Broadway 'Previvals': How Might LES MISERABLES Been Cast In 1964?
It's a game every theatre lover enjoys playing. Cast a dream revival of your favorite Broadway show. Pick a show, any show... maybe a revival already announced for Broadway or an upcoming Encores! concert. You'll get dozens of opinions on the perfect casting choices.
But how about twisting the game a little? Instead of casting an old show with today's actors, how about imagining if a newer musical actually opened many years ago.
Instead of revivals, call then "previvals." For example, if Les Miserables opened in 1964, the cast might have looked something like this:
JOHN RAITT as JEAN VALJEAN
The epic role of Jean Valjean seems a perfect choice for the Broadway star who was the original Billy Bigelow in CAROUSEL, a role that he was still playing to great acclaim in tours and regional productions.
RICHARD KILEY as JAVERT
After winning a Tony Award as Gwen Verdon's leading man in REDHEAD and starring opposite Diahann Carroll in NO STRINGS Kiley would probably be up for a juicy dramatic role. It would still be a year before his most famous performance as MAN OF LA MANCHA's Don Quixote, another character devoted to his morals.
GEORGIA BROWN as FANTINE
The British star had created the role of Nancy in OLIVER! on the West End and after a long American tour finally arrived with the show on Broadway in January of '63. Who knows how long producer David Merrick had a contractual hold on her, but most likely she could have been free by the end of the year.
LIZA MINNELLI as EPONINE
The producers may have gone after another hot young singer before she signed up for that Fanny Brice bio, but in 1963 Liza Minnelli broke hearts in her Off-Broadway debut, singing "You Are For Loving" in BEST FOOT FORWARD. And exposure on her mom's television show would make her a draw without pressuring her to carry the show. She'd do that next year, winning the Tony for FLORA, THE RED MENACE.
SUSAN WATSON and JOEL GREY as COSETTE and MARIUS
After originating the role of Kim MacAfee in BYE, BYE, BIRDIE, Susan Watson's lovely soprano was next heard more fully as a replacement for Anna Maria Alberghetti in CARNIVAL!. Pre-CABARET Joel Grey was establishing himself as a reliable Broadway replacement. In between stints filling in for Anthony Newley in STOP THE WORLD - I WANT TO GET OFF and Tommy Steele in HALF A SIXPENCE he might have welcomed a shot at originating a role.
JOHN CULLUM as ENJOLRAS
Shakespearean-trained John Cullum made his Broadway musical debut understudying Richard Burton in CAMELOT, and in 1964 he matched swords with the Welch actor as Laertes to his Hamlet. His future musical roles would include passionate men like Edward Rutledge in 1776, Charlie Anderson in SHENANDOAH and Oscar Jaffe in ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY, so playing a young revolutionary leader seems a great fit.
PHIL SILVERS and NANCY WALKER as the THENARDIERS
Two of Broadway's top clowns, Phil Silvers and Nancy Walker played a daffy husband and wife in DO RE MI a few years earlier. They might be intrigued with the idea of layering their comic skills with more serious dramatics.
Now it's your turn! Pick a year. 1975? 1925? Somewhere in between? Comment with your impossible dream casts. And be sure to see the current LES MISERABLES cast on Broadway!
The Broadway revival of Claude-Michel Schönberg & Alain Boublil's beloved musical Les Miserables welcomed a new 'Jean Valjean' - John Owen-Jones - on March 1, as Alfie Boe, the internationally-acclaimed tenor (and star of the London LES MIZ 25th Anniversary concert), departs for Broadway's FINDING NEVERLAND.
Perhaps best known for his record-breaking turn in THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (Owen-Jones is the longest running West End Phantom with almost 2000 performances under his belt), he was a part of the closing cast of the previous Les Miserables revival.
The current Broadway cast also features Hayden Tee as Javert, Alison Luff as Fantine, Tony Award and Olivier Award nominee Gavin Lee as Thenardier, Rachel Izen as Madame Thenardier, Brennyn Lark as Eponine, Chris McCarrell as Marius, Alex Finke as Cosette and Wallace Smith as Enjolras.
The Broadway production of Les Miserables, currently the only production of the musical performing in North America, will end its acclaimed run on Sept. 4.