THE strength of Melbourne's commitment to its theatres has helped Victoria snare a new production of Les Miserables from under Sydney's nose.
Cameron Mackintosh, one of the world's biggest theatre producers, has announced the return of the musical phenomenon to Melbourne after 26 years.
''Melbourne is now the natural home of theatre because it has looked after and increased its theatre stock,'' Mackintosh said from Los Angeles, where he is attending the Oscars on Monday.
In the past 30 years, Mackintosh has toured major shows such as Cats, Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera all over the world, creating an empire built on spectacular staging and - his point of pride - strong dramatic stories.
''I'm always coming to Melbourne, my last show opened there, 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.''
The new production will be staged at Her Majesty's in June 2014 and was vigorously pursued by the state government.
Casting begins next month.