‘Les Misérables’ provides ‘revolutionary’ theatrical experience

Based on French playwright Victor Hugo’s novel of the same name, “Les Misérables” takes place in a pivotal moment in France and the rest of the world’s history: The French Revolution and its aftermath.
“Les Miserables” is centered on the life of Jéan Valjean, an ex-prisoner in Paris in the 18th century. The musical opens with Valjean being released from the penitentiary, his reformation, and his success as a factory owner until he became a family man and his redemption as a sinner, all while being pursued by Javert, a relentless and cold-hearted police inspector.
Along the way, other characters, as well as perspectives, appear and deepen the complexities behind the war. They include disgraced female heroine Fantine, who dies and leaves her baby in Valjean’s care, Cosette and Eponine, two very different girls who grow up in front of our eyes on stage and face very different wars, and Marius, a bright-eyed revolutionary who sees the war as a chance to let the people’s voices be heard. The progressions of the growing war and the characters’ lives in the play connects the audience to them on a deep level. For almost three hours, the audience feels a genuine connection to each and every character. They begin to feel as though they too are saints and sinners, revolutionaries, righteous inspectors, children of the revolution and of the wealthy courtesans. As French composer Claude Michel Schonberg said,
“When the beating of your heart echoes the beating of the drums, There is a life about to start when tomorrow comes.”
While on the topics of composers, the music adds to the raw emotion experienced by the audience. They feel Valjean’s and Fantine’s despair and sadness during “Look Down” and “I Dreamed a Dream,” the unrequited longing of Eponine in “On My Own,” and the hopeful strength as Marius proclaims “Do You Hear the People Sing?” The major Act One finale “One Day More” brings characters–and emotions-all together to let the audience know that no matter what happens, tomorrow will bring new opportunities and new ideas, and best of all, it’s only a day away.
Though over forty years since its initial release, “Les Misérables” still manages to capivate audiences all across the world.