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Les Misérables Schools Edition

January 12, 2011

Watching the “Les Misérables at 25” documentary over the break, it got me thinking about the impact it has had on so many people. What surprised me, though, was that despite having a ‘schools’ version of the show, nobody thought to tackle the actual school days of the original characters and how they came to be what they are… until now…

Following an after-school detention, prefect Javert warns young Valjean that he’s got an eye on him. Valjean vows to do better, and one night borrows the Putnam County Spelling Bee Cup from the school trophy to try and impress his parents. Javert finds out and hauls him in front of the headmaster. Dr Arnold, the Head, doesn’t like sneaks, and ‘reminds’ young Valjean that he forgot to also take home the Mrs Joyful Prize for Raffia Work as well. Javert storms out and the head tells Valjean to get involved more in school life.

Valjean starts a school glee club, and recruits Fantine to it. A rumoured pregnancy means that Fantine has to leave the glee club, and she ends up among the bitchy and immoral Cheerios – the school cheering squad. A few days later, and shocked that he allowed rumour to sway him, Valjean promises Fantine that he’ll sort things out for her baby sister Cosette, who is being bullied by evil tuck-shop prefects Thernardier and Thernardier’s twin sister. Fantine is so grateful that she forgets to duck while cheering at a school Quidditch game and ends up hospitalised by a flying bludger.

Valjean does keep an eye on Cosette, but can’t stop her falling for the charms of Marius, whom she meets one day in the lunch line. Javert hassles all three of them, but can’t get close as annoying new-bugs Gavroche and Eponine (who happens to be Tuck shop Thernardier twins’ little sister) have crushes on Cosette and Marius and keep warning them of his approach.

Meanwhile, the school uniform is horrible, and a gang of kids calling themselves the ‘school council’ plan a demonstration about it.

The following week, they barricade themselves in the canteen, and after Javert fails to disguise himself as a dinner lady to hear their plans, a massive song and dance number about the benefits of a “Hot Lunch” breaks out. This is followed by an even larger food fight. Hit by a particularly stale cream bun, Eponine is first to go down, admitting that “a little splash of custard, can hardly hurt me now.” The students spend a  rowdy night holed up with a few bottles of ‘White Lightning’ cider “Soaring / Flying” before battle re-commences next day.

One by one, the other students fall under a barrage of tapioca pud, bullet peas and over-cooked liver, Gavroche being taken down by a particularly unyielding school sausage to the back of the head. Only Marius is left, and Valjean finds him twitching uncontrollably under the remains of a vat of semolina. Carrying him through the disgustingly smoky chemistry labs to safety as the headmaster finally breaches the line, Valjean drops his homework diary. Thernardier, who’d been going through the laboratory coats in the store room, finds it…

Disgusted at not being able to stop the trouble, Javert throws his prefect badge into the school lake and storms off to join the police cadets. Marius recovers slowly, and sadly cleans up the mess alone – musing at having to put those empty chairs up on empty tables at the end of the day now his friends are all suspended over the riot.

At the end of year school prom, Marius and Cosette are voted prom king and queen. Thernardier, whose plan to cover them in a bucket of pig blood was foiled by Gavroche shortly before his untimely exit, offers Marius a used homework diary – cheap.

Marius realises it was Valjean who carried him to safety. He searches for Valjean, and finds him alone in Sooty Sutcliffe’s classroom writing his last English essay before graduation. Marius thinks he sees Fantine and Eponine floating around in the classroom too, but it turns out to be just their yearbook photographs being projected onto the whiteboard.

Valjean sees Marius and re-joins the crowd at the prom, until they hear the schoolbell ring and they get into a white convertible car that flies them off into the pink clouds at the end of the day.

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