Meanwhile, Cameron Mackintosh seems to have accepted that his current longest-runner in the West End, Les Miserables, will close in the not-too-distant future – at least at the Queen’s Theatre. The Queen’s forms part of Mackintosh’s planned £20 million Shaftesbury Avenue complex along with the Gielgud as well as the 500-seat Sondheim Theatre, still to be built in the gap between the existing two venues. But Mackintosh has told that work can’t begin on the complex until Les Miserables finishes. While some preliminary refurbishments on the Gielgud may be tackled in advance, the majority of the work “has to be done as a whole block. Once you start, you can’t stop. The destruction in that area will be considerable.” When he first announced the development two years ago (See News, 25 Jun 2003), Mackontosh forecast that Shaftesbury Avenue’s reconstruction would begin in 2006. If that’s still to happen, it probably won’t be until the back end of the year. On 8 October 2006, Les Miserables will celebrate its 21st birthday, thereby matching Cats as the longest-running musical in the West End’s history. When he’s this near, the impresario is unlikely to let the Boublil and Schonberg show go until it betters that and sets a new record of its own. Les Mis ran for 18 years and over 7,500 performances at the Palace Theatre before moving down the road to the Queen’s in April last year (See News, 21 Nov 2003).