1999 October to December


Live -in concert – BAND OF THE LIFE GUARDS – The Life Guards (LG) are the senior regiment of the British Army and part of the Household Cavalry, along with the Blues and Royals. On ceremonial occasions the Life Guards wear a scarlet tunic, a metal cuirass and a matching helmet with a white plume worn bound on the top into an ‘onion’ shape; the exceptions to this are the regiment’s trumpeters, who wear a red plume, and farriers, who wear blue tunics and have a black plume. In addition, the Life Guards wear their chin strap below their lower lip, as opposed to the Blues and Royals who wear it under their chin.

This would be one of their last concerts under the name ‘The Life Guards’ before merging with the Household Cavalry.

The history of The Life Guards
The Band performing

3rd October – CLOSED


On the stage – for five days – ENGLISH NATIONAL BALLET – returned to their UK provincial base to show off two ballets from their current repertoire at London’s Coliseum. On Tuesday and Wednesday they performed an adventurous triple bill comprising classical jewel, Natalia Makarova’s ‘La Bayadere’, Glen Tetley’s ‘Sphinx’ based on the myth of Oedipus and the Sphinx and finally Kenneth McMillan’s modern ballet masterpiece ‘The Rite Of Spring’ set to Stravinsky’s music and tells the story of a primal tribe and their pagan rites. The classic ‘Coppelia’ set to the music of Delibes played for 5 performances at the end of the week. The Ronald Hynds sparkling production featured the full company of 64 dancers and accompanied by the full ENB orchestra from the London Coliseum.

Scenes from a later production of Coppelia


On the stage – for six days – RETURN TO THE FORBIDDEN PLANET – Return to the Forbidden Planet is a Jukebox musical by playwright Bob Carlton based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest and the 1956 science fiction film Forbidden Planet (which itself drew its plot loosely from The Tempest). The high energy show MAKING ITS FOURTH VISIT TO THE Mayflower, features a bevy of 1950s and 1960s rock and roll classics, performed on stage by the cast. The campy sci-fi setting consists of silvered space suit costumes and space ship sets concealing keyboards and drums. The robot, Ariel, is performed by an actor on roller skates, with a costume reminiscent of the original movie’s Robby the Robot. The show’s dialogue is largely adapted from well-known passages from Shakespeare. There is a part for narrator on pre-recorded video which was played in the original production by Magnus Pyke and in the London production by the astronomer and TV personality Sir Patrick Moore. A West End cast album was released in 1990 by Virgin Records. It was billed as “Shakespeare’s forgotten rock and roll masterpiece”. Return to the Forbidden Planet started life with the Bubble Theatre Company as a production for open-air performance in a tent. A revised version of the musical opened, indoors, at the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool in the mid-1980s. It later moved to the Tricycle Theatre in London. After some rework a final version opened the Cambridge Theatre in London’s West End in September 1989. It won the Olivier Award for Best New Musical for both 1989 and 1990.

A look at the show

24th October – THE HOLLIES

In concert – for one night only – THE HOLLIES – a British rock group best known for their pioneering and distinctive three-part vocal harmony style. The Hollies became one of the leading British groups of the 1960s (231 weeks on the UK singles charts during the 1960s, the 9th highest of any artist of the decade) and into the mid 1970s. The band was formed by Allan Clarke and Graham Nash in 1962 as a Merseybeat-type music group in Manchester, although some of the band members came from towns further north in East Lancashire. Graham Nash left the group in 1968 to form the supergroup Crosby, Stills & Nash.

They enjoyed considerable popularity in many countries (at least 60 singles or EPs and 26 albums charting somewhere in the world, spanning over five decades), although they did not achieve major US chart success until 1966 with “Bus Stop”. The Hollies had over 30 charting singles on the UK Singles Chart, and 22 on the Billboard Hot 100, with major hits on both sides of the Atlantic that included “Just One Look”, “Look Through Any Window”, “I Can’t Let Go”, “Bus Stop”, “Stop Stop Stop”, “On a Carousel”, “Carrie Anne”, “Jennifer Eccles”, and later “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”, “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress”, and “The Air That I Breathe”.

