Photo credit: Ashley Gilmour as Enjolras, Harry Apps as Marius and Company in Les Misérables (Photo by Johan Persson)

Everything you need to know about 'Les Misérables' in London

Sophie Thomas
Sophie Thomas

The musical chant of "Do You Hear the People Sing?" from Les Misérables is arguably one of the most recognisable songs of all time. The revolutionary 20th century production transformed the future of dramatic storytelling forevermore, adapting Victor Hugo's epic into a two-act musical.

Telling the story of convict-cum-insurgent Jean Valjean living in 19th century France, Les Misérables is a passionate, powerful story where sacrifice and redemption triumphs all. Set to a rousing soundtrack by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg, Les Misérables has been seen by over 70 million people worldwide, and the English language version all started in London. Here's our complete guide to the West End production of Les Misérables.

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What is Les Misérables about?

Jean Valjean is a prison convict. After serving 19 years for the small act of stealing a loaf of bread, he's given his ticket of leave. Dreaming of a new life, all hopes are immediately dashed when his chain gang status follows him around. Stealing silver from a bishop doesn't help, but when the bishop lies to police to protect Valjean, his future truly starts.

While Valjean's on the run, Inspector Javert does all he can to track him down. But, with Valjean now dedicating his life to looking after Cosette, a prostitute's daughter, they finally escape to Paris, thus out of Javert's presence forevermore. That's until the pair find themselves on the Parisian barricades.

Love triangles, deaths and new relationships form throughout Les Miserables, where different classes come together to protect one another.

When did Les Misérables premiere?

Before the English translation version opened, which runs in London's West End today, Les Misérables was first performed in French. Performances began in September 1980 at the Palais de Sport in Paris, where over 500,000 people saw 105 performances.

The first English production began performances at the Barbican on 28 Sept. 1985, before an opening night on 9 Oct. 1985. After two months, the musical transferred to the Palace Theatre, where it played for 19 years. Currently, the London production of Les Misérables is at the Sondheim Theatre, where it's been since 2004.

The Broadway premiere opened on 12 Mar. 1984 at the Broadway Theatre, with the production running for almost twenty years. To date, Les Misérables has been staged in 42 countries; the first international production was actually staged in Norway in 1988.

Who wrote Les Misérables?

Les Misérables is adapted from a 19th-century novel by Victor Hugo, a French novellist and dramatist. Hugo is also the brains behind The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which has also since been adapted into a musical Notre Dame de Paris.

The Les Misérables musical features a book, music and lyrics by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg. Together, the lyricist and composer have worked on a variety of musicals, all rooted in different eras. These include Miss Saigon, Martin Guerre, The Pirate Queen and Marguerite.

Who is in the Les Misérables London cast?

Currently, the Les Misérables cast includes Dean Chisnall as Jean Valjean, Stewart Clarke as Javert, Lucie Jones as Fantine, Claire Machin as Madame Thénardier, Harry Chandler as Enjolras, Gerard Carey as Thénardier, Robert Tripolino as Marius, Nathania Ong as Éponine, Lulu-Mae Pears as Cosette, Hazel Baldwin, Brad Barnley, Emma Barr, Will Barratt, Cameron Burt, Natalie Chua, Matthew Dale, Matt Dempsey, Bryony Duncan, Louis Emmanuel, Sophie-May Feek, Melad Hamidi, Harry Jack, Christopher Jacobsen, Will Jennings, Benjamin Karran, Yazmin King, Bart Lambert, Sarah Lark, Adam Robert Lewis, Georgie Lovatt, Ellie Ann Lowe, Donald Craig Manuel, Jodie Nolan, Sam Peggs, Jo Stephenson, Phoebe Williams and Ollie Wray.

Who was in the original cast of Les Misérables?

Les Misérables has run continuously in London for over 30 years, but the original West End cast definitely had star power. Colm Wilkinson originated the role of Jean Valjean in London, later reprising his performance in worldwide productions. The two-time Olivier Award actress Patti LuPone played Fantine, recently in London for the West End revival of Company.

Michael Ball played Marius, but he's also played Javert in the all-star concerts at the Sondheim Theatre. With Roger Allam as Javert and Frances Ruffele as Eponine, the original cast paved the way for future generations.

What theatre in London is Les Misérables playing at?

