Almost from it's very first opening night 25 years ago, Les Misérables was a music theater classic.
The tale of struggle and moral certitude versus moral shading, set against the layers and dynamics of the French Revolution, has been seen world wide by 60 million people, in 42 countries and 21 languages.
So, after 25 years, why change a proven theatrical powerhouse?
"I couldn't really imagine taking a show like Les Misérables and re-thinking it. It's legendary, and it's a bible and you feel like the audience more than anyone are the ones that are going to tear you apart," according to director Laurence Connor.
But just the opposite is happening, and for the cast of this first re-tooled version of the classic? It is, as perhaps always is for actors, about the story.
"The story of redemption and the story of grace," according to actor J. Mark McVey, who is playing "Jean Valjean." "The weight comes along with it."
And for Mark McVey there is the added challenge of one of the show stopping numbers that he must deliver, night after night, pitch perfect, halfway through the show.
"If it comes from the right place, then it makes it a bit easier to sing," according to McVey.
For the man playing "Javert" the nemesis, the challenge was seeing the man differently, giving him a new perspective. Not as a judgmental foe, but as a law man, bound by the law.
"I welcome the opportunity for comparison. I like what I do. I like what I'm doing with it," says actor Andrew Varela, who plays "Javert"
And "Eponine" is a role Chasten Harmon dared not dream she could ever play.
"Color blind casting, man. It's great, isn't it? People always ask me what my dream role is? This is my dream role," according to actress Chasten Harmon, who plays "Eponine"
She hopes she is an inspiration to young African American girls, and she says she knows just how to play this part.
"The character, she really is a 13-year-old child. The song is life's not fair," says Harmon.
Les Misérables is selling out at a pace that even the people at the Ahmanson Theatre admit is astounding.
The play opens Friday, June 17th and will run through July 31st, 2011. For ticket information go to the Ahmanson Theatre's website.