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GOOD MORNING BROADWAY FANS!! Well, this is it. The wait is almost over. Broadway’s Biggest Night is TOMORROW. We are talking about The 74th Annual Tony Awards. These past 50 days has been so much fun getting to entertain you with many of our favorite legendary Broadway performances from previous telecasts on our TOP 50 TONY AWARDS COUNTDOWN. This is truly been a moment of being reminded of what New York City is all about as we celebrate Broadway and Live Theater’s triumphant comeback after a rough 18 1/2 months. Without further or do, we are so happy to share with you the # 1 performance on our countdown. This one truly sets the mood for tomorrow night.
At # 1 on our countdown, we are about to take you back in time to the gritty era of France in the early 1800’s. This legendary REVOLUTIONARY musical mainly centers on a man that breaks free from his parole after 19 years . Along the way with starting over, the man’s pursued by a ruthless police officer. In addition, he also meets a lost-spirited dying woman who he promises to help care for her daughter. This is of course the classic…. Les Miserables. Based upon Victor Hugo’s long best-selling novel, the show features an iconic original score by Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boubil, Trevor Nunn, and John Caird.
From the 1987 telecast, the legendary Colm Wilkinson as “Jean Vailjean”, David Bryant as “Eponine”, Judy Kuhn as “Cosette”, Frances Ruffelle as “Eponine”, Michael Maguire as “Enjolras”, Terrence Mann as “Javert”, Leo Burmester as “Thernadier”, Jennifer Butt as “Madame Thernadier”, and the full original Broadway cast perform a medley of 2 of the most beloved songs from the show…. AT THE END OF THE DAY and the powerful ACT 1 finale anthem (that also sets the mood for the Tonys tomorrow as well) ONE DAY MORE.
Les Misérables was initially first conceived as a concept album turned stage production that initially premiered in Paris (and sung entirely in French) in 1980 for 3 months, A few months later, director Peter Fargo gave Sir Cameron Mackintosh (following the success of the West End debut of Cats) a copy of that concept album and encouraged him that he should translate the musical entirely into English. Along with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Mackintosh brought a full cast together and it premiered at the Barbican Theatre in 1985. However, the initial opening night was not well received by critics. During the 3 month run at the Barbican, the company kept revamping the show plus released a best selling original London cast album that made the critics change their minds.
It then later made its way officially into the West End at London’s Palace Theatre before later transferring to its current London home at the Queen’s Theatre where it ran for over 34 years. The Queen’s itself was renamed the Sondheim Theatre and went under a full renovation back in 2019.
Since last year following the renovation, the London production of LES MIZ was changed and now performed as the NEW revival production created over 10 years ago (for the show’s 25th Anniversary). Ironically, today actually marks the return of LES MIZ in the West End with its usual traditional staging (and once again being performed as THE NEW PRODCUTION).
With its legacy in London, the musical finally reached the US in 1986 with a sold out run in Washington DC before heading straight to Broadway that very next year. It originally opened at the Broadway Theatre before transferring to the Imperial Theatre running for an incredible 6,680 performances on Broadway. It became the 2nd Longest Running Musical in Broadway history at the time surpassing the original A Chorus Line. The original cast included…
Colm Wilkinson (who also starred in the original London cast ) as “Jean Vailjean”,
Randy Graff as “Fantine”,
David Bryant as “Marius”,
Tony nominee Judy Kuhn as “Cosette”,
Tony winner Frances Ruffelle (who also starred in the original London cast) as “Eponine”,
Tony winner Michael Maguire as “Enjolras”,
Tony nominee Terrence Mann as “Inspector Javert”,
Leo Burmester as “Thernadier”,
Jennifer Butt as “Madame Thernadier”.
During its 16 year run, the show had numerous cast replacements.
The original Broadway production of LES MISERABLES was nominated for 12 Tony Awards in 1987 winning 8 including BEST MUSICAL.
From there, LES MISERABLES went on to become a worldwide smash hit musical being performed in almost every major language.
