The musical Jolson is virtually unheard of in Australia. I interviewed the Adelaide promoter who was originally bringing the production to Australia. On being questioned what is happening and why the delay, his reply was that there are too many musicals hitting the Australian theatre scene at the moment. We have Crazy for You and The Phantom of the Opera opening in Melbourne for the summer season and Les Miserables opening in Sydney. He then referred me to the Melbourne based publicist company who handles these productions Australia wide. On contact they advised me that they were initially asked to handle the publicity some months ago but have not heard a word and do not know what is going on. Perhaps Brian Coneley is as much in the dark and has taken this pantomime job in the U.K (see story on Playbill On-Line) because of doubts about Jolson.
Les Miserables opened in Sydney's Royal Theatre on November 27, 1987 where it ran for 23 months after being seen by more than 690,000 theatregoers
. December 1989 saw the show moved down south to Melbourne's Princess theatre followed by visits to five capital cities where it was seen by a total of 1.7 million people.
Now ten years later Les Miserables is returning to Sydney's Royal Theatre on November 27, 1997. To celebrate the 10th Anniversary the original creative team, including Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil, Directors Trevor Nunn and John Caird, Lighting Desigher David Hersey, Costume Designer Andreane Neofitou and Sound Designer Andrew Bruce revisited the production and made changes to areas of sound design, lighting, staging and orchestrations.
The musical's producer Cameron Mackintosh said, "I have every confidence that The Tenth Anniversary Production of Les Miserables will once again enthral Australian theatregoers, just as it has 40 million people in 35 productions in 126 cities in 26 countries." When the original Australian production closed, Cameron Mackintosh experimented for two and half years with the only worldwide release of Amateur Rights. The high standard of Amateur Theatre in Australia is so great that these productions were hugely successful and instead of running the usual week they ran often for up to four weeks. Australian critics who have seen the first professional performance felt that several of the amateur productions were of equally high a standard as the professional performance.
-- By Peter Kemp