Cameron Mackintosh denies Old Vic rescue bid

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Sir Cameron Mackintosh yesterday distanced himself from suggestions that he might safeguard the future of The Old Vic, after its current owners put it up for sale.

The theatre's Canadian owner, Ed Mirvish, and his son David, who have supported the loss-making institution for 15 years, are selling the playhouse for pounds 7.5m, having spent pounds 2.5m restoring it.

There had been reports that Sir Cameron, as well as the Royal Shakespeare Company, were interested in buying the Old Vic, but both were at pains to distance themselves yesterday.

"Sir Cameron is definitely not buying the Old Vic and there is no truth in this rumour. He has no other comment to make," said his spokesman.

"The RSC is committed to the Barbican and is involved in a lottery bid for the Collins Theatre in Islington. It is highly unlikely we would be involved in this," said an RSC spokesman.

Ed Mirvish outbid Lord Lloyd Webber and paid pounds 550,000 to buy the Old Vic in 1982. After refurbishment, it reopened in October 1983, with two Sir Cameron Mackintosh musicals in the opening season.

Sir Peter Hall was appointed artistic director in January. His company has been told to vacate it by 6 December. They have staged 13 plays since he was appointed, but the first part of the season ran at a loss.

The sudden decision to sell has prompted concerns that Sir Peter was brought in simply to make the theatre "look glamorous again", a view that he himself has voiced.

But David Mirvish said yesterday: "Our key concern is that the Old Vic is the only part of our business activity that is not centred in Toronto."

Sir Peter's company is set to continue next year, under impresario Bill Kenwright at a "major West End theatre". A deal is said to be near to completion.