Herbert Kretzmer also adds some insight insofar as his collaboration with Fenton on honing the structure and English lyrics for the vastly rewritten LES MISERABLES 2.0, following its previous Paris version from five years earlier: "The two directors, Trevor [Nunn] and John [Caird], pressed me hard to collaborate with Fenton, but I knew I only had five months before rehearsals started: I told them that he who travels fastest travels alone Fenton's contribution remains in the architecture of the whole show. He discerned, for instance, the need for the young student Marius to express survivor guilt over the death of his friends; and I came up with the song 'Empty Chairs and Empty Tables'."
In creating the momentous Act II prayer "Bring Him Home", Kretzmer was at a loss - at first.
He remembers: "I consider myself an atheist - but you don't have to believe in what you're writing, so long as you believe with every sinew that your characters believe it: the theology in the lyrics was written with the utmost sincerity. There was one dark cloud that dogged me, though: the song sung by Valjean to the sleeping Marius at the barricades. We code-named this 'Night Thoughts' to reflect the resentment, anger and jealousy that Valjean would feel as he contemplated this usurper. Yet the music I was given was ridiculously at odds - a stately, hymn-like progression of three ascending notes. The directors came round to discuss it and, as they left at 2am, Caird said, 'Sounds like a prayer to me.' The minute he said that, every door seemed to fly open. I was freed from delving into the murkier corners of Valjean's mind and could instead give his blessing to a young couple in love. I stood for the rest of that night in my study and by 5am, 'Bring Him Home' was written - 17 days before the show opened."
For the full Guardian UK article click here.
How far LES MISERABLES has come - and, with today's announcement of a 2014 Broadway revival (it is still running in the West End as the longest-running musical there), how far it still can go!
Pat Cerasaro is a playwright and screenwriter currently in pre-production on his first feature film.|