'Les Miserables': The classic tale still fascinates

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For a story of endurance, "Les Misérables" has always lived up to its theme.

Victor Hugo wrote his novel in 1862. Reviews were mixed, but it was immediately popular.

It has been adapted for at least five movies, including the 1935 version starring Fredric March as Jean Valjean and Charles Laughton as Javert, and the 1998 film with Liam Neeson as Valjean, Geoffrey Rush as Javert, Uma Thurman as Fantine and Claire Danes as the grown-up Cosette.

The musical, with a score by French composer Claude-Michel Schönberg and lyrics by Alain Boublil, opened in London in 1985. Reviews were mixed, but the show, directed by Trevor Nunn and John Caird, paid back its investors in an unusually short six months. It is still running.

The Broadway production opened in 1987. Reviews were mixed as well, but the show won eight Tonys, including one for the spinning turntable set by John Napier. The show ran from 1987 to 2003. A 2006 revival ran for about 14 months.

The musical has been translated into 21 languages, including Mauritian Creole. It has played in 42 countries and more than 300 cities and has been seen globally by more than 60 million people. There have been more than 40 cast recordings and "Forbidden Broadway," the satirical institution, has done a priceless parody of the show's plot, vertiginous turntables and extremely high vocal range.

The movie of the Broadway musical, directed by Tom Hooper, opens Tuesday, with a cast that includes Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Aaron Tveit, Samantha Barks, Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen. -- Linda Winer

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