New York newspapers and news services were reporting Oct. 30 that current cast members of Broadway's Les Miserables were literally miserable about plans to let most of them go Jan. 26 and bring in the national touring company while an entirely new cast is being rehearsed for reopening on the show's 10th anniversary March 12.
Reuters reported, "The cast of Les Miserables, the hit Broadway musical based on the Victor Hugo novel, has the blues. The producers have decided to dump the 37-member cast early next year so they can restructure the show with a new production in time to celebrate its 10th anniversary on Broadway next March . . . Nine cast members were asked to stay on, nine to audition for new roles and 12 not to return. The five child actors in the show were not affected and two roles are currently open. "
In a story headlined "From Les Miserables To Just Plain Miserable," the New York Times wrote, "A sweeping change in the cast of Les Miserables, with many actors suddenly dismissed from their roles, has left the company confused and upset. Some of have been in the cast for years and thought of themselves as having continuing employment."
In a story headlined "Miz-ery at "Les Miz," the New York Post reported: "'Miserable!' That's how many in the cast and crew of Cameron Mackintosh's long-running hit musical Les Miserables feel in the wake of what is becoming known on Broadway as the "Les Miz Massacre."
The current Broadway production at the Imperial Theatre will give its last performance Jan. 26, 1997, and that the company now playing in Syracuse, NY (the bus & truck company technically numbered III), will replace the Broadway cast for five weeks starting Jan. 28. A fully re-cast Les Miz will begin previews March 3 and reopen March 12 -- the tenth anniversary of Les Miz on Broadway.
Those devoted Les Miz fans who have been wondering how the show would celebrate its tenth anniversary on Broadway, 1000 tickets to the March 12 performance will be given away "to devoted fans" through a contest that will be announced in January 1997. Playbill On-Line will carry details of the contest the moment they're made public.
The idea of using the anniversary to thank fans is similar to some proposed by Playbill On-Line members in a poll conducted in August. To read the poll, check Theatre News.
Auditions will be held in the coming weeks for the special anniversary cast. Spokesman Mark Thibodeau said a substantial part of the current Broadway company -- leads and ensemble parts -- will be replaced, but gave no names.
Company members contacted by Playbill On-Line said they were told that Les Miserables would technically post a closing notice in order to comply with union rules on cast replacements. But Thibodeau said they were misinformed. "The show is never going to be dark at the Imperial Theatre," he said.
To bring the touring company into New York, scheduled dates in Savanna, GA and Ft. Myers, FL will be cancelled.
While the touring company is performing in New York, the "special 10th anniversary company" will be rehearsing at the 890 Broadway studio in Manhattan.
Tickets for Les Miserables can be ordered by calling (212) 239 6200. You can also buy tickets on Playbill On-Line.