This is not the full symphonic version people are used to today, but it remains a firm favourite and “the original” for many.
In fact, the Les Misérables we know today is an adaptation of a French musical from 1980. Though moderately successful in Paris, this first musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s epic novel was closed after just three months as the booking contract expired. That, it seemed for the time, was the end of that.
Fast forward three years, and successful musical producer Cameron Mackintosh has just received a copy of the French concept album of ‘Les Mis’ from director Peter Farago. Impressed by what he heard, Farago had wanted for Mackintosh to produce an English-language version of the show. Initially reluctant, Mackintosh eventually agreed- a dscision he would certainly not regret.
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 the 8th October 1985, by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Barbican Centre, then the London home of the RSC.
Despite decidedly lukewarm reviews, the musical was a huge hit with audiences, and so it has remained, going from strength to strength. To date, Les Misérables has been translated into 22 different languages and productions have played in 42 countries and over 319 cities all over the world. In 2015, the musical will enter its 30th year; it is the longest running musical in history and doesn’t look like it will be stopping any time soon.
- Roger Allam – Inspector Javert
- Colm Wilkinson – Jean Valjean
- Fantine – Patti LuPone
- Rebecca Caine – Cosette
- Alun Armstrong – Thénardier
- Susan Jane Tanner – Madame Thénardier
- Michael Ball – Marius
- David Burt – Enjolras
- Eponine – Frances Ruffelle
- Grantaire – Clive Carter
- Ian Tucker / Oliver Spencer / Liza Hayden – Gavroche
- Ken Caswell – Bishop
- Paul Leonard – Combeferre
- Craig Pinder – Courfeyrac
- Caroline Quentin – Blind beggar / Diner / Worker / Whore
- Author: Victor Hugo
- Playwright: Alain Boublil
- Music by: Claude-Michel Schonberg
- Director: John Caird and Trevor Nunn
The making of…
Cameron Mackintosh: ‘Stars was written because Roger Allam pointed out that his character, Javert, needed to express why he was so driven.’
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