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Cameron Mackintosh on Les Mis returning: 'There are a number of Empty Chairs that I wasn't bargaining for'

The producer spoke during the show's first performance this weekend

The all-star Les Misérables cast
© Johan Persson

Here's a sentence we spent a long time expecting we wouldn't be able to say this year: Cameron Mackintosh stepped onto the stage at the Sondheim Theatre over the weekend to celebrate the return of Les Misérables.

In a quick message delivered to the 50 per cent capacity audiences, producer Mackintosh thanked all that helped put the show back on, including the Front of House team. He also recognised the massive number of freelancers currently out of work

You can read his full statement below:

Welcome back to the theatre!

We have missed you. We have missed each other. We have missed working.

We are here tonight because this incredible cast, these amazing musicians and all my creative team wanted to do something to bring back spectacular theatre to the West End at this time, and by them all clubbing together and saying, ‘can we do this?', they have made it happen. It's been incredible.

We have not had any help from the Treasury as yet, so it has been very, very, very hard for everyone in the theatre – particularly all those who are self-employed. Nevertheless, many of these people tonight have given up their temporary jobs - stacking shelves, driving vans, working on building sites - in order to come back and do this show.

I hope coming in to this theatre was made as easy as it looked to me, because my Front of House Staff have done an incredible job to make sure you have a great safe night out.

There are a number of Empty Chairs that I wasn't Bargaining for, but nevertheless, tonight is not about being Miserable. Tonight is about you all having a great time and us looking forward to the rest of the Great British theatre opening next year.

Due to the latest regulations I read not so long ago, we are only allowed to have 50 per cent of the seats of this theatre's real capacity, so I'm afraid you have a duty to actually make up for it and be twice as loud as normal.

Particularly tonight as there is one person missing who has never missed a first night of Les Misérables before. That is our beloved Herbie Kretzmer who wrote the wonderful English lyrics.

This one's for you, Herbie!

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