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This article is about the musical theatre production. For its film adaptation see Les Misérables (2012 film)

Les Misérables.

Les Misérables is a musical adaptation of the novel by Victor Hugo, written by Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil, with English lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer. As of October 2014, the West End production is the longest running stage musical in London.


Original French Cast (1980)

  • Maurice Barrier - Jean Valjean
  • Jean Vallée - Javert
  • Rose Laurens - Fantine
  • Marianne Mille - Éponine
  • Yvan Dautin - Thénardier
  • Marie-France Roussel - Madame Thénardier
  • Gilles Buhlmann - Marius Pontmercy
  • Fabienne Guyon - Cosette
  • Christian Ratellin - Enjolras
  • Florence Davis/Cyrille Dupont/Fabrice Ploquin - Gavroche

Original London Cast (1985)


In Bagne prison in Toulon, France, in 1815, the prisoners work at hard labour. After 19 years in prison (five for stealing bread for his starving sister's son and her family, and the rest for trying to escape), Jean Valjean, "prisoner 24601," is released on parole by the policeman Javert. By law, Valjean must display a yellow ticket-of-leave, which identifies him as an ex-convict. As a convict, Valjean is shunned by society though the Bishop of Digne offers him food and shelter. Overnight, Valjean steals the Bishop's silver and flees but is captured by the police. The Bishop tells the police that the silver was a gift and not only lets him keep the silver he stole, but also gives him two more valuable candlesticks. The Bishop tells Valjean that he must use the silver "to become an honest man" and that he has bought Valjean's soul for God. Ashamed, yet humbled by the Bishop's kindness, Valjean tears up his yellow ticket, breaks his parole and resolves to redeem his sins.

Eight years later, in 1823, Valjean has assumed a new identity as Monsieur Madeleine, a wealthy factory owner and mayor of Montreuil-sur-Mer. One of his workers discovers that Fantine (another worker) is sending money to her secret illegitimate daughter, Cosette, who lives with an innkeeper and his wife. Valjean tells his factory foreman to resolve the conflict, but the foreman, whose advances Fantine previously rejected, dismisses her. Fantine reflects on her broken dreams and about Cosette's father, who left her. Desperate for money, she sells her locket and hair, finally becoming a prostitute. When she fights back against an abusive customer (Bamatabois), Javert, now a police inspector stationed in Montreuil-sur-Mer, arrives and arrests her. The Mayor arrives and, realising his part in Fantine's circumstances, orders Javert release her before taking her to a hospital.

Soon afterwards, the Mayor rescues a man pinned by a runaway cart, reminding Javert of the abnormally strong Jean Valjean, whom he has sought tirelessly for years. Javert apologizes for comparing the Mayor to a criminal, and assures the Mayor that Valjean has in fact been arrested recently. At first, Valjean thinks the man could be his chance to escape his past life, but is unwilling to see an innocent man (Champmathieu) go to prison in his place, and so confesses his identity to the court. At the hospital, a delirious Fantine dreams of Cosette. Valjean arrives and promises to find Cosette and protect her. Relieved, Fantine succumbs to her illness and dies. Suddenly, Javert confronts Valjean. Valjean asks Javert for three days to fetch Cosette, but Javert refuses to believe his honest intentions. They struggle, but Valjean overpowers Javert. Valjean once again promises to Fantine he will raise Cosette to the light and escapes.

In Montfermeil, the duplicitous innkeepers, the Thénardiers, use Cosette as a servant while extorting money from Fantine claiming that Cosette is seriously ill, all the while indulging their own daughter, Éponine. Cosette dreams of a life where she is not forced to work and is treated lovingly. Madame Thénardier arrives and orders Cosette to retrieve water from the woods. The Thénardiers successfully cheat their customers in various ways, though Madame Thénardier shows contempt for her husband. Valjean finds Cosette in the woods and accompanies her back to the inn. He offers the Thénardiers payment to take her away, and informs them of Fantine's death. The Thénardiers feign concern for Cosette and bargain with Valjean, who pays them 1,500 francs to let him take her away. Valjean and Cosette leave for Paris.

Nine years later, in 1832, Paris is in upheaval because of the impending death of General Lamarque, the only man in the government who shows mercy to the poor. The young street urchin Gavroche mingles with the prostitutes and beggars on the street, while students Marius Pontmercy and Enjolras discuss what will happen after Lamarque's death. The Thénardiers have since lost their inn, and Thénardier now leads a street gang. They prepare to con some charitable visitors who turn out to be Valjean and Cosette. Éponine also takes part. Before taking watch, she has a conversation with Marius, whom she secretly loves. As the gang is about to con the visitors, Éponine warns Marius to stay out of it and runs away. As Marius chases after her, he bumps into Cosette and falls in love with her at first sight, much to the dismay of Éponine. Thénardier suddenly recognizes Valjean, and he and the gang attack him. Javert arrives on the scene and thwarts the robbery, not recognizing Valjean until after he and Cosette escape. Thénardier informs Javert of a brand he saw on Valjean's arm. Javert vows to the stars that he will find Valjean and recapture him. Marius persuades Éponine to help him find Cosette. Despite her own feelings for him, she reluctantly agrees to help.

