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 19th 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 Misrables came to mind. He pitched the concept to composer Claude-Michel Schonberg, who then began developing a rough synopsis.


Les Misrables, 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 an 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 Misérables 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.