Putting his money where his heart is, he will be spending several million pounds in a rolling program of refurbishment, with the superb example of the complete renovation of the Prince Edward Theatre, currently home to the hit musical Mamma Mia!
Sir Cameron's theatre portfolio includes the Queen's, the Gielgud, the Prince of Wales, the Albery, Wyndham's, the Strand and The Prince Edward. Since the 1990's only two of these seven theatres have been operated by Delfont Mackintosh Theatres.
Sir Cameron and his design team — including the well-known architects RHWL — have been working side by side with various planning authorities, including English Heritage and the Twentieth Century Society towards undertaking major renovation of the whole auditorium and front-of-house of the Prince of Wales Theatre. In addition, they will create a contemporary interpretation of the Art Deco frontage that was never fully realized. The work will start this summer and the theatre will reopen in spring 2004.
In March 2003 Delfont Macintosh Theatres will take back control of a third theatre, the Strand. Plans are near completion for the first stage of an extensive renovation to include the front-of-house areas. In each of these cases, the first priority is to expand and upgrade all public areas and facilities.
Control of the other four theatres, two of which (the Albery and Wyndham's) are currently leased by the Ambassadors Group and a further two (the Queen's and the Gielgud) by Really Useful Theatres, will return to Cameron Mackintosh in 2005 and 2006 respectively. Plans are well advanced to upgrade these historic buildings appropriately and to equip to match the expectations of audiences in the twenty-first century. Sir Cameron says, "My concern with the state of the West End is a matter for public record and I welcome the current focus on the poor state of the West End and West End theatres in particular. London is the gateway to the U.K., and one of its great attractions has always been the quality of our actors, productions and the historic theatres which house them. Recent reports have valued the direct and indirect contribution to the British economy at over £1 billion. The size of this contribution is not evident in a walk around London or a trip to the theatre. We have a unique treasury of Edwardian and Victorian theatres, designed by great architects such as Matcham, Phipps and Sprague, and we are committed to improving our audience's experience of visiting them. To this end, individually and collectively (as the Society of London Theatres) we are working with Westminster City Council to bring a sense of pride back to theatreland and some of the original glory to the theatres it contains.
"Furthermore, I passionately believe that there should be one single central London authority to administer the entire infrastructure, working hand-in-hand with a proactive Mayor. As one of the very few producers who has worked simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic for the last 25 years, I have seen at first hand the extraordinary transformation of New York economy through the cleaning up of their theatre district, Times Square and the Broadway, under [former] Mayor Giuliani."