At a small café, Enjolras prepares a group of idealistic students for revolution. Marius interrupts the serious atmosphere by fantasizing about his new-found love, Cosette and is mocked by Grantaire. When Gavroche brings the news of General Lamarque's death, the students march into the streets. At Valjean's house, Cosette thinks about Marius and laments that she doesn't truly know her history or Valjean's. Marius and Éponine arrive, and Marius confesses his love to Cosette, which she reciprocates, while Éponine looks on sadly. Thénardier and his gang arrive intending to rob Valjean's house, but Éponine stops them by screaming. The scream alerts Valjean who believes that Javert must have found him. He tells Cosette that they must flee the country.

On the eve of the 1832 Paris Uprising, Valjean prepares to go into exile; Cosette and Marius part in despair; Éponine mourns her unrequited love for Marius; Enjolras encourages all of Paris to join the revolution as he and the other students prepare for battle; Marius is conflicted whether to follow Cosette or join the other students, but decides to stand with his brothers, while Éponine joins in secret; Javert reveals his plans to spy on the students; and the Thénardiers look forward to robbing the corpses of those who will be killed during the battle. Everyone ponders what this "tomorrow" will bring.

Act II As the students build a barricade, Javert, disguised as a rebel, volunteers to "spy" on the government troops. Marius discovers Éponine, who disguised herself as a boy, and sends her to deliver a farewell letter to Cosette. Valjean intercepts the letter and learns about Marius and Cosette's romantic relationship. Éponine walks the streets of Paris alone, imagining that Marius is there with her, but laments that her love for Marius will never be reciprocated.

The French army arrives at the barricade and demands that the students surrender; though Javert tells the students that the government will not attack that night. Gavroche exposes him as a spy, and the students detain him. Éponine returns but is shot by the soldiers crossing the barricade. As Marius holds her worried that she might not survive, she assures him that she feels no pain and reveals her love for him before dying in his arms. The students mourn this first loss of life at the barricades and resolve to fight in her name, and they carry her body away while Enjolras attempts to comfort Marius, who is heartbroken over losing his best friend. Valjean arrives at the barricades, disguised as a soldier, in search of Marius. As the first battle erupts, Valjean saves Enjolras by shooting a sniper. In return, he asks Enjolras to be the one to kill the imprisoned Javert, which Enjolras grants. As soon as Valjean and Javert are alone, Valjean frees Javert and tells him to leave the barricades. Javert warns Valjean that he will not give up his pursuit and rejects what he perceives as a bargain for Valjean's freedom. Valjean says there are no conditions to his release, and holds no blame toward Javert for doing his duty. As Javert leaves, Valjean fires a shot in the air to make it appear that he has executed Javert. The students settle down for the night and reminisce. Enjolras tells the other students to stay awake in case the enemy strikes unexpectedly in the night, but he tells Marius to get some sleep, knowing Marius is still much too devastated over losing Éponine to stay awake. Grantaire gets angry and bitterly denounces the pointlessness of the conflict as Marius wonders if Cosette will remember him if he dies. Valjean overhears this, and as Marius sleeps, Valjean prays to God to save Marius from the onslaught that is to come, even at the cost of his own life.

As dawn approaches, Enjolras realizes that the people of Paris have not risen up with them, but resolves to fight on. Gavroche is shot attempting to gather ammunition. The army gives a final warning to surrender, but the rebels fight to the last man with Enjolras exhorting "let others rise until the Earth is free!". Enjolras, Grantaire and the students are killed except Valjean and a gravely wounded Marius who escape into the sewers. Thénardier, also in the sewers, has been looting bodies. He takes a ring from the unconscious Marius, while Valjean sleeps. When Valjean carries Marius to the sewer's exit, he finds Javert who has been waiting for him. Valjean begs Javert for one hour to bring Marius to a doctor, and Javert reluctantly agrees. Javert finds himself unable to reconcile Valjean's mercy with his conception of Valjean as a convict and his need to bring him to justice, and commits suicide by throwing himself into the Seine.

Back on the streets, women mourn the deaths of the students as Marius mourns his friends. As he wonders who saved him from the barricades, Cosette comforts him and they reaffirm their blossoming romance. Valjean realises that Cosette "was never (his) to keep" and gives them his blessing. Valjean confesses to Marius that he is an escaped convict and must go away because his presence endangers Cosette ("Valjean's Confession"). He makes Marius promise never to tell Cosette, to which Marius agrees. A few months later, Marius and Cosette marry. The Thénardiers crash the reception in disguise and attempt to blackmail Marius, telling him that Valjean is a murderer and that Thénardier saw him carrying a corpse in the sewers after the barricades fell. When Thénardier shows him the ring as proof, Marius realizes that it was Valjean who saved his life. Marius strikes Thénardier, the newlyweds leave to find Valjean, and the Thénardiers enjoy the party and celebrate their survival.

