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Last Updated: Friday, 2 March 2007, 12:17 GMT
Prison inmates perform in musical
Les Miserables poster
Inmates will star in nine performances of the musical
Inmates at a south London prison are appearing in a new production of hit musical Les Miserables.

Wandsworth Prison inmates have spent weeks rehearsing for the nine-date show, developing confidence and new skills in the process.

The musical is being produced by Pimlico Opera, which has been staging productions in prisons for 16 years.

Les Miserables follows 19th Century ex-convict Jean Valjean as he struggles to redeem himself.

Founder Wasfi Kani said: "Just locking people up is very expensive unless you do something with them."

She said the purpose of such productions was not just to help the inmates.

"It's also to get the public to go into prison to discuss in a positive context the purpose of imprisonment."

The prison population in England and Wales hit an all-time high of 80,000 at the end of last year.

The production opens at Wandsworth Prison on Friday, continuing until 10 March.

Pimlico Opera's previous productions include Guys and Dolls at Wormwood Scrubs, west London, and West Side Story at Winchester prison in Hampshire.

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