USA TODAY - It took the Oscars to bring together the cast of the hit musical Les Miserables, giving members the chance to sing onstage as a group for the first time. Friday's Oscar rehearsals at the Dolby Theatre featured a star-packed Les Miserables reunion with best actor nominatee Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway (nominated for best supporting actress), Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Barks, Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter all sharing the stage.
"This is the first time the cast has actually performed onstage together. Ever. It's fantastic," Neil Meron, who is producing the show with Craig Zadan, told USA TODAY in between lengthy rehearsals. "That's what the Oscars are all about. To have these sort of events. Not just the reunion of the cast, but singing together like this for the first time is very, very significant."
And there will be no lip syncing. Just like the best-picture-nominated movie, the cast is singing live.
"It really gives credence to the live singing in the movie to see them actually do it live onstage," Meron said.
Sir Cameron Makintosh, the show's original stage producer, and the movie's director, Tom Hooper, were on hand to give insight for the live performance.
The cast worked for hours in their street clothes on the complicated, original Oscar number before breaking up and reconvening again a few hours later for even more rehearsals.
The number also features cast members of the Broadway and British productions of Les Miserables.
At times it was like a stage production with Hathaway wandering the stage singing seeming nonsensical voice exercises and Jackman keeping an ever-present cup of tea in his hand for his throat.
But there was time for laughter. Crowe was particularly playful, posing for a goofy picture onstage with Hathaway and pulling aside Jackman for conspiratorial whispers from which they both came away laughing.
And when called to test out his microphone, Baron Cohen, a flat cap pulled over his head, began to sing the Barbra Streisand song, I'm Just a Woman in Love.
The real Streisand will perform at Sunday's Oscar telecast (ABC, 8:30 ET/5:30 PT), along with other musical guests including Adele, who will perform the theme from Skyfall live for the first time, and a musical number from the movie Chicago.
During one break the Les Miserables cast sat in the theater's wings and watched Jennifer Hudson practice her Oscar routine. After Hudson hit a series of high notes, Jackman could only watch the backstage monitor with disbelief, his jaw slack.
"Wow," he said to his co-stars as Hudson finished. "This is going to be a very good show."
(Copyright © 2013 USA TODAY)