Hugo's Bohemians On Stage-
In 1980, Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel
Schönberg opened Les Miserables in Paris, a country that
has relatively no tradition of musical theater. It sold out and
did relatively well, but it was by chance, months after its closure
that an English producer heard the French recording and from
there led it to its translation into English and brought to the
British stage. It opened in London in 1985, went on to Broadway
and gathered 8 Tony awards, and spawned countless touring companies.
However, it was a monstrous effort, condenscing
1200 pages into three acts, entirely in music with no spoken
word. They streamlined the story, giving less background information
about the characters than Hugo's gigantic work did, and in fact,
less than most of the movies managed.
the fact that Marius's love for Cosette is really the main plot
for the musical, little is seen of either student life or artist
life. It is mentioned that it is mostly the students who lead
the building of the barricades, but nothing is said about Marius's
bourgeois upbringing, or about his grand-father, the Napoloeonic
General. The writers did choose to leave the ABC Café,
however, though the pun is lost on most of the public especially
as it is never said aloud.
Craig Rumano as
Marius Pontmercy in the Broadway production. (Souvenir
Brochure and Synopsis.)
Still, the musical adaptation remains
true to most of Hugo's characterization, though the plot is streamlined
in the interest of time. The barricading of the street is seen
through Marius's eyes, as he debates what is more important,
love or freedom for the poor and downtrodden. This is a typical
bohemian conflict of ideals.
Click here to
learn more about the bohemian revolutionary traditions.
at the ABC Café, from lesmis.com.