Les Misérables (; French pronunciation: [le mizeʁabl(ə)]), colloquially known in English-speaking countries as Les Mis (), is a sung-through musical based on the 1862 novel of the same name by French poet and novelist Victor Hugo. The musical premiered in Paris in 1980, and has music by Claude-Michel Schönberg and original French-language lyrics by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel. An English-language libretto was written by Herbert Kretzmer. The London production has run continuously since October 1985, making it the longest-running musical in the West End and the second longest-running musical in the world after the original Off-Broadway run of The Fantasticks.
Set in early 19th-century France, Les Misérables is the story of Jean Valjean, a French peasant, and his desire for redemption after serving nineteen years in jail for having stolen a loaf of bread for his sister's starving child. Valjean decides to break his parole and start his life anew after a bishop inspires him by a tremendous act of mercy, but he is relentlessly tracked down by a police inspector named Javert. Transformed by the bishop's generosity, Valjean's restored humanity moves him to adopt the orphaned girl Cosette and makes a vow to her dying mother that he will protect her with his life. Still pursued by Javert, he must lead a cautious life in Paris. Along the way, Valjean and a slew of characters are swept into a revolutionary period in France, where a group of young idealists attempt to overthrow the government at a street barricade.