'Les Miserables' standout 'I Dreamed a Dream': The history of this sob-inducing song in 4 great versions

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In 1985, theater producer Cameron Mackintosh brought Les Miz to London, now with English lyrics (courtesy of Herbert Kretzmer) and Broadway star Patti LuPone in the Fantine role. LuPone says that at first she didn’t quite grasp the song’s power. “When I started working on ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ with Claude-Michel and Alain — I’m not the type of person who has an immediate response,” says LuPone. “I’m a truly an organic actor singer, and it takes a while for it to get into my body, to know whether it’s a good song. When you’re in rehearsal, you’re rehearsing. Then all of a sudden you’re in performance, and then you understand what the effect is of the song. A stage actor performs for an audience. Your performance is only half done until an audience gets in and informs the rest of the performance. The first night of the very first preview was something that I will never forget, because the audience stood up [at the end of the show] and was screaming ‘bravo!’ and clapping with their hands above their heads. We all discovered the power of this piece in the playing of it.”

Below, check out LuPone’s version from the first English-language production of Les Miz.

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