“Les Miz,” which has been translated into 22 languages, has been seen by more than 130 million people in 55 countries, making it one of the most popular musicals in the world.
The sung-through musical is based on the 1862 Victor Hugo novel of the same name, and was originally written in French. It premiered in Paris in 1980, with its English language adaption premiering in 1985, in London. It is the second longest-running musical in the world, second only to the original off-Broadway run of “The Fantasticks.”
Set in early 19th century France, Jean Valjean, a French peasant who was imprisoned 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread for his sister’s starving child, is released, and longs to start a new life. However, everywhere he goes he is rejected as an ex-convict, so he breaks his parole and disappears, assuming a new identity.
A compassionate bishop shows him mercy and gives Valjean the financial means to start a new life. However, an obsessive police detective, Javert, refuses to stop pursuing Valjean, determined to return him to prison for breaking the terms of his parole.
Eight years after the bishop gave Valjean a new start at life, he is a wealthy factory owner. An unwed mother, Fantine, who is working at the factory, rejects the advances of a foreman, who stirs up trouble for her and gets her fired. Desperate to provide for her daughter, Cosette, she sells her hair, then herself, to keep her daughter alive.
When Valjean finds out what has happened to Fantine, he promises on her deathbed to raise Cosette as his own. However, he now has to worry about Javert being on his tail again, and another man being arrested after being mistaken for him.
Valjean once again goes on the run, and rescues Cosette from the corrupt couple caring for her, the Thenardiers, who have a daughter Cosette’s age, Eponine, on whom they dote.
Nine years pass, with Valjean and Cosette now living in Paris, which is on the verge of revolution. Cosette has fallen in love with one of the student revolutionaries, while Javert is once again on Valjean’s trail.
Revolution and romance follow, with soul-stirring music.
Among the many songs, some of the most stirring and inspiring include Fantine’s “I Dreamed a Dream,” Jean Valjean’s “Who Am I?” Cosette’s “Castle on a Cloud,” the company’s “Do You Hear the People Sing?” and “One Day More” in Act I.
As the barricade rises in Act II, the music continues to inspire, from Eponine’s “On My Own” to the students’ gentle ballad, “Drink with Me,” to Valjean’s “Bring Him Home,” Marius’ “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” and the stirring conclusion, “Do You Hear the People Sing?”
The musical defies description – it is both epic and intimate; tender and fierce, with gentle battles and heart-felt battle cries.
Those who have seen if before return again and again, reliving a favorite experience, while those who have not seen “Les Miz” yet are urged to dive into the unparalleled musical masterpiece and emotional experience.
Tickets range from $36 to $160 and are available at BroadwayInDetroit.com and Ticketmaster.com; by phone, 800-982-2787; and in person at the Fisher Theater box office, 3011 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit.
The show runs 8 p.m. Dec. 20 to 23 and 26 to 30 and Jan. 3 to 7; 6:30 p.m. Dec. 31 and Jan. 8; 1 p.m. Dec. 21 to 24, Dec. 28 to 31, and Jan. 4 to 6 and 8; and 2 p.m. Jan. 7 at the Fisher Theater. There are no performances on Dec. 25 and Jan. 1 and 2.