The resident theatre in Arlington, VA, announced Sept. 14 that the Victor Hugo-inspired, Tony Award-winning pop musical will be seen in an original, reinvented staging by artistic director Eric Schaeffer, who will put the audience among the action in a tiny 280-seat black-box space.
By special permission from producer Cameron Mackintosh, Signature will produce "an environmental staging that combines the epic scale of 30 actors, 138 costumes, a Broadway-sized 14-piece orchestra, and a five-ton steel set."
Performances will play Dec. 2, 2008-Feb. 22, 2009, at Signature's MAX Theatre.
Mackintosh stated, "One of the great pleasures of being involved with the creation of Les Misérables is seeing this marvelous musical being done in a completely different and original way. Having seen many shows brilliantly reimagined at Signature I have no doubt that Eric and his team will come up with a revolutionary new take on Les Miz unlike anything anyone has seen before. Viva la différence!"
Director Schaeffer stated, "Les Misérables is the perfect show for Signature because we're known for reinventing the Broadway musical. We're taking a great work like Les Miz and reimagining it for our stage and our audience. It's an epic show to be seen in the intimate setting of only 280 seats and we're setting it in a whole different world. Walt Spangler's set will encase the entire theatre, where the audience cannot help but be in Paris, in the barricades, in the tavern. It's really exciting to have people who think they know the show rediscover it in this truly amazing way." Schaeffer added, "Most productions follow the romanticism of Les Misérables. Signature will have that romanticism but at the same time emphasize the fact that it's a story about a war, a revolution with blood and death that's tearing people apart. …No one in our country will ever have witnessed Les Misérables like this. That is what makes this production so special."
Les Miz has music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer, original French text by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel, additional material by James Fenton. The original London production was adapted and directed by Trevor Nunn and John Caird. This production is licensed by Music Theatre International by arrangement with Cameron Mackintosh.
The cast will include Greg Stone, from the national touring companies of Les Misérables and Miss Saigon, as the fugitive Jean Valjean; Tom Zemon, of the Broadway productions of Les Miz and The Scarlet Pimpernel, as relentless pursuer Javert; Doug Kreeger of the Broadway cast of Les Miz as the student revolutionary Marius, in love with Cosette, played by Stephanie Waters, who also played the role on Broadway and was featured in Signature's Into the Woods. Playing Cosette's mother Fantine is Signature Theatre favorite and two-time Helen Hayes nominee Tracy Lynn Olivera. Christopher Bloch, of Signature's Urinetown, will be Thenardier, and Signature's Helen Hayes Award winner Sherri L. Edelen will be Madame Thenardier, with Felicia Curry as their daughter Eponine. Chris Sizemore will make his Signature debut as the student leader Enjolras.
The cast also includes Kurt Boehm, Matt Conner, James Gardiner, Adam Ethan Grabau, Michael Grew, Sam Ludwig, Aaron Reeder, Thomas Adrian Simpson, Stephen Gregory Smith, Russell Sunday, Eleasha Gamble, Channez McQuay, Amy McWilliams, Hannah Willman, Weslie Woodley, Jamie Boyle, Patrick D. McMahan and Julie Wolf.
The creative team includes choreographer Karma Camp, musical director Jon Kalbfleisch, set designer Walt Spangler, costume designer Kathleen Geldard, lighting designer Mark Lanks and sound designer Matt Rowe.
According to Signature, "One of the most popular musicals of all time, Boubil and Schönberg's Les Misérables is a passionate saga of love and betrayal set during the upheaval of post revolutionary France. At its center, fugitive Jean Valjean is pitted against the tenacious Inspector Javert in a lifelong struggle to evade capture. This deeply personal drama of a man seeking redemption is played out against a sweeping historical backdrop of unparalleled scale, where the worlds of student revolutionaries, thieves and criminals, and desperate young lovers collide."
Signature's Les Misérables is sponsored in part by Jaylee Mead.
Tickets, ranging in price from $65 to $87, are on sale by calling Ticketmaster at (703) 573-7328 or visiting www.signature-theatre.org.
Show times are Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:30 PM, Thursday and Friday at 8 PM, Saturday at 2 PM and 8 PM, and Sunday at 2 PM and 7 PM. Special 8 PM holiday performances are scheduled for Dec. 23 and 30. No performances will take place on Dec. 16, 24, 25, and Jan. 1, 2009.
In May 2008 Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia produced a popular, reinvented production of Les Miz that did away with the show's earlier London and Broadway scenic conceit — a turntable that cinematically and seamlessly shifted the action.