Release date: 1987.
Type: Broadway musical.
This recording captures the 1985 London cast that transformed an obscure French musical based on Victor Hugo's gargantuan novel of pre-Revolutionary France into a worldwide phenomenon throughout the late-'80s and '90s and became one of the best examples of the era's trend of blockbuster musical spectacles. Yes, Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schoenberg's score tends to recycle its themes, but the beautiful melodies and stirring anthems rarely fail to captivate and touch its audience. Colm Wilkinson is the heroic Valjean, Patti LuPone is the tragic Fantine, Michael Ball is the love-struck Marius, and Frances Ruffelle is the despondent Eponine, with Roger Allam (Javert), Alun Armstrong and Sue Jane Tanner (the Thenardiers), Rebecca Caine (older Cosette), and David Burt (Enjolras) filling out the excellent cast. Fans will want to take note that this recording includes some material that was revised when the show crossed the pond to Broadway--"Little People" was lost altogether, while the "Love Montage" was significantly rewritten. Les Miserables sounds especially vivid in its 1998 remastering, and a synopsis and full lyrics are included.