(Dalya Alberge’s article appeared in the Guardian, 7/15.)
He is the most powerful musicals producer of all time, but in his early career Sir Cameron Mackintosh faced harsh criticism from one of the world's greatest song-writers, according to previously unpublished letters.
Long before the global success of Les Misérables and The Phantom of the Opera, his stage adaptation of My Fair Lady was condemned in 1979 as "tasteless and vulgar".
The criticism came from none other than the original show's legendary lyricist, Alan Jay Lerner, who begged Mackintosh to improve his production, making it "more exciting, more romantic" and closer to Shaw's original drama, Pygmalion.
My Fair Lady had lyrics by Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe and sent audiences home humming classics like "I Could Have Danced All Night" and "Get Me to the Church on Time".