Did You Know? – Les Misérables
There are approximately 101 members of cast and crew directly involved in every performance of Les Misérables.
It takes 4 people to change Cosette from her black dress to her wedding dress in less than a minute.
Judi Dench made a single appearance on the barricade as the one-off character of Madame La Farge in May 2004.
Les Misérables has been seen by 10,953,665 people in London. It has grossed £206,689,372 ($393,887,609) at the London Box office and over £1.4 ($2.7) billion worldwide.
The famous revolve has made 216,275 complete turns in London alone, equating to over 4,168 miles or the distance from London to Chicago. If you add the complete revolves worldwide, it is a staggering 39,851.33 miles! (The circumference of the earth is only 24,859.82 miles)
The London Jean Valjeans have stolen 8,000 loaves of bread and the London cast have fired more than 60,000 gunshots.
The now-famous lithograph of little Cosette was designed by Emile Bayard, Victor Hugo’s favorite illustrator.
Excerpts from Les Misérables were performed at the closing ceremony of the Euro 96 Football Championships at Wembley Stadium. Fourteen Jean Valjeans and fourteen Gavroches took part, together with 176 members of the choir.
“One Day More” was used for Bill Clinton’s 1992 US Presidential Campaign and 7 US Presidents have seen Les Misérables: Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush.
Over 500 children have played the roles of Gavroche, Young Cosette and Young Eponine in London.
The biggest single live audience for Les Misérables to date was 125,000 at the 1989 Australia Day Concert in Sydney.
For the 21st Anniversary on October 8, 2006 an appreciative audience was given a special surprise. At the end of the show after the current cast had taken their bows in front of the barricade, the revolve turned to reveal the original cast, with Colm Wilkinson singing “Bring Him Home”. Then, as the barricade parted, Patti Lu Pone’s “I Dreamed a Dream” was followed by Elaine Paige singing “Memory”, after which she took off her Cats coat and laid it in little Cosette’s arms, symbolically passing the mantle of the world’s longest running musical from Cats to Les Misérables.
Did You Know? – Miss Saigon
Miss Saigon is one of the most spectacular and technically complex productions ever staged. Of the 266 people who worked on the London production at each performance, only 47 appeared in front of the audience.
The helicopter is a masterstroke of illusion. The “blades” in reality are thin cords with centrifugal force giving the impression of a completely realistic whirling blade motion.
The most unusual production to date was an open-air production in Szeged, Hungary where a real helicopter was used to recreate the evacuation of Saigon by the American forces.
Many of the artists appearing in Miss Saigon have come from the Philippines. There is a Miss Saigon school in Manila, and in London a special school was set up to help train young performers in the singing and dancing skills required.
The shakuhachi is a Japanese bamboo flute, which gives a striking purity of sound, and so it was used to characterize Kim and only played when she was singing or someone was thinking about her.
For the Engineer’s Tour it took twenty-six 44-foot trailers to move the set between venues.
For the same tour, the lighting rig to buy new would have cost in the region of £5 million ($9.5 million) and re-lamping the lamps in the moving lights, which took place every 700 hours, cost approximately £7,500 ($14,200).
The Ho Chi Minh statue was 18 feet high and weighed approximately 397 lbs. The hotel set weighed approximately 1 ton.
The Cadillac was designed especially for this production. It weighed 123 lbs. and folded in half for easy storage.
For the props there were: 816 bottles of Budweiser/Schwarz Beer, 450 bottles of Coke, 8 handguns (3 of which fired blank bullets), 17 G.I. rifles, 33 Vietnam flags, 19 Ho Chi Minh flags, 29 Red Army flags and 26 Ribbon Sticks.
For each performance 35 cigarettes, 19 roll ups/spliffs and 300 dollar bills were needed.
The second touring production of Miss Saigon had a breath-taking new design and used cutting-edge visual techniques to vividly recreate the streets of Vietnam and Bangkok, including the memorable final helicopter flight from the roof of the American Embassy, which seemed incredibly real and enabled the show to play in many more theatres that couldn’t accommodate the original production.
For more Facts and Trivia see Chapter 7 Showcase: A Fact File on the Productions.