Les Misérables

Les Misérables

A musical by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg,
Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer

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MAY 3 TO JUNE 1, 2013


7:30 p.m. Monday – Thursday Evenings
8:00 p.m. Friday & Saturday Evenings
2:00 p.m. Saturday Matinees



It is an enormous pleasure to return to PTC and once again direct Les Misérables alongside Karen Azenberg, with whom I had the pleasure of collaborating six years ago on PTC’s production of this amazing piece of musical theatre. One of the great joys of this incredible play is the fact that it translates the heart of Victor Hugo’s original novel so faithfully. Graham Robb, in his biography of Hugo, writes:

Les Misérables etches Hugo’s view of the world so deeply in the mind that it is impossible to be the same person after reading it – not just because it takes a noticeable percentage of one’s life to read it. The key to its effect lies in Hugo’s use of a sporadically omniscient narrator … a narrator who can best be described as God masquerading as a law-abiding bourgeois. In this way two points of view are constantly in play: society’s disgust and God’s pity.”

And Hugo in his preface to his masterpiece states:

“So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilization, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine, with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age: the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of woman by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night, are not yet solved; as long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless.”

Clearly, Hugo’s intent is to make a grand moral, ethical, social, political and spiritual statement. He does so however, by hanging those thematic elements on a series of immensely compelling and moving human stories. Towering above all the plot threads is the story of Jean Valjean’s journey towards grace and the intersecting arc of Javert’s journey to self-knowledge and ultimate inability to accept grace. In addition, it is the story of the Thénardiers’ rapacious attempts to control the world around them by denying the possibility of grace. It is the story of Fantine’s sacrifice, Marius and Cosette’s journey towards love, Enjolras’ and the student revolutionaries’ idealistic and ultimately futile attempt to change the world. It is these human stories, of course, that are the “stuff” of this musical play. But it is virtually impossible to consider this play without confronting head-on its deep and abiding sense of the spiritual. Trevor Nunn, the musical’s original director, wrote very astutely about the spiritual aspect of the novel that he wanted to ensure was explicit in the English language re-write of Boublil and Schönberg’s original French work: “Javert is someone who believes in a vengeful Old Testament God who will bring down plague and pestilence on all those who disobey the law; Valjean, in the light of his own experiences, has come to believe in redemption and that justice can exist in our world; Thénardier not only believes that God is dead but that he died a long time ago…”

The power of the musical Les Misérables lives in the fact that the authors were scrupulously faithful to Hugo’s vision of a spiritual humanism. It is not a vision rooted in creed or sect. In fact, at the time of his death the French Parliament rushed through a decree restoring the Panthéon from a Church to a secular building to house the “great atheist.” Hugo violently rejected all organized religion and on his deathbed his heirs specifically refused the Arch Bishop of Paris’ offer of last rites. The words of Hugo’s Will had become public knowledge: “I shall close my terrestrial eye, but my spiritual eye will remain open, wider than ever. I reject the prayers of all churches. I ask for a prayer from every soul.”                                                                                                                                                                                        —Director Charles Morey

This production is sponsored by:

Richard K. and Shirley S. Hemingway Foundation

The Ray, Quinney and Nebeker Foundation

The S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney Foundation