Less than two months ago the Broadway production of Les Misérables reached a theatrical milestone as it surpassed the performance count of the legendary A Chorus Line. The long-running musical will etch another mark in history March 12 as it reaches its 15th year of performances.
Librettist-lyricist Alain Boublil and composer Claude Michel Schönberg's Les Misérables (which has English lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer) opened on Broadway March 12, 1987. It almost swept the musical categories of the Tony Awards winning Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book, Featured Actor for Michael Maguire, Featured Actress for Frances Ruffelle, Best Director for Trevor Nunn and John Caird, as well as Best Scenic and Lighting Design.
(To reference the time Les Misérables opened, the cost of a first-class stamp was 22 cents, current movies were "Moonstruck" and "Fatal Attraction," with "Platoon" winning the Academy Award for Best Picture, Coach Bill Parcels lead the New York Giants to victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXI, the Grammys' Song of the Year went to "That's What Friends Are For" while the Record of the Year went to Steve Winwood's "Higher Love," August Wilson won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Fences, and President Ronald Reagan, Vice President George Bush and Oliver North, Jr. made headlines with the Iran-Contra Affair.)
A Chorus Line played 6,137 performances. The 6,138th performance of Les Miz Jan. 25 made the pop-operatic show the second-longest running play or musical in Broadway history, behind Cats (which Cameron Mackintosh also produced, and Trevor Nunn also directed). Les Miz is currently at performance No. 6,190.
* Inspired by the 19th-century Victor Hugo novel about guilt, forgiveness and orphans emotional, literal and spiritual (to say nothing of that student uprising in Paris, where insurgents sing on a barricade), the musical is one of the great international successes of all time. It began in France, was retooled by British producer Mackintosh and an English creative team working with Schönberg and Boublil, and began is smash history in London in 1985 prior to a Broadway bow.
The pop-operatic Les Miz — with ex-con Jean Valjean pitted against pious Inspector Javert — opened at the Broadway Theatre and later moved to the current Imperial. The show has been seen by 8.5 million people in New York City. Worldwide, its audience counts about 45 million. The box office gross has been $1.8 billion.There have been 43 productions of Les Miz in 33 countries, in 20 different languages. The original cast included Colm Wilkinson, Frances Ruffelle, Randy Graff, Terrence Mann, Michael Maguire and Judy Kuhn.
The current cast of Les Miz includes Ivan Rutherford (Jean Valjean), Philip Hernandez (Javert), Jacquelyn Piro (Fantine), Nick Wyman (Thénardier), Betsy Joslyn (Madame Thénardier), Peter Lockyer (Marius), Diana Kaarina (Eponine), Sandra Turley (Cosette) and Christopher Mark Peterson (Enjolras).
Les Miz plays 8 PM Monday-Saturday, and 2 PM Wednesday and Saturday. Tickets range $20-$85. For information, call (212) 239-6200.
There are currently eight productions around the world: London, New York, The U.S. National Tour, Budapest (Hungary), Tokyo (Japan, in repertory), Bonn (Germany), Sao Paolo (Brazil) and Chemnitz (Germany).
Noted alumni include Michael Ball (Marius), Gary Beach (Thénardier), Laurie Beechman (Fantine), Lacey Chabert (Young Cosette), Robert Cuccioli (Javert), Daisy Eagan (Young Cosette), Deborah Gibson (Eponine), Randy Graff (Fantine), Ruthie Henshall (Fantine), Catherine Hickland (Fantine), Judy Kuhn (Cosette), Patti LuPone (Fantine), Terrence Mann (Javert), Ricky Martin (Marius), Andrea McArdle (Eponine/Fantine), Melba Moore (Fantine), Gary Morris (Valjean), Hugh Panaro (Marius), Nathalie Paulding (Young Cosette), Frances Ruffelle (Eponine), Lea Salonga (Eponine), Marla Schaffel (Ensemble), Shanice (Eponine), Alice Ripley (Fantine), Rachel York (Fantine) and Colm Wilkinson (Valjean).