2009 January to March

1st January – continuing – CINDERELLA

18th January – CLOSED

Theatre closed for a short Winter break

27th January – WEST SIDE STORY

on the stage – for TWO weeks – WEST SIDE STORY – Fifty years young and still staking a genuine claim to be the greatest Broadway musical of all time, West Side Story arrived at the Mayflower as part of an international tour that had already taken in Tokyo, Paris, Beijing and London at a time when there’d been a rash of Romeo and Juliets like a bad outbreak of the measles.

With music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Arthur Laurents, this story of doomed love set amidst the rival street gangs of 50s New York is a reminder that there are occasions when Shakespeare can be improved upon. This is one of them: a show that makes its own exquisite musical and physical poetry as the Puerto Rican incomer Maria and all-American boy, Tony defy cultural constraints and face the disapproval of friends and family to fall in love as violence between the two communities catches fire.

Sofia Escobaras’s Maria certainly shone, exuding the luminosity of a girl in love as if she has an electric lightbulb switched on right inside her chest. Ryan Silverman’s Tony was less charismatic but he sings sweetly, and there is good support from Lana Gordon as the fiery Anita, torn between her cultural roots and her recognition that Maria and Tony’s love is the real thing.

A number from this UK touring production

9th February – CABARET

on the stage – for six days – CABARET – Bill Kenwright brought this new production to the Mayflower, with a fresh cast, this fine, beautifully staged revival of CABARET sets out why it’s easy to see how the show has staying power. There are fantastic musical numbers and the show takes us on a powerful emotional journey. The show’s lost much of it’s initial shock value – the raunchiness and the up-front sexuality and homosexuality; however, director, Rufus Norris, possibly recognising this, focuses on the political element of the story. Set in German in the early 1930s, freedom, the desire to live only for the moment, is celebrated as the show opens. Though Norris and his team inject an edgy intensity into their abandon; it’s as if the characters are trying a bit too hard to be free. As their journey continues our unease grows as we see the rise of the Nazi movement. One of the things I love about good musicals is the way they tell big stories in equally big sweeps; the growing unease and danger is encapsulated in the love story between Fraulein Schneider and (Jewish) Herr Schultz. Jenny Logan and Matt Zimmerman bring this touchingly to life and their second half love scene is quite wonderful.

Samantha Barks shapes her performance excellently; Wayne Sleep creates a dark and disturbing Emcee without losing any of the humour – which is mighty uncomfortable. THE MONEY SONG is performed with a near manic delight, and deeply unpleasant. Great stuff. Henry Luxemburg brings a feeling or normality, even detachment, to Clifford Bradshaw, chronicler of all we see. Rufus Norris directs with both sensitivity and swagger, and Katrina Lindsay’s sparse designs carry atmosphere and meaning with a minimum of fuss.

The trailer for the tour

15th February – THE MUSIC OF ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER

Live – one night only – THE MUSIC OF ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER –

West End headliners Daniel Boys, Scott Davies, Chrissie Hammond and Helen Hobson will be accompanied by the 35-piece Showbiz Pops Orchestra in a series of eight Sunday evening concerts being presented under the umbrella title The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Featuring excerpts from some of Lloyd Webber’s shows, including The Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar, Starlight Express, Sunset Boulevard, Aspects of Love, Tell Me on a Sunday and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Daniel Boys is currently in the West End production of Avenue Q. He made his West End debut playing Mark in Rent at the Prince of Wale, and he has also appeared in Grease in the West End and the national tour of Sunset Boulevard and the European tour of West Side Story. Scott Davies has played the title role of The Phantom of the Opera at His Majesty’s Theatre and on the U.K. tour; other musical credits include Cats, Carousel, Pacific Overtures, Chess and Brigadoon. He has also appeared with English National Opera in Carmen, Rigoletto and Ernani. Chrissie Hammond was a principal soloist in the original London cast of Smokey Joe’s Café at the Prince of Wales Theatre. She has also had long runs in the West End in both Cats and Chicago. Helen Hobson has played Donna in Mamma Mia! both at the Prince of Wales Theatre and on the international tour. She has also performed in Blood Brothers at the Phoenix Theatre and played Cathy alongside Cliff Richards’ Heathcliff on tour. The Showbiz Pops Orchestra, which will be conducted by Richard Ward-Roden, was formed in 2007 by Ward-Roden and Stuart Calvert, two distinguished conductors and musicians long associated with the international world of musicals. Ward-Roden is currently the assistant conductor of Les Misérables at the Queen’s Theatre, London. Calvert is now the associate musical director of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at London’s Adelphi Theatre.

Daniel