4th July – WELSH NATIONAL OPERA
On the stage – for five days – WELSH NATIONAL OPERA – For their first visit of the year Welsh National Opera brought back one of their most popular productions of CARMEN which they staged on Tuesday and Friday. Benjamin Britten‘s THE TURN OF THE SCREW based on the tale of a menacing world of malevolent forces where a young governess fights to save the souls of two children from the ghosts of two dead servants. The intimate production played on Thursday. The highlight of the visit was the production on Wednesday and Saturday of Richard Straus‘DER ROSENKAVALIER. Revisiting the Mayflower this lavish production telling the story of an older woman who tries to give up her young lover to another with dignity. Ane evening of romance, costume and spectacle..
11th July – DOCTOR DOOLITTLE
On the stage – for six weeks – DOCTOR DOOLITTLE – Mayflower –
Doctor Dolittle is a stage musical with book, music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse, based on the 1967 movie of the same name and the children’s stories by Hugh Lofting about the adventures of a doctor who learns to speak the language of various animals and treats them as patients. The musical features the same songs as the film (which starred Rex Harrison, Samantha Eggar, Anthony Newley and Richard Attenborough), including the Academy Award-winning “Talk To The Animals”.
The stage musical had its world premiere in London at the Hammersmith Apollo in 1998, followed by this tour of the UK starring TV presenter and personality Phillip Schofield in the title role. The role played by Anthony Newley in the film was played by Irish television presenter and actor Bryan Smyth . The production was directed by Steven Pimlott, designed by Mark Thompson, lighting designed by Hugh Vanstone, choreographed by Aletta Collins and featured animal puppets provided by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. The production also featured the pre-recorded voice of Julie Andrews as Polynesia the parrot. Following his run as Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the London Palladium (after replacing Jason Donovan), Doctor Dolittle was Schofield’s second stage musical he starred in. Leslie Bricusse he wanted someone younger than Rex Harrison was in the original movie. The production’s budget was £4 million, at the time one of the most expensive musicals ever staged.
28th August – DREAM CONCERTS
Live – One night only – DREAM CONCERTS – This was another Dream Concert that comprised two tribute acts, Millenium performing the catalogue of Robbie Williams and D*Witched recreating the look and sounds of girl band B*Witched.
31st August – POSTMAN PAT
On the stage – for four days – HAPPY BIRTHDAY POSTMAN PAT – It’s Pat’s birthday and whilst everyone in Greendale wishes Pat a ‘Happy Birthday’ Pat mistakenly believes that there will be no celebration because his wife Sara is too busy! Meanwhile at Greendale Post Office a large mystery parcel is delivered. Join Pat and Jess on the post round, keep Pat’s surprise party a secret, sing-a-long to Postman Pat’s song, come shopping at Sam’s mobile shop, meet the hens at Greendale Farm, discover what’s in the mystery parcel and enjoy the party.
2nd September – HEAVEN CAN WAIT
Live – one day only – HEAVEN CAN WAIT – THE MEATLOAF STORY – Larger than life in every way. Meatloaf has been a massive force in rock music for over 20 years with hits including Bat Out of Hell, Dead Ringer for Love, Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad, I Would Do Anything for Love, Paradise by the Dashboard Light and many more. The MeatLoaf Story – Heaven Can Wait features Jim Steinman in a story by David Cosgrove and brought to the stage by Murray Productions.
3rd September – VOULEZ VOUS
Live – One day only – VOULEZ VOUS – It has now been an amazing 10 years since VOULEZ VOUS’ humble beginnings. The ABBA tribute show present their incredible concert. They are considered ‘Masters of the ABBA scene!’ With original cast members, Linda and David Monks they continue their legacy in recreating the costumes, glamour and distinct sound that was ABBA, theytell their own ABBA story that brings your memories of the Swedish super-group back to life! In true theatrical form VOULEZ VOUS reincarnate all of ABBA’s hits that have stood the test of time since that unforgettable Eurovision performance back in 1974. VOULEZ VOUS’ talented team of look-a-like performers and time served musicians will have you mistaking them for the real thing!
4th September – DEFENDING THE CAVEMAN
On the stage – for three days – DEFENDING THE CAVEMAN – is a comedy play written by American actor and comedian Rob Becker about the misunderstandings between men and women. Defending the Caveman has been seen in theatres around the world by more than eight million people in forty-five countries. It has been performed in over thirty different languages.
Neighbours star Mark Little returns to the role that he created in the London production, with this hysterically funny look at men, women and the battle of the sexes. This very popular comedy Defending the Caveman was written by Rob Becker over a three year period during which he made an informal study of anthropology, prehistory, psychology, sociology and mythology. This production was the winner of Best Entertainment Award at the Olivier Awards 2000!
Defending the Cave man originally opened in San Francisco in 1991 and soon moved to Dallas. After a year in Dallas played at a number of other US cities before opening on Broadway in 1995. After running two and a half years, playing 702 performances at the Helen Hayes Theatre, Defending the Caveman entered the record books as the longest running solo play in Broadway history. The original London production, starring Mark Little, opened at the Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue in 1999 and played a successful seven month season.
9th September – THE SCOTTISH TATTOO
Live – for one day only – THE SCOTTISH TATTOO – A promotional tour for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, this visit to Southampton was part of the rehearsal process for a major tour to New Zealand. This production boasted over 150 performers, musicians, dancers and singers.
