Book by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg, with adaptations by Trevor Nunn and John Caird, based on the Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. Music by Alain Boublil. Lyrics by Alain Boublil, Herbert Kretzmer and Jean-Marc Natel. Additional Material by James Fenton. The world premiere of the original French version took place on 17 September 1980. The original London production opened on 4 December 1985 and was directed by Trevor Nunn and is still running. The original Broadway production opened on 12 March 1987, running for 6 680 performances until 18 May 2003.
Synopsis and Musical Numbers
The musical begins with a PROLOGUE: 1815, DIGNE. Jean Valjean, released on parole after 19 years on the chain gang, finds that the yellow ticket-of-leave he must, by law, display condemns him to be an outcast. Only the saintly Bishop of Digne treats him kindly and Valjean, embittered by years of hardship, repays him by stealing some silver. Valjean is caught and brought back by police, and is astonished when the Bishop lies to the police to save him, also giving him two precious candlesticks. Valjean decides to start his life anew. (LOOK DOWN / TELL HIS REVERENCE YOUR STORY / WHAT HAVE I DONE).
1823, MONTREUIL-SUR-MER: Eight years have passed and Valjean, having broken his parole an changed his name to Monsieur Madeleine, has risen to become both a factory owner and Mayor. One of his workers, Fantine, has a secret illegitimate child. When the other women discover this, they demand her dismissal. The foreman, whose advances she has rejected, throws her out. (AT THE END OF THE DAY / I DREAMED A DREAM). Desperate for money to pay for medicines for her daughter, Fantine sells her locket, her hair, and then joins the whores in selling herself (LOVELY LADIES). Utterly degraded by her new trade she gets into a fight with a prospective customer and is about to be take to prison by Javert when “The Mayor” arrives and demands she be taken to a hospital instead. The Mayor then rescues a man pinned down by a RUNAWAY CART. Javert is reminded of the abnormal strength of convict 24601 Jean Valjean, a parole-breaker whom he has been tracking for years, but who, he says has just been recaptured. Valjean, unable to see an innocent man go to prison in his place, confesses to the court that he is prisoner 24601 (WHO AM I?). At the hospital Valjean promises the dying Fantine to find and look after her daughter Cosette (COME TO ME). Javert arrives to arrest him, but Valjean escapes (CONFRONTATION).
1823, MONTFERMEIL: Cosette has been lodged for five years with the Thenardiers who run an inn (MASTER OF THE HOUSE), horribly abusing the little girl whom they use as a skivvy while indulging their own daughter, Eponine (CASTLE ON A CLOUD). Valjean finds Cosette fetching water in the dark. He pays the Thenardiers to let him take Cosette away and takes her to Paris (THE THENARDIER WALTZ OF TREACHERY). But Javert is till on his tail…
1832, PARIS: Nine years later there is a great unrest in the city because of the likely demise of the popular leader General Lamarque, the only man left in the Government who shows any feeling for the poor. The urchin Gavroche is in his element mixing with the whores and the beggars of the capital (LOOK DOWN). Among the street-gangs is one led by Thenardier and his wife, which sets upon Jean Valjean and Cosette. They are rescued by Javert, who does not recognize Valjean until after he has made good his escape (STARS). The Thenardiers’ daughter Eponine, who is secretly in love with the student Marius, reluctantly agrees to help him find Cosette, with whom he has fallen in love. At a political meeting in a small cafe, a group of idealistic students prepare for the revolution they are sure will erupt on the death of General Lamarque. When Gavroche brings the news of the General’s death, the students, led by Enjolras, stream out into the streets to whip up popular support (RED AND BLACK / DO YOU HEAR THE PEOPLE SING). Only Marius is distracted by the thoughts of the mysterious Cosette. Cosette is consumed by the thoughts of Marius, with whom she has fallen in love (IN MY LIFE). Valjean realizes that his ‘daughter” is changing very quickly but refuses to tell her anything of her past. In spite of her own feelings for Marius, Eponine sadly brings him to Cosette (A HEART FULL OF LOVE) and then prevents an attempt by her father’s gang to rob Valjean’s house (THE ATTACK ON RUE PLUMET). Valjean, convinced it was Javert who was lurking outside his house, tells Cosette they must prepare to flee the country. On the eve of the revolution the students and Javert see the situation from their different viewpoints; Cosette and Marius part in despair of ever meeting again; Eponine mourns the loss of Marius; and Valjean looks forward to the security of exile. The Thenardiers, meanwhile, dream of rich pickings underground from the chaos to come (ONE DAY MORE).
