The Society of London Theatre mourns the loss of an incredible pioneer and cherished friend, Martin McCallum (6 April 1950 – 14 January 2024), FRSA, who passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on 14 January. Former President of the Society of London Theatre and Advisor to the Arts Council, McCallum was a pioneering British theatrical producer who left a long-lasting mark on the world of theatre. With a career spanning over 500 shows, McCallum’s contributions to the theatre sector were groundbreaking and transformative.
Starting his career as an assistant stage manager at the Castle Theatre in Farnham, under the mentorship of Laurence Olivier at the Old Vic, Martin became a production manager for the National Theatre of Great Britain. His contributions were instrumental in the National’s move to London’s South Bank, where he managed notable productions such as Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night featuring Olivier and Constance Cummings.
In 1978, McCallum co-founded the Production Office, the first of its kind in technical and general production management. Through this groundbreaking venture he supervised pioneering shows, including Filumena, Evita, Sweeney Todd and Jesus Christ Superstar.
In 1981 Martin partnered with Cameron Mackintosh, acting as his Managing Director for 18 years and Vice Chairman for three, he oversaw a period of unprecedented growth with acclaimed productions like Cats, Les Misérables and The Phantom of the Opera, achieving worldwide success.
From 1992 to 2003, McCallum chaired the Donmar Warehouse where he led Important initiatives, notably The Wyndham Report on the West End theatre industry’s economic impact.
As President of the Society of London Theatre, he organised the inaugural joint Theatre Conference, THEATRE 2001 Future Directions, which explored the future of theatrical buildings and spaces. As president of SOLT, Martin was passionate about access. He was an early advocate for Kids Week and championed it with the members. He was instrumental in accessing funding from the then Mayor, Ken Livingstone, for a campaign to use theatre as a driver to bring back people into the West End after 9/11. His work has left a legacy for the sector and the organisation.
Eleanor Lloyd, President of the Society of London Theatre paid tribute commenting, “In Martin McCallum, we have lost an extraordinary individual who shaped the landscape of the theatre sector. His immense talent and expertise were matched only by his unwavering commitment to the arts. Martin will be deeply missed, but his legacy will continue to inspire generations to come. We send our condolences to his family and friends.”