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Les Mis designer John Napier criticises plans to replace West End production with ‘fudged’ update

Les Miserables designer John Napier has lamented plans to replace the current West End staging with a touring version, labelling the newer show “formulaic” and a “fudged take” on the original.

Napier’s design for the original West End production of Les Miserables, which includes the iconic revolving stage, will be removed from the West End later this year, and replaced with a version based on the current touring production that began in 2009.

Les Miserables to transfer to Gielgud while current West End home undergoes renovation [1]

However, Napier said the touring production had led Les Miserables “down a path that felt a bit backwards” and that the show’s design now felt “formulaic as opposed to out of the box and radical”.

“My grief with that, if there is such a thing as grief with someone tinkering with a show, is that it led Les Mis down a path that felt a bit backwards, into some sort of era of stage cloths and people pushing things on from left and right,” he said.

Napier said some of the creative team for the new version had links to the original, including Matt Kinley, who designed the touring production and had worked as part of Napier’s own team for many years.

“I would have been perfectly happy if it had been people with no association with the original in the first place [working on the 2009 version]. Therefore its originality would have been authentic. It’s when you have people who have worked on it before [that] I find it a little bit galling,” he said, adding: “It seems to me this is a fudged take on the old production.”

Napier also claimed he was unlikely to receive any royalties from the musical once the original production closed in the West End.

Read the full interview here [2]