Sir Cameron Mackintosh has defended controversial changes to the West End production of Phantom of the Opera.
It was reported last summer that the long-running show would return with a “brand new physical production of Maria Bjornson’s original design”.
More recently it was revealed that as part of the changes, the orchestra would be reduced to 14 musicians from 27 – a change which caused a lot of upset on social media.
One of the pit’s now former musicians Matt Dickinson penned on Twitter: “At a time when so many Arts organisations are standing by their workforces, one of the most successful shows in history has abandoned theirs.”
Speaking to The Telegraph, Mackintosh responded to the outrage: “I’ve had a terrible year trying to keep on as many people as I can, but our job is to try to put a show on that can run and be brilliant.
“Am I sorry? I’m sorry they’re upset, but I do find it odd why musicians would want to keep doing the same thing year after year. I believe we should not be holding jobs for actors or musicians ad infinitum. This is not the Civil Service, we’re creating art.”
Declaring the updated production “not a pale imitation”, he added: “Why would I change a show and not deliver? I have spent 50 years delivering the highest-quality musicals this country has ever seen and I’m not about to stop now.”
Mackintosh went on to reveal that the revamp is set to cost £6 million, saying of the show’s iconic chandelier: “The chandelier is coming back bigger and better. It will move faster and be more terrifying.”
The Phantom of the Opera is set to reopen on 27 July at Her Majesty’s Theatre.