At a convent, Valjean awaits his death, having nothing left to live for. The spirit of Fantine appears to him, thanking him for raising her daughter, and tells him that he has been forgiven and that he will be with God. Cosette and Marius arrive to find Valjean near death. Valjean thanks God for letting him live long enough to see Cosette again and Marius thanks him for saving his life. Valjean gives Cosette a letter confessing his troubled past and the truth about her mother Fantine. As he dies, the spirits of Fantine and Eponine guide him to Heaven reminding him that "to love another person is to see the face of God." They are joined by the spirits of those who died at the barricades.

Musical numbers

Act I

  • "Prologue: Work Song" - Chain Gang, Javert and Valjean
  • "Prologue: On Parole" - Valjean, Farmer, Labourer, Innkeeper's Wife, Innkeeper and Bishop of Digne
  • "Prologue: Valjean Arrested, Valjean Forgiven" - Constables and Bishop of Digne
  • "Prologue: What Have I Done?" - Valjean
  • "At the End of the Day" - Poor, Foreman, Workers, Factory Girls, Fantine and Valjean
  • "I Dreamed a Dream" - Fantine
  • "Lovely Ladies" - Sailors, Old Woman, Fantine, Crone, Whores and Pimp
  • "Fantine's Arrest" - Bamatabois, Fantine, Javert and Valjean
  • "The Runaway Cart" - Townspeople, Valjean, Fauchelevant and Javert
  • "Who Am I?/The Trial" - Valjean
  • "Fantine's Death: Come to Me" - Fantine and Valjean
  • "The Confrontation" - Javert and Valjean
  • "Castle on a Cloud" - Young Cosette and Madame Thénardier
  • "Master of the House" - Thénardier, Madame Thénardier and Customers
  • "The Well Scene" - Valjean and Young Cosette
  • "The Bargain/The Thénardier Waltz of Treachery" - Thénardier, Valjean, Madame Thénardier and Young Cosette
  • "Look Down" - Gavroche, Beggars, Old Woman, Prostitute, Pimp, Enjolras, and Marius
  • "The Robbery" - Thénardier, Madame Thénardier, Marius, Éponine and Valjean
  • "Javert's Intervention" - Javert and Thénardier
  • "Stars" - Javert and Gavroche
  • "Éponine's Errand" - Éponine and Marius
  • "ABC Café / Red and Black" - Enjolras, Marius, Grantaire, Combeferre, Feuilly, Courfeyrac, Joly, Gavroche and Students
  • "Do You Hear the People Sing?" - Enjolras, Combeferre, Courfeyrac, Feuilly, Students and Townspeople
  • "Rue Plumet – In My Life" - Cosette, Valjean, Marius and Éponine
  • "A Heart Full of Love" - Marius, Cosette and Éponine
  • "The Attack on the Rue Plumet" - Thénardier, Montparnasse, Brujon, Babet, Claquesous, Éponine, Marius, Valjean and Cosette
  • "One Day More" - Valjean, Marius, Cosette, Éponine, Enjolras, Javert, Thénardier, Madame Thénardier and Company

Act II

  • "Building the Barricade (Upon These Stones)" - Enjolras, Javert, Marius, Éponine and Valjean
  • "On My Own" - Éponine
  • "At the Barricade (Upon These Stones)" - Enjolras, Marius, Grantaire, Combeferre, Courfeyrac, Feuilly, Students, and Army Officer
  • "Javert's Arrival" - Javert and Enjolras
  • "Little People" - Gavroche, Grantaire, Prouvaire, Courfeyrac, Enjolras and Javert
  • "A Little Fall of Rain" (Éponine's Death) - Éponine and Marius
  • "Night of Anguish" - Enjolras, Marius, Combeferre, Prouvaire, Lesgles, Joly, Valjean, Grantaire, and Students
  • "The First Attack" - Enjolras, Valjean, Feuilly, Grantaire, Lesgles, Javert, Students
  • "Drink with Me" - Feuilly, Grantaire, Marius, Prouvaire, Joly, Students and Women
  • "Bring Him Home" - Valjean
  • "Dawn of Anguish" - Enjolras
  • "The Second Attack (Death of Gavroche)" - Enjolras, Feuilly, Marius, Valjean, Gavroche, and Grantaire
  • "The Final Battle" - Army Officer, Enjolras, Combeferre, and Courfeyrac
  • "Dog Eats Dog (The Sewers)" - Thénardier, Valjean, and Javert
  • "Soliloquy (Javert's Suicide)" - Javert
  • "Turning" - Women of Paris
  • "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" - Marius
  • "Every Day" - Cosette, Marius and Valjean
  • "Valjean's Confession" - Marius and Valjean
  • "Wedding Chorale" - Guests, Thénardier, Marius and Madame Thénardier
  • "Beggars at the Feast" - Thénardier and Madame Thénardier
  • "Valjean's Death" - Valjean, Fantine, Cosette, Marius and Éponine
  • "Do You Hear The People Sing?" (Finale) - Full Company