The show later went on to be revived twice on the Great White Way. The first revival happened in 2006 at the Broadhurst Theatre running for 480 performances. It featured the same original staging. This revival featured an all star Broadway cast including…
Tony nominee Alexander Gemignani as “Jean Vailjean”,
Tony nominee Daphne Rubin-Vega as “Fantine”,
Tony nominee Adam Jacobs as “Marius”,
Ali Ewoldt as “Cosette”,
Tony winner Celia Keenan-Bolger as “Eponine”,
Aaron Lazar as “Enjolras”,
Tony nominee Norm Lewis as “Inspector Javert”,
Tony winner Gary Beach as “Thernadier”,
the musical’s acclaimed long running West End cast member Jenny Galloway as “Madame Thenardier”.
It also featured numerous cast replacements. This revival did not receive any Tony Awards in 2007 due to it still having the same original staging..
The most recent Broadway revival happened in 2014 with Sir Cameron Mackintosh presenting an all new production that initially toured the UK and the US for the show’s 25th Anniversary. It returned to where most of the original run stayed at the Imperial Theatre running for 1,026 performances. Under the direction of Laurence Clayton, this revival was led by…
Tony and Olivier nominee Ramin Karimloo as “Jean Vailjean”,
Caissie Levy as “Fantine”,
Andy Minetus as “Marius”,
Samantha Hill as “Cosette”,
Tony winner Nikki M. James as “Eponine”,
Kyle Scatliffe as “Enjolras”,
Tony nominee Will Swenson as “Inspector Javert”,
Cliff Saunders as “Thernadier”,
Tony nominee Keala Settle as “Madame Thenardier”.
It also featured numerous cast replacements.
The revival was nominated for 3 Tony Awards in 2014 including BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL. However, the show lost all the categories. A new touring production of this recent revival is currently on a National Tour.
LES MISERABLES was also well captured on film 4 times. The first time was the acclaimed 10th Anniversary concert in 1995 filmed at London’s Royal Albert Hall featuring the cast singing through the score live in costume standing at classical looking microphones. It aired on PBS and is still available to own on DVD. The cast featured..
Colm Wilkinson reprising his acclaimed performance of “Jean Vailjean”,
Broadway and West End favorite Ruthie Henshall as “Fantine”,
acclaimed West End star Michael Ball reprising the role of “Marius” which he originated in London,
Judy Kuhn reprising her Broadway performance of “Cosette”,
Tony and Olivier Award winner Lea Salonga as “Eponine”,
Michael Maguire reprising the role of “Enjolras”,
3 time Olivier Award winner Phillip Quast as “Inspector Javert”,
Alun Armstrong reprising the role of “Thernadier” which he originated in London,
Jenny Galloway as “Madame Thernadier”.
The ending also featured a spectacular finale featuring International artists who have played the role of “Jean Vailjean” singing in their native language.
The second time the musical was captured on film was for the spectacular acclaimed 25th Anniversary concert production at The O2 Arena London. It had a spectacular built set and a phenomenal cast all singing the score through classical looking microphones. The cast starred…
Alfie Boe who became a worldwide star from this performance as “Jean Vailjean”,
Lea Salonga (who previously played “Eponine” in the 10th Anniversary concert) graduating to the role of “Fantine”,
Pop sensation Nick Jonas (who played the role of “Gavorche” in the original Broadway production’s closing cast) graduating to the role of “Marius”,
Katie Hall as “Cosette”,
Samantha Barks as “Eponine”,
Ramin Karimloo (who graduated a few years later to the role of “Jean Vailjean) as “Enjolras”,
Norm Lewis reprising his acclaimed performance from the 2006 Broadway revival as “Inspector Javert”,
acclaimed UK TV star Matt Lucas as “Thernadier”,
once again Jenny Galloway as “Madame Thernadier”.
