I mentioned in CONTACT COUNTDOWN #10 that the main character in my novel CONTACT, Mira, is a fan of Broadway musicals. Her favorite happens to be Les Miserables. The record on the cover is a rare vintage LP of a unique edition of the play. She receives this gift from a special someone in the story.
The first time I saw Les Miserable was in 1989 at the Shubert Theater in Los Angeles, CA. The theater has since been torn down, but the experience is forever etched in my memory. My brothers and I sat in the nosebleed seats, so high up I couldn't even make out the actors' faces. But I was mesmerized. After writing a fan letter to the actress who played Fantine, Elinor O'Connell, I bought another ticket and returned a few weeks later alone - and in a seat just a few rows from the stage.
(Elinor O'Connell on the Late Show singing "I Dreamed a Dream"
When I returned home that night, I found that Ms. O'Connell had replied to my letter inviting me backstage the next time I came to a show. So I bought a third ticket, and had the magical experience of having a personal backstage tour of the set with Ms. O'Connell. Later, I was also her special guest at a concert she gave at a local university. I was just twenty at the time and quite starstruck. Now, 25 years later, I still have my original playbill signed by Elinor O'Connell. It is a treasure. I have seen the show many times since with many different casts, but none quite compare to that first experience at the Shubert.
If you like Les Miserables as much as Mira (and I) do, or if you've haven't yet heard the music, here are some interesting bits of trivia for you:
* The musical is based on the Victor Hugo novel, Les Miserables, first published in France in 1862.
* It was originally released as a conceptual album in French around 1980.
* The musical was first presented at the Paris Sports Arena in 1980, but closed after only three months.
* Cameron MacIntosh (producer of Cats on Broadway) was given a copy of the conceptual album and reluctantly agreed to adapt it to English. The English production opened in London in 1985.
* The initial London reviews were negative, but fans loved it. The first three months' show sold out, breaking box office records.
* The London show has run continuously from October 1985 through today.
* The Broadway production ran from 1987 through 2003, at total of 6,680 performances making it the 5th longest running Broadway show in history.
* Les Miserables won eight Tony awards.
* Oh, and last but not least, Patti LuPone originated the role of Fantine in the London production.