On this day in 1986, the musical “Les Miserables” opened at the John F. Kennedy Perform for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The eight-week run was the U.S. debut of the most popular musical of all time.
The initial French concept version of the musical ran in Paris in 1980. It was then expanded and reworked for English-language audiences and opened in London in October of 1985. By the end of the 1986, the musical was ready for its U.S. debut.
To ensure that it would work on Broadway, the show was “tried out” at the Kennedy Center. The production ended there on February 14, 1987, and opened at The Broadway Theatre in New York on March 12. The show won the Tony Award that year for Best Musical.
“Les Miserables” played on Broadway for 17 years and through touring companies, has played in every major city in the world. Its popularity amongst theater and non-theater aficionados is unprecedented.