Anniversary staging inks in spring 2014 slot
One revival more: “Les Miserables” will return to Broadway next year, with the tuner readying to land on the Rialto in spring 2014 in a staging of the 25th anniversary production that’s currently on a U.S. tour. Timing of the announcement capitalizes on the recent bump in the title’s pop culture profile from the movie adaptation, which heads into the Feb. 24 Academy Awards ceremony vying for Oscars in eight categories. Another incarnation of the same anniversary production — a staging that has never played Broadway — was recently announced for a fall slot in Toronto in a run that will star Ramin Karimloo as Jean Valjean. Whether any elements of that Toronto version will also show up in the Broadway return is not yet clear, according to a rep for the show. New Gotham production will play one of the Broadway houses owned by the Shubert Org, which also owns the three venues (the Broadway, the Imperial and the Broadhurst) that were occupied by the tuner’s two prior Broadway runs. Cameron Mackintosh produces the Rialto return, after also producing the show’s Broadway bow in a 1987 stint that ran 16 years as well as a return 2006 engagement that played for just over a year. Like “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Cats,” both also produced by Mackintosh, “Les Mis” was one of the touchstone titles of the 1980s wave of Brit megamusicals that’s credited with helping to revitalize the Broadway industry in a tough decade. With all three shows, Mackintosh pioneered the broadly international producing model that has turned “Les Mis” into a globally recognized franchise with touring productions and sit-down stagings in outposts all over the world. Directed by Trevor Nunn and John Caird, the original production of “Les Mis,” which opened in London in 1985, made use of a turntable-based set design that grew into an iconic fixture over the years. However, the 25th anniversary production, launched in 2010 at the Paper Mill Playhouse, skips the turntable in favor of an entirely new staging by helmers Laurence Connor and James Powell, with the design based on the paintings of Victor Hugo, the scribe who penned the 1862 novel on which the tuner is based. It’s not yet clear how much the upcoming Broadway production of “Les Mis” will benefit from the movie’s success, since the show isn’t concurrently on the Main Steam boards to take advantage of the Oscar attention. In the last decade, however, it’s become apparent that the national promotional push for a movie musical can help revitalize sales at the stage show that inspired it, as has been the case with “Chicago” and “The Phantom of the Opera,” among others. The current U.S. tour of “Les Mis” wraps in August, a couple of months before the fall dates for the run in Toronto. Full details of the Broadway return of “Les Mis,” including exact dates, theater and casting, remain to be nailed down.