Doubtless there were some sore feet in the Broadway company of Les Miserables the weekend of Oct. 23 following a rehearsal to re-choreograph the long-running musical's sumptuous, second-act wedding sequence.
In an ongoing effort to refresh the 11-year-old musical, producer Cameron Mackintosh and resident director Ron LaRosa brought the show's original "stage movement" director, Kate Flatt, in from London to reconsider the wedding. The waltzy wedding reception in Act Two had already been restaged in the London production, La Rosa said.
LaRosa called Flatt "the original stager of all of the movement" in Les Miz. There is no choreography credit in the Broadway Playbill of the hit musical based on the 19th-century Victor Hugo novel. "When we redid the [Broadway] production for the 10th anniversary [in February 1997], there was not time to redo the wedding," LaRosa told Playbill On-Line Oct. 26. "Now the entire wedding from start to finish is choreographed with quadrilles. It's gorgeous."
The company rehearsed four hours on Oct. 22 and put the new dances in that same evening. LaRosa said Flatt then went to Toronto to rework the dances for that company Oct. 23.
"The old way, the scene begins with waltzes," explained LaRosa. "The ensemble was left to socialize on their own, and act like they were at a wedding reception." Now, the company begins the grand waltz and breaks off into groups of four-person quadrilles and then six-person quadrilles, with partners weaving and dancers dipping under linked hands.
"It's a very elegant style of dancing," said LaRosa. "It makes the wedding fly by, especially three hours into the show when everybody's tired -- it energizes the whole company."
* The Broadway staging of Les Miz made headlines in early 1997 when producer Cameron Mackintosh fired a chunk of the company, asked some to stay and asked others to re-audition. It was thought that the show had not been maintained properly and looked tired.
The bold move was in preparation for the 10th anniversary of the Broadway opening in March 1997. Directors John Caird and Trevor Nunn worked with the new company, creating new approaches to the material. They eventually added a section of new material by writer Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg, a snippet of a song for Valjean and Young Cosette (when they first meet in the woods). All North American road companies were similarly re-examined and "refreshed."
Restaging is rare but not unheard of: Broadway's current Scarlet Pimpernel, for example, was shut down for a week Oct. 2-9 so new songs, direction and dances could be applied for a reopening Nov. 4, almost a year after the original Broadway opening.