The Kennedy Center

Cameron Mackintosh

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    Theater Look-in: Les Misérables


From the age of eight when Cameron Mackintosh was taken to a matinee of Julian Slade's musical Salad Days he has never wanted to be anything other than a producer of musicals. Beginning as a stagehand at London's Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, he later became an acting ASM on the national tour of Oliver! and by the age of twenty he started to realise his dream. His first productions were small scale tours but within a short time he had produced his first musical Anything Goes which opened out of town, transferred to the Saville Theatre in London's West End and closed after a fortnight. Undeterred Cameron returned to his initial musical inspiration and revived Salad Days.

During the 1970s he continued to produce numerous tours, notably Godspell which ran almost continuously for five years. His first success was Trelawny in 1972 that began at the Bristol Old Vic and transferred to both Sadler's Wells and the Prince of Wales where it ran for a year. This was his first production with Julian Slade. In 1973 he instigated his first original musical The Card with music by Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent, and a book by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall, the cast included Jim Dale, Millicent Martin and Joan Hickson and the show ran for six months at London's Queen's Theatre. Cameron's first international success came in 1976 with the musical revue Side by Side by Sondheim celebrating the wit and lyrical genius of Stephen Sondheim that moved from the Mermaid Theatre to Wyndham's Theatre and subsequently transferred with the same cast to New York. This was followed by a hugely successful revival of the original production of Oliver! that spawned an innovative collaboration with the Arts Council of Great Britain and successful productions of two of the all time great musicals My Fair Lady and Oklahoma!

In 1980 Cameron collaborated with American satirist Tom Lehrer on a revue of his songs entitled Tomfoolery and in the same year Andrew Lloyd Webber suggested they should work together. Their first joint venture was Cats that opened at the New London Theatre in May 1981. On 29 January 1996 it became the longest running musical in the West End or on Broadway and on 19 June 1997 the longest running show in Broadway history until it was overtaken by The Phantom of the Opera in January 2006. The phenomenal success of this musical has been repeated throughout the world and opened an era of international musical production undreamed of by previous generations.

Following Cats, came Song and Dance, Little Shop of Horrors, Blondel and Abbacadabra before the next milestone production in 1985 of Les Misérables and Cameron's brilliantly successful collaboration with the writing team of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg. Whilst maintaining an ever expanding number of international productions of Cats and Les Misérables, Cameron Mackintosh joined Andrew Lloyd Webber again to produce The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre, London in 1986, and in 1987 he produced Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman's Follies at the Shaftesbury Theatre.

Meanwhile Boublil and Schönberg continued their collaboration with Cameron on another musical, Miss Saigon, which opened at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in September 1989. In that illustrious home of the musical it broke the record for the longest running musical and in 1999 celebrated its 10th anniversary making it the fourth of Cameron's productions to continue running for over 10 years – a feat never before achieved in the industry. Miss Saigon continues to be a worldwide success with several international companies in production. In 1990 Cameron transferred Five Guys Named Moe to the West End for a hugely successful run at the Lyric Theatre.

opened in a completely new production at the London Palladium in December 1994 for a long run prior to a sell out tour of the UK. In 1996 Cameron again collaborated with Boublil and Schönberg to produce their third musical Martin Guerre that opened at the Prince Edward Theatre in London and won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Musical. The musical comedy, The Witches of Eastwick, with music by Dana Rowe and lyrics by John Dempsey, premiered at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in July 2000 and subsequently transferred to the Prince of Wales Theatre, running for a total of more than 500 performances.

In March 2001 Cameron presented My Fair Lady at the Royal National Theatre starring Jonathan Pryce as Professor Higgins and Martine McCutcheon as Eliza. This production opened at the Theatre Royal Drury Laneon 21 July 2001 with a record box office advance and won 5 Olivier Awards including Best Musical and Best Choreography.

In June 2002 Cameron's production of Les Misérables became the first full scale production of a western musical to be performed in China. A special concert performance was given at Windsor Castle on 18 November 2004, in honour of the French President, Jacques Chirac, to celebrate the centenary of the Entente Cordiale. In 2006 Les Misérables overtook the previous record holder, Cats, to become the longest running musical in the world and is now in its 25th year at the Queen's Theatre in London. A completely new production opened in the UK in December 2009 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of this extraordinary show.

In 2004 Cameron realised his long-standing ambition to produce a stage musical of Mary Poppins. The production, in collaboration with Disney, is based on the books by Pamela Travers and the hugely successful Disney film. It opened in London on 15 December 2004 and on Broadway on 16 November 2006 where it won two Drama Desk awards and one Tony(r) Award. An International Touring production opened in the UK in Spring 2008 and a second American Company opened in Chicago in Spring 2009. Mary will also land in Australia soon. In 2006 Cameron became UK producer of the Tony(r) award winning Avenue Q that opened the newly named Noël Coward Theatre and is now in its fourth year. He is also the UK producer of Hair which transfers to London with its entire Broadway cast in April 2010. In December 2008 Cameron defied the recession and presented the most spectacular production of Oliver! yet seen at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. On 30 June 2010 this show celebrates the 50th Anniversary of its original opening at the then New Theatre.

In June 1998 Cameron celebrated thirty years as a musical producer with the spectacular charity gala, Hey Mr Producer!, in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh. This show brought together a glittering array of theatrical talent and was subsequently released on DVD and CD.
Cameron inaugurated the Cameron Mackintosh Chair of Contemporary Theatre at Oxford University in 1990, in recognition of which he was made an Honorary Fellow and Member of the Court of Benefactors of St Catherine's College. In 1992 he was presented with the Richard Rodgers Award for Excellence in Musical Theater, in 2002 he was given the Oscar Hammerstein Award and in 2006 he received the national Enjoy England Award for Excellence for his Outstanding Contribution to Tourism. His company received the 1995 Queen's Award for Export Achievement and he was knighted in the 1996 New Year's Honours for his services to the British Theatre. Cameron is President of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow.

He owns seven theatres in London's West End, the Queen's, Gielgud, Prince of Wales, Novello, Prince Edward, Noël Coward and Wyndham's, all of which have undergone spectacular refurbishment.
Cameron Mackintosh is thrilled to be what he has always wanted to be, a producer of musicals.
Cameron Mackintosh