London Les Miz Advances on the Queens Theatre

News   London Les Miz Advances on the Queens Theatre
Ending months of speculation, West End producer Cameron Mackintosh has set a date for Les Miserables to close at London’s Palace Theatre. Less opulent inside than its ultra-grand exterior would suggest, the Palace in is urgent need of renovations.
A scene from Les Miserables
A scene from Les Miserables

Les Miz’s 18-year run has caused the refurbishment to be put off, but Really Useful Theatres - the venue’s owners – say they can’t wait any longer. So, after 7,500 performances the revolution will move on March 27, 2004. It’s not going far, mind you – just a little further down Shaftesbury Avenue to the Queen’s Theatre, to re-open in April. Nothing’s ever quite that simple in the theatre world, however. Really Useful currently leases the Queen’s but was due to return it to owner Mackintosh in 2006. And its renovation will form a main plank in Mackintosh’s much touted restorations scheme (whereby the Queen’s and the Gielgud would be reshaped alongside the proposed new house, the Sondheim Theatre).

So Really Useful has agreed to hand back the Queen’s two years early, which keeps everyone happy, not least the Les Miz cast, who will travel with the show. That cast currently includes Jeff Leyton (Jean Valjean), Michael McCarthy (Javert), Stephen Tate (Monsieur Thenardier), John Lee (Marius), Joanna Ampil (Fantine), Lydia Griffiths (Cosette), Sophia Ragavelas (Eponine) and Oliver Thornton (Enjolras).

When Cats closed there was speculation that Mackintosh might decide to dismantle his famous barricades in London. However, with recent openings for this show in Berlin, Scandinavia – and planned productions in Denmark and Japan – it seems as though the London flagship will keep going for some time yet. That will also be a relief to co-producers the Royal Shakespeare Company who, in debt and cash-strapped, need their major cash cow now more than ever.

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