Mandelson calls time on Dome stage spectacular

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The Independent Online
The theatrical impresario Sir Cameron Mackintosh had a dream. The Minister without Portfolio Peter Mandelson killed it.

Sir Cameron, the producer of Cats and Miss Saigon, had been drafted in by Mr Mandelson to the team organising the Dome exhibition for the millennium. Now Sir Cameron has admitted that his grand project has been dropped because it would have proved too expensive.

The show would have been called About Time and would have cost almost a third of the Dome's entire budget and would have involved 1,000 children. It was intended to seat 12,000 people, spectators would have entered into enclosed 1,000-seater segments, and in a great coup de theatre the walls would have risen to reveal the auditorium in its entirety.

The cost of construction had been estimated to be around pounds 250m.

Sir Cameron said: "It has proved prohibitive. I am sorry it is not going to happen. But it is one of those chicken and egg situations. You have to do the show before you can cost it.

"But I am delightfully free of an extraordinary responsibility which was giving me sleepless nights. Now I can retire to my croft in Scotland for Hogmanay 1999."

He said of the projected show: "It was a spectacular with a touch of Back To The Future. It had its roots in Britain's great past and looked to the future. Children were at the heart of it. Its underlying philosophy was along these lines - what you learn from the past is what the new generation has to use to take responsibility for the future. It was going to have an emotional heart to it. We did not want it to be just a technical display."

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