Lights up on a chain gang in early 19th Century France. The men do hard
labor. One prisoner, referred to as 'number 24601,' appears. His name is Jean
Valjean and was imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread for his sister’s
starving child. His time is finally up and he is being released but Javert, an
overzealous policeman, reminds him he will always be a sinner. Because he is
branded as a former prisoner, it is impossible for Valjean to find work.
Starving again, he is taken in by a bishop and fed; however, he flees in the
night, stealing some expensive silver. The bishop, learning his plight, tells
the police that he gave Valjean the silver. The bishop has bought Valjean’s
soul for God, and Valjean vows to be a good citizen (“Prologue”).
Seven years later,
the poor of France are starving and desperate. Inside a factory at Montreuil, a
group of women are desperate to hold on to their jobs. A young woman, Fantine,
will not respond to the foreman’s sexual advances. The other women discover she
has a daughter out of wedlock who lives with an innkeeper in the country, and
worry that Fantine’s trouble will become their trouble. A fight breaks out and
the mayor and factory owner – Valjean in disguise – instructs the foreman to
sort it out. He unfairly fires Fantine (“At The End Of The Day”). Desperate and
alone, Fantine remembers her summer of love and the man who broke his promises
that brought her to this point in life (“I Dreamed A Dream”).
herself in the red-light district, surrounded by sailors and whores. She tries
to sell her last possessions so that she may have money for her daughter,
Cosette, to see a doctor. The Madame she sells to, however, will not give her a
price. Fantine is forced to sell her hair and then finally herself. However,
when the time comes, she cannot bring herself to it and gets into a fight with
the gentleman. Javert appears and arrests Fantine, showing her no mercy.
Valjean sees her and recognizes that her misfortune is partially his doing. He
has her taken to the hospital (“The Docks”).
Next, a cart
crashes and Valjean inexplicably lifts so that the man trapped underneath is
pulled clear. Javert recognizes Valjean’s strength as being similar to a
prisoner he knew many years ago, but assures Valjean that the man has been
recaptured and awaits trial ("Cart Crash"). Valjean wrestles with a
moral dilemma – if he lets the other man take the fall for him, he will finally
be free and the factory workers dependent on him will be taken care of;
however, he also will be damned and will have reneged on his promised life for
God. He decides he cannot stay silent and goes to the court, announcing his
identity and then rushing away to Fantine's hospital (“Who Am I?").
At the hospital,
Fantine is in a delirium and Valjean promises to adopt Cosette as Fatine takes
her final breath (“Fantine’s Death”). Javert finds Valjean in the hospital, and
again shows no mercy despite Valjean trying to explain he must rescue the
child. Javert believes that any man who is a sinner will always be a sinner.
The two men fight, and Valjean manages escapes.
Miles away, at an
Inn, Cosette dreams of a happier life ("Castle On A Cloud”). The greedy
and evil Mme. Thenardier, the innkeeper’s wife, interrupts her wistful fantasy.
The Thenardier’s young daughter, Eponine is there as well. Mme. sends Cosette
out into the dark to the well against Cosette's protests ("Little
Cosette"). While the inn fills with patrons, Thenardier revels with the
patrons. As they get drunker and drunker, the host enumerates the many ways he
cuts corners and takes advantage of his customers (“The Innkeeper’s Song”).
Valjean meets young Cosette wandering in the woods and brings her back to the
inn. He haggles with the Thenardiers over their darling Cosette and the couple
finally settles on a price and turns the child over to Valjean (“The
Ten years pass
and we find ourselves in the teeming, squalid streets of Paris. The beggars,
led by a young boy named Gavroche, continue to suffer. Everyone is on edge
(“The Beggars”). In their midst comes the young revolutionary Marius and his
friend Enjolras; they seek justice from the powers in France. Only one
politician cares for the poor: LeMarque. He is on his deathbed. The students
plan to use his death as a catalyst for revolution. Thenardier, no longer an
innkeeper, leads a gang of criminals on the street corner. Eponine, now all
grown up, is torn between loyalty towards her father & mother and her
attraction to old friend Marius. Suddenly, Valjean and Cosette appear; Thenardier
recognizes Valjean and asks for money. They scuffle and Valjean's shirt is
ripped open showing his tattoo. Javert, not recognizing Valjean, tells him to
be careful on the street (“The Robbery”). He turns to find that Valjean and
Cosette, who had run into Marius, have disappeared. Thenardier tells Javert
about the brand on the stranger’s chest and Javert wonders if it could be the
man he has been seeking all these years. Javert, the obsessed lawman, swears
that he will never rest until Valjean is behind bars (“Stars”).
meets Eponine to ask her to find the young girl with whom he had met earlier.
Eponine then remembers her childhood with Cosette but refuses to mention
anything. Out of her love for Marius, she eventually agrees to help him.
At a neighboring
inn, revolutionary men talk of their plans and tease Marius about his falling
in love for the first time. They prepare for their student revolution (“The ABC
Café”). Barricades will rise and they will take to the streets, and all will
come when called. As they cheer, Gavroche rushes in to inform them that
LeMarque has passed. Enjolras, recognizing the sign to begin, leads the group
in a rousing cry to action (“The People’s Song”).
