Les Mis makes its long-awaited return to Philadelphia.

Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables is nothing short of spectacular no matter how many times you have seen this critically acclaimed classic over the years. It is a true celebration of the human spirit: Set in 19th-century France, it is the story of paroled convict Jean Valjean who seeks redemption after being imprisoned for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread to feed a starving family.

The show kicked off its 25th anniversary tour in Philadelphia in 2011 with new staging, an updated score, and artistic visuals inspired by the paintings of Hugo, all part of Cameron Mackintosh’s reimagined production of Boublil and Schönberg’s legendary musical. This will be the tour’s first show in 2013.

Largely recognized as one of the most influential theatrical producers in the industry, Mackintosh has produced several other stage classics, including Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, and Cats. Mackintosh purposely chose to launch the show here, says Matt Wolf, vice president of programming and theatrical presentations at the Kimmel Center. “Philly theatergoers have so much enthusiasm for the show,” says Wolf of Mackintosh’s decision.

But just why is Les Mis still making a lasting impact in the Broadway world? Wolf says it is because the music and story are so gripping that audiences come to see it again and again. “You know the outcome, but you experience it as if you don’t,” says Wolf. “Everyone loves an epic love story. That’s why people never tire of seeing it.” Adds Peter Lockyer, who plays Jean Valjean: “This rendition is like looking into something through a different window while encompassing so much of life and feeling its full expressions.” Says Wolf, “It’s an amazing testimony to get to 25 years and then re-create the show.” Les Misérables runs from January 2 to 13 at the Academy of Music, 240 S. Broad St., 215-893-1999

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