An extract of the 2000 Military Tattoo in Edinburgh before its visit to Southampton enroute to New Zealand – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88xTLy3IpVw
13th September – CIRQUE ELOIZE
Live – for FOUR days – CIRQUE ELOIZE – For many, the circus was seen as an anachronism, something to snooze through on TV after Christmas dinner and otherwise scorn for its slightly suspect treatment of animals. But the mangey lions and put-upon ponies have been left behind along with the sequins and false smiles, and suddenly circuses seems to be everywhere: not just the traditional Chinese and Russian varieties, but all kinds of mutant strains throwing performance art, theatre, dance and music into the mix.
Like Cirque de Soleil, Canada’s Cirque Éloize (pronounced El-was) is the latest to tour these shores, and is also among the most innovative. Graduates of the National Circus School in Montreal, the 15 performers include a five-piece live band and offer the usual displays of juggling, acrobatics and trapeze, along with an impressive eight-on-a-bike routine and a ladder-balancing act so graceful it could be classed as modern dance. This show Excentricus was developed through improvisation with each of the performers taking on a distinct personality on stage: there’s the new boy, eager to impress, or the macho man in love with the trapeze artist, and the fun comes not just from the impressive action but from watching the interaction between the cast, the mini-dramas that develop between them as the 90-minute show progresses.
18th September – THE BLUES BROTHERS MEET THE SOUL SISTERS
On the stage – for six days – THE BLUES BROTHERS MEET THE SOUL SISTERS – These Blues Brothers sounded like the real thing. With the three stunning singers making up the Soul Sisters and a tight seven-piece band behind them, they roar through two hours of classic songs. Billed as a celebration of black music, the show is rather lighter on Motown than might have been expected, no vintage Supremes or Temptations, for instance. Judged by the rather heavy-handed treatment of It Takes Two, complete with wailing guitar solo, this is possibly no bad thing. Amends are made to Marvin Gaye, however, with Giles New’s thrilling account of I Heard It Through the Grapevine. Diana Ross is recalled in all her emotional glory in a powerful medley from Karime Kendra, while Linda John-Pierre treats us to the classics of Aretha Franklin, including a sensational Respect. Dawn Hope struts and pouts to brilliant effect as Tina Turner, Michael Dimitri with James Brown’s I Got You and Mark Frendo’s take on Shout are other highlights of a super show.
23rd September – GARY NUMAN
Live – one day only – GARY NUMAN – a 42 year old British singer, songwriter and musician. Numan released his first record in 1978 as part of the outfit Tubeway Army. Initially unsuccessful, the band scored a huge hit in 1979 with the single “Are Friends Electric” and their second album Replicas, both of which reached number one in the UK. Numan then decided to release further recordings under his own name, beginning with the single “Cars” later in 1979. Both this and the subsequent album The Pleasure Principle also reached number one in the UK, and Numan became a leading force in the British electronic music scene. He scored a third number one album in 1980 with Telekon, and more hit singles and albums until the mid 1980s when his popularity waned. Despite this, he has continued to record and tour on a regular basis up to the present day and this was his 10th appearance at the theatre.
24th September – OPERA FROM THE HEART
On the Stage – for one night – Opera From The Heart – A gala night of popular opera in aid of Wessex Heartbeat dedicated to the memory of the charity’s patron, Desmond Wilcox, who died this month. Desmond’s widow, television presenter Esther Rantzen, and their children were said to be delighted with news that his memory was to be honoured in this way. Opera From The Heart was hosted by GMTV’s Penny Smith and stars a staggering list of top names from the world of opera including Claire Seaton and Jeremy Carpenter along with Mike Sterling who recently starred at The Mayflower in Phantom Of The Opera. All have donated their talents free and supported by the Sussex Symphony Orchestra.
26th September – CANCELLED – STEPPING OUT
On the stage – for TWO weeks – CANCELLED – STEPPING OUT – This was scheduled to be the musical version of Richard Harris’s original comedy play which was made into a film by Liza Minnelli. The story of the lives and loves of a weekly tap-dancing class as the teacher tries to turn the odd bunch of attendees into a presentable group. Book by Richard Harris. Music Denis King. Lyrics Mary Stewart-David. Company Irving Stage Company.
26th September – CAROUSEL
On the stage – for five days – CAROUSEL – MAYFLOWER – With the cancellation of Stepping Out, the producers of this new production of Rodgers & Hammersteins Carousel with new choreography by Wayne Sleep were able to accomodate this extra date into their schedule. The production starred Darren Day as Billy Bigelow and Sam Kane as Jigger Craigin which began it‘s national tour in Blackpool on the 6th March. During the visit Darren Day was taken ill and Sam Kane took over in the role of Billy Bigelow. Sam Kane was joined by Sophie Caton (Julie Jordan), Gemma Wardle (Carrie Pipperidge), Sylvia Griffin (Nettie Fowler), John Berlyne (Enoch Snow), David Oakley (Star Keeper/Dr Seldon), Veerle Casteleyn (Louise), Tom Dwyer (Carnival Boy) and Peter Mair (Mr Bascombe). Wayne Sleep has choreographed the entire musical for the first time. In a distinguished career, which spans thirty years, Wayne Sleep is one of the few dancers to successfully bridge the gulf between all dance techniques, from classical to contemporary, including jazz and tap. As an actor-singer-dancer he has starred in eleven West End stage productions, including Andrew Lloyd- Webber’s Cats, and Song and Dance as well as the revival of Cabaret. As a director, Wayne won critical acclaim with his own company DASH, which toured the UK extensively culminating in five London seasons and a World Tour.
Director Matthew White’s extensive credits include the Royal National Theatre’s West End revival of Carousel and two subsequent productions in Japan (in Japanese!). The set wass designed by Jeremy Gladwin, lighting designed by David Howe, sound design by Glen Beckley, and the musical director, Richard Holmes.