Later, on the Rue
Plumet, Cosette contemplates her past life, which she cannot seem to remember,
and all of her father’s secrets (“Rue Plumet”). Eponine leads Marius to the
street and her home. She tells of her unrequited love for Marius who exchanges
affectionate words with Cosette (“A Heart Full Of Love”). Suddenly, one of
Thenardier's men come to rob the house of Valjean, but Eponine vows to protect
Marius instead of helping her father. When her father refuses to be dissuaded,
she screams and the robbers make for the sewers in order to escape (“The Attack
On Rue Plumet”). Marius thanks Eponine for saving them and rather than
betraying Eponine, Cosette tells her father it was she who screamed because of
a mysterious man at the gate who ran away. Valjean now mistakenly fears the men
who were lurking in the street were with Javert. He plans to flee from France
with Cosette in order to escape Javert. Marius is heartbroken at the thought of
losing his love, as his compatriots prepare for battle (“One Day More”).
A barricade is being built in the streets of Paris. Marius sees Eponine
and asks her to deliver a letter to Cosette; she agrees, though it breaks her
heart. On the Rue Plumet, Eponine meets Valjean and gives him the letter
(“Building the Barricade”). He realizes that Marius is in love with Cosette and
quickly exits. All alone in the city streets, Eponine laments the intensity of
her feelings for Marius, who does not return her affection (“On My Own”).
The barricade has
been completed and even though the revolutionaries will get no official help,
they believe that the people will rise to throw off their yoke of tyranny.
Javert climbs the barricade, tells them of the enemies' plans and is called a
liar by Gavroche who knows the truth. Javert is tied up and is to be taken to a
people's court, which he renounces (“Javert At The Barricade”). Eponine,
fatally wounded, climbs the barricade and dies in Marius' arms, as he weeps and
tells her of his deep love and admiration ("A Little Fall Of Rain").
Valjean then arrives to help and protect Marius, unbeknownst to him.
There is an
attack and Valjean helps the students. Enjolras thanks him and they officially
welcome him (“The First Attack”). Because of this, Enjolras gives Valjean the
opportunity to take care of Javer. Valjean, however, shows mercy and cuts his
bonds urging him to flee before the others find out. Javert tells Valjean even
if he is freed he will continue to try to ensnare Valjean. Valjean tells the
policeman he is free with no conditions and if they survive he can find him on
Rue Plumet. Javert leaves, his faith shaken.
Later that night,
the men drink and reflect on the situation. Valjean watches over Marius and
hopes that he will survive the battle for Cosette’s sake (“Night”). The second
attack begins. Marius and Valjean argue as to whom will climb the barricade to
pick up desperately needed ammunition from the corpses in the street. While
they argue, Gavroche climbs the barricade in defiance and is shot to death
(“The Second Attack”).
The final battle
begins, the revolutionaries refuse to give up, and all are killed (“The Final
Battle”). The only survivors are Valjean and a seriously wounded Marius. More
determined than ever, Valjean carries Marius into the sewers. They come across
Thenardier, who is looting from the corpses. Valjean collapses with exhaustion
and Thenardier steals Marius’ ring from the unconscious man's finger (“Dog Eat
Dog”). When he recognizes Valjean, Thenardier flees. A revived Valjean, still
carrying the body of Marius, continues his journey through the sewers. As they
emerge from, they meet Javert. Valjean pleads with Javert that he must save the
boy's life and that in one hour he will be Javert's prisoner. Javert lets him
go and wanders to a bridge in shock as he tries to reconcile Valjean's letting
him go free when he could have taken his revenge. His world is totally shaken
and he decides to commit suicide by throwing himself into the river (“Javert’s
later. Marius, although delusional and haunted by the ghosts of his dead
friends, is slowly recovering (“Café Song”). Encouraged by Cosette, he becomes
stronger and stronger. The young lovers proclaim their feelings for one another
and Marius acknowledges his debt to Valjean. With Cosette out of the room,
Valjean reveals his plans of leaving forever but not before he tells Marius of
his past crime, punishment, and breaking of parole. He insists he must leave in
order to protect Cosette from his dark past (“Marius and Cosette”).
Now at Marius and
Cosette’s wedding, the Thenadiers -- disguised as Baron and Baroness de Thenard
-- arrive. Posing as nobility, they refuse to leave and for a small price, they
will reveal who saved him the night the barricade fell. When a ring is
revealed, Marius informs Cosette that Valjean is his savior; they must go see
him. The Thenadiers stay behind and celebrate with stolen silver (“The
We transition to
Valjean, alone in his room, waiting to die. The spirit of Fantine appears to
tell him that because he fulfilled his promise by raising Cosette, he will
finally be with God. Marius and Cosette then enter and Marius thanks Valjean
for saving his life. Valjean gives Cosette his last confession: the story of
those who loved her. The ghosts of Fantine and Eponine take Valjean to his
glory while Valjean reminds Cosette that love is of highest importance and they
will all be free when 'tomorrow' comes (“Epilogue”).