Four years ago, when Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats closed at the New London Theatre on its 21st birthday (See News, 8 May 2002), it held the record as the West End’s longest-running musical. This October, that record will be broken by another Cameron Mackintosh production, Les Miserables - which won’t be stopping there.

Les Miserables has now added a further 11 months to its current booking period at the West End’s Queen’s Theatre, where it is now taking bookings even beyond its 22nd birthday, through to 15 December 2007. The landmark Royal Shakespeare Company had its first performance on 8 October 1985 at the Barbican Theatre before transferring, care of Mackintosh, to the West End’s Palace Theatre two months later. It ran at the Palace for 18 years and over 7,500 performances before moving down the road to the Queen’s on 3 April 2004 (See News, 21 Nov 2003)

Based on Victor Hugo's humanitarian novel about a persecuted man in 19th-century revolutionary France, Les Miserables has a book by Alain Boublil, music by Claude-Michel Schonberg and lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer. It’s directed by Trevor Nunn with John Caird and designed by John Napier.

In May 2003, the original Broadway production of Les Miserables closed following a 16-year run, but just three years later, Cameron Mackintosh is already preparing to revive the Boublil and Schonberg musical, which will reopen at New York’s Broadhurst Theatre this November. Globally, Les Miserables has been seen by over 53 million people in 38 countries and 21 languages.

The West End production currently features John Owen-Jones (as Jean Valjean), Hans Peter Janssens (Javert), Jon Lee (Marius), Sophia Ragavelas (Fantine), Sabrina Aloueche (Eponine), Chris Vincent (Thénardier) and Tracie Bennett (Madame Thénardier). Plans for the musical’s 21st anniversary have not yet been announced.

- by Terri Paddock