On Nov. 4, Lauren Kennedy is the next Fantine to love, yearn, struggle, fall and die in Broadway's Les Misérables, and David Masenheimer steps into the worn boots of chase-obsessed Inspector Javert.
Kennedy's credits include playing the standby for Daisy in Broadway's Side Show and for the world premiere of The Last 5 Years in Skokie, IL. She is currently working on a solo album of songs by Jason Robert Brown, to be released March 4, 2003, from PS Classics.
Kennedy played Nellie Forbush in the Royal National Theatre's staging of South Pacific in London, and is heard on that cast album.
Masenheimer has portrayed the Les Miz villain several times before, in both the Broadway and national touring companies of the Alain Boublil-Claude Michel Schönberg musical.
Masenheimer made his Broadway debut in Les Misérables — which recently announced it would end its historic run on March 15, 2003 — and his other credits on The Great White Way include roles in Side Show, Ragtime, The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Wild Party. His Off-Broadway credits include Eating Raoul and The Petrified Prince as well as the national tours of Evita, Chess and Aspects of Love. Recent Fantine Jacquelyn Piro and recent Javert Philip Hernandez exited the show Nov. 2.
The current company of Les Miz includes J. Mark McVey (as Jean Valjean), Kevin Kern (Marius), Diana Kaarina (Eponine), Sandra Turley (Cosette), Christopher Mark Peterson (Enjolras), Nick Wyman (Thénardier) and Aymee Garcia (Madame Thénardier).
Les Miz, with English lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer, direction by Trevor Nunn and John Caird, premiered in its current form in London following a spectacle created by Jean-Marc Natel, Boublil and Schönberg in Paris. Mackintosh shepherded it to its current form.
"I never dreamed that a musical like Les Misérables could become one of the longest-running shows of all-time, and I am very grateful to American audiences for embracing such a different kind of musical in such an overwhelming way," producer Mackintosh said in a statement. "Though the show has always remained profitable except during those extraordinary recent times that affected the industry as a whole, I want Les Miz's first Broadway reign to conclude with the same kind of excitement and celebration that was enjoyed by my productions of Cats and Miss Saigon, with audiences once again fighting for tickets. I have also realized that I can't have a crack at the Tony for Best Revival until I close the first production! Although Broadway will be less 'miserable' for awhile, the show will continue to live on around the world in a variety of incarnations, including tours, international stadium concerts, regional productions, and most importantly, performed by hundreds of schools. Will I be sad when Les Miz ends its run? A little...but after all, au revoir does not mean goodbye."
Mackintosh wants the show's run to end while it's still making its weekly nut back, though Les Miz — known for its large cast and crew, and high weekly running cost — hasn't fared well in recent weeks. The week of Sept. 23-29 the show grossed $292,800, representing an average capacity of 46.3 percent, according to industry figures. The weekly running costs are thought to be about $350,000.
Theatregoers unfamiliar with the show are expected to finally visit the work, which opened March 12, 1987. It has been seen by some 9 million people on Broadway alone. The show's Broadway production, which took home Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Director, Best Book, Best Score, Best Scenic Design, Best Lighting, Best Featured Actor (Musical) for Michael Maguire and Best Featured Actress (Musical) for Frances Ruffelle has grossed $390 million so far. Audiences are routinely made up of return visitors who want to lose themselves in the pop-music retelling of ex-con Jean Valjean, who is pursued in France over the years by Inspector Javert in the context of personal and political change in Paris of the early 19th century. Colm Wilkinson originated the role of Valjean in London and Broadway. Terrence Mann originated Javert on Broadway.
Additional material for the show was written by James Fenton. Designers are John Napier (scenic), David Hersey (lighting), Andreane Neofitou (costumes) and Andrew Bruce (sound).
Mackintosh's The Phantom of the Operabecame Broadway's third longest-running show of all-time Oct. 12. The current American national tour of Les Miz (which began in 1988) will march on despite the Broadway close, as will international productions and tours.
On Broadway, Les Misérables plays 8 PM Monday-Saturday, with matinees 2 PM Wednesdays and Saturdays. For tickets call Tele-charge at (212) 239-6200.