America's Oldest · Founded 1808

Les Mis now on the mainstage!

April 28, 2008

PHILADELPHIA, PA: The Walnut Street Theatre concludes its historic 199th season with a landmark new production of Les Misérables. The Walnut's "Les Mis" is a fresh new vision of the world's most popular musical. A new scenic design, re-imagined technical movements and other surprises combine with a breathtaking score that includes such show-stoppers as "One Day More," "Stars," "Do you Hear The People Sing?" and "Bring Him Home." Les Misérables features an outstanding cast filled with both Broadway veterans and Philadelphia favorites. The production starts May 13, opens May 21 and runs through August 3 on the Walnut Street Theatre Mainstage. Already extended by popular demand, Les Misérables is a monumental ending to the Walnut's 199th season.

Based on Victor Hugo's classic novel, Les Misérables is an epic saga that sweeps through three turbulent decades of 19th century French history. The show is also the story of one man, the fugitive Jean Valjean (Hugh Panaro), who is pitted against the tenacious Inspector Javert (Paul Schoeffler), in a lifelong struggle to evade capture. What follows is a deeply personal tale set against a historical backdrop of an unparalleled scale.

Since its celebrated beginnings in 1985, Cameron Mackintosh's production of Boublil and Schönberg's legendary musical has played to an international audience of tens of millions, earning its place as the world's most popular musical. It has been performed in over 26 countries in 14 different languages, capturing more than 50 international theatre awards, including two Grammy Awards and eight Tony Awards, including the 1987 Tony Award for Best Musical. It is the longest running musical in West End history. The Walnut Street Theatre was one of the first self-producing theatres chosen by Mackintosh to create a new concept for the show.

"Les Misérables speaks to the heart of its audience in a way that very few shows have in the history of musical theatre. Its strengths come from the magical grandeur of the production itself combined with the enduring message of Victor Hugo's classic novel, "Les Misérables." At its core, it is a tale that reinforces the fact that even though we may have our many differences, it is our longing for freedom that makes us part of both a global community and a truly human family. I am extremely excited to present this wonderful story in a new way that will be a unique experience for Philadelphia theatregoers."

-Bernard Havard, WST Producing Artistic Director

At the helm of this production is Barrymore Award-Winning Director Mark Clements. The Walnut's new production of Les Misérables is the culmination of over a year's worth of planning, which started before the close of Mark's previous directorial effort at the Walnut, Of Mice And Men.

"I am extremely thrilled about presenting a new look for Les Misérables. Seeing the original cast of Les Mis in London 22 years ago was a key reason for me wanting to become a theatre director. In the right hands, the material can be devastatingly beautiful. I have surrounded myself with the best talent I can muster, and hopefully the results will speak for themselves. I find working on any production a huge challenge, as you always want the final result to feel memorable and vital for the actors and the audience. I hope Philadelphia audiences enjoy what we've envisioned."

-Mark Clements, Director

Mark was honored with the 2007 Barrymore Award for Outstanding Direction of a Play (Of Mice and Men). That same production was also honored with the Barrymore Award for Outstanding Overall Production of a Play. Some of Mark's previous Walnut Directorial credits include Blood Money, The Rivals, Great Expectations and the 2006 Studio 3 production of The Thing About Men. Mark will be working closely with Music and Vocal Director Douglass G. Lutz, who has been at the helm for many major Walnut musicals, including Peter Pan, Man of La Mancha, 42nd Street and West Side Story among others.

A seasoned team of designers joins Mark in this endeavor. Todd Edward Ivins revisits the Walnut as Set Designer, bringing with him a monumental new look to Les Misérables. One of the biggest changes (and challenges) of the new production is the removal of the iconic turntable from the mix. Todd's previous Walnut designs include a Barrymore Nomination for last season's Of Mice and Men, in addition to Godspell and Studio 3's The Thing About Men.

New to the Walnut is Lighting Designer Jeff Nellis. Jeff has designed for companies across the nation, including Broadway's Prymate, Off-Broadway's Tryst (NY Outer Critics Circle Nomination), in addition to designs for Hartford Stage, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, North Shore Musical Repertory Theatre, Los Angeles Opera and others.

Returning to the Walnut is Sound Designer Ryk Lewis, continuing his run of recent Walnut designs that include Windy City, 42nd Street, Carousel, Man of La Mancha and Peter Pan. Colleen Grady, in her eleventh season as Costume Designer and Shop Manager for the Walnut, is throwing everything she has into the design for Les Misérables, creating a fresh look for 30+ actors presenting dozens of different characters.

Casting such an enormous show as Les Misérables is no small task. Over the course of 10 months, Casting Directors at the Walnut auditioned over 600 actors here in Philadelphia and elsewhere. After such a long vetting process, the final product is nothing short of amazing. Well-known and loved Philadelphia theatre artists mix with Broadway's best to create a dynamic cast more than willing to take on the task of presenting Les Misérables in a new way.

At the center of this compassionate tale of love and forgiveness is Jean Valjean, brought to life by Hugh Panaro. Hugh is a Philadelphia native, Temple University alum, recording artist and Broadway vet. He has toured the country with Les Misérables and brought The Phantom to life on Broadway in The Phantom of the Opera from 2003 - 2005. One of Hugh's first professional productions was right here at the Walnut in our 1988 production of A Little Night Music. He is pursued by Inspector Javert, portrayed by Paul Schoeffler. Paul's performances at the Walnut have been show-stoppers, including his turns as Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha and Captain Hook in Peter Pan.

The cast of Les Misérables is a veritable who's who of Philadelphia and New York talent, including Jessica Bogart (The Walnut's Philadelphia Story, La Vie En Bleu) as Fantine; Jeffrey Coon (Carousel, Beauty and the Beast) as Enjolras; Julie Craig as Cosette; Christina DeCicco (West Side Story, Beauty and the Beast and the National Tour of Wicked) as Eponine; Ben Dibble; Kelley Faulkner; Constantine Germanacos; Scott Greer (Of Mice and Men) as Thenardier; Darren Michael Hengst; Danielle Herbert; Joe Jackson; Mary Martello; Michael Philip O'Brien; Katie O'Shaughnessey; Steve Pacek; Jennifer Page; Fran Prisco; Ilona Rubenstien; Nicholas F. Saverine; Peter Schmitz as The Bishop; Abigail Sparrow; Dawn Spence as Madame Thenardier; Denise Whelan and Josh Young. The smaller members of our cast (in size) include Gianna Bruzzese and Laurel Gwynne Yaros as Young Costette, Danielle Rosenthal and Maggie Fitzgerald as young Eponine, and Brandon O'Rourke and Dante Mignucci as Gavroche. Extras include John Greenbaum, Mark Murphy, Joe O'Brien and CJ Sikorski.

Les Misérables runs at the Walnut from May 13 - August 3, 2008.