Les Misérables is currently running at the Sondheim Theatre in London. The Sondheim Theatre is the new name for the Queen's Theatre, which was changed in 2019 to honour American composer Stephen Sondheim. Les Misérables has ran at the Sondheim Theatre since 2004.

What is the running time of Les Misérables?

Les Misérables runs for 2 hours and 50 minutes, including a 15 minute interval. Find out more about West End running times.

What are the songs in Les Misérables?

Songs in Les Misérables have become famous outside of the musical theatre realm, including "One Day More", "I Dreamed A Dream" and "On My Own". As Les Misérables is a sung-through musical, the song list is extensive. Find out more about Les Miserables songs.

Act 1

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

Act 2

"Building the Barricade" - Enjolras, Javert, Grantaire, Students, Marius, Éponine
"On My Own" - Éponine
"At the Barricade" - Enjolras, Marius, Grantaire, Students, and Army Officer
"Javert's Arrival" - Javert and Enjolras
"Little People" - Gavroche, Enjolras, Javert
"A Little Fall of Rain" - Éponine and Marius
"Night of Anguish" - Enjolras and Students
"First Attack" - Enjolras, Jean Valjean, Javert, Students
"Drink with Me" - Feuilly, Prouvaire, Joly, Grantaire, Marius, Company
"Bring Him Home" - Jean Valjean
"Dawn of Anguish" - Enjolras
"The Second Attack (Death of Gavroche)" - Enjolras, Marius, Jean Valjean, Gavroche, Students
"The Final Battle" - Army Officer, Enjolras, Company
"The Sewers / Dog Eats Dog" - Thénardier
"Javert's Soliloquy" - Javert
"Turning" - Women of Paris
"Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" - Marius
"Every Day / A Heart Full of Love (Reprise)" - Cosette, Marius and Jean Valjean
"Valjean's Confession" - Marius and Jean Valjean
"Wedding Chorale / Beggars at the Feast" - Marius, Thénardier, Madame Thénardier, Company
"Epilogue: Valjean's Death" - Jean Valjean, Fantine, Cosette, Marius and Éponine
"Epilogue / Finale" - Full Company

What awards has Les Misérables won?

Although Les Misérables is the longest-running musical in London, the production didn't impress awarding bodies as much as you may expect. Here's the major awards that Les Misérables has won.

Olivier Awards

Best Actress in a Musical - Patti LuPone
Audience Award for Most Popular Show - 2012/2014

Tony Awards

Best Musical
Best Book of a Musical - Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg
Best Original Score - Claude-Michel Schönberg (music) and Herbert Kretzmer & Alain Boublil (lyrics)
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical - Michael Maguire
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical - Frances Ruffelle
Best Direction of a Musical - Trevor Nunn and John Caird
Best Scenic Design - John Napier
Best Lighting Design - David Hersey

What are some fun facts about Les Misérables?

To create all the authentic revolutionary French costumes, there's a lot of outfits. There's 392 costumes that feature, including 85 wigs and over 5,000 separate pieces of clothing.

The musical has been translated into 21 languages: English, French, two German versions, six Spanish versions, Japanese, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, two Norweigan versions, Polish, two Swedish versions, two Dutch versions, Danish, Finnish, Brazilian Portuguese, Estonian, Czech, Mauritian Creole, Basque, Catalan and Korean.

The production celebrated its 10,000th performance on 22nd January 2010. To date, it's been performed over 13,500 times.

Is there a movie adaptation of Les Misérables?

A film adaptation of Les Miserables was released in 2012, which was nominated for eight Academy Awards including best picture. Casting included Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, Russell Crowe as Javert, Anne Hathaway as Fantine, Amanda Seyfried as Cosette, Eddie Redmayne as Marius Pontmercy, and Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen as the Thénardiers.

West End and Broadway stars also feature, inclduing Samantha Barks plays Eponine and Aaron Tveit as Enjolras. Original cast members Colm Wilkinson and Frances Ruffelle appear in the movie, as well as Hadley Fraser, Killian Donnelly and Alistair Brammer.

How do I get Les Misérables tickets in London?

As one of the most popular musicals in London, you'll want to book Les Misérables tickets now to avoid missing out. See the classic show in the West End today.

Book Les Misérables tickets on London Theatre.

LT - CTA - 250

Photo credit: Ashley Gilmour as Enjolras, Harry Apps as Marius and Company in Les Misérables (Photo by Johan Persson)

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