Broadway's Les Miserables will slice 14 minutes out of its 3 hour and 12 minute running time in an effort to cut the cost of operating the expensive-to-run megamusical, producer Cameron Mackintosh announced.
The changes, to be rehearsed in December, will eliminate $23,000 in overtime costs and preserve the jobs of the company by allowing the show to still be profitable for the producer. The cuts are in lieu of the sort of alterations other shows and artists have suffered in the past — moves to smaller venues, trimmed scenic elements and scaled-back casts. Since opening at the Broadway Theatre in 1987 (it later moved to the Imperial), Les Miz has paid some $16 million in overtime costs to dressers, musicians and others, the producer said.
"The show's weekly operating expenses must be reduced to ensure that Les Miserables will continue to run for many more years in its ideal home at the Imperial Theatre," according to a statement released Nov. 16.
"We have already had happy experiences with cutting Les Miserables for the hugely successful concert version, which runs 2 hours and 21 minutes and has been one of the greatest successes ever in arenas throughout the world, on television and on video," Mackintosh said in a statement. "None of the power and emotion of Les Miserables was lost…it was just concentrated. There is a long history of classics being trimmed or revised, from Shakespeare to Show Boat, and Les Miserables is undoubtedly a classic that will be re worked by many people many times in the future. It is rather nice that the original creative team will have the chance to do so first."
The revisions will be rehearsed by the company during December and be incorporated into the show by the end of the year. Produced by Cameron Mackintosh, Les Miz is based on the romantic-historic epic by Victor Hugo, refracted through the talents of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg, with lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer, and directed and adapted by Trevor Nunn and John Caird. The cuts are expected to be largely internal, and not include the wholesale lopping off of numbers. With an intermission, Les Miz ideally runs 3 hours and 12 minutes, and the show gets more expensive for Mackintosh after three hours passes, putting some of the staff — stagehands, dressers — on overtime. Although the cuts are meant to preserve the whole company in a continuing run, individuals stand to lose thousands of dollars a year in overtime pay.