In addition during the finale, Boe joined original star Colm Wilkinson along with John Owen-Jones (who was appearing in the world premiere of the new 25th Anniversary touring production at the time), and Simon Bowman (who was appearing in the West End production at the time) performing a quarter version of Vailjean haunted showstopper BRING HIME HOME. Plus, members of the original London cast returned to join the 300 cast members on stage for a spectacular rendition of ONE DAY MORE as well as numerous kids that appeared in School productions of the show around the world.
The 3rd time turned out to be the full length motion picture adaptation of the musical. The film was released from Universal Pictures in 2012. Under the direction of Oscar winner Tom Hooper, this cast was led by….
Hugh Jackman as “Jean Vailjean”,
Anne Hathaway as “Fantine”,
Eddie Redmayne as “Marius”,
Amanda Seyfried as “Cosette”,
Samantha Barks (who was discovered following the success of the acclaimed 25th Anniversary concert) as “Eponine”,
Tony nominee this year Aaron Tviet as “Enjolras”,
Russell Crowe as “Inspector Javert”,
Sasha Baron Cohen as “Thernadier”,
Helena Bonham Carter as “Madame Thernadier”.
The film also featured a new additional song written especially for the film called SUDDENLY sung by the character of “Jean Vailjean” expressing the feeling of caring for “Cosette” after her mother “Fantine” disappears.
The film went on to become a worldwide box office hit winning the Golden Globes for BEST PICTURE. It also won 3 Oscars including BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS (for Anne Hathaway).
Most recently in 2019, LES MISERABLES was captured on film for the 4th time and for the 1st time in London’s West End. During the interim following the original production’s closure and the NEW production debuting on the stage of the Sondheim Theatre (while it was being renovated), the show moved next door to the Gielgud Theatre with a sold-out and acclaimed staged concert production. The staging was done very similar in style to both its 10th and 25th Anniversary celebration concerts featuring the casts performing in front of classical microphones center stage. The concert was filmed during its final week of its limited run and is available as both a DVD and a new LIVE album. Under the direction of James Powell, this staging featured a full cast and orchestra of over 65 performers led by…
Alfie Boe reprising the role of “Jean Vailjean”,
Michael Ball now taking on the role of “Inspector Javert”,
Carrie Hope Fletcher as “Fantine”,
Matt Lucas reprising the role of “Thernadier”,
Katy Secombe as “Madame Thenardier”,
SHAN AKO as “Eponine”,
Lily Kerhoas as “Cosette”,
Bradley Jean as “Enjolras”,
Rob Houchen as “Marius”.
Most recently, LES MISERABLES returned to the West End for a strictly limited engagement presentation of the STAGED CONCERT. Originally began in December of last year, it was abruptly cut short when Live Theater returned due to more COVID cases rising. However, it returned later in the Spring playing a full limited Summer engagement at the Sondheim Theatre in London. Now tonight, the show returns with its usual traditional staging there. Break legs Les Miz London!!
Today, LES MISERABLES continues to have audiences an emotional mess with its productions around the world along with school, community, and regional productions everywhere. It’s been seen everywhere on 6 continents and over 80 millions being translated into every major language.
Well, that’s it!!! We hope you enjoyed our 2021 edition of our TOP 50 TONY AWARDS COUNTDOWN. Tomorrow is going to be the ultimate party celebrating the unforgettable triumphant return of Live Theater in the Big Apple. The 74th Annual Tony Awards will be coming to you live from Broadway’s legendary Winter Garden Theatre. It all starts at 7pm EST with Audra McDonald hosting actual ceremony of Awards via Paramount+. Immediately at 9pm EST, transfer to the CBS telecast as Leslie Odom Jr. hosts the 2nd half entitled BROADWAY’S BACK which will be a full concert event. That will include performances from….
the 3 nominated shows for BEST MUSICAL this year (Jagged Little Pill, Moulin Rouge, and Tina),
2 Tony Honors recipients this year American Utopia and Freestyle Love Supreme,
Afterwards, the 3 major Awards will be given out for BEST REVIVAL OF A PLAY, BEST PLAY, and of course BEST MUSICAL.
How emotional was that performance?!!
Mike Haber
Author: Mike Haber

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