Les Miserables turns 25 on 8 October 2010 and, in the lead-up to the milestone, impresario Cameron Mackintosh is giving London theatregoers not one, not two, but three chances to see Boublil and Schönberg revolutionary musical based on Victor Hugo’s novel.
In addition to the ongoing West End production at the Queen’s Theatre, the separate 25th anniversary tour visits the Barbican Theatre, where the musical premiered care of the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1985, for a season from 14 September to 2 October. And on Sunday 3 October there will be two sell-out concert performances at The O2, bringing together companies from both productions as well as a cavalcade of stars including Little Britain’s Matt Lucas, Alfie Boe, Lea Salonga, Nick Jonas, Ramin Karimloo, Jenny Galloway and Samantha Barks.
The O2 event marks another international first, further securing Les Mis’ place in the theatrical history books – with three different productions of the same show in the same city at one time. For theatre trivia nuts, here are a few more facts and figures behind this extraordinary blockbuster...
After the Barbican, Les Mis transferred to the West End’s Palace Theatre where it ran for 18 years and over 7,500 performances before moving down the road to the Queen’s on 3 April 2004. On its 21st birthday in 2006, it surpassed Cats as the West End’s longest-running musical. On 2 January 2010, it gave its 10,000th performance in London.
On Broadway, Les Mis had 6,680 performances from 1987 to 2003, first at the Broadway Theatre and then the Imperial Theatre. It was revived in November 2006 at the Broadhurst Theatre, where it ran until January 2008. It’s the third longest-running musical in Broadway history, after two other Mackintosh productions, Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals The Phantom of the Opera and Cats.
Globally, Les Mis has been performed by 93 professional companies in 308 cities in 41 countries, giving a total worldwide audience figure of more than 56 million people. It has been translated into 21 languages, including Japanese, Icelandic, Hebrew, Estonian, Finnish, Castillian and Mauritian Creole.
The musical has won over 75 major theatre awards around the world, the most recent being the John Kraaijkamp Award for Best Musical for the Dutch production.
There have been 40 different cast recordings of Les Mis. Both the original Broadway cast album and the symphonic recording won Grammy awards in the US.
Approximately 101 cast and crew (not including front of house and myriad back-up services from box office to set contractors), 392 costumes and 31 wigs are involved in every performance.
The biggest single live audience for Les Mis to date was 125,000 at the 1989 Australia Day concert in Sydney. The biggest broadcast audience was when 250 cast members sang at the 1996 European football championship, televised to 400 million viewers in 197 countries.
In 2009, Susan Boyle sang the show’s anthem “I Dreamed a Dream” on reality TV competition Britain’s Got Talent. It immediately became one of the most watched videos on Youtube, propelled the original London cast recording into the top 20 albums on itunes and made an international star of Boyle.