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After 19 years on the chain gang, Jean Valjean finds that the ticket of leave he must display, condemns him to be an outcast. Only the Bishop of Digne treats him kindly. However, Valjean, embittered by years of hardship, repays the bishop by stealing the precious silver. Valjean is caught and brought back by the police and is astonished when the Bishop lies to the police to save him. Valjean decides to start his life anew.1823, Montreuil-sur-Mer
Eight years have passed and Valjean, having broken his parole and changed his name to Monsieur Madeleine, has become a factory owner and Mayor of the town. One of his workers, Fantine, has a secret illegitimate child. When the other women discover this, they demand her dismissal. Desperate for money to pay for medicines for her daughter, Fantine sells her locket, her hair, her teeth, and then falls into the depths of despair by selling herself. Utterly degraded, she gets into a fight with a prospective customer and is about to be taken to prison by Javert when the ‘Mayor’ arrives and demands she be taken to hospital. The Mayor then rescues Fauchelevant who is pinned beneath an overturned cart. Javert is reminded of the abnormal strength of the convict Jean Valjean, who, he says, has just been recaptured. Valjean, unable to see an innocent man go to prison, confesses that he is prisoner 24601. At the hospital, Valjean promises the dying Fantine to find and look after her daughter Cosette. Immediately after Fantine's death, Javert arrives to arrest Valjean who narrowly escapes.
Cosette has been lodging with the Thénardiers, who horribly abuse her. Thenardier's daughters, Éponine and Azelma partake in Cosette's maltreatment by using her as a scapegoat and personal slave. Valjean arrives to pay the Thénardiers to let him take Cosette away as he had promised Fantine.
Nine years later, there is unrest in the city because of the likely demise of the popular leader General Lamarque, the only man left in the government who shows any feeling for the poor. A streetgang led by Thénardier, his wife and Eponine sets up to rob Jean Valjean and Cosette. Luckily Javert,arrives on the scene. He puts a stop to the theivery and is about to questions the victims when they disappear when he turns his back. Thenardier informs the inspector that the mysterious man is none other than the fugitive Jean Valjean. When asked by the student Marius, Éponine, who is secretly in love him, reluctantly agrees to help him find Cosette, with whom he has fallen in love.
As news of General Lamarque’s death circulates in the city, a group of politically-minded students stream out into the streets to whip up support for a revolution. Cosette is consumed by thoughts of Marius, with whom she has fallen in love. Éponine brings Marius to Cosette and then prevents an attempt by her father’s gang to rob Valjean’s house. Valjean, convinced it was Javert lurking outside his house, tells Cosette they must prepare to flee the country.
The students prepare to build the barricade. Marius, noticing that Éponine has joined the insurrection, sends her away with a letter to Cosette, which is intercepted by Valjean. Éponine decides to rejoin her love at the barricade.
The barricade is built and the revolutionaries defy an army warning to give up or die. Javert is exposed as a police spy. In trying to return to the barricade, Éponine is killed.
Valjean arrives at the barricade in search of Marius. He is given the chance to kill Javert but instead lets him go. The students settle down for a night on the barricade and, in the quiet of the night, Valjean prays to God to save Marius. The next day the rebels are all killed.
Valjean escapes into the sewers with the unconscious Marius. After meeting Thénardier, who is robbing the corpses of the rebels, he comes across Javert once more. He pleads for time to deliver the young man to hospital. Javert lets Valjean go and, his unbending principles of justice having been shattered by Valjean’s own mercy, he kills himself.
Unaware of the identity of his rescuer, Marius recovers in Cosette’s care. Valjean confesses the truth of his past to Marius and insists he must go away.
At Marius and Cosette’s wedding, the Thénardiers try to blackmail Marius. Thénardier says Cosette’s ‘father’ is a murderer and as proof produces a ring, which he stole from the corpse the night the barricade fell. It is Marius’s own ring and he realizes it was Valjean who rescued him that night. He and Cosette go to Valjean, where Cosette learns for the first time of her own history before the old man dies.
Mackintosh, Cameron. “About the Show: Act One.” Lesmis.com. ©2011 Cameron Mackintosh Overseas Limited, n.d. Web. 23 Apr 2011. http://www.lesmis.com/about/the-story-act-1/
Mackintosh, Cameron. “About the Show: Act Two.” Lesmis.com. ©2011 Cameron Mackintosh Overseas Limited, n.d. Web. 23 Apr 2011. http://www.lesmis.com/about/the-story-act-2/