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Les Misérables (musical)
Les Misérables, commonly known as Les Mis, is a musical based on the novel Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. It tells the story of ex-convict Jean Valjean and his attempts to start a new life and make the world a better place.
The musical's emblem is a picture of the waif Cosette, usually shown cropped to a head-and-shoulders portrait with the French national flag superimposed.
Well-known songs from the musical include "I Dreamed a Dream", "Master of the House", "Do You Hear the People Sing?", "On My Own", and "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables".
The musical was written by the composer Claude-Michel Schönberg and the librettist Alain Boublil. It opened in September 1980 at the Palais des Sports in Paris for a projected eight-week season; such was its success that it ran for sixteen weeks, closing only because the venue was already committed to other projects after that point.
In 1982, English producer Cameron Mackintosh began work on an English language version, with lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer. The first English production, produced by Mackintosh and directed by Trevor Nunn, opened on October 8, 1985 in the Barbican Theatre , London. It starred Colm Wilkinson as Valjean, Rebecca Caine as Cosette, Patti LuPone as Fantine, Roger Allam as the persistent Inspector Javert, and Alun Armstrong as the villainous rogue Thenardier. On December 4, 1985 it transferred to the Palace Theatre, and moved again on April 3, 2004 to the Queen's Theatre. On October 8, 1995 the show's 10th anniversary was celebrated with a concert at the Royal Albert Hall; one of the finalés was a performance of "Do You Hear the People Sing?" sung a line at a time by seventeen Jean Valjeans, each from a different production in a different country.
The Broadway production opened on March 12, 1987, and won the Tony Award for Best Musical in that year. Colm Wilkinson and Frances Ruffelle (as Eponine) reprised their roles from the London production. It ran at the Imperial Theatre until May 18, 2003 (its scheduled end on March 15, 2003, having been postponed by a surge in public interest). After 6,680 performances in sixteen years, it is the third-longest-running Broadway musical after Cats and The Phantom of the Opera.
In 2002, a student edition of the musical became available. This is notable since, unusually, this is while London and US touring productions are still showing. However, all the actors in the school edition must be students, to prevent theatre companies from performing the show. It is also shorter than the "official" version, although no major scenes or songs have been removed. The official poster and cover art for the student edition features Cosette wearing a letterman jacket and holding a textbook.
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