On Oct. 8, the London production of the Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg musical, produced by Cameron Mackintosh, celebrates it 21st birthday, matching the length that Cats ran in London. Cats closed on the 21st anniversary of its opening — May 11, 2002.
Les Miz is now billed as the longest-running musical in West End or Broadway history.
The London Les Miz run is three years longer than Broadway's current record-holder The Phantom of the Opera.
The Victor Hugo-inspired show, which opened in London on Oct. 8, 1985, is also the longest-running (currently-running) musical in the world, having played for 1,092 consecutive weeks. The original run of The Fantasticks, of course, ran 41 years Off-Broadway before closing in 2002. (A revival is now playing in New York.)
Across the pond, on Broadway, a new American company is in rehearsal toward an Oct. 24 first preview at the Broadhurst Theatre. Opening night is Nov. 9. For the new Broadway production, an extreme makeover is not planned, but, according to the production office, there are new orchestrations, some scenic changes, costume changes, lighting changes and sound changes.
"While not in any way a radical re-staging, every creative component is being looked at with fresh eyes," a spokesman told Playbill.com.
The new Broadway cast of Les Miz will feature Alexander Gemignani (Valjean), Norm Lewis (Javert), Gary Beach (Thenardier), Daphne Rubin Vega (Fantine), Jenny Galloway (Madame Thenardier), Celia Keenan-Bolger (Eponine), Aaron Lazar (Enjolras), Adam Jacobs (Marius) and Ali Ewoldt (Cosette).
The London production's 21st birthday and record-breaking will be celebrated on the evening of Oct. 7 with a specially devised finale at the Queen's Theatre, including special appearances from original cast members Colm Wilkinson, Patti LuPone, Frances Ruffelle and Michael Ball, with the baton being passed from Cats to Les Miz. The two shows shared many of the same creators: producer Mackintosh, director Trevor Nunn and designers John Napier and David Hersey.
The celebration continues on Oct. 8 when BBC Radio 2 will air a specially edited version of the show featuring the current London cast performing with the BBC Concert Orchestra.
Les Misérables was first presented by Cameron Mackintosh and The Royal Shakespeare Company at the Barbican Theatre in October 1985. The musical transferred to the West End's Palace Theatre later that year, where it played for 19 years. Les Miz transferred to the Queen's Theatre in April 2004, where it continues today.
The musical is by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg, based on the novel by Victor Hugo. It features music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer, with original French text by Alain Boublil & Jean-Marc Natel and additional material by James Fenton. Les Miz is directed by John Caird and Trevor Nunn.