In the late 1990s, Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil were on the precipice of wearing the triple crown. Their first collaboration, Les Misérables, became a worldwide sensation after its premiere in 1985; their next show, Miss Saigon, broke ticket sale records in both London and New York. In 1995, they announced their third project, a modern operetta based on a famous French case of identity theft. Titled Martin Guerre, the protagonist was not unlike Les Misérables Jean Valjean, and the doomed romance at the center echoed that of Kim and Chris in Miss Saigon.
By relying on the tropes that had launched them to success in the first place, it seemed that Schönberg and Boublil were positioned to achieve an unprecedented third smash hit. Instead, what resulted was a musical that has gone through two decades of rewrites and abandoned productions. Twenty-five years ago today, the first revision opened on the West End and one question still remains: What went wrong?