On Oct. 3, 2010 three productions of Les Miserables were simultaneously running in London. The original show was running at London's West End, the 25th edition was running at the Barbican Center (the show's original theatre), and a 25th anniversary concert was running at the O2 Arena.
That's an achievement not many musicals can lay claim too. Then again, Les Mis is no ordinary musical.
The English-language version of the show debuted in London on Oct. 8, 1985. It's now the longest-running musical in the world.
Despite its longevity, Les Miserables almost didn't make it to a West End stage. The show was first performed in 1980 and ran at a Paris sports arena. This French-language production closed after just three months. The Les Mis concept album was then given to producer Cameron Mackintosh (Cats, The Phantom of the Opera). He was initially reluctant to produce the show but eventually caved. When Les Miserables first debuted it was panned by theater critics but adored by fans.
Only after the show sold out its original three-month engagement did critics start changing their tune. Les Miserables is now considered one of the greatest musicals of all-time.
The show opened on Broadway on March 12, 1987 and closed May 18, 2003. It ran for 6,680 performances making it one of the longest running shows ever on the Great White Way. A revival opened on Nov. 9, 2006 at the Broadhurst Theatre.
Besides Broadway and London's West End, productions of Les Miz have been launched in cities all over the world. There have also been four U.S. touring companies that have sold Les Miserables tickets.
Les Miz was composed by Claude-Michel Schonberg with lyrics by Alain Boubil. Herbert Kretzmer translated the lyrics into English. Schonberg and Boubill wrote the book while Trevor Nunn and John Caird adapted it for the English production. The musical is based on Victor Hugo's 1862 novel, Les Miserables.
The story of Les Miz follows numerous characters, from workers to prostitutes, as they struggle for redemption under the specter of revolution. One of the show's most popular songs is "I Dreamed a Dream." The power ballad has been covered by several well-known artists including Neil Diamond, Idina Menzel, and Susan Boyle. Another famous song from the score is "Master of the House." The catchy ditty was prominently featured in an episode of "Seinfeld."