produced in Malta, at the Mediterranean Conference Centre, Valletta. This production was staged by a company called Act React and featured Ray Mangion as Jean Valjean, Roger Tirazona as Javert, Julie James as Fantine, Leila Benn Harris as Éponine, Claire Debono as Cosette, Fabrizio Faniello as Marius, Lawrence Gray as Enjolras, Rennie Vella as Thenardier, Doreen Galea as Madame Thenardier, Dean Zammit as Gavroche and Hannah Schembri as Little Cosette.

North American productions[edit]

In September 2008, a mini-tour produced by Atlanta's Theater of the Stars played Eisenhower Hall at the United States Military Academy,[132][failed verification] 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 set featured original pictures painted by Victor Hugo. Robert Evan reprised the role of Valjean, which he had played in the mid-nineties on Broadway. Also featured were Nikki Renee 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.[133]

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."[134] The production officially opened on 14 December 2008 (after previews from 2 December), and ran through 22 February 2009.[135][136]

A 2014 production at the Dallas Theater Center modernized the staging with a setting in the modern-day United States. The concept was thought to be a refreshing stylistic change and effective as a commentary on modern inequality. The unauthorized depart from the authors' libretto and score, however, was controversial.[137][138]

In Panama, Les Misérables was staged in 2014 in Spanish at the National Theatre of Panama for a short, sold-out run, directed by Aaron Zebede.[139]

School edition[edit]

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 2.5 hours.[140] "What Have I Done?", "Valjean's Soliloquy", "Stars", "A Little Fall of Rain", "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 cut, as well as a verse by Fantine. "Dog Eats Dog" by Thénardier is truncated. "Beggars at the Feast", is shortened, with Thénardier losing a verse, and the song before it, "Wedding Chorale", is removed entirely, although the rest of the wedding remains in place. Also, the drinker's introduction to "Master of the House" is cut.[141]

Film adaptation[edit]

Cast recordings[edit]


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[edit]

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 titled "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 as of 2013.[142]

Chart (1987) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[143] 38

Original Broadway Cast recording[edit]

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 as of 2013.[142]

Chart (1987/88) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[143] 89

Complete Symphonic Recording[edit]

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,[144] 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.[145]

The album, produced by David Caddick and conducted by Martin Koch, won the Best Musical Cast Show Album Grammy Award in 1990.[146] The cast includes Gary Morris as Valjean, Philip Quast as Javert, Debra Byrne as Fantine, Gay Soper as Madame Thénardier, Barry James as Monsieur Thénardier, Kaho Shimada as Éponine, Ross McCall as Gavroche, Michael Ball as Marius, Anthony Warlow as Enjolras, Martin Smith as Bamatabois, Tracy Shayne as Cosette, Ken Caswell as the Bishop of Digne, Kenny D'Aquila as Grantaire, and Marissa Dunlop as Young Cosette.[147]

10th Anniversary Concert[edit]

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 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).

25th Anniversary UK Tour Cast[edit]

Recorded live at the Palace Theatre in Manchester, this recording was released to commemorate 25 years of Les Misérables and features new arrangements and reinspired orchestrations.

25th Anniversary Concert[edit]

The 25th Anniversary Concert was recorded live at The O2 Arena 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.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Original West End production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1985 Laurence Olivier Award[148] Best New Musical Nominated
Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical Colm Wilkinson Nominated
Alun Armstrong Nominated
Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical Patti LuPone Won
2012 Laurence Olivier Award[149] Audience Award for Most Popular Show Won
2014 Laurence Olivier Award[150] Audience Award for Most Popular Show Won

Original Broadway production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1987 Tony Award[151] Best Musical Won
Best Book of a Musical Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg Won
Best Original Score Claude-Michel Schönberg (music) and Herbert Kretzmer & Alain Boublil (lyrics) Won
Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical Colm Wilkinson Nominated
Terrence Mann Nominated
Best Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical Michael Maguire Won
Best Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical Frances Ruffelle Won
Judy Kuhn Nominated
Best Direction of a Musical Trevor Nunn and John Caird Won
Best Scenic Design John Napier Won
Best Costume Design Andreane Neofitou Nominated
Best Lighting Design David Hersey Won
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Musical Won
Outstanding Actor in a Musical Colm Wilkinson Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Michael Maguire Won
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Judy Kuhn Nominated
Outstanding Orchestrations John Cameron Won
Outstanding Music Claude-Michel Schönberg Won
Outstanding Set Design John Napier Won

2013 Toronto revival[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2014 Dora Award[152][153] Outstanding Production Nominated
Outstanding Male Performance Ramin Karimloo Nominated
Mark Uhre Nominated
Aiden Glenn 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[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2014 Tony Award Best Revival of a Musical Nominated
Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical Ramin Karimloo Nominated
Best Sound Design of a Musical Mick Potter Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Revival of a Musical Nominated

2014 Australian revival[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2014 Green Room Awards Production Nominated
Actor in a Leading Role Simon Gleeson Nominated
Hayden Tee Won
Direction James Powell and Laurence Connor Nominated
Musical Direction Geoffrey Castles Nominated
Design (Lighting) Paule Constable Nominated
Design (Sound) Mick Potter Nominated
Design (Set and Costume) Matt Kinley (Set and Image Design) Nominated
2015 Helpmann Awards[154][155] Best Musical Won
Best Male Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical Simon Gleeson Won
Hayden Tee Nominated
Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical Trevor Ashley Nominated
Chris Durling Nominated
Best Female Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical Patrice Tipoki Nominated
Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical Kerrie Anne Greenland Won
Best Direction of a Musical Laurence Connor and James Powell Nominated
Best Choreography in a Musical Michael Ashcroft and Geoffrey Garratt Nominated
Best Lighting Design Paule Constable Won
Best Scenic Design Matt Kinley Nominated
Best Sound Design Mick Potter Won

See also[edit]



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External links[edit]