The students prepare to build the barricade (UPON THESE STONES – BUILDING THE BARRICADE). Marius, noticing that Eponine has joined the insurrection, sends her with a letter to Cosette, which is intercepted at the Rue Plumet by Valjean. Eponine decides, despite what he has said to here, to rejoin Marius at the barricade (ON MY OWN). The barricade is built (UPON THESE STONES – AT THE BARRICADES) and the revolutionaries defy an army warning that they must give up or die. Gavroche exposes Javert as a policy spy (JAVERT’S ARRIVAL / LITTLE PEOPLE). In trying to return to the barricade Eponine is shot and killed (A LITTLE FALL OF RAIN). Valjean arrives at the barricades in search of Marius. He is given the chance to kill Javert, but instead lets him go (NIGHT OF ANGUISH / FIRST ATTACK)). The students settle down for a night on the barricade (DRINK WITH ME) and, in the quiet of the night, Valjean prays to God to save Marius from the onslaught which is to come (BRING HIM HOME). The next day, with ammunition running low, Gavroche runs out to collect more and is shot (DAWN OF ANGUISH / SECOND ATTACK / DEATH OF GAVROCHE). The rebels are all killed, including their leader, Enjolras (THE FINAL BATTLE).
Valjean escapes into the sewers with the unconscious Marius (THE SEWERS). After meeting Thenardier, who is rubbing the corpses of the rebels (DOG EATS DOG), he emerges into the light only to meet Javert once more. he pleads for time to deliver the young man to a hospital. Javert decides to let him go and, his unbending principles of justice having been shattered by Valjean’s own mercy, he kill himself by throwing himself into the swollen River Seine (JAVERT’S SUICIDE). A number of Parisian women come to terms with the failed insurrection and its victims (TURNING). Unaware of the identity of his rescuer, Marius recovers in Cosette’s care (EMPTY CHAIRS AT EMPTY TABLES / EVERY DAY). Valjean confesses the truth of his past to Marius and insists that after the young couple are married, he must go away rather than taint the sanctity and safety of their union (VALJEAN’S CONFFESION). At Marius and Cosette’s wedding the Thenardiers try to black mail Marius (THE WEDDING CHORALE). ThÃ©nardier says Cosette’s “father” is a murderer and, as proof, produces a ring which he stole from the corpse in the sewers the night the barricades fell (BEGGARS AT THE FEAST). It is Marius’ own ring., and he realizes it was Valjean who rescued him that night. He and Cosette go to Valjean, where Cosette learns for the first time of her own history before the old man dies, joining the spirits of Fantine, Eponine, and all those who died on the barricades (EPILOGUE / FINALE).
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: 1. Les Miserables Original French Concept CD. 2. Les Miserables Original London Cast Recording CD. 3. Les Miserables Original Broadway Cast Recording CD. 4. Les Miserables Complete Symphonic Recording CD. 5. Les Miserables Tenth Anniversary Concert Recording CD.
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: 1. Les Miserables Original Japanese “Red” Cast Recording CD. 2. Les Miserables Tenth Anniversary Concert DVD. 3. Les Miserables Novel by Victor Hugo. 4. Les Miserables: History in the Making Making of the Musical Book by Edward Behr. 5. Les Miserables Vocal Selections (Sheet Music).
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