continuing until 2nd February – JACK AND THE BEANSTALK
3rd February – CLOSED
19th February – 42nd STREET
On the stage – for FIVE weeks – 42ND STREET – This was a coup for the Mayflower, for the first time the producers of a major West End musical believed that the theatre could attract an audience in sufficient numbers to support a five week run of an extravagant musical. This was a major turning point for the Mayflower and put the theatre up there with the exclusive few theatres that could command a West End transfer rather than just the normal touring productions. So following a short transfer at London’s Dominion after its 1984 premiere at Drury Lane the show arrived in Southampton before moving on to Birmingham Hippodrome.
42ND STREET is an American musical with a book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, lyrics by Al Dubin and Johnny Mercer, and music by Harry Warren. The 1980 Broadway production, produced by David Merrick, directed by an ailing Gower Champion and orchestrated by Philip J. Lang, won the Tony Award for Best Musical and became a long-running hit. The show was produced in London in 1984 (winning the Olivier Award for Best Musical). Based on the novel by Bradford Ropes and the subsequent 1933 Hollywood film adaptation, the backstage musical show focuses on the efforts of famed dictatorial Great White Way director Julian Marsh to mount a successful stage production of a musical extravaganza at the height of the Great Depression. The show is a jukebox musical of sorts, in that, in addition to songs from the 1933 film 42nd Street, it includes songs that Dubin and Warren wrote for many other films at around the same time, including Gold Diggers of 1933, Roman Scandals, Dames, Gold Diggers of 1935, Go into Your Dance, Gold Diggers of 1937 and The Singing Marine. It also includes “There’s a Sunny Side to Every Situation”, written by Warren and Johnny Mercer for Hard to Get.
It tells the story of Peggy Sawyer, a talented young performer with stars in her eyes who gets her big break on Broadway. Peggy arrives to New York City from her hometown of Allentown, Pennsylvania, armed with her tap shoes and big dreams. Peggy’s talent catches the eye of legendary Broadway director Julian Marsh, who gives her a spot in the chorus of Pretty Lady, his newest show. Pretty Lady stars Dorothy Brock, the classic Broadway diva, who takes an instant dislike to the new girl in the cast. When Dorothy is injured during the show’s previews, Pretty Lady looks like it will have to close, unless a new girl talented enough to lead the show can be found — someone like Peggy Sawyer! Peggy’s rise from showgirl to star is the stuff of show business dreams. 42nd Street is full of crowd-pleasing tap dances, popular musical theatre standards, and show-stopping ensemble production numbers.
27th March – WELSH NATIONAL OPERA
On the stage – for FIVE days – WELSH NATIONAL OPERA – MAYFLOWER – The Welsh National Opera’s first visit of 1990 saw four very different operas. They opened on Tuesday with DER FREISCHUTZ a German opera with spoken dialogue in three acts by Carl Maria von Weber with a libretto by Friedrich Kind. It is considered the first important German Romantic opera, especially in its national identity and stark emotionality. The plot is based on the German folk legend of the Freischütz and many of its tunes were thought to be inspired by German folk music, but this is a common misconception. More popular were the offerings on Thursday – Rossini’s 1816 Italian opera, THE BARBER OF SEVILLE and on Friday Mozart’s 1790 opera, COSI FAN TUTTE.
The star piece of the week was performed on Wednesday and Saturday, Richard Strauss’s DER ROSENKAVALIER – The opera has four main characters: the aristocratic Marschallin; her very young lover, Count Octavian Rofrano; her brutish cousin Baron Ochs; and Ochs’ prospective fiancée, Sophie von Faninal, the daughter of a rich bourgeois. At the Marschallin’s suggestion, Octavian acts as Ochs’ Rosenkavalier by presenting a ceremonial silver rose to Sophie. However, the young people fall in love on the spot, and soon devise a comic intrigue to extricate Sophie from her engagement. They accomplish this with help from the Marschallin, who then yields Octavian to the younger woman. Though a comic opera, the work incorporates some weighty themes (particularly through the Marschallin’s character arc), including infidelity, aging, sexual predation, and selflessness in love (or the lack thereof).