It gripped the world for its passion, its agony, its portrait of a revolution, and one man’s search for redemption. Victor Hugo’s classic novel, “Les Miserables,” came to life with its first musical adaptation at the Paris Sports Arena, in 1980. When Broadway picked it up in 1987, it became the second longest Broadway show in history, winning eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Original Score.
Now, for its twenty-fifth anniversary, Les Miserables is back. Under the production of Cameron Mackintosh, whose list of astonishing musicals include “Cats” and “Phantom of the Opera”, for those who were fortunate enough to see the original performance, it is an eagerly awaited revisit to one of the greatest musicals ever produced. For those who have not, it is a rare treat in the making.
Set against the backdrop of early France, it follows the life of Jean Valjean, released from prison after nineteen years for stealing bread for his sister and family. Embittered because he could find no work and no hospitality, he steals silver from a bishop and is caught by the police shortly afterward. Humbled by the forgiveness of the bishop who forgives him and even reproaches him for not taking the silver candlesticks, he sets out on a new life and becomes a factory owner. He becomes involved with the life of one of his workers, Fantine, who starves herself to send money to her illegitimate child, Cosette.
The fate of Cosette becomes the central focus of Valjean’s efforts, an abused waif who never sees the money her mother has been sending. An illustration by Emile Baynard of Cosette, appearing in the novel’s original edition in 1862, has become the poster child for the musical’s performance.
The new production has been breaking box office records everywhere it goes, with incredible new staging and vivid, dazzling scenery inspired by the paintings of author, Victor Hugo. Darker, grittier, more riveting than ever before, the cast beguiles the audience with such unforgettable musical scores as “I Dreamed a Dream”, “On My Own”, and “Do You Hear the People Sing”.
It was history in the making when the first performances of Les Miserables hit the stage and astonished viewers with a presentation that was tender yet harsh, heart rending yet beautiful, filled with society’s brutality, but still shining with human hope and compassion. History returns to repeat itself with the return of “Les Miserables”, greater, more defined, and more hypnotizing than ever before.