The first casting for the upcoming international arena tour of Les Misérables has been revealed, with the event set to be led by some of the long-running musical's most distinguished alumni.
Sharing the role of Jean Valjean will be Alfie Boe and Killian Donnelly, while Javert will be handled by Michael Ball and Bradley Jaden. Boe, Donnelly, Ball, and Jaden have only been announced for the tour's U.K. stops, though the production is expected to come to North America in 2025. Additional casting is to be announced.
The tour is set to launch from SSE Arena Belfast September 19, with further dates planned in Glasgow, Sheffield, Aberdeen, Manchester, and Newcastle. Next up on the manifest are engagements in Sweden, Australia, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea.
"The spectacular world arena tour of the Les Misérables concert has been a dream of mine for many years," says producer Cameron Mackintosh. "With Les Mis' 40th phenomenal year starting this October, there couldn't be a better time for it to happen. ... Many other favorite Les Misérables performers, chosen from all over the world, will be announced in a few weeks’ time. After the U.K., the world tour will play many cities across Europe, the Middle East, Australia, Korea, Japan, and several other Asian cities before it returns to Europe and beyond."
The new tour has been crafted for arenas and large theatres with audiences between 3,000 and 5,000, and will feature a U.K. company of more than 65 actors and orchestra members.
An arena tour for a musical is rare, but not unprecedented. Rock operas Jesus Christ Superstar and The Who's Tommy both played arenas in their heyday, and an arena tour of Broadway's ill-fated Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark was initially expected to follow the Main Stem run.
Les Misérables is written by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg and is based on the novel by Victor Hugo. It has music by Schönberg, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer, original French text by Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel, additional material by James Fenton, and an adaptation by Trevor Nunn and John Caird. Following a French production in 1980, the English translation premiered via Royal Shakespeare Company in 1985, transferring to London's West End later the same year and to Broadway in 1987. The musical became one of a string of British-originating musical juggernauts, becoming the West End's longest-running musical and one of Broadway's longest-running shows as well. The original London production closed in 2019, reopening with an updated physical production and staging later the same year. The musical's longtime West End home, the Queen's Theatre, hosted Les Misérables The Staged Concert, on which this arena spectacular is based, in the interim between the two productions.
Concert presentations have been a big part of Les Misérables' legacy throughout its history, including filmed anniversary concerts in 1995 and 2010. Les Misérables The Staged Concert was also filmed and broadcast to movie theatres internationally. A feature film adaptation starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, and Eddie Redmayne was released in 2012 and earned a Best Picture nomination at the 2013 Academy Awards. The film version will be back in movie theatres with re-mixed sound and remastered visuals beginning February 23.