by Colm Wilkinson
“Music expresses that which cannot be said
and on which it is impossible to be silent.”
I am delighted that Margaret Vermette has decided not to be silent and to write this wonderful book on the musical works of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg. In it she reveals the personal thoughts and work methods of these two people and their many collaborators, who together have created some of the greatest musical theatre of our time, from Les Misérables, Miss Saigon, and Martin Guerre to their new show The Pirate Queen.
As one who has to a large extent made his living in musical theatre, the book is a fascinating read; to also have been fortunate enough to be the original Jean Valjean in Les Misérables – and to have had the beautiful song “Bring Him Home” written for me – gives this book a special meaning in my life. Herb Kretzmer captured the essence of that song with his perfectly-crafted lyrics.
People often ask me did I ever tire of playing Jean Valjean, and I always try to explain that the emotional truth and honesty of Boublil and Schönberg’s music and lyrics would sweep you away, show after show, to that utterly realistic world they created of nineteenth-century Paris. You never played Valjean, you were Valjean, because that’s where their work placed you. Granted, you were physically and emotionally exhausted after the show, but very rarely during a performance.
So if you have ever wondered about the process involved in creating these great shows and finally putting them on stage, this book will take you on this often frustrating but amazingly passionate journey. Enjoy.
COLM WILKINSON created the role of Jean Valjean in Les Misérables, both in London and then on Broadway.