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Diary: Cameron Mackintosh recalls his battle of water loo

Mamma Mia! What's that stench? Photo: C Ford
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Not every Cameron Mackintosh show can be a success. And it’s only natural that some of his shows will misfire and be considered stinkers by certain critics.

But what isn’t so natural is audiences actually being able to smell something stinky when they’re watching one of his shows.

Turns out, however, that the producer has indeed struggled in the past with bad odours in his theatres.

Mackintosh told BBC Radio 2 about a time when he refurbished the Prince Edward Theatre, for the launch of Mamma Mia!, and things went badly wrong.

“I remember very proudly getting the theatre open and I’d put in 14 or 16 ladies’ loos downstairs. I was very proud of this,” he recalls.

“I then got a call on the third preview saying the ladies’ loos had erupted. Too many things had gone in them and they had exploded and suddenly there was a sea of sewage seaping into the bar.”

That’s shit. Literally. But it gets worse, as it happened to him again, on Miss Saigon. “I was standing at the back thinking it had gone terribly well but there was this… smell. People were there with mops and I’d just put in new carpet.”

Poor Cameron. There he was thinking he’d done the right thing putting in extra loos, and how does he get repaid? In human waste. Delightful.

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