Dear Les Miserables:
Today is your birthday! Not only that, but it’s your 30th birthday. You’re the world’s longest-running and arguably (I’m arguing it) greatest musical of all time. You have an amazing amount to celebrate today.
But let me get real a second. Not only do you continue to astonish audiences around the world in numerous productions, but you also changed my life. I heard your story for the first time three years ago and since then I have dived head-first into musical theatre mania and never looked back. I dragged my fiancé to Broadway on a shoestring budget so I could see your beautiful show. Your music turns naysayers into believers. Your story teaches us that we should forgive and never forget and that nothing is more powerful than love.
But how did you get there? No show starts as a phenomenon.
The original production has been running in London since it opened in 1985. There has been three Broadway productions, including the one currently running, countless touring productions and endless regional shows.
The multitude of stories within the show makes it stand out. Even though all of those stories are threaded together by Valjean’s life, the audience cares about all of the characters (my friend Connor would beg to differ, but this isn’t his blog. His blog is here). There are tons of dedicated Les Mis fans who will tell you that their favourite character is Courfeyrac or Feuilly (who? Exactly). Everyone can find someone to identify with, regardless of the outcome of the characters.
The music of a show, as I’ve learned, is so important to the timelessness that it retains. Shows like Phantom of the Opera are pretty ’80s (listen to the drum machine in the title track). If you listen to the French demo recording of Les Mis from 1980, you’ll hear some pretty awful disco music during “ABC Cafe/Red and Black.” Thankfully, that was changed before your debut. Now, the classic orchestra score not only allows you to transcend generations, but songs like “I Dreamed A Dream” and “Bring Him Home” have become pop hits outside of the show.
The message of Les Mis is what makes it so important. No matter what happens, no matter who dies, tomorrow comes. Tomorrow always comes. And you should be there to be a part of it.
Ramin Karimloo, who was Broadway’s Valjean up until a month ago, tweeted this out today:
@raminkarimloo: Happy Birthday @lesmisofficial … What a wonderful friend you’ve been. Love that we’ve been in each others’ lives. You’re amazing.
Thanks for everything, Les Mis. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be where I am today.