This 1999 concert at the Mayflower marked their ninth appearance since their debut here in 1964.

The Hollies are one of the few UK groups of the early 1960s, along with the Rolling Stones, that have never disbanded and continue to record and perform.

An excerpt from a concert performance


On the stage – for five days – WELSH NATIONAL OPERA – returned to the Mayflower with their autumn tour comprising 3 programmes. On Tuesday and Friday they performed Mozart’s DON GIOVANNI; leaving chaos in his wake, the Don will stop at nothing to satisfy his lust and is indomitable even in the face of death and damnation. On Wednesday and Saturday Verdi’s RIGOLETTO took over the stage, a classic production reflecting the 16th Century setting. When the court jester learns that the Duke has seduced his daughter, he plotes revenge but his murder plan backfires. Finally, on Thursday Poulenc’s THE CARMELITES, a tale of the French revolution and a convent of nuns which were persecuted. One novice has to decide whether to renounce her faith or die. Written in 1957 the opera is timely and highly approachable.

A promo for Don Giovanni

31st October – RAB C NESBITT

On The Stage – For One Night Only – RAB C NESBITT – The slightly random adventures of a drunken Scots layabout hardly seems the stuff of hit comedies, but Rab C Nesbitt was popular enough to run for 10 series over 16 years on the BBC. The grumpy Glaswegian, played by Gregor Fisher, first appeared in the sketch show Naked Video in 1986 and was ARDENan immediate success, prompting creator Ian Pattison to write a series focussing on the character. After a 1988 pilot, the first full series aired in 1990 and seven more followed until 1999.

This stage adaptation focused on the character played by Gregor Fisher, the man around whom it all revolves, Rab is a boozy bar-room philosopher and professional loafer, almost permanently clad in string vest, shabby pinstripe suit and dirty headband. Gregor Fisher already had several TV and film credits when Rab first appeared as a character.

See a recording of a full live performance – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NptAVWArQsQ&list=RDNptAVWArQsQ&start_radio=1&t=67


On the stage – for six days – THE BLUES BROTHERS – Actually titled “The Official Tribute to….THE BLUES BROTHERS – The Smash Hit Musical Live On Stage” the show returned to the Mayflower for the fourth time. Jake and Elwood returned for another week of Soul, R’n’B and manic mayhem. With songs like Minnie The Moocher, Can’t Turn You Loose, Everybody Needs Somebody and The Midnight Hour, the theatre shook.

An interesting appearance on a tv programme

7th November – DAVID ESSEX

On the stage – one night only – a 52 year old English singer, songwriter, and actor. Since the 1970s, he had attained 19 Top 40 singles in the UK (including two number ones) and 16 Top 40 albums. Internationally, Essex had the most success with his 1973 single “Rock On”. He has an extensive career as an actor. Essex spent six years as an ambassador for Voluntary Service Overseas, which earned him an OBE earlier in the year.

This was his ninth concert at the Mayflower in addition to the nine concerts he performed when it was the Gaumont.

Davis Essex performing Everlasting Love


On the stage – for FIVE days – THANK YOU FOR THE MUSIC – A staged concert featuring the sounds of the seventies – Abba, Bee Gees, Blondie, Bay City Rollers, David Cassidy, Bonnie Tyler and lots more. This show was overshadowed by the opening of Mamma Mia! And numerous Abba tribute bands. Even though this show offered much more than ABBA covers it got buried in the avalanche of Abbamania. Billed as the hottest show since the seventies. It was directed by Keith Strachan who co-wrote the song “Mistletoe and Wine”, which got Cliff Richard the 1988 Christmas number one. His TV work includes the theme music for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and Kaun Banega Crorepati. Besides this show he directed a series of pop and rock compilation musicals for Bill Kenwright.


