The colour of the world is changing
Taking as their lead The Who’s Tommy, the pair set about writing their symphonic double album La Révolution Française. Much to their surprise, it was an instant hit when released in 1973. They were fielding calls from television stations that wanted visuals, prompting a makeshift shoot in which friends donned period attire sourced from costume departments. Calls to stage it as a concert followed.
Debuting at the Palais des Sports that same year, Schönberg, a gifted singer, took on the fateful role of Louis XVI. “I was decapitated 45 times,” he laughs, “and each time the guillotine came down, the crowd were cheering and there was a standing ovation.”
History then took its sweet time. “After the overnight success of La Révolution Française, nothing happened for us,” Boublil chuckles. “We went back to our offices, but the passion became an obsession.”
So much so that the day jobs had to go after another fateful trip, this time to London, where Boublil would catch producer Cameron Mackintosh’s revival of Oliver! Street urchin the Artful Dodger conjured up the image of Gavroche. “It was like a cacophony in my head,” he recalls. “I was watching Oliver! with one half of my head, and the other was already imagining Jean Valjean, Javert, Fantine, Marius and Éponine.”