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Rosie O'Donnell to Join Les Miserables as Mme. Thenardier?

Rosie O'Donnell may be the next star to play feisty innkeeper's wife Madame Thenardier in Broadway's Les Miserables, according to

O'Donnell, who will leave her year-long stint on ABC's "The View" next month, first fueled rumors of her going into the show when, on April 25th, she was asked by an audience member "Will you do Broadway again?"  O'Donnell, who is known for making self-effacing quips about her vocal skills, replied "I will be going to Les Miserables in September as long as I can sing 'Master of the House!'"  Access Hollywood has confirmed that O'Donnell had indeed been asked by Les Mis producers to join the cast.

Les Mis spokesperson Marc Thibodeau has told The New York Times that O'Donnell will be welcome to join the musical at a future date; Ann Harada recently assumed the role of Madame Thenardier. "We think (O'Donnell) would make a terrific Madame Thenardier and would love to have her join the show at some point in the future," he stated.

Prior to joining "The View" last year, O'Donnell was, from 1996 to 2002, the host of ABC's "The Rosie O'Donnell Show," on which she heavily promoted Broadway shows and featured Broadway performers.  O'Donnell is also a performer who most recently appeared as Golde in the recent Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof; she has also been seen on Broadway in Seussical (as The Cat in the Hat) and in Grease (as Rizzo). O'Donnell, who began her career as a stand-up comedian, produced the Boy George musical Taboo, and film and TV credits include Tarzan, Harriet the Spy, Now and Then, Exit to Eden, A League of Their Own, Sleepless in Seattle, "Will & Grace," and "Queer as Folk." O'Donnell, who is a also known as a vocal advocate of gay and lesbian rights, is married to Kelli Carpenter O'Donnell, with whom she has four children.

The new production of Les Miserables opened on Thursday, November 9th, 2006 at the Broadhurst Theatre (235 West 44th Street) after beginning previews on Saturday, October 24th.  The musical is playing an extended run through at least the summer of 2007, and Salonga will stay with the production through the entire period.

The show also stars A
lexander Gemignani (Sweeney Todd, Assassins) as noble on-the-run convict Jean Valjean, Ben Davis (Les Miserables, Thoroughly Modern Millie ) as his persistent adversary Javert, with Tony Award-winner Gary Beach (La Cage aux Folles, The Producers) as Thenardier, Mandy Bruno ("Guiding Light") as Eponine, Ann Harada (Avenue Q) as Madame Thenardier, Max von Essen ( Les Miserables, Dance of the Vampires) as Enjolras, Adam Jacobs as Marius, and Ali Ewoldt as Cosette.

With music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer, with original French text by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel and additional material by James Fenton, Les Miserables is based on the sprawling novel by Victor HugoDirected by Trevor Nunn  and John Caird, Les Miserables originally ran on Broadway from March 12th, 1987 through May 18th, 2003.

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Photo of Rosie O'Donnell by Walter McBride/Retna Ltd.

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