The sold-out Jan. 25 Broadway performance of Les Misérables, the milestone date when the show surpasses the performance count of the legendary A Chorus Line, will include the original Jean Valjean, Colm Wilkinson, appearing as part of a special post-show version of "One Day More" with a hybrid company.
The post-show, on-stage performance will include members of the current, original and past casts paying tribute to both Les Miz and A Chorus Line by singing a melding of the former's "One Day More" and the latter's "One." The event is considered one the year's hottest tickets, and it plays one night only.
A Chorus Line played 6,137 performances. The 6,138th performance of Les Miz — the French originated pop opera that was developed, refined and produced by Brits — makes the show the second-longest running play or musical in Broadway history, behind Cats (which Cameron Mackintosh also produced, and Trevor Nunn also directed).
Choreographer Mark Hoebee was enlisted and has been working in rehearsal with the company to work the Michael Bennett A Chorus Line choreography from "One" (as in "singular sensation") into the salute. Jason Moore, the resident director of Les Miz, coordinated the entire post-show performance. The orchestra will be live, taking the musicians and audience beyond the 11 PM mark.
While the event is a chance to bring attention to the beloved Les Miz, it's also about celebrating and honoring a tradition, producer Cameron Mackintosh told Playbill On Line.
"We're incredibly lucky to be in the same breath as A Chorus Line," Mackintosh said. "A Chorus Line is one of the great icons of Broadway history, and I couldn't imagine that one of the my shows [Cats], let alone now two of my shows, would have ever equaled its run. To be in the company of such a great show, which was so brilliantly created, is a rare thing that very few people will ever have the privilege of. It seemed a natural for us to literally tip our hats — and its hats, as it were."
Considering rehearsal time and musician overtime, the tribute isn't inexpensive. "No, it's not costing that much," Mackintosh admits, "but we've got over 80 people coming, I think. It's amazing — we've got well over half the original cast. With the number of people we have on stage, we're not going to try to do the whole routine from A Chorus Line. It's a tribute. I think it's going to be terrific the way it's going to be done."
Mackintosh will be watching the show with co-director and co adapter Trevor Nunn, who originated the show with John Caird in its world premiere in London in 1985. Nunn is currently in New York recreating his staging for Mackintosh's embraced revival of Oklahoma!, which played London in 1999 and opens on Broadway this spring.
Balloons will fall, confetti cannons will sound and free champagne will flow at intermission. A special insert in the Playbill will feature the recent New York Times display-ad artwork showing the Cosettes dancing the A Chorus Line wedge. A private party will follow for the company and alumni.
Librettist-lyricist Alain Boublil and composer Claude Michel Schönberg's Les Misérables (which has English lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer) opened on Broadway March 12, 1987. Its 15th anniversary is this year.
On Jan. 17 Mackintosh took out a full-page ad in The New York Times that featured 12 Young Cosette characters strutting in the famous A Chorus Line triangle pattern (or "wedge"). The copy reads: "One Singular Sensation Salutes Another!" and "Still the One."
You can just imagine the waif, Cosette, singing, "Everything was beautiful at the barricade."
Inspired by the 19th-century Victor Hugo novel about guilt, forgiveness and orphans emotional, literal and spiritual (to say nothing of that student uprising in Paris, where insurgents sing on a barricade), the musical is one of the great international successes of all time. It began in France, was retooled by British producer Mackintosh and an English creative team working with Schönberg and Boublil, and began is smash history in London in 1985 prior to a Broadway bow.
A Chorus Line played 6,137 performances. Cats surpassed that number before closing Sept. 10, 2000, after 7,485 shows, and now Les Miz at the Imperial Theatre, is chasing that record. It will take three more years to catch up.
The pop-operatic Les Miz — with ex-con Jean Valjean pitted against pious Inspector Javert — celebrates its 15th anniversary on Broadway March 12, 2002. It opened at the Broadway Theatre and later moved to the current Imperial. The show has been seen by 8.5 million people in New York City. Worldwide, its audience counts about 45 million. The box office gross has been $1.8 billion.There have been 43 productions of Les Miz in 33 countries, in 20 different languages. It won the 1987 Tony Award for Best Musical and starred Colm Wilkinson, Frances Ruffelle, Randy Graff, Terrence Mann, Michael Maguire and Judy Kuhn.
The current cast of Les Miz includes Ivan Rutherford (Jean Valjean), Philip Hernandez (Javert), Jacquelyn Piro (Fantine), Nick Wyman (Thénardier), Betsy Joslyn (Madame Thénardier), Peter Lockyer (Marius), Diana Kaarina (Eponine), Sandra Turley (Cosette) and Christopher Mark Peterson (Enjolras).
Les Miz plays 8 PM Monday-Saturday, and 2 PM Wednesday and Saturday. Tickets range $20-$85. For information, call (212) 239 6200.
There are currently eight productions around the world: London, New York, The U.S. National Tour, Budapest (Hungary), Tokyo (Japan, in repertory), Bonn (Germany), Sao Paolo (Brazil) and Chemnitz (Germany).
Noted alumni include Michael Ball (Marius), Gary Beach (Thénardier), Laurie Beechman (Fantine), Lacey Chabert (Young Cosette), Robert Cuccioli (Javert), Daisy Eagan (Young Cosette), Deborah Gibson (Eponine), Randy Graff (Fantine), Ruthie Henshall (Fantine), Catherine Hickland (Fantine), Judy Kuhn (Cosette), Patti LuPone (Fantine), Terrence Mann (Javert), Ricky Martin (Marius), Andrea McArdle (Eponine/Fantine), Melba Moore (Fantine), Gary Morris (Valjean), Hugh Panaro (Marius), Nathalie Paulding (Young Cosette), Frances Ruffelle (Eponine), Lea Salonga (Eponine), Marla Schaffel (Ensemble), Shanice (Eponine), Alice Ripley (Fantine), Rachel York (Fantine) and Colm Wilkinson (Valjean).