I would like to share with you how I have come to hold "Les Misérables" in such high esteem, and point you to the official site of "Les Mis", which covers the show pictorally as well as historically.
I have always been interested in music and even back in the 60's when I was an avid collector of singles and LP's from the many super-stars of the day, I enjoyed popular classics and "musicals" both on record and film.
It was "West Side Story" then "Sound of Music" and "Oliver!" which introduced me to the musical show as such - although as a very young pre-teen, I recall going to the Gaumont with my parents to see the local operatic society perform "The Merry Widow"!
However, it wasn't until the 1980's that I had the inclination to actually book to see a live theatrical musical production in the West End. That show was "Evita" and I was immediately captivated by the sheer professionalism and vibrancy as well as the inspiring singing in that marvellous show, and I definitely wanted more.
So, on March 8th 1986 (I've still got the ticket stub!) on a day trip to London, I passed the Palace Theatre and was attracted to the signs outside imploring the public to do just about anything to get a ticket to see "Les Misérables".
I was lucky enough to be able to get a single seat for that afternoon's matinee, and ........ well, words cannot really describe the 3 hours that followed!
Every emotion possible was wrung from me - along with everyone else at that full house - as I sat there totally overwhelmed by what I was fast realising was a defining moment in my musical education. This was special, very special indeed. Three and a quarter hours later when the final notes of that very emotional Finale flowed over us all, I leapt up with everyone else to cheer and cry and give a standing ovation to what I knew was the best show I had ever seen.
I had to see the show again - and I did, two months later. I had to spread the word, and over the next few years, joined friends and relatives to rack up my attendances into double figures. On every single occasion, the performance confirmed my original thoughts that "Les Mis" was more than just a show. The magic has never wavered.
One of my ambitions was to see "Les Mis" in its home town - Paris. On 26th October 1991, I achieved that ambition when I entered "Théatre Mogador" in that lovely city and witnessed the locals give the show a standing ovation - even hats were thrown in the air!
So, where next? Well, it was promised that the 20th Anniversary Concert would be held at Wembley Stadium!!! I don't think that old relic will be in any fit state (unless a miracle happens and a new Stadium has been built - what are the odds on that?), so perhaps the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff? I hope to be wherever it is presented in 2005. Before that, a few more visits to the Palace Theatre just to top up on the emotion.
I have had the opportunity to see at least a dozen other musicals since 1985, and all have entertained me, but nothing has affected me so deeply as "Les Mis". That first ever visit to a musical back in the early 1950's to see "The Merry Widow" awakened in me a love of the genre which has culminated in "Les Misérables". I owe many things to my parents in so many respects - my discovery of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg's adaptation of the great Victor Hugo novel being just one. The many hours of enjoyment it has given me is unquestionable - "Les Misérables" has enriched my life so much.
I could easily have walked past the Palace Theatre on 8th March 1986. I am very glad I didn't.