Backstage workers on the West End production of Les Miserables are facing redundancy as a result of changes to the production being implemented by Cameron Macktintosh Ltd, with 50% of the show’s band also being axed.
The Stage understands that the show’s entire backstage team, including people working in wardrobe and technical roles, are facing redundancy when the show moves out of the Queen’s Theatre in July.
A version of the show based on the touring production is due to replace the current one in December, after the venue has
According to a source close to the negotiations, Mackintosh is treating the two versions as separate legal entities, which is resulting in the current technical and backstage crew facing redundancy, some of whom have worked on the musical for more than 15 years.
BECTU is now negotiating with Mackintosh to see if current employees can be transferred to the newer version when it opens later this year.
The current move raises questions over Mackintosh’s right to claim the show will continue to be the longest-running musical in London, if the newer version coming into the Queen’s is being viewed by management as a separate entity from the current one.
A spokeswoman for BECTU said negotiations were ongoing.
Separately, musicians working in the band of Les Miserables have also been told they will not be required when the show reopens in December.
Seven out of the 14 current musicians have been offered no further role. It is believed one of those who has lost their job is a musician who has been on the production since it originally opened, more than 30 years ago.
Of the 14 musicians currently working on the production, only five will return to the musical in December, with two being offered work on Mary Poppins. The band will still have 14 players, but new musicians are being brought in.
One of the seven musicians to lose their jobs, who did not want to be named, said: “There has been no reason given. The atmosphere is strange backstage. People who have kept their jobs feel guilty, while the rest of us are mystified as to why we haven’t.”
The Musicians’ Union has been supporting those affected by the changes. London regional organiser Jamie Pullman said: “We are sorry the show has had to close and some of the musicians were not asked to join the new production, but we are pleased the band’s strength won’t be reduced and hope the new production is as successful and popular as the current one.”
Nicholas Allott, managing director of Cameron Mackintosh Ltd, described the “transition period between these separate productions” as “enormously complex”.
He said the discussions involved many employees and interested parties.
“As these discussions are ongoing, it is not appropriate for me to comment further at this time,” he added.