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CONTACT: WINSTON BARCLAY
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Iowa City IA 52242
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e-mail: winston-barclay@uiowa.edu

Release: Feb. 4, 2000

'Les Miz' returns to UI Hancher Auditorium Feb. 22-27

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- "Les Miserables," the international-hit musical that is already the most popular event in the history of the University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium, will return for eight more performances Feb. 22-27. Performances will be at 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, Feb. 22-25, and 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 26 and 27.

Victor Hugo wrote his melodramatic novel about injustice and redemption in post-revolutionary France with the intention that its message would be universal. "Social problems do not have frontiers," he wrote. "Humankind's wounds, those huge sores that litter the world, do not stop at the red and blue lines drawn on maps. Wherever men go in ignorance or despair, wherever women sell themselves for bread, wherever children lack a book to learn from or a warm hearth, 'Les Miserables' knocks at the door and says, 'open up. I am here for you.'"

Nearly 140 years after the publication of "Les Miserables" in 1862, "huge sores" still litter the world, and Hugo's story rendered with music and theatricality reminds its viewers that they are part of the same human family, in which everyone longs for liberty, justice and peace.

"Les Miserables" comes to this vivid theatrical life for audiences world-wide in the award-winning Cameron Mackintosh production by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg, with lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer.

When "Les Miz" burst onto Broadway in 1987, it became one of the most honored musicals in American theater history, winning eight Tony awards to add to other major awards won in America and throughout the world. "Les Miz" touched the heart of its international audience as few shows in history have done, and the visage of the "Les Miz" waif has become one of the world's most instantly recognizable images.

The Broadway National Tour recently celebrated its 11th anniversary, and continues to win rave reviews from critics around the country. The Deseret News in Salt Lake City titled its recent review "Les Miz Still Fresh 6th Time Around." Critic Ivan Lincoln wrote, "this current cast makes the production seem as fresh as ever."

"Seeing 'Les Miserables,' which returned to Denver this week for the sixth time in a decade, is like seeing it for the first time . . . beautifully sung . . . visually spectacular . . . emotionally satisfying," the critic of the Denver Post recently wrote.

"Les Miz," with its turntable stage-on-a-stage and hydraulically operated barricades, remains one of the biggest, most expensive and most technically complex shows ever put on the road. The first time the show visited Hancher, the auditorium's loading-dock doors had to be expanded to accommodate the gigantic set pieces.

Like Hugo's novel, the musical "Les Miz" follows both the epic struggle of Jean Valjean -- a man once imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread -- and society's perpetual struggles with good and evil, highlighted by the relentless pursuit of Valjean by Inspector Javert and a climatic political and military conflict at the Parisian barricades.

McLeodUSA Inc. is the corporate sponsor of the "Les Miz" performances, with media support from the Gazette.

"Les Miz" prices vary by performance date. Tickets for the Feb. 22-24 performances are $50, $40 and $25. UI students, senior citizens and youth 17 and younger qualify for a 20-percent discount on tickets for those performances.

For the Feb. 25 and 26 evening performances, remaining tickets for all patrons are $49 and $30.

Remaining tickets for the Feb. 26 matinee and both performances on Feb. 27 are $49 and $30, with a 20-percent discount available to UI students, senior citizens and youth.

Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays, and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. From the local calling area or outside Iowa, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance within Iowa and western Illinois is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction.

People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology. Audio description, for audience members with visual impairment, will be available free of charge at the 8 p.m. performance on Feb. 26 and the 2 p.m. performance on Feb. 27.

Learn more about the "Les Miz" production on the World Wide Web at http://www.lesmis.com . The site includes background information on both the novel and the musical, a plot and scene synopsis, and a study guide for students. For UI arts news and information, and arts calendar updates, visit the ArtsIowa website, www.uiowa.edu/~uiowacr

(NOTE TO BROADCASTERS: "Les Miserables" is pronounced lay mee-zay-rah-bluh, but the show is commonly referred to simply as "Les Miz.")

(NOTE TO EDITORS: The national press representative for the "Les Miz" tour is Ed Kiley. Phone: 212-307-0800; Fax: 212-307-7113. Downloadable press photos are available at the "Les Miz" website: http://www.lesmis.com )