Les Misérables

28th September 1985

Barbican Theatre, RSC / Palace Theatre, RSC

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This was a Royal Shakespeare Company presentation of an RSC Cameron Mackintosh production. The world première performance was at the Barbican Theatre on 28th September 1985 and it opened to the press on 8th October.

The production then transferred to the Palace Theatre in the West End where it opened on the 4th December 1985.

The first US production opened in Washington DC a year later on 27th December 1987 before opening in New York at the Broadway Theatre on 12th March 1987.

Productions in Japan and Australia soon followed as well as a series of US and Canadian touring productions. Within a few years, it was running in numerous productions all over the world in many different languages.

The London production of Les Misérables later transferred from the Palace Theatre to the Queen’s Theatre, where it is still running.

Producers and Artistic Directors wishing to make their own productions of Les Misérables can make enquiries about licensing by clicking here.

Olivier Awards 1985

Outstanding Performance of the Year by an Actress in a Musical – Patti Lupone for the role of Fantine.

Outstanding Performance of the Year by an Actor in a Musical – Alun Armstrong for the role of M. Thénardier (Nomination) and Colm Wilkinson for the role of Jean Valjean (Nomination)

Musicial of the Year - Les Miserables by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer. (Nomination)

Les Misérables

A Musical by Alain Boublil & Claude-Michel Schönberg
Based on the novel by Victor Hugo
Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer
Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg
Original Text by Alain Boublil & Jean-Marc Natel
Additional Material by James Fenton

Creative team

Adapted and Directed byTrevor Nunn and John Caird
Designed byJohn Napier
Lighting byDavid Hersey
Costumes Designed byAndreane Neofitou
Musical Supervision and Orchestrations byJohn Cameron
Musical Staging byKate Flatt
Sound byAndrew Bruce
Musical Direction byMartin Koch
Company Fight Work byMalcolm Ransom
Assistant Director Dion McHugh
Design Assistant Benjamin Hilliard
Lighting Assistants Jozef Celder & Adam Grater
Stage Manager Trevor Williamson
Deputy Stage Manager Philip McDonald & Michael Stanislaw
Assistant Stage Managers Rosy Fowler
Literal Translation from the French Siobhan Bracke


Actors in order of appearance
Jean Valjean Colm Wilkinson
Javert Roger Allam
Brujon / Drinker / Sailor / Chain GangDave Willets
Combeferre / Factory Foreman / Student / Traveller / Chain Gang Paul Leonard
Bamatabois / Grantaire / Drinker / Chain Gang Clive Carter
Joly / Chain Gang / Factory Worker / Sailor / Old Couple Christopher Beck
Feuilly / Student / Young Man / Sailor / Chain Gang Gary Huddlestone
Thénadier / Chain Gang Alun Armstrong
Marius / Chain Gang Michael Ball
Montparnasse / Chain Gang / Labourer / Young Couple Keith Burns
Enjolras / Chain Gang David Burt
Courfeyrac / Factory Worker / Farmer / Drinker Craig Pinder
Old Beggar Woman / Whore / Innkeeper’s Wife / DrinkerJill Martin
Jean Prouvaire / Innkeeper / Drunk / Pimp Peter Polycarpou
Bishop of Digne / Lesgles / Diner / Unemployed Man Ken Caswell
Babet / Fauchelevent / Traveller / Constable Ian Calvin
Pimp / Claquesous / Drinker / Constable Colin Marsh
Fantine Patti Lupone
Old Woman / Woman Worker Sally Mates
Crone / Factory Girl / Woman with Baby / Old Couple Beverley Klein
Blind Beggar / Whore / Factory Girl / DinerCaroline Quentin
Whore / Factory Girl / DrinkerAline Mowat
Factory Girl / Whore / Young Prostitute / Young Girl Jackie Marks
Gavroche / Whore / Factory Girl / Young CoupleLiza Hayden
Eponine / Whore Frances Ruffelle
Cosette / Whore Rebecca Caine
Whore / Factory Girl / Young GirlSiân Rivers
Little Cosette Zoë Hart / Jayne O’Mahoney / Joanne Woodcock
Madame Thénadier Sue Jane Tanner
Little Eponine Danielle Akers / Gillian Brander / Juliette Caton
Gavroche Oliver Spencer / Ian Tucker
MariusKeith Burns
JavertClive Carter
ThénadierKen Caswell
EnjolrasPaul Leonard
EponineJackie Marks
Madame ThénadierSally Mates
FantineAline Mowat
CosetteSiân Rivers
Jean ValjeanDave Willetts
Standbys Aidan Cook / Holly Russell

