At the End of the Tour, Will Reimagined Les Miz Storm Broadway?
By Kenneth Jones
The North American touring production of the revised and redesigned musical Les Misérables, a road hit that launched in early 2011 and has recouped due to sellout crowds and bookings into early 2014, may appear on Broadway.
Nick Allott, managing director of Cameron Mackintosh, Ltd., confirmed that producer Mackintosh wants to see the new 25th-anniversary reboot staging — co-directed by Laurence Connor and James Powell, with reimagined scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo — on Broadway, where the original won the Tony Award as Best Musical in 1987.
The question of a second Broadway revival of the inspirational musical was put to Mackintosh's office on Sept. 20 following published reports in which tenor Alfie Boe said he has had discussions about starring as heroic Jean Valjean on Broadway. (Boe, the opera, stage and recording star, played the moral center of the musical in the televised 25th anniversary concert of the show at London's 02 Arena in 2010, and later joined the cast of the West End production in spring 2011.)
Allott told Playbill.com, "We've always said to [Alfie], 'If we ever take the show back to Broadway, we'd love you to think about doing it.' And he's always said, 'Yes, let's talk about it.'"
So, how soon might Broadway once again hear "One Day More," "On My Own," "I Dreamed a Dream" and other love songs and anthems of Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg and Herbert Kretzmer?
Allott said, "We've got to decide what to do with the tour when it comes off the road at the beginning of 2014. It's all up for grabs, as they say, but nothing is scheduled, we haven't talked theatres, we haven't talked dates, we haven't talked about the rest of the cast. The tour is doing phenomenally well — there's obviously still a big, big appetite for it, and Cameron is keen to have that production seen on Broadway."
He added, "It's a way off — a minimum of 18 months away, if it happens."
This fall, the Les Miz tour will visit Des Moines, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, St. Louis, Houston and Chicago. Visit the stage show's official site, lesmis.com, for dates. The return of Les Misérables to Broadway following its original 1987-2003 run and a 2006-2008 revival (both directed by Trevor Nunn and John Caird) would mark the New York City premiere of the newly directed, designed and orchestrated approach to the epic. The adaptable physical production currently on the tour would make the move to Broadway.
Mackintosh's new production of Les Misérables — seen on tour in the U.K. before its 2010 American bow — has music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer from the original French text by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel and additional material by James Fenton. It's designed by Matt Kinley (who was inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo) with costumes by the original production's Andreane Neofitou and additional costumes by Christine Rowlands, lighting by Paule Constable and sound by Mick Potter, with musical staging by Michael Ashcroft and projections by Fifty-Nine Productions.
The original Les Misérables orchestrations are by John Cameron with new orchestrations by Christopher Jahnke and additional orchestrations by Stephen Metcalfe and Stephen Brooker.
In February 2012, the tour played its 500th performance, during its visit to Tampa.
This new U.S. tour of Les Miz was first tested in a November-December 2010 run at Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ, prior to the official tour launch in Philadelphia in January 2011.
Based on Hugo's classic novel, Les Miz is an epic story of survival and sacrifice amid great social change. The famous pop-opera score includes the classic songs "I Dreamed a Dream," "On My Own," "Stars," "Bring Him Home," "Do You Hear the People Sing?," "One Day More," "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables," "Master of the House" and many more.
Les Misérables originally opened in London at the Barbican Theatre on Oct. 8, 1985, transferred to the Palace Theatre on Dec. 4, 1985, and moved to its current home at the Queen's Theatre on April 3, 2004.
Victor Hugo's humanity-rich novel about a thief who reinvents himself as a moral force during social upheaval in early 19th-century France (and is pursued by a policeman over the decades) was first published in 1862.
A film version of the musical will be released on Dec. 25. Hugh Jackman stars as Jean Valjean.
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