Originally conceived as a simple recording production, Les Miserables evolved quickly into one of the premiere theater events of the 1980s. Theatrically on par with Phantom of the Opera, Les Mis is drawn from the Victor Hugo novel of the same name. The story chronicles the life of Jean Valjean, a simple Frenchman arrested as a youth for stealing a loaf of bread. After serving five years for that crime, as well as an additional 14 for attempted escape, Valjean is released on parole. Upon changing his name and eluding his parole officer, he becomes the surrogate father of a young girl and a Mayor as the French Revolution sets in. As the war rages, he finds that he cannot change the man he is. Les Miserables is typical of theater in the '80s, with extravagant effects and large, full-cast numbers. The beautiful score is full of emotion and humor, including such memorable and noteworthy songs as "Look Down," "Do You Hear the People Sing?," "Bring Him Home," "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables," and the ubiquitous "On My Own." The original Broadway cast recording contains some very fine performances, particularly by Colm Wilkinson (as Valjean) and Frances Ruffelle (as Eponine, the waif). The vocals on this recording are heavy on character, making it an interesting and entertaining listen.
AllMusic Review by Sarah Erlewine
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2