Musicians / Orchestra

Assistant Music Director / Keyboards Andy Read
Flute / Piccolo Christopher Lacey
Clarinet / Alto Saxophone Victor Slaymark
Oboe / Cor Anglais Caroline Marwood
Horns Brian Newman / Duncan Hollowood
Trumpets Roderick Tearle / Peter Wright
Trombone David Hissey
Synthesiser / Piano Peter Washtell
Percussion Tony McVey
Drums Peter Boita
Guitar Ian Laws
Bass Guitar Brent Forbes
Violin (Leader) Laurie Lewis
Violins Norman Lederman / Richard Bureau / Vaughn Armon
CellosPeter Halling / Paul Kegg

Production Staff

Producer Cameron Mackintosh
Company Manager Robert M. West
Stage Manager Sheena Linden
Deputy Stage Manager Stephen Higgins
Assistant Stage Managers Jason Bevan / Rosy Fowler / Isabel Pric
Assistant to Dion McHugh Ken Caswell
Sound Operator Madeleine Parisio
Scenery Painted byVictor Mara Ltd.
Engineering byP E Kemp Engineers Ltd.
Additional Mechanical Engineering byMike Barnet
Property Supervision byRichard Christie and Partners
Cobbles byStephen Pyle
Wheels supplied byRevvo
Costumes by RSC Production Wardrobe / Bermans and Nathans
Men's Tailoring byS. B. Watts Ltd / Keith Bish
Ladies' Costumes byHenrietta Webb / Lynda Haslam / Rosalind Williams
Hats bySandra Bendall
Breaking-down byBrian North / Janet Ekaette / Lisa Whitefoot / Robert Allsopp
Wigs for Miss Caine, Miss LuPone, Miss Tanner and Mr Wilkinson byRay Marston
Other Wigs and Make-up byBarbican Theatre Wig Department
Rehearsal PianistsLesley Hayes / Kate Young
Movement AssistantKim Brandstrup
Production PhotographerMichael Le Poer Trench
Programme Acknowledgements
Programme Compiled and Edited byMargaret Gaskin (with thanks to Siobhan Bracke)
Designed byDewynters Limited.
Advertising byCabbell Publishing Ltd.

Synopsis and Character Appearances

From the original 1985 RSC Barbican Theatre programme

Prologue: 1815, Digne

Jean Valjean, released on parole after 19 years on the chain gang, find that the yellow ticket-of-leave he must, by law, display condemns him to be an outcast. Only the saintly Bishop of Diane treats him kindly and Valjean, embittered by years of hardship, repays him by stealing some silver. Valjean is caught and brought back by police, and is astonished when the Bishop lies to the police to save him, also giving him two precious candlesticks. Valjean decides to start his life anew.
Jean ValjeanColm Wilkinson
JavertRoger Allam
Chain GangDave Willets / Paul Leonard / Clive Carter / Christopher Beck / Gary Huddlestone / Alun Armstrong / Michael Ball / Keith Burns / David Burt
FarmerCraig Pinder
LabourerKeith Burns
Innkeeper's WifeJill Martin
InnkeeperPeter Polycarpou
The Bishop of DigneKen Caswell
ConstablesIan Calvin / Colin Marsh

1823, Montreuil-sur-Me

Eight years have passed and Valjean, having broken his parole and changed his name to Monsieur Madeleine, has risedn to become both a factory owner and Mayor. One of his workers, Fantine, has a secret illegitimate child. When the other women discover this, they demand her dismissal. The foreman, whose advances she had rejected, throws her out.
FantinePatti Lupone
ForemanPaul Leonard
WorkersCraig Pinder / Christopher Beck
Women WorkersSally Mates / Beverley Klein / Caroline Quentin / Aline Mowat
Factory GirlJackie Marks
Desperate for money to pay for medicines for her daughter, Fantine sells her locket, her hair, and then joins the whores in selling herself. Utterly degraded by her new trade, she gets into a fight with a prospective customer and is about to be taken to prison by Javert when "The Mayor" arrives and demands she be taken to hospital instead. The Mayor then rescues a man pinned down by a runaway cart. Javert is reminded of the abnormal strength of convict 24601 Jean Valjean, a parole-breaker whom he has been tracking for years but who, he says, has just been recaptured. Valjean, unable to see an innocent man go to prison in his place, confesses to the court that he is prisoner 24601. At the hospital, Valjean promises the dying Fantine to find and look after her daughter Cosette. Javert arrives to arrest him, but Valjean escapes.
SailorsGary Huddlestone / Dave Willetts / Christopher Beck
WhoresJill Martin / Aline Mowat / Caroline Quentin / Liza Hayden / Jackie Marks / France Ruffelle / Rebecca Caine / Siân Rivers
Old WomanSally Mates
CroneBeverley Klein
PimpColin Marsh
BamataboisClive Carter
FaucheleventIan Calvin

