First posted August 11, 2008. Last updated September 4, 2018.
Les Misérables (cast/soundtrack)
Claude-Michel Schönberg/ Alain Boublil / Herbert Kretzmer (composers)
Opened in France: Sept. 22, 1980
Opened in London: October 8, 1985
Opened on Broadway: March 12, 1987
London Cast Album Charted: April 11, 1987
Broadway Cast Album Charted: June 20, 1987
Highlights Soundtrack Released: Dec. 21, 2012
Deluxe Soundtrack Released: January 25, 2013
Sales (in millions):
L London cast recording
Quotable: “One of the premiere theater events of the 1980s” – Sarah Erlewine, All Music Guide
Les Misérables first opened in France, but really became a sensation after its debuts in London (Barbican Theatre, October 8, 1985) and on Broadway (Broadway Theatre, March 12, 1987). CM It went on to win eight Tony awards, including Best Musical.
The story drew on “Victor Hugo’s classic novel of a student uprising in early-19th-century France provides a compelling story line that continues to thrill audiences all over the world.” DH “The story chronicles the life of Jean Valjean, a simple Frenchman arrested as a youth for stealing a loaf of bread. After serving five years for that crime, as well as an additional 14 for attempted escape, Valjean is released on parole. Upon changing his name and eluding his parole officer, he becomes the surrogate father of a young girl and a Mayor as the French Revolution sets in. As the war rages, he finds that he cannot change the man he is.” SE-B
“Les Miserables is typical of theater in the ‘80s, with extravagant effects and large, full-cast numbers. The beautiful score is full of emotion and humor, including” SE-B “beautiful ballads (Bring Him Home, I Dreamed a Dream) and rousing anthems (One Day More, Do You Hear the People Sing?),” DH as well as “such memorable and noteworthy songs as Look Down, …Empty Chairs at Empty Tables, and the ubiquitous On My Own.” SE-B
“The original London cast recording is considered by many to be superior to various other releases of Les Miz.” SE-L They were “joined by Patti LuPone and Michael Ball.” SE-L Wilkinson and Ruffelle took their roles to Broadway. “The original Broadway cast recording contains some very fine performances, particularly by… [Colm] Wilkinson…and… [Frances] Ruffelle,” SE-B who worked on the London and Broadway productions as “the heroic Valjean and…the despondent Eponine” SE-B respectively.
The effort to turn the production into a movie musical “was mired in ‘development hell’ for over ten years, as the rights were passed on to several major studios, and various directors and actors considered.” WK-S In 2012, it was finally turned into a film starring Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, and Russel Crowe. It won Golden Globes for Best Musical or Comedy, Best Actor (Jackman), and Best Supporting Actress (Hathaway). It received eight Academy Award nominations, including for Best Picture and Best Actor, and won Best Supporting Actress for Hathaway. WK-S