TORONTO — Call it the Susan Boyle effect.
It’s been 22 years since Les Miserables took Broadway by storm, but the musical seems to once again be a hot ticket thanks to the frumpy Scottish church volunteer’s jaw-dropping rendition of I Dreamed a Dream on Britain’s Got Talent.
Vancouver’s Arts Club Theatre Company says daily ticket sales for its upcoming production of Les Miz have tripled in recent days and the show’s soundtrack, first released in 1985, is a hot item on iTunes.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the album with the original London cast was No. 21 on the Top 100 album downloads on iTunes in Canada, where I Dreamed a Dream was also No. 79 on the list of most downloaded singles.
On Amazon.com, the soundtrack ranked No. 38 in the bestsellers in music category.
“We’re getting strong anecdotal evidence that (Boyle) has actually had an effect on our sales,” Howard Jang, executive director of the Arts Club Theatre Company, said Tuesday from Vancouver.
Arts Club is mounting the revered musical, based on the 1862 novel by Victor Hugo and set in 19th century France, from May 14 to July 19.
With the Vancouver Canucks doing well in the NHL playoffs and many in the city spending their time glued to the TV, Jang had been bracing for slower sales.
Then came Boyle, a dowdy 47-year-old unemployed choir member who lives alone with her cat Pebbles in Blackburn, one of Scotland’s poorest regions, and devoted much of her adult life to caring for her mother.
Audience members and judges on the U.K. reality show, which aired April 11, cast a skeptical eye when she walked onstage but burst into applause upon hearing her first dulcet note.
Since the video clip of the spunky singer on the show hit YouTube last week, it’s netted millions of hits and a flood of celebrities have admitted her story made them cry.
Jang said box office phone lines have been clogged with calls from patrons who say Boyle’s story has sparked an interest in their “Les Miz” show.
“People started to call up and say, ‘I just watched this’ or ‘I just heard about this’ or ‘I was moved by this and I forgot how much I love that production’ or ’I love that song and I really want to see it,”’ said Jang, who has coined Boyle “a playoffs buster.”
“They actually want to talk about how they feel about this woman and . . . her story,” he added.
Sara-Jeanne Hosie, the actress who will sing I Dreamed a Dream in the role of Fantine in the Vancouver production, has also been fielding calls from friends and colleagues about Boyle’s performance, noted Jang.
Le Capitol de Quebec theatre in Quebec City is set to present Les Miserables for the second year in a row, entirely in French, starting June 17.
A spokeswoman for the theatre says they haven’t felt the Boyle effect yet.