Impresario plans to protect London venues
No London theaters will be turned into multiplexes on Cameron Mackintosh’s watch.The legit producing titan, who built his considerable fortune on such stage blockbusters as “Cats,” “Les Miserables,” “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Miss Saigon,” will endow his seven West End playhouses with sufficient coin to ensure they continue operating as live theaters even after his death. Those theaters include such prime London legit real estate as the Prince Edward, current home to “Jersey Boys”; the Prince of Wales, occupied by seemingly unstoppable tenant “Mamma Mia!”; and the Queen’s Theater, where long-runner “Les Miz” is now barricaded. Mackintosh has not disclosed details of the ambitious move, but the U.K.’s Sunday Times, which broke news of the plan, speculates that the theaters likely will be transferred to the producer’s personal foundation or a new designated trust. The Times points out that Mackintosh’s bid to preserve a vital part of London’s legit history mirrors the role of New York’s Shubert Foundation, which maintains 17 Broadway houses. While most West End theaters are listed buildings and thus protected from demolition, new owners generally are free to repurpose them. This has led to the transformation of some show palaces into movie theaters, casinos and entertainment centers. Mackintosh’s assets are estimated to be worth £635 million ($1 billion). He has invested $56 million in recent years in improvements on his theaters. His other London properties include the Novello, Gielgud, Wyndham’s and Noel Coward.