Les Miserables will return to the Melbourne stage next year, producer Cameron Mackintosh has confirmed.
Melbourne has beaten Sydney to the post, with Her Majesty’s Theatre – owned by Mike Walsh’s Hayden Attractions group – hosting a revamped production, opening in June 2014.
From Los Angeles where he is due to attend the Oscars on Sunday, he described Melbourne as “the natural home of musicals.”
“I’m always coming to Melbourne, my last show opened here, Mary Poppins which was an enormous success at Her Majesty’s. 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 bring 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. 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 is currently in Los Angeles preparing for the Oscars ceremony, which will feature some of the principal cast performing songs from the film, which has been nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor.
The new 25th anniversary version of the stage musical, already touring around the world, has new staging and orchestrations and will appeal to new audiences who’ve seen the film, he said.
This announcement is a big win for Melbourne. 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 the News South Wales government stepping up its efforts to woo producers.
Tickets for the 2014 Melbourne season go on sale in October. Casting begins next month, with speculation likely to be intense on the choice of a Valjean. Jackman has already picked up a Golden Globe for the role in the filmed version and is nominated for an Oscar giving him a chance to win on the big night, not just host. Could he be interested in reprising the role on stage back in Australia?
“That’s wishful thinking”, says Mackintosh. “There’s no reason for Hugh to do it on stage. He’s given a magnificent performance in the film and I very much hope he’ll win an Oscar though he’s got tough competition tomorrow night.”
Based on Victor Hugo’s story, and with music and lyrics by Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil, the stage production is now in its 28th year, with a 25th anniversary production already touring in several countries.
Mackintosh has also confirmed the new production will open on Broadway in March 2014 – having already played in 64 cities throughout the United States and grossing more than $130 million.
Oscars might seem just 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.