Some great musicals have become a staple of our culture over the years. But there are some stories which shine in any medium. For a story to become a hit book as well as a respected musical is rare. One such rare exception is Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables.
Les Misérables was a French historical novel written and published by Victor Hugo in 1862. It is considered to be one of the greatest novels of the 19th century and has been adapted in a number of plays, musicals, and movies. A short summary of the story, it revolves mostly around Jean Valjean. Jean is sentenced to jail for stealing bread to feed his sister’s children. It’s a story which shows the morality of the age and is a redemption arc for Jean Valjean. Jean’s nemesis is a law enforcement official named Javert, who believes a criminal can never change his ways. Even though Jean tries to do good in the world, Javert always lands him in trouble due to Jean’s past. Both Jean and Javert are correct in their approach, a cat and mouse game between the two.
There are loads of other characters like Fantine, Fantine’s daughter Cosette and Cosette’s love interest, Marius among others.
The first musical of Les Misérables was premiered in Paris in 1980 and the first English production was in 1985. Since then it has run in West End till today. Any theater lover would know the significance of West End, London, a theater for musicals and plays. The competition is brutal, as a result, most plays don’t survive for a month or so. For a musical to last for more than 3 decades is a testament to its enduring popularity.
Without further ado, let’s list down five reasons why this is a must watch for anyone.
- Great music and songs – Some songs from the musical have achieved worldwide fame. Songs like ‘One more day’ and ‘I dreamed a dream’ have become staples of the musical world with many artists creating their own versions of them.
- Great Cast – Any good production of Les Miserables attracts the finest talent available on stage. The chance to act in one of the greatest musicals has always been on top of the wish list of great stage actors.
- A marvelous story – Les Miserables is one of the most complex and gut-wrenching stories of all time. The musical adds more pathos to it by conveying the pain and the joy of the characters in musical form.
- Chance to see a cultural masterpiece –it’s not only a musical play but also a piece of history that needs to be appreciated. People visit museums and art galleries to see famous art pieces. Les Miserables is as important culturally as the Mona Lisa or The Starry Night.
- Moral takeaways for everyone – Les Miserables teach us a lesson in morality and the value of human life. The distinction between good and bad is not always clear or easily deciphered. Jean Valjean committed a crime, but circumstances behind it played a huge hand.
What more can I say about a musical, which has touched the hearts of thousands? If you only have a chance to watch one musical in life, there is no doubt to choose Les Misérables among others. If there is a song that never gets old after listening to a thousand times, for me it will always be ‘I dreamed a dream’. It tells a story which will remain with you for the rest of your life.