The world’s most prolific producer of musicals in theatre history has received the Freedom of the City of London at Guildhalltoday, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to musical theatre.
Over the last 40 years, Sir Cameron Mackintosh has established himself as one of the leading figures in musical theatre, having produced three of the world’s longest-running musicals – Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera, and Cats, and other hugely successful productions, including Miss Saigon, Oliver!, My Fair Lady, and The Witches of Eastwick.
Sir Cameron owns and operates eight historic London theatres, including the Gielgud, Wyndham’s, Prince of Wales, and Sondheim, formerly, the Queen’s, and renamed in honour of his late friend, Stephen Sondheim, who was awarded the Freedom of the City of London in 2018.
He was knighted in the 1996 New Year’s Honours for his services to British theatre and is the first British producer to be elected to Broadway’s Theater Hall of Fame.
Sir Cameron was nominated for the Freedom by Sir William Russell, who served as Lord Mayor of the City of London from 2019 to 2021, and former City of London Corporation Chief Commoner, John Bennett MBE.
Speaking after today’s ceremony, Sir Cameron Mackintosh said:
“I am delighted to receive the Freedom of the City, which I shall treasure, along with my much-used Freedom Pass!
“Grateful thanks to my nominators and to the millions of Londoners and visitors who have continued to come to see all my shows over the last 56 years. Appropriately, it was being taken on my eighth birthday to see the musical ‘Salad Days’, featuring a magic piano called Minnie that set everyone dancing in a London park, which set me on my career as a producer and, as the song says, “I’ve never looked back!”
“Not long ago, I was Stephen Sondheim’s guest when he was honoured with the Freedom of the City, so I’m delighted that my next show opening in London is a celebration of the great man’s song writing genius in one great big Broadway show, ‘Old Friends’.”
Sir William Russell said:
“For those of us who enjoy live performance and have spent many happy evenings in the Stalls or Dress Circle, enchanted by stunning sets, engaging storylines, and beautiful music, Cameron’s name is synonymous with excellence.
“There are few people in musical theatre to touch him, and I am delighted that he has today joined his dear friend, the legendary and much missed Stephen Sondheim, in having his own immense talents recognised by the City.”
John Bennett said:
“It was a particular privilege and joy to welcome Sir Cameron to Guildhall today and watch him being admitted into the Freedom. I remember seeing Les Misérables when it was first performed in London at the Barbican Theatre and again, on its 25th anniversary there.
“A vigorously enthusiastic supporter of the arts and a titan of musical theatre, having produced some of our most popular shows, he is entirely deserving of this City of London award.”
One of the City of London’s ancient traditions, the Freedom is believed to have begun in 1237 and enabled recipients to carry out their trade.
As well as being nominated for, or applying for, the Freedom, it is also offered by the City of London Corporation to individuals as a way of paying tribute to their outstanding contribution to London or public life, or to celebrate a very significant achievement.
Recent high-profile recipients include former England cricketers, Sajid Mahmood and Ebony Rainford-Brent; Nobel Prize-winning mathematical physicist, Professor Sir Roger Penrose; singer-songwriter, Ed Sheeran; and England football captain and Tottenham Hotspur striker, Harry Kane.