As global theatre sensation Les Misérables celebrated its 30th birthday with a gala performance last night, producer Cameron Mackintosh proclaimed it “the most amazing show I’ve ever worked with” adding “It’s going to outlive us all.”
The impresario, whose other productions include Mary Poppins, The Phantom Of The Opera and Miss Saigon, took to the stage as part of a unique finale that saw members of the original cast and the cast of Welsh language version Fersiwn Ysgolion join the current company on the stage of the Queen’s Theatre for a unique rendition of first half climax One Day More.
Mackintosh, in addition to telling original Fantine Patti LuPone to be quiet – “I’ve been wanting to do that for 30 years” he quipped – also welcomed the creative team of Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg and Herbert Kretzmer to the stage. In a double birthday celebration, the gala night audience sang Happy Birthday to lyricist Kretzmer, who celebrated his 90th birthday earlier this week.
Speaking to us at the post-gala party, Schönberg admitted “I don’t understand how a show can play for 30 years and at the same time look so fresh.”
Far from acclaiming his own role in the entertainment behemoth’s success – the show has been seen by more than 70 million people worldwide, been adapted for a movie and featured on television shows from South Park to The Muppets – Schönberg attributed the success to the novel’s author Victor Hugo. “It’s the novel, definitely,” he said. “[We were] just bold enough to adapt it in music and we did our best to respect the spirit.”
Les Misérables tells the 19th century France-set tale of former convict Jean Valjean, who, after 19 years a prisoner, tries to rebuild his life amid the most testing of circumstances. The show was first staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Barbican in 1985 before transferring to the West End.
Lupone, Francis Ruffelle, Colm Wilkinson, Roger Allam, Rebecca Caine, Peter Polycarpou and Caroline Quentin were among the original cast members who joined the special finale to mark the momentous moment in the life of the world’s longest running musical.