License article

Melbourne wins tale of two cities for revamped version of Les Mis

SYDNEY has lost out to Melbourne for the return of Les Miserables, with confirmation a a revamped production will open in the Victorian capital in June next year.

Rubbing salt into Sydney's wounds, the producer, Cameron Mackintosh, described Melbourne as "the natural home of musicals" when confirming the news on Sunday from Los Angeles, where he was attending the Oscars.

"I'm always coming to Melbourne, my last show opened here - Mary Poppins, which was an enormous success at Her Majesty's,'' he said.

''It often just works out that the right theatres are open at the right time."

Sir Cameron revealed the Victorian government had approached him nearly two years ago to take the show to Melbourne.

"The Victorian government has been incredibly helpful. They approached me 18 months to two years ago to do it and it didn't happen because the theatres didn't line up and I got stuck into the movie,'' he said.


''I've only agreed now to do these productions because this weekend my work on the movie will be over and I can concentrate on my day job."

The producer was in Los Angeles for the Oscars ceremony, which featured some of the principal cast performing songs from the film, nominated for eight Academy Awards. It won three.

The new 25th anniversary version of the stage musical, already touring around the world, has new staging and orchestrations and will appeal to audiences who have seen the film, he said.

Sydney and Melbourne have increasingly sought to outdo each other in attracting major shows, with Melbourne determined to keep its crown as the musicals heartland and NSW stepping up its efforts to woo producers.

Based on Victor Hugo's story, and with music and lyrics by Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil, the stage production is in its 28th year, with a 25th anniversary production already touring in several countries.

Sir Cameron has also confirmed the new production will open on Broadway in March next year - having already played in 64 cities throughout the US and grossing more than $130 million.

Oscars are just the icing on the gateau for this Parisian epic, given its staggering list of statistics.

On stage it has been seen by more than 60 million people in 42 countries. Given the massive reach of the film - which has so far grossed $400 million worldwide - the potential for new audiences for the stage version is anyone's guess.