Theatre Thursdays: Re-staged Les Mis to play Broadway

The re-imagined production of Les Miserables which has been touring the UK and US simultaneously will be adding a third production to its credits: a sit-down Broadway engagement. The show, produced of course by that King Midas of musicals, Cameron Mackintosh, is set to take Broadway back to the barricades in Spring of 2014 at a yet-to-be-decided Shubert theater. The news that Les Mis would take Broadway for the third time has been floating around since the movie became such a huge hit but it wasn’t confirmed until recently what production would be seen on the Great White Way: the original, the new tour, or some other staging.

While I am a fan of Les Miserables, I didn’t feel especially excited for this revival. I suppose it’s just because the previous revival feels too recent to me to necessitate a third Broadway staging. Checking the dates, though, it has been a full five years since the 2006 Revival closed and will be over six by the time this production opens. Not to mention it was only three years between the original production’s closing and the revival’s opening.

I am interested to see how the new production fares on Broadway, though, because the 2006 revival was a very near replica of the original production with a few new ideas in the mix. Will this fare as well as the first two Broadway productions? I don’t know. I do like the re-imagined production quite a lot but will it face the same problems as the re-imagined Evita? Broadway didn’t seem willing to embrace a new vision of one of its more notable productions in that case.

Perhaps more importantly, will it attract tourists who can see the same thing locally at a lower price? Usually shows go from success on Broadway first to touring later, and when they go from touring to Broadway productions usually the tours no longer run. I’m not sure if the US Tour will end when the Broadway production opens (tickets are currently on sale only as far as August 2013) but if it doesn’t it may be a deterrent for ticket-buyers. I believe this is one of the reasons Billy Elliot went from success to closing notice so fast on Broadway; it opened up two additional productions in North America and couldn’t sustain itself once it was spread so thin between the three.

One thing Cameron Mackintosh is excellent at, though, is making money. I would bet that he knows what he’s doing with these productions to maximize success and I wouldn’t be surprised if the tour ends prior to the Broadway launch. They may have planned to do so all along so that the sets will even be used for the Broadway mounting rather than needing to create new ones.

Whether she proves successful or not, it will be nice having good ol’ Les Mis back on Broadway. I probably won’t be seeing it (unless the cast proves irresistible) but the fact that this beautiful score will be heard again on Broadway is worth celebrating in and of itself.