Theater: An Epic of the Downtrodden

Les Miserables sets Broadway sales records -- and deserves to

From the bitter opening invocation "Look down, look down," intoned by prisoners in a dungeon, to the anthemic rallying cry "When tomorrow comes," sung at the finale by the spectral dead of revolutionary 19th century Paris, the musical version of Victor Hugo's epic novel Les Miserables is a melodrama inflamed with outrage. Its politics always matter more than its love stories. Many of its principals die in violence or grief, but the most unprincipled of them endure and thrive. Like Nicholas Nickleby, staged largely by the same team, Les Miserables denies itself the indulgence of even a muted happy - ending:...