Les Misérables

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Les Misérables is the name of a French historical novel by Victor Hugo (1802-1885)[1].

It is also the name given to various dramatised versions of the novel.

The original text

The French novel Les Misérables was originally written by Victor Hugo and published in 1862 by the Belgian company A. Lacroix, Verboeckhoven & Cie.

The novel is divided into 5 volumes, each volume divided into several books, and subdivided into chapters, for a total of 48 books and 365 chapters, making it one of the longest novels ever written. It contains various subplots, threaded together by means of the story of ex-convict Jean Valjean, who becomes a force for good in the world but cannot escape his criminal past.

It is considered one of the greatest novels of the 19th century.

Translations and adaptations

The novel has been popularized through numerous adaptations for film, television and the stage, most arrestingly so as a 1980s musical.

Les Misérables, the musical (1980)

Colloquially known as Les Mis or Les Miz.

Original text

Les Misérables a musical based on the novel originally adapted into French by Alain Boublil (1941-)[2] and Claude-Michel Schönberg (1944-)[3]. It opened at the Palais des Sports in Paris on 17 September, directed by Robert Hossein, playing 107 performances.

English adaptation

It was adapted as an English version with lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer and additional material by James Fenton, substantially expanded and reworked from a literal translation by Siobhan Bracke of the original Paris version. Adapted by Trevor Nunn and John Caird it was produced in English by Cameron Mackintosh and the Royal Shakespeare Company, opening in the Barbican Centre in London on 8 October 1985. The success of the West End musical led to a Broadway production, and followed up by international tours.

Performance history in South Africa

1996: The Cameron Mackintosh international touring company's Asian/South African Tour, directed by Matthew Ryan, was brought to South Africa by Century City, Tsogo Sun and Pieter Toerien.

Besides the large cast of international performers, the show also boasted the South African born lyricist Herbert Kretzmer, and a number of locally cast South African children, including: Isabel Byers, Sivuyile Ngesi,Nicholas Pretorius, Lindy Smith and Steven van Wyk.

The technical team encompassed the following:

Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer, the original text by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel, additional material by James Fenton. Orchestral score by John Cameron, production supervisor Martin Koch, musical director Dale Rieling, sound by Terry Jardine, associate producer Martin McCallum, executive producer John Robertson, designed by John Napier, lighting by David Hersey, costumes by Anfreane Neofitou, directed ,





Programme of Les Misérables, as performed in Cape Town in 1996.

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