The Sunday Times has published its annual Rich List of the UK’s wealthiest people. The Rich List is the definitive guide to the wealthiest people in Britain and Ireland and includes a list of the richest entertainment and music industry professionals.
Based on this year’s Rich List, we’ve put together the richest movers and shakers currently involved in West End Theatre, including producers and theatre owners, musicians and writers. Requiring upwards of £100 million to make the cut and be actively involved in the theatre scene, the West End rich list is a short one.
1. Sir Cameron Mackintosh – £1.18bn (Up £30m)
Theatre impresario Cameron Mackintosh is by far and away the richest person in the West End Theatre sector, but with a resurgence in billionaires populating the list, Cameron drops from from 95 to 111 on The Sunday Times Rich List.
The 70 year old Producer’s long West End career includes money-making hits CATS, Les Miserables and Miss Saigon. The 2014 film adaptation of Les Mis not only boosted the coffers but gave a resurgence to the West End production which continues to pull in punters even after 30 years of storming the barricades.
Mackintosh continues to find new life in old hits, with the most recent Broadway revival of Les Mis (which closed in March 2016) replaced by Miss Saigon – now starring Eva Noblezada – at the Broadway Theatre.
A new film adaption of Miss Saigon is apparently planned for 2018/19 which should see another significant boost in wealth in the coming years.
Mackintosh is also involved in the West End transfer of American musical Hamilton which will play at his newly refurbished Victoria Palace Theatre.
Cameron owns eight London theatre’s (Gielgud, Noël Coward, Novello, Prince Edward, Prince of Wales, Queen’s
Victoria Palace, Wyndham’s) which he has poured money into restoring over the last decade. There are plans to add a ninth theatre (Ambassador’s) to his portfolio, however this is dependent on achieving controversial planning permission which involves gutting the charming, intimate Ambassadors to create a new more flexible theatre named the Sondheim.
2. Andrew Lloyd Webber – £740m (up £25m)
Andrew Lloyd- Webber has had a cracking year creatively and financially becoming the first composer to have four shows on Broadway (CATS, Phantom, School of Rock & Sunset Boulevard) since Rodgers and Hammerstein 60 years ago.
Lloyd Webber adds £25 million to the pot but like Cameron drops from 162 to 171 in the overall Rich List.
With the poorly received Stephen Ward musical now firmly behind him, Lloyd Webber’s UK forays are back to form with recent productions CATS, Jesus Christ Superstar (which returns to the Open Air Theatre in 2017), the West End opening of School of Rock – The Musical and the continuing success of The Phantom of the Opera at her Majesty’s Theatre.
He also has a forthcoming Rocket Pictures (owned by Elton John) animated version of Joseph is in the works.
Lloyd Webber’s assets include a number of West End theatres including crown jewels the London Palladium and Theatre Royal Drury Lane. He recently purchased The Other Palace Theatre (formerly St James) in Victoria as a home and breeding ground for musicals at various stages of development.
3. Joanne Rowling – £650m (Up £50m)
Joanne Rowling enters the West End Theatre rich list for the first time following the premiere of the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre. The most highly anticipated show of 2016 sold out the initial booking period in record time, taking millions of pounds in advance sales. Opening to critical acclaim the show has become the most decorated in the Olivier Awards history, and has recently announced dates for the Broadway transfer.
Rowling’s wealth stems from the Harry Potter juggernaut which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. It now encases the seven-volume fantasy series and films, the Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio Tour, and the spin off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Rowling has also achieved success in adult fiction with a series of detective novels. It is estimated Rowling has earned over £900 million over the last twenty years, however she given a considerable amount to charity. Her position rises one place to 196 in the overall Rich List.
4. Sir Elton John – £290m (Up £10m)
He may have cancelled a few gigs due to ill health, but Elton John is ‘still standing’. Elton adds £10 million to his wealth, but drops from 377 to 402 on the 2017 Rich List.
Elton released a new album and played 92 shows last year, but he’s listed on the West End Theatre Wealth list for writing the music of Disney’s The Lion King, now in its 20th year on Broadway and 18th in the West End. His other West End show Billy Elliot The Musical closed in 2016 following a 10-year run at the Victoria Palace.
Elton may be known for his lavish lifestyle and prolific spending but he is also one of the most generous celebrities, as he once again makes the top 10 giving list, with charitable donations of more than £34 million (12% of his overall wealth).
5. Sir Tim Rice – £152m (Up £2m)
Sir Tim’s wealth remains relatively unchanged from last year. He has done well working with other Rich Listers – including Andrew Lloyd Webber on Joseph, Jesus Chirst Superstar and Evita, and Elton John on Disney’s The Lion King. That also goes for a number of other Disney shows he has contributed to including Aladdin which is currently playing at the Prince Edward Theatre and on Broadway and Beauty and the Beast which has just been adapted to film starring Emma Watson.
Brian May (£125 million) was previously listed for We Will Rock You however was excluded from the list following its closure in 2014.