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[Opinion] Goodbye Cosette

Posted May. 20, 2003 22:25,   


Musical `Big Four`, currently the most popular musicals in the world, are `Cats,` `Les Miserable,` `Phantom of the Opera` and `Miss Sigon.` The common denominator of the four musical hits sweeping across Broadway is the fact that they were originally made in Britain and exported to the U.S. Without Cameren Mckintosh, a British producer called `the Emperor of Musicals,` there would be no success story for British musicals. All of the big fours are in fact produced by Mckintosh. Breaking into the Chinese market ambitiously last year, the emperor took his bet on `Les Miserable.` He thought the story about `the miserable` would appeal to people living in the socialist country.

What is intriguing is the triangle relationship centering on the musical, which is based on the novel written by French Victor Hugo, made by English producer and staged on Broadway theaters. Les Miserable has reaped $1.8 billion so far in ticket sales, which is less than $2.2 billion recorded by Cats but still an impressive figure. Hugo himself once said, ˝Humans are the miserable in the world of civilization. They moan and anguish.˝ The writer revealed his pessimistic view through two main characters Jean Valjean and Cosette, giving a look into the French philosophical thinking. Brits, like their great ancestor Shakespeare, then put dramatic and lyric touch on the work and Americans sold well the musical version, which has now become one of the great 20th Century stage works.

The most impressive part of the musical is the story about Cosette and Eponine, who fall in love with the same man. Cosette, a poor child abused by a horrible couple, is saved by Jean Valjean and grows into a beautiful woman. In the end, she wins Marius` heart, while Eponine, daughter of the couple, joins the revolution army and dies tragically. Watching the two miserable girls, the audience is divided into two – those rooting for Cosette and those for Eponine. Eponine sings a song entitled `My Love`, touching the hearts of people who have been in love before.

The musical, which made its first Broadway debut in 1987, has recently drawn its final curtain. Although they cite the Sept. 11 attacks as the reason, everything in the world is made to face a time to go. The musical must be a happy work, however, since it drew some 50 million in the world and touched their hearts as deeply as the original book did. Korean `Nanta` is set to make its Broadway debut in the coming September, and we wonder the show will be able to become the first Korean success in Broadway.

Hong Chan-shik, Editorial Writer, chansik@donga.com