“Les Miserables” is one of the longest-running and most beloved musicals in theatrical history. It’s a powerful story of redemption with some incredibly moving music, so it’s easy to see why “Les Mis” has resonated with people for decades.
On Wednesday night, audiences packed the Sondheim Theatre on London’s West End, having paid between £46 and £242 (or between $55 and $274) to see “Les Mis.” It was an uneventful midweek performance up until one of the most stirring numbers — “Do You Hear the People Sing?” — which takes place at a pivotal point in the plot.
Here’s a video of “Do You Hear the People Sing?” from a high school production of “Les Mis,” just in case you’re not familiar with the show:
During that number — featuring a cast of professional actors and a packed audience — eco-terrorists from the group Just Stop Oil invaded the theater and disrupted the show. Needless to say, producers stopped the show and called the cops.
“Just Stop Oil eco-zealots have interrupted a production of Les Miserables as audience members heckled the quartet for disrupting the performance,” reports Jack Walters at GB News. “Four activists locked themselves to the stage of the French-revolution-themed show.”
London’s Metropolitan Police received a call around 9 p.m., and officers responded. Police arrested five people, including the protesters who rushed the stage during “Do You Hear the People Sing?”
During the disruption, the audience wasn’t thrilled. As the protesters, clad in shirts that read, “The show can’t go on,” raised banners and chanted, “Just stop oil!” audience members had shouts of their own.
“Get off. Stupid people,” one woman yelled. “Get off. How dare you?” She added, “You nasty people.” Other members of the audience booed as patrons filed out of the theater.
The official “Les Miserables” Facebook page issued a statement about the incident and offered to refund patrons for their tickets.
“During the first half of our performance of ‘Les Misérables,’ individuals from Just Stop Oil invaded the stage, abruptly stopping the show,” the statement read in part. “Following our safety protocols, the audience were asked to leave the auditorium and the Met Police attended. Regrettably, there was insufficient time to enable us to complete the rest of the performance.”
Producers acknowledged both the idea of free speech and the importance of patrons watching the show without disruption.
“Whilst we recognise the importance of free expression, we must also respect our audience’s right to enjoy the event for which they have paid,” the statement continued.
Many commenters on Facebook sided squarely with the audience and performers.
“My heart goes out to the performers and crew who are no doubt gutted that they didn’t manage to reset and finish the show in time,” one said.
“My heart goes out to the cast & crew who had their space invaded, as well as the audience that missed out on an incredible show,” another commented.
Other people commented that the protesters deserve to face judgment for interrupting the show.
“Words cannot even begin to describe how I feel about this, 😠” wrote one commenter. “And I cannot even think of a proper punishment that Just Stop Oil deserves for ruining a performance of one of my favorite musicals. 😡”
Groups like Just Stop Oil have run rampant all over Europe. We’ve seen climate terrorists deface landmarks and works of art, disrupt sporting events, hold up traffic, and now interrupt the performance of a beloved show. We’ve even seen a counterprotest group called Just Stop Pissing People Off emerge — and another group is working to sabotage Just Stop Oil.
WE PLANTED A MOLE WITHIN JUST STOP OIL – https://t.co/96TJBiagL1
— Josh Pieters (@joshua_pieters) July 23, 2023
Hopefully, Just Stop Oil will figure out that all it’s doing is generating bad press for itself. If these people want us to hear their grievances, they need people to take them seriously. They still probably won’t convince too many people, but at least they won’t annoy many people either.