No one could have guessed on October 8, 1985 when Les Misérables opened in London at the Barbican Theatre that it would become a worldwide phenomenon. But audiences embraced it from the start, creating a “people’s musical” that has played in 42 countries and been seen by nearly 60 million people.
In 2010, the legendary musical celebrated its 25th birthday and to mark the occasion, producer Cameron Mackintosh staged an extraordinary concert at the O2 Arena in London.
Based on Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel of the same name and set in early 19th-century France, Les Misérables features the stories of individuals struggling for redemption and revolution. The magnificent score includes the songs “I Dreamed a Dream,” “On My Own,” “Stars,” “Bring Him Home,” “Do You Hear the People Sing?,” “One Day More,” “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables,” “Master of the House” and many more.
Heading the cast is Alfie Boe (Jean Valjean), one of Britain’s leading tenors and best-selling recording artists, who shot to fame while starring in Baz Luhrmann’s La Bohème on Broadway, winning a Tony Award for his performance. Matt Lucas (Thénardier), one of Britain’s most successful comic actors and writers, was seen as Tweedledee and Tweedledum in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. Jenny Galloway is regarded as a legendary Madame Thénardier and has played the part many times, including the 10th Anniversary concert at the Royal Albert Hall.
Tony Award-winner Lea Salonga (Fantine) flew in from Manilla to reprise her role. No stranger to Les Miz, Salonga has played Eponine in London and Fantine on Broadway. Salonga joined her former Les Miz co-star Norm Lewis, who played Javert in the Broadway production, and who received rave reviews for Sondheim on Sondheim at Studio 54 in New York.
Nick Jonas (Marius), one third of the phenomenally successful pop music artists the Jonas Brothers, played the part of Gavroche for the final nine months of the show’s original Broadway run. Singer Katie Hall is Cosette, a role she performed in London’s West End production as well as the sell-out 25th Anniversary UK Tour and at the Barbican. Appearing as Enjolras is Ramin Karimloo (Love Never Dies, The Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon) and Samantha Barks (BBC1’s I’d Do Anything, Oliver!) is Eponine).
Les Misérables: The 25th Anniversary Concert, Sunday at 6 p.m. on PBS 6.