When looking at both a musical adaptation and its source material, I try to let each be its own thing, to not judge them by each other’s standards, but look at how they coexist. This is typically easier if I am familiar with the musical first, since I usually already have affection for it, and source material is rarely expected to “live up” to what has been created from it, unlike the other way around. For the past few months, I have been very slowly making my way through Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables,” the thousand-plus page novel that is the basis for one of the most beloved pieces in the history of musical theatre.
For the most part, I have been impressed and amused seeing how the writers of the musical (Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg, Jean-Marc Natel, Herbert Kretzmer, Trevor Nunn, John Caird, and James Fenton) condensed and streamlined the massive story. Two characters, though, have stuck out to me as having made unnecessarily imperfect translations to the stage. I believe the musical version of “Les Mis” would be better if Javert and Éponine’s big numbers were cut.Read More