Since it first opened in Paris in 1980, somewhere in the world, a production of Les Misérables is being performed. Seattle audiences have seen several productions of the ubiquitous show.
People will pay to see it over and over again. The London production has run continuously since October 1985, making it the longest-running musical in the West End and the second longest-running musical in the world after the original Off-Broadway run of The Fantasticks.
But it’s been four years since a touring production played in Seattle. Now it’s back, touted by mega-producer Cameron Mackintosh as a fresh, new national tour of the Tony-winning musical. Les Misérables runs June 6-17 at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre.
It’s the same beloved score (music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer from the original French text by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel, with additional material by James Fenton and original adaptation by Trevor Nunn and John Caird.)
And it has the same characters. But the revolving lazy-susan stage is gone. There is a new cast and new staging, as well as new sets inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo.
The French historical novel by Victor Hugo, first published in 1862, Les Misérables is considered one of the greatest novels of the 19th century. Beginning in 1815 and culminating in the 1832 June Rebellion in Paris, the novel follows the lives and interactions of several characters, particularly the struggles of ex-convict Jean Valjean and his journey to redemption.
Hugo depicts the character’s 19-year-long struggle to lead a normal life after serving a prison sentence for stealing bread to feed his sister’s starving children during a time of economic depression.
Valjean and Police Inspector Javert, who repeatedly encounters Valjean and attempts to return him to prison, have become archetypes in literary culture. The relationship of Javert and Valjean develops as an opposition between law and love. Javert sees Valjean only as the convict he once was, rather than the benefactor of humanity he has become.
Out of this encounter, Valjean becomes a repentant, honorable, and dignified man. He becomes kind, a devoted father-figure to a girl who loses her mother, and a benefactor to those in need. Though a known criminal and a parolee, Valjean yet grows morally to represent the best traits of humanity. Despite being classified as a criminal outcast, Valjean maintains the highest of human virtues and ethics.
Les Misérables originally opened in London at the Barbican Theatre on October 8, 1985, transferred to the Palace Theatre on December 4, 1985 and moved to its current home at the Queen’s Theatre on April 3, 2004 where it continues to play to packed houses and is the only version of the original production left in the world.
The original Broadway production of Les Misérables opened at the Broadway Theatre on March 12, 1987 and transferred to the Imperial Theatre on October 17, 1990 running for 6,680 performances.
The epic story has become one of the most celebrated musicals in theater history. Along with the 2012 movie version starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway (who won an Academy award for Best Supporting Actress), and Amanda Seyfried, Les Misérables has now been seen by more than 130 million people in 44 countries and in 22 languages around the globe.
So why see the musical again?
Because of the stunning score, including “I Dreamed A Dream,” “On My Own,” “Stars,” “Bring Him Home,” “One Day More,” and “Do You Hear the People Sing.”
Because it is an epic tale of life and death that celebrates the survival of the human spirit.
Because it is about redemption, told with truth, passion, and imagination.
Directed by Laurence Connor and James Powell, the new cast of Les Misérables features Broadway, Off-Broadway, and regional theater performers. Nick Cartell takes on the iconic role of Jean Valjean, with Josh Davis as Javert, Other cast members include Mary Kate Moore as Fantine, Jillian Butler as Cosette, Joshua Grosso as Marius, Matt Shingledecker as Enjolras, and Emily Bautista as Éponine.
The Production Team
Directed by Laurence Connor and James Powell
Original Les Misérables orchestrations by John Cameron
New orchestrations by Christopher Jahnke, Stephen Metcalfe and Stephen Brooker
Set design by Matt Kinley (inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo)
Costume design by Andreane Neofitou and Christine Rowland
Lighting design by Paule Constable
Sound by Mick Potter
Musical staging by Michael Ashcroft and Geoffrey Garratt
Projections by Fifty-Nine Productions
Music Supervision is by Stephen Brooker and James Moore
Casting by Kaitlin Shaw for Tara Rubin Casting.
Les Misérables runs June 6-17 at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre. Tickets start at $35 and are available on-line at available at STGPresents.org, Ticketmaster.com, by calling 1-800-982-2787, or in person at The Paramount Theatre Box Office (Monday through Friday, 10am to 6pm).