On the Stage – for six nights – JOSEPH & HIS AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOATIn this version of JOSEPH AND HIS AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT Richard Swerrun took the lead. He was a highly accomplished singer and actor but also a fully qualified Royal Academy of Dance tutor, having achieved Associate status in four years instead of the usual 14. His first show was also his West End debut, starring in the musical ‘Y’ at the Piccadilly Theatre, for which he won the Variety Club of Great Britain award for best vocalist. This led him to star as Tony in ‘West Side Story’ at Her Majesty’s Theatre, receiving an award from HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, and he was honoured to perform the role for the composer Leonard Bernstein. Richard then went on to star in many musicals including the part of Joseph on this mammoth tour which set out in 1996 with hardly any breaks. He would return to Joseph in the West End in 2004 and on another UK tour in 2005.

Richard performing in cabaret

When Richard died at 57 from cancer early in 2019, Bill Kenwright tweeted: “One of our greatest ever Josephs – one of our greatest ever boys.”

21st November – CLOSED

A one week closure for regular maintenance work


On the stage – for five nights only – GIRLS NIGHT OUT AT XMAS – The tale of four women on a hen night and the backroom antics of the strippers at the club where they decide to go has attempted to use a tried and tested formula that’s well past its sell-by date. The Girls Night Out series started a number of years ago set in Manchester club. It then moved to a set in Ibiza, but this Christmas offering was considered one too many. Sitting in the audience, trying your best to enjoy it, you can’t help but think you should be sporting a white cardigan with stilettos, handbag and half a lager. The enthusiastic cast tried their best to whip the mainly female audience into a frenzy, but the sound of Away in a Manger and a night at seedy club somehow don’t gel together.

Credit where credit is due. There were excellent performances from Linda Clark as Aunty Ivy and Helen Fisher as prim and proper Helen Fisher. Her discovery in the changing room toilet with boyfriend Tony was nothing short of hilarious.

Devised by Paul Farrah and written by Dave Simpson, admittedly it was funny in places. Those singing and screaming at the tops of their voices to the shouts of “Get ’em off” had a whale of a time and judging by the audience’s reaction to the antics on stage, which included a giant helping of leather pouches and gyrations, this is exactly what they came for.

5th December – JETHRO

live – on the stage – JETHRO – Cornish comedian JETHRO was making his eighth appearnce at the Mayflower. Hugely popular with Southampton audiences this was another sell-out.

Jethro telling that joke again


On the stage – for six days – THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW – The show follows squeaky-clean sweethearts Brad and Janet on an adventure they’ll never forget, with the scandalous Frank N Furter, rippling Rocky and vivacious Magenta. Bursting at the seams with timeless classics, including ‘Sweet Transvestite’, ‘Damn It Janet’ and, of course, the pelvic-thrusting ‘Time Warp’, Get ready for a night of fun, frolics and frivolity. This is the boldest bash of them all, so fish out the fishnets, buff up your basque and sharpen those stilettos for the rockiest ride of your life! Don’t dream it – be it! It starred Darren Day (Frank n Furter), Tony Booth (Narrator Southampton), Nathan Taylor (Brad), Larissa Murray (Janet), Georgie Hayes (Riff Raff), Laurie Brett (Magenta), Gael Johnson (Columbia), Ross O’Hennessy (Rocky), Michael Nielson (Eddie/Dr Scott), Simon Breen (Phantom), Andrew Jeffrey (Phantom), Kristin Johnson (Phantom), Amanda Jane Manning (Phantom).

Darren Day performing another musical of the time which didn’t make the Mayflower

7th December – ROSIE & JIM

On the stage – for five days of matinees – ROSIE & JIM – A children’s tv favourite Rosie And Jim brought their new live show to the Mayflower. Tootle, played by Neil Brewer, has moored the Ragdoll boat to enjoy a full day of songs, music and laughter. But, he doesn’t know that tqo mischievous rag dolls have followed him and they make sure things don’t go according to plan.

A scene from the show

A scene from the show – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcdXEyPJslI

12th December – CLOSED

Closed until 5th January 2000 – The theatre closes for a long period necessitated for the get-in and setting up of The Phantom Of The Opera which opens on 6th January, 2000.

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