If you're going to travel to the other side of the world to perform, you might as well make it worthwhile. The singers with Beyond the Barricade are doing just that.
The past principal performers from the West End's Les Miserables - Andy Reiss, David Fawcett, Katie Leeming and Beauty and the Beast's Julie-Alanah Brighten - appear at 21 New Zealand venues from Kerikeri to Invercargill.
Though they've done many performances from the likes of The Phantom of the Opera, Jersey Boys, Evita, Wicked, Miss Saigon, West Side Story, Mamma Mia, Jesus Christ Superstar and The Lion King, this is their most extensive tour.
Reiss, who has played many roles in Les Miserables, including Jean Valjean, was surrounded by suitcases and preparing to fly to New Zealand when he spoke to Weekend about the trip.
"It's going to be a fantastic experience which allows us to see as much of the country as possible and perform to as many people as we can while we're there. "We certainly intend to make the most of it."
Reiss helped start Beyond the Barricade some 17 years ago, originally as a fundraiser for charity. The idea caught on with regular British and European performances through to shows on ships including the Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria. Last year the show toured Asia for the first time with performances in Manila, Singapore and Hong Kong.
"These are solid pieces of music that tell stories people love, but it does surprise me that they continue to be so popular all around the world because some go right back to the 1950s, 60s and 70s," Reiss says. "It's wonderful to know they stand the test of time ... and that there is an international base, a well of interest, in musical theatre."
Does he have a favourite? He names West Side Story, due in Auckland next June, as one of his favourite shows, but is loyal to Les Mis. "In terms of the amount of enjoyment I've had from Les Mis, it would be remiss of me not to include it."
What: Beyond the Barricade
Where and when: 21-city New Zealand tour begins Turner Centre, Kerikeri; Tuesday, September 20. In Auckland, Great Hall, Auckland Town Hall, September 24 and 25.