Master of the . . . State Library

Yesterday I alluded to a second big announcement at the Les Misérables cast launch . . . I’ll give you a hint – It won’t leave any Empty Chairs at Empty Tables at the State Library of Victoria.

Photo Credit: Michael Le Poer Trench

Photo Credit: Michael Le Poer Trench

The Arts Centre has been having great success with its most recent Geoffrey Rush exhibit in the Theatres Building. Everybody who has visited the building for a show seems to wander through it and it has left a lasting impression with many audience members. Well, Les Misérables is going to launch a challenge to the Arts Centre with a world-first exhibition at the State Library of Victoria.

To celebrate the return of Les Misérables, the State Library of Victoria is bringing together a collection of rarely seen material from around the world celebrating the move of Les Misérables from Victor Hugo’s book to the beloved stage show. The exhibition will even feature original writing and artwork from Victor Hugo himself which expressly influenced this new production.

However, the State Library is not only targeting fans of the book (and let’s face it, the musical is much more well-known to audiences!). The exhibition is presented in partnership with Cameron Mackintosh, the producer of Les Misérables, which means that fans of the show will get to see original scripts, scores, set designs, costumes, posters, photographs AND film which take them behind-the-scenes of this monumental production.

Broadway’s Wicked has a very similar exhibition which takes patrons on a short behind-the-scenes tour guided by one of the cast members and shows off costumes work by Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel as well as various other sketches, scores and scripts. But in order to see this exhibition, you have to pay!

It is only $38 per ticket and well-worth it to stand within 10 centimetres of Kristin Chenoweth’s Galinda costume – or at least I think so. But that price may be a bit too expensive for many audience members who are probably already paying for a ticket to see the show and it is also only available before the matinee of Saturday.

Very few details have been released about the Victor Hugo: Les Misérables – From Page to Stage exhibition so I cannot tell you if it will be free and available during normal business hours. But what I can tell you is that there are a substantial number of reasons why all shows should put on a free exhibition outside performance hours.

The main one?

Potential audience members who are unsure about buying tickets will go and see the exhibition as it is free – and therefore they have nothing to lose. If they don’t like what they see they will find another more appealing way to spend their entertainment dollars. But if they do like what they see, well then you have just increased your audience because you showed them that the production is fabulous.

On top of that, all the musical theatre nuts (myself included) will go and see the exhibition. Upon being reminded that the musical really is phenomenal and also remembering the incredible experience the last time they saw it – chances are they will be back in the theatre waiting for some more Les Misérables action.

Sounds pretty good to me!