Creative Industries: Seven of the best for Britain

The rise and rise of Cameron Mackintosh
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The Independent Online
THE extravagant stage musical is one of the few businesses in which Britain still unquestionably prevails, and Cameron Mackintosh is its dominant impresario. Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, The Phantom of the Opera ... like them or hate them, Mackintosh's West End productions have become household names from New York to Tokyo.

From his company's headquarters in London's Bedford Square, Mackintosh presides over a global web of productions that employ, directly or indirectly, nearly 4,000 people. At present, Cameron Mackintosh Ltd, which also has branches in New York and Sydney, has 40 productions on the go worldwide, with another 15 or so due to open by the turn of the century.

The role of the producer is an obscure one to the average theatre-goer but the risks and responsibility - Martin Guerre, for example, cost about pounds 3.5m to bring to the stage - have paid off for Mackintosh, who started producing shows at the age of 20 and whose CV in the three decades since then reads like the history of the blockbuster.

Indeed, it is difficult to separate Cameron Mackintosh Ltd from the man himself, who has been passionate about the workings of the theatre since childhood and whose success has been attributed to his ability to tread the fine line between artistic collaboration and total control.

"It all comes down to Cam-eron's taste," says Martin McCallum, the group managing director. "That's the real advantage of having a captain of the ship. The criteria are clear, and the house style is very particular. The secret of the company's success is attention to detail and the fact that it is very hands-on. It is run like a family business."

Mackintosh's eye and ear for a winner have brought him a string of successes in a notoriously fickle industry, as well as a personal fortune estimated at more than pounds 200m, much of which he has funnelled back into the industry through the Mackintosh Foundation.

Since its establishment in 1988, the foundation has made grants totalling nearly pounds 11m to around 900 different charities.