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Cameron Mackintosh: 'It is time to tear down the barricades and let tomorrow come'

The producer has spoken about his plans to reopen the Sondheim Theatre

Cameron Mackintosh with the cast of Les Misérables
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Cameron Mackintosh has elaborated on his plans to re-open Les Misérables as a concert production for a Christmas season at the Sondheim Theatre.

Announced during Saturday night's Britain's Got Talent finale, the show will feature Michael Ball, Alfie Boe, Matt Lucas, Carrie Hope Fletcher and more, with John Owen-Jones set to appear for certain performances.

Mackintosh said today: "The only show of mine that I can consider opening at this time is the hugely successful all-star staged concert of Les Misérables which I produced last year for a sell-out 16 week run at the Gielgud Theatre.

"As the production exists it will only require slight re-staging to play safely with social distancing both on stage and throughout the auditorium. Our priority is always that our companies and audiences are in a safe, healthy environment so they can fully enjoy a wonderful show in a beautiful theatre."

Mackintosh added that, though it is a risky venture given the nature of lockdown, it is not an unviable project: "To comply with regulations the theatre's capacity has to be reduced to just over 750 seats. The authors and theatre have waived their royalties and rent to give the show a chance to break even and our leading artists have all agreed to work for appreciably less than their normal salaries. With such a big spectacular show it is a risk, but with manageable production costs and a short run it is not a catastrophic one.

"It is encouraging to see flickers of theatrical life again both in the West End and the subsidised theatre. Most of the recently opened productions have been selling out their reduced capacities despite the ever-changing and confusing public messaging.

"Of course as producer of the fully-staged version of Les Misérables which brilliantly reopened the Sondheim at the beginning of the year, I am hugely concerned for that wonderful cast to start performing again as I am for my other great companies and productions of Hamilton, The Phantom of the Opera and Mary Poppins. As an industry we are all crying out for certainty and a date when the major productions that cannot operate viably with any social distancing can plan to return. Realistically this can't happen before next spring due to the Government's current ever-changing and confusing guidelines and the practical time we need to get these big productions back up. We also require a commitment from the Government to underwrite Covid insurance without which major long running shows will find it almost impossible to take the risk of reopening. Remounting these shows will cost several millions each and we will only be able to have one go at this if the industry is to survive.

Mackintosh concluded by saying: "It is time to tear down the barricades and let tomorrow come. The beautiful new Sondheim Theatre will re-open its doors so audiences can once again leap to their feet thrilled by Hugo's timelessly uplifting story of the survival of the human spirit told through Boublil and Schönberg's amazing iconic score – Let The People Sing. Happy Christmas to us all."

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