Trevor Nunn Speaks Out on Revised London-Bound Les Miz; Mackintosh Responds
By Mark Shenton
Trevor Nunn, co-director with John Caird of the original RSC production of Les Miserables in 1985, has spoken out publicly about an alleged lack of consultation and inaccurate marketing of the new touring production of the show that will return it to its original London Barbican home in October.
In an interview in Britain's Daily Telegraph, he has said that "If John Caird and John Napier and myself had been asked to do a revised version of Les Misérables that could tour the country and tour other countries in a way that didn’t involve a revolving stage, which makes the touring very difficult, we would joyously have accepted. We would have kept all of the ingredients that we originally invented, and we would have found slightly different solutions staging-wise. We were not asked. In fact, we knew nothing of it. We were kept in the dark. People who were asked were an assistant director of John Caird’s and mine working on the show and John Napier’s assistant who had worked for John Napier many times in different productions abroad of Les Misérables. Those people were asked to become a new production team. Everywhere [it] is being advertised [as] a new production. It is not a new production. It is a variant production that owes everything that's good about it to the original production. And everything that's not so good about it, and is uncomfortable about it, is the work of a group of assistants. Do you gather that there is some unhappiness here?”
He goes on to say that he and his original collaborators "are profoundly unhappy and we feel profoundly betrayed and we don’t understand. We seek a meeting. We are not given any explanation. What’s so extraordinary is that, in the year when the 25th anniversary of the original production is being celebrated, the same logo and the same strapline is being used for the new production. So we are also very confused. It's completely bewildering. And the most bewildering thing – and this is not vanity or hubris – is why something inferior has been created when something superior could have been created.”
Producer Cameron Mackintosh has responded, saying that he is "saddened by Nunn’s inaccurate and ungracious remarks” and says it is “wholly untrue” that they were “in any way kept in the dark”. He is reported saying, "After 25 years, I wished to create a new production that reflected the contemporary appeal of the musical today, and it seemed right to engage the energies of a new younger team to do this. I believe that each new generation has to be able to put its own stamp on great material. It is bewildering to me that Trevor Nunn, who has spent much of his brilliant career reimagining existing material, should be questioning the right of others to do so with Les Misérables.”
The original production of Les Miserables is continuing to play at the West End's Queen's Theatre. The revised international touring production is playing in Paris through July 4, then returning to the U.K. to play at Bristol Hippodrome (July 13 to Aug. 7), The Lowry in Salford Quays (Aug. 10-21), and Southampton's Mayflower (Aug 24-Sept. 11), before playing at London's Barbican Theatre (Sept. 14-Oct. 2), where Nunn and Caird's original production originated in 1985. A separate concert staging will take place at London's 02 Arena on Oct. 3. For more details on all of these, visit www.lesmis.com
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