A Classic Reinvention for Modern Audiences
Les Misérables is probably the most iconic piece in the history of musical theatre. It has been running continuously since the 28 September 1985 on the West End. It has starred numerous big names on stages across the world including Patti LuPone, Philip Quast, Lea Salonga, Alun Armstrong and Ramin Karimloo. The songs have transcended the theatre world into pop culture thanks to Susan Boyle’s ‘I Dreamed A Dream’. And there has been a big budget movie version of the stage spectacular featuring a whole range of Hollywood’s brightest. But how does it maintain its relevance?
When bringing out a new production of Les Misérables, there are two major audiences that need to be satisfied.
- The traditional audiences who have seen one of the previous productions and are continuing their decades-long relationship with the story.
- And the modern audiences who are more accustomed to the big production value shows such as Wicked, The Lion King, Billy Elliot and Mary Poppins which have recently graced Australian stages to great acclaim.
One issue . . . these two groups seem the exact opposite. The first audience is looking for a replication of a production based on technology from the 1980’s while the second audience is looking for loud, bright and over-the-top modern interpretations.
To celebrate Les Misérables’ 25th anniversary, a combination of new and old production teams came together to reimagine the story’s transition to the stage. The traditional rotating set has disappeared. The show is no longer confined to the boundaries of the traditional stage. The original costuming ideas have been kept but have been given a face-lift to match modern audience expectations. And state of the art projection technology has been introduced to bring life to Victor Hugo’s original sketches.
This appreciation of old and new expectations in the theatre has resulted in the creation of a remarkable work which appeals to Australia’s wide ranging audiences. The feeling of the original production is maintained while the grand presentation will easily satisfy the fans of big budget modern shows.
Complementing the clever reinvention is a truly remarkably cast. Featuring a number of Australian musical theatre veterans alongside some incredibly impressive talent relatively new to the stage, all members of the cast gave a phenomenal performance clearly matching the tone set by the clever reinterpretation. These many incredibly performances certainly ensure that audiences will get the full value for the price of their tickets.
Ultimately, creating a product that will satisfy such a wide range of audiences has contributed to the success of this new production around the world. Traditional audiences can further their existing relationship with the brand and new audiences have an accessible entry point into the every growing phenomenon. And the story won’t be any different here in Australia as Les Misérables is introduced into the 21st century!
Tickets are currently on sale for the Melbourne season with Perth and Sydney soon to follow. For more information visit: www.lesmis.com.au