Broadway Blog editor Matthew Wexler discovers not one, but three productions of Les Misérables about to storm the theatrical barricade.
Les Miz Returns to Broadway
The epic tale of Jean Valjean, a stolen loaf of bread, and a chorus of Broadway belters returns to the Imperial Theatre for another Les Misérables revival 28 years after it burst onto the London stage. Since its first production, more than 65 million people have seen the show, not counting those mesmerized by the in-your-face Academy Award-winning film.
Cameron Mackintosh’s newly staged production scraps the famous turntable and opts, instead, for a reimagined design and a cast of newbies as well as Les Miz vets from previous productions. “There is no doubt that Les Misérables will be storming the barricades for many years to come,” says Mackintosh. “I know that when I go “beyond the barricade”, the part I played in bringing Les Misérables to life as a musical will remain one of my proudest achievements.
Les Misérables opens on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre on Sunday, March 23.
But if you think Broadway is the only place to get your Les Miz fix, you’ve got another barricade to storm. There are two notable U.S. productions happening simultaneous to the Broadway revival. Take the keep to find out what other theater companies are tackling the French Revolution.
Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook, Illinois may not be the most likely of locations for a revolution, but for those Chicagoans in the know, director/choreographer Rachel Rockwell has been taking the city by storm with her powerful stagings of both classic and contemporary musical theater works, including last year’s production of Ragtime, which snagged seven Joseph Jefferson Awards (Chicago’s equivalent of the Tony), including Best Musical and Best Director.
“I am thrilled that Les Misérables will be the flagship of our 30th anniversary season. Directed by Rachel Rockwell, I believe it will be special in many ways,” says artistic director Bill Osetek. “While I’m not sure there is such a thing as a revisionist Les Miz—I know that Rachel’s focus is (and will always be) on the story itself. She is an amazing storyteller and the production will not shrink away from the human brutality of the novel. I think that’s the true marvel of Rachel’s work on this piece.”
Drury Lane’s production opens March 29 and runs through June 8.
Take a look at set renderings for Drury Lane’s production by scenic designer Scott Davis:
The Sierra Nevada Foothills takes on Les Misérables in a less conventional setting than the Imperial’s 1,400-seat theater on Broadway. Sierra Repertory Theatre’s production comes to life in a 200-seat theater, giving theatergoers a chance to be swept up in the emotion of the production practically within arm’s reach. “Imagine—people will be seeing this incredibly epic musical from no more than 10 rows away,” says director Dennis Jones. “We’ve grown and changed since our early days, but one thing remains the same: a focus on quality theater. It’s about art. That’s what drives this organization. It’s about creating something on that stage that will stay with people. We throw ourselves in, and we think that’s what makes our audiences enjoy what we do.”
And for kids who want to storm the barricade, the theater will offer a Les Miz spring break workshop from March 24-28. “I am excited to introduce this musical to a group that may know nothing about it, the die hard fans, and everyone in between,” SRT Jr. Education Director Ralph Krumins said. “It’s going to be a week of hard work, but the end product is going to make everyone happy, sad, and proud to be a part of our musical theater community.”
Sierra Rep’s production of Les Misérables plays through May 4 at the East Sonora Theatre.