Les Misérables Reopens at London's Queen's with Substantial Redesigns

News   Les Misérables Reopens at London's Queen's with Substantial Redesigns After 18 years at the Palace Theatre, Les Miserables puts up the barricades at the Queen's Theatre, further down Shaftesbury Avenue, beginning April 3.
Jeff Leyton (left) and Jon Lee in the current London cast of Les Miserables
Jeff Leyton (left) and Jon Lee in the current London cast of Les Miserables Photo by Michael Le Poer Trench

According to producer Cameron Mackintosh, it's a whole new experience. Speaking to Playbill On-Line, Mackintosh enthused, "The whole show looks much bigger than it did at the Palace, and there's a far greater sense of depth. You're swallowed up by the show." Part of the reason is that Mackintosh ordered an adventurous redesign."We've removed the stage boxes," he says, "and we're using those spaces as stages which come right out into the auditorium. They'll be used for entrances and exits, for Paris, for the sewers, and they come right into the theatre and up to the Circle. It's phenomenal!"

There are new sets, and John Caird has redesigned some key sequences, including the wedding of Marius and Cosette scene near the end, which now takes place in a ballroom. Also, the imposing gates of Valjean's house have been altered, the runaway cart has been renewed.

Mackintosh, speaking over the phone from the Queen's while busily over seeing final run-throughs, could not contain his excitement. "John Caird and Trevor Nunn have totally re-staged it over the past week." he said. "It has been re-lit. And it's got the most advanced sound system I've ever heard in the theatre. This will be the first theatre production to use it, and the company are using it as a showpiece to display to producers in America. The main thing is that the show has been re-scored for the smaller orchestra with the new keyboard systems — a quantum leap forward in technology. So the majority of the players are now front-line soloists, the rank-and-file element has gone. So the show is articulated as if by 40 soloists. You can hear things that you’ve never heard before outside of the concert hall."

The Les Miz cast has traveled with the show. It currently includes Jeff Leyton (Jean Valjean), Michael McCarthy (Javert), Stephen Tate (Monsieur Thenardier), John Lee (Marius), Joanna Ampil (Fantine), Lydia Griffiths (Cosette), Sophia Ragavelas (Eponine) and Oliver Thornton (Enjolras).

 

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