Show History



Les Misérables is a musical based on the novel of the same name by French poet and playwright, Victor Hugo. The 1862 novel is considered by many to be one of the greatest novels of the nineteenth century.

French songwriter, Alain Boublil, had the inspiration to adapt Hugo's novel into a musical while at a performance of the musical, Oliver!, in London. When the Artful Dodger appeared on stage, the idea of Gavroche narrating the story of Les Misérables came to mind. He pitched the concept to composer, Claude-Michel Schönberg, who then began developing a rough synopsis.


Les Misérables, a sung-through musical based on the novel of the same name, had its world premiere in September of 1980 at the Palais des Sports in Paris. The production was directed by filmmaker Robert Hossein and ran for over 100 performances.

Following the world premiere run of the original French version, Herbert Kretzmer and James Fenton were given the task of adapting the material into English. This new version, produced by Cameron Mackintosh and directed by Trevor Nunn and John Caird, opened on October 8, 1985, at the Barbican Arts Centre in London. The original cast included such notables as Colm Wilkinson, Michael Ball and Patti LuPone.

On December 4, 1985, the world premiere production of the English version transferred to the Palace Theatre in London. It eventually moved once more on April 3, 2004, to the Queen's Theatre. It has become the second longest-running musical in the world and the second longest-running show on the West End.

Les Misérables made its journey "across the pond" in December of 1986. The musical received its U.S. premiere and out-of-town tryout at the Kennedy Center's Opera House in Washington, D.C. It then premiered on Broadway on March 12, 1987, at The Broadway Theatre. In October of 1990, the production moved to the Imperial Theatre, where it subsequently played over 6,500 performances. The original production closed on May 18, 2003, and has become the third longest-running Broadway musical in history.

Only three years later, a limited revival began on November 9, 2006, at the Broadhurst Theatre. This cast included Norm Lewis, Gary Beach and Celia-Keenan Bolger. The production closed on January 6, 2008.

Since its premiere in the 1980s, Les Misrables has also received several significant concert performances, international mountings and national U.S. tours. The original North American tour ran for seventeen years and over 7,000 performances. As of 2012, four different U.S. national tours have been produced.

Cultural Influence

  • The musical has had more concurrent productions (fifteen at one time) than any other musical in history, as confirmed by the Guinness Book of Records.
  • "Britain's Got Talent" winner and pop culture sensation, Susan Boyle, performed Fantine's anthem, "I Dreamed a Dream," to worldwide acclaim in 2009. Almost overnight, the taping of her performance became one of the most popular videos on YouTube and has amassed over 200 million views since.
  • The musical has won over 70 major theatre awards, including an Olivier, a Tony and a Grammy.
  • Les Misérables has been translated into 21 different languages, including Flemish, Estonian and Castillian.
  • A film adaptation of the stage musical, featuring Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, was released at Christmas of 2012.
  • Victor Hugo's great classic, Les Misérables, was called "one of the best sellers of the ages." Within 24 hours of publication in 1862, the first Paris edition of 7,000 copies was completely sold out.

  • After Colm Wilkinson sang "Bring Him Home" from Les Misérables for the first time in rehearsal, director Trevor Nunn said, "See? I told you this show is about God." One of the actors responded, "Yes, but you didn't tell us you engaged him to sing it."
  • The following recordings are available in English: the Original London Cast, the Original Broadway Cast, the Complete Symphonic Recording, the Tenth Anniversary London Concert, the Twenty-fifth Anniversary UK Tour Cast and the Twenty-fifth Anniversary London Concert.