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Cameron Mackintosh

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Biography

b. 17 October 1946, Enfield, Middlesex, England. ‘The Czar of theatrical producers’ - that is what the American magazine TheaterWeek called him in 1993 when they rated him number 3 in their list of the 100 Most Powerful People in American Theater. The son of a Maltese-born mother and a Scottish father, Mackintosh attended a small public school in Bath and became obsessed by the musical theatre at the age of eight after being taken to see a production of Julian Slade’s Salad Days at Bristol Old Vic in 1954. After leaving school, where he was known as Darryl F. Mackintosh, he attended the Central School for Speech and Drama for a year before becoming an assistant stage manager at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane when Camelot was running. His first forays into producing came with some budget-priced touring shows before he moved into the West End in 1969 with a revival of Anything Goes. It proved to be a disaster and was withdrawn after 27 performances. Trelawny (1972) and The Card (1973) fared better, and, after a number of provincial productions of varying degrees of profitability, Mackintosh’s breakthrough finally came in 1976 with Side By Side By Sondheim. During the next few years Mackintosh mounted successful revivals of Oliver!, My Fair Lady, and Oklahoma!, before his meeting with Andrew Lloyd Webber resulted in Cats in 1981. The show transformed the lives of both men, and became the prototype for future productions which overthrew the old style of musical and provided a simple and vivid theatrical experience that did not rely on big name stars, and was easily exportable. In the 80s Mackintosh went from strength to strength with Song And Dance, Les Misérables, The Phantom Of The Opera, and Miss Saigon (1989). In 1990, the latter show provided an example of just how powerful Mackintosh had become when American Equity initially objected to the casting of Jonathan Pryce in the Broadway production ‘because it would be an affront to the Asian community’. After the producer threatened to withdraw the show altogether - and one or two others as well - capitulation was more or less immediate. The incident did nothing to improve the producer’s ruthless (he prefers ‘relentless’) reputation with the New York theatre community, many of whom object to his dictatorial attitude and ‘flashy’ marketing methods. For some reason he deliberately did not use those ploys when his London hit, Five Guys Named Moe, transferred to Broadway, and that may well be one of the reasons for its relatively poor showing. In 1992, Mackintosh was involved with a rare flop which some say marked the beginning of his decline. Moby Dick (‘a damp squib... garbage’) is reported to have cost him £1 million and a great deal of pride during its 15-week run, and he hinted at the time that he may be past his peak. However, the highly impressive monetary facts continued to emerge: a personal salary of over £8 million in 1991, the 39th richest man in Britain, and the acquisition of a substantial stake in two West End theatres, the Prince of Wales and the Prince Edward. His love of musicals - that is all he seems to be interested in producing - has caused Mackintosh to divert some of his reported £300 million wealth to a number of extremely worthy causes. As well as numerous donations to small theatrical projects, he provided £2 million to endow Oxford University’s first professorship in drama and musical theatre, and his £1 million gift to the Royal National Theatre enabled it to mount highly acclaimed revivals of Carousel and Sweeney Todd, the first two in a series of five classic musicals. It is not all philanthropy: Mackintosh is reported to retain the rights to the productions when they are eventually produced in the commercial sector. His kudos have included the 1991 Observer Award for Outstanding Achievement, and the prestigious Richard Rodgers Award for Excellence In Musical Theatre (1992). Previous recipients have been Harold Prince, Julie Andrews and Mary Martin. In 1994, Mackintosh’s major revival of Oliver! opened at the London Palladium, starring Jonathan Pryce, and in 1995 his production company, Cameron Mackintosh Limited, earned a Queen’s Award for Export Achievement. Two years earlier, for the benefit of an awe-struck journalist, he had attempted to remember all the musicals he had running in various parts of the world. They included six Cats, 20 Phantom Of The Opera, 12 Les Misérables, seven Miss Saigon, four Five Guys Named Moe, two Follies... et cetera, et cetera, as Yul Brynner used to say. In July 1996, following on from Les Misérables and Miss Saigon, a third collaboration between Mackintosh and the creative team of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg, entitled Martin Guerre, opened in London. However, it failed to live up to its illustrious predecessors, and folded after a 20-month run. On a rather smaller scale, Mackintosh’s The Fix, a ‘daring new musical’, also incurred the critics’ wrath when presented at the Donmar Warehouse in 1997. Mackintosh received a knighthood for ‘services to the musical theatre’ in the 1995 New Year Honours List, and three years later was presented with the Bernard Delfont Award by the Variety Club of Great Britain. In June 1998, two charity performances of Hey Mr Producer! The Musical World Of Cameron Mackintosh at London’s Lyceum Theatre saluted the impresario’s 30 years in showbusiness. Later in the year, he was supervising the Sondheim revue Putting It Together (Mark II, with Carol Burnett) in Los Angeles, Martin Guerre (Mark III) in Yorkshire, England, and the US premiere of George Stiles And Anthony Drewe’s Vivian Ellis Award-winning musical, Just So (Mark numerous), at Goodspeed Opera House, Connecticut. In the new millennium Mackintosh worked on the stage production of John Updike’s The Witches Of Eastwick, but despite good reviews the show was hit by the terrorist attacks of September 2001 and enjoyed only a limited run. He was more successful with a new stage adaptation of Mary Poppins, which opened at the Prince Edward Theatre in December 2004 and received two Olivier Awards the following year. Mackintosh also owns the Strand Theatre, Queen’s Theatre, Gielgud Theatre, Wyndham’s Theatre and the Albery Theatre.