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Les Misérables ( /leɪ ˈmɪzərɑːb/ or /leɪ ˌmɪzəˈrɑːb/; French pronunciation: [le mizeˈʁablə]), colloquially known as Les Mis or Les Miz /leɪ ˈmɪz/, is a musical by Claude-Michel Schönberg, based on the novel by Victor Hugo.
The music was composed by Schönberg, and the lyrics were written by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel, with an English-language libretto by Herbert Kretzmer. Set in early 19th-century France, the plot follows the stories of many characters as they struggle for redemption and revolution. An ensemble that includes prostitutes, student revolutionaries, factory workers, and others joins the lead characters.
The musical opened at the Barbican Centre in London, England on 8 October 1985. It is the second longest-running musical in the world after The Fantasticks, the second longest-running West End show after The Mousetrap, and the third longest-running show in Broadway history. In January 2010, it played its ten-thousandth performance in London, at Queen’s Theatre in London’s West End. On 3 October 2010, the show celebrated its 25th anniversary with three productions running in the same city: the original show at London’s West End; the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary touring production at the original home of the show, the Barbican Centre; and the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary concert at London’s O2 Arena.
BackgroundOriginally released as a French-language concept album, the first musical-stage adaptation of Les Misérables was presented at a Paris sports arena, the Palais des Sports, in 1980. However, the first production closed after three months when the booking contract expired.
In 1982, about six months after producer Cameron Mackintosh had opened Cats in London, he received a copy of the French concept album from director Peter Farago. Farago had been impressed by the work and asked Mackintosh to produce an English-language version of the show. Initially reluctant, Mackintosh eventually agreed.
Mackintosh assembled a production team to adapt the French musical for a British audience. After two years in development, the English-language version opened in London on 8 October 1985, at the Barbican Centre.
 ReceptionAt the opening of the London production, critical reviews were negative, and literary scholars condemned the project for converting classic literature into a mere musical. Public opinion differed—the box office received record orders. This three-month engagement sold out and reviews improved.
The Broadway production opened 12 March 1987, and ran until 18 May 2003, closing after 6,680 performances. It is the third longest running Broadway show in history and was the second-longest at the time. A fully re-orchestrated Broadway revival opened on 9 November 2006 at the Broadhurst Theatre.
The show was nominated for 12 Tony Awards and won eight, including Best Musical and Best Original Score. It placed first in a BBC Radio 2 listener poll of the “Nation’s Number One Essential Musicals” in June 2005, receiving more than forty percent of the votes.