1823, Montfermeil

Cosette has been lodged for five years with the Thénadiers who run an inn, horribly abusing the little girl whom they use as a skivvy while indulging their own daughter, Eponine. Valjean finds Cosette fetching water in the dark. He pays the Thénardiers to let him take Cosette away and takes her to Paris. But Javert is still on his tail...
CosetteZoe Hart / Jayne O'Mahony / Joanne Woodcock
Madame ThénadierSue Jane Tanner
ThénadierAlun Armstrong
EponineDanielle Akers / Gillian Brander / Juliette Caton
DrinkerCraig Pinder
Young CoupleKeith Burns / Liza Hayden
DrunkPeter Polycarpou
DinersKen Caswell / Caroline Quentin
Other DrinkersColin Marsh / Clive Carter / Dave Willetts / Aline Mowat / Jill Martin
Young ManGary Huddlestone
Young GirlsJackie Marks / Siân Rivers
Old CoupleBeverly Klein / Christopher Beck
TravellersPaul Leonard / Ian Calvin

1823, Paris

Nine years later, there is great unrest in the city because of the likely demise of the popular leader General Larmarque, the only man left in the Government who shows any feeling for the poor. The urchin Gavroche is in his element mixing with the whores and beggars of the capital. Among the street-gangs is one led by Thénadier and his wife, which sets upon Jean Valjean and Cosette. They are rescued by Javert, who does not recognise Valjean until after he has made good his escape. The Thénariers' daughter Eponine, who is secretly in love with the student Marius, reluctantly agrees to help him find Cosette, with whom he has fallen in love.
GavrocheLiza Hayden / Oliver Spencer / Ian Tucker
Old Beggar WomanJill Martin
Young ProstituteJackie Marks
PimpPeter Polycarpou
Unemployed ManKen Caswell
Blind BeggarCaroline Quentin
Woman with BabyBeverly Klein
StudentsPaul Leonard / Gary Huddlestone
EponineFrances Ruffelle
MariusMichael Ball
CosetteRebecca Caine
Thénadier's Gang
MontparnasseKeith Burns
BabetIan Calvin
BrujonDave Willets
ClaquesousColin Marsh
At the political meeting in a small café, a group of idealistic students prepare for the revolution they are sure will erupt on the death of General Lamarque. When Gavroche brings the news of the General's death, the students, led by Enjolras, stream out into the streetsto whip up popular support. Only Marius is distracted, by thoughts of the mysterious Cosette.
CombeferrePaul Leonard
FeuillyGary Huddlestone
CourfeyracCraig Pinder
EnjolrasDavid Burt
JolyChristopher Beck
GrantaireCliver Carter
LesglesKen Caswell
Jean ProuvairePeter Polycarpou
Cosette is consumed by thoughts of Marius, with whom she has fallen in love. Valjean realises that his "daughter" is changing very quickly but refuses to tell her anything of her past. In spite of her own feelings for Marius, Eponine sadly brings him to Cosette and then prevents an attempt by her father's gang to rob Valjean's house. Valjean, convinced it was Javert who was lurking outside his house, tells Cosette they must prepare to flee the country. On the eve of the revolution, the students and Javert see the situation from their different viewpoints; Cosette and Marius part in despair of ever meeting again; Eponine mourns the loss of Marius; and Valjean looks forward to the security of exile. The Thénadiers, meanwhile, dream of rich pickings underground from the chaos to come.

There now follows an interval of 15 minutes

The students prepare to build the barricade. Marius, noticing that Eponine has joined the insurrection, sends her with a letter to Cosette, which is intercepted at the Rue Plumet by Valjean. Eponine decides, despite what he has said to her, to rejoin Marius at the barricade. The barricade is built and the revolutionaries defy an army warning that they must give up or die. Gavroche exposes Javert as a police spy. In trying to return to the barricade, Eponine is shot and killed. Valjean arrives at the barricades in search of Marius. He is given the chance to kill Javert but instead lets him go. 
The students settle down for a night on the barricade and are entertained by Gavroche. In the quiet of the night, Valjean prays to God to save Marius from the onslaught which is to come. The next day, with ammunition running low, Gavroche runs out to collect more and is shot. The rebels are killed, including their leader Enjolras. Valjean escapes into the sewers with the unconscious Marius. After meeting Thénardier, who is robbing the corpses of the rebels, he emerges into the light only to meet Javert once more. He pleads for time to deliver the young man to hospital. Javert decides to let him go and, his unbending principles of justice having been shattered by Valjean’s own mercy, he kills himself by throwing himself into the swollen River Seine. 
A number of Parisian women come to terms with the failed insurrection and its victims. Unaware of the identity of his rescuer, Marius recovers in Cosette’s care. Valjean confesses the truth of his part to Marius and insists that after the young couple are married, he must go away rather than taint the sanctity and safety of their union. At Marius and Cosette’s wedding, the Thénadiers try to blackmail Marius. Thénardier says Cosette’s “father” is a murderer and as proof produces a ring which he stole from the corpse in the sewers the night the barricades fell. It is Marius’ own ring and he realises it was Valjean who rescued him that night. He and Cosette leans for the first time of her own history before the old man dies, joining the spirits of Fantine, Eponine and all those who died on the barricades.