Creative Presentation – Les Miserables as a Musical Essay

Les Miserables (Les Mis for short) is a musical that was composed in 1980 by the French composer Claude-Michel Schonberg with the libretto, or text, by Alain Boublill and lyrics by Herbert. It is one of the most performed and well-known musicals in the world. On October 8, 2006 Les Miserables celebrated 21 years on London’s West End and became the longest running West End musical in history, reaching 9,500 performances. The show continues to be shown at London’s Queen’s Theatre. Based on the Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel, Les Miserables, it is set in the early 19th century France and with a cast of interlacing stories.

We watch as they struggle for redemption and revolution while they are joined by an ensemble that includes prostitutes, student revolutionaries, factory workers, and others. The Tony Award-winning score features the songs I Dreamed a Dream, a solo sung by the character Fantine, and On My Own, a solo sung by the character Eponine, which have had many professional artists record covers of these songs. Originally released as a concept album, Les Miserables’s first musical stage adaptation was in Paris in 1980 and was a “smash hit” with the French audience.

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They did have to shut down after three months because the booking contract expired and they could not extend the run to meet the demand. In 1982, about six months after Cats opened in London, producer Cameron Mackintosh got a copy of the original French concept album from Peter Farago. Farago asked Mackintosh to produce an English version. Mackintosh was doubtful but finally decided to produce it. So he assembled a British team to adapt the French music for a British Audience. This took two years. On October 8, 1985 the English version opened in London at the Barbican Arts Centre.

Although the critic’s remarks were negative, with some “condemning it for turning a piece of classical French literature into a musical” the public loved it. After nightly standing ovations the critics eventually changed their comments. Word of mouth sure helped this production and soon every sing seat was sold. The Broadway production opened on March 12, 1987. It was nominated for twelve Tony Awards, winning eight, including “Best Musical” and “Best Original Score. ” The emblem is a picture of Cosette sweeping the Thenardier’s Inn by Emile Bayard. Usually it is only shown as a ropped head and shoulders picture. After 6,680 performances, the show closed May 18, 2003. Les Miserables is the third longest-running Broadway show. A fully re-orchestrated Broadway revival opened on November 9, 2006 at the Broadhurst Theatre. Several discrepancies between the novel and musical exist, probably due to time issues. The Bishop had a much bigger role in the novel, taking up many pages in the beginning, but only appears in one scene at the start of the show. There is also more time given in the novel describing Valjean’s time in Toulon and what it did to his spirit.

Javert’s background is explained in the novel, but the only explanation of his back-story is in The Confrontation where he sings “I was born inside a jail, I was raised with scum like you, I am from the gutter too. ” The Thenardiers are not the humorous husband-and-wife they appear to be in Master of the House. In the novel, they are portrayed as scum-of-the-earth and selfish people, but in bother versions it is completely apparent they have no morals. Marius lived with his grandfather, Gillenormand, who has a small role in the French Concept version but was later removed. Gillenormand, in the novel, was Marius grandfather.

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