Book by Alain Boublil
Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg
Based on the novel by Victor Hugo
LES MISÉRABLES: SCHOOL EDITION tells the story of the musical epic LES MISÉRABLES in a form that’s more producible and accessible for high school students and audiences. MTI worked with producer Cameron Mackintosh to adapt the show to “meet the needs of the educational theater market.” Some of these adaptations include cutting the running time down to just over two hours, slightly altering the score to accommodate younger voices, and creating a study guide and director’s guide to facilitate high school productions that maintain the integrity of this classic musical. The director’s guide that comes along with LES MISÉRABLES: SCHOOL EDITION is a wealth of information for new and experienced directors alike. For those who have never directed a show of this scale before the guide walks you through every step from how to encourage boys to audition and rehearsal warm-ups to costume and lighting ideas and suggesting you set aside time for yourself following the production. Every page of the script has notes about staging, transitions, and common pitfalls.
For those unfamiliar with the story of LES MISÉRABLES, a full synopsis can be found on the MTI LES MISÉRABLES: SCHOOL EDITION show page here. It is a story of redemption, compassion, and love. To quote the LES MISÉRABLES: SCHOOL EDITION director’s guide, “the essence of LES MISÉRABLES is a universal truth: “To love another person is to see the face of God” and this message requires very little in production value to connect with cast, crew and audience.”
The universal concepts and rich characters of LES MISÉRABLES: SCHOOL EDITION make it a great show to do at any time, which is why the story has become a classic in both Hugo’s novel and the musical adaptation. It connects wonderfully to both literature and world history curricula. Students reading Hugo’s novel may find it challenging, but being able to watch, interact, and relate to the story through the musical will make the novel more exciting. Likewise, learning about French history may seem distant to students, but bringing it to life on stage instantly makes it more interesting. Musical numbers such as “The People’s Song” and “One Day More” make the causes behind and the implications of revolution far more engaging.
Enhanced Study Guide
The Enhanced Study Guide that comes along with the LES MISÉRABLES: SCHOOL EDITION has question and discussion guides that address the many themes present in the show. There are writing projects that ask students to consider issues of prejudice, Hugo’s view of human nature, crime and punishment, and how we deal with tragedy. Students are also asked to consider the historical context of the piece by examining what was going on in the United States during the same time period, as well as considering how the themes of the musical relate to the present day.
There are many things for students to consider when looking at this last question. The study guide asks them to think about living conditions of the poor and the presence of homelessness in French society in the early 1800s. These issues are similarly, unfortunately, a prevalent problem that needs to be solved in our modern world. The numbers of people living in poverty or who are homeless in America alone is horrifying, let alone the world as a whole, and the generation that is currently in high school will have to tackle solutions to these issues. Learning to humanize those who are suffering is an important component of finding these solutions, and that is exactly one of the things LES MISÉRABLES: SCHOOL EDITION teaches students to do.
The central theme of LES MISÉRABLES: SCHOOL EDITION has to do with love. Jean Valjean’s love for Cosette and sense of duty to keep his promise to Fontine, the love between Cosette and Marius, and Eponine’s love for Marius all represent common types of relationships. These are also the kinds of relationships that many high schoolers are trying to navigate – relationships with parents, intense romantic relationships with each other, and of course unrequited love. Songs such as “A Heart Full of Love” and “On My Own” get to the essence of these feelings and are part of what make the show so exciting for audiences and actors alike. MTI’s LES MISÉRABLES: SCHOOL EDITION makes all the wonderful music, themes, and characters available to a wide range of high school drama programs.
To get information about licensing or to hear SOUND CLIPS from the show, click here.
To see PHOTOS or get information about COMMUNITY RELATED RENTALS for the show click here to visit MTI Showspace.
About Ella Rose Chary
EllaRC is a bookwriter/lyricist and musical theatre lover. She’s a new contributor to MTI Marquee – add her as a friend on MTI Showspace or check out her musical theatre and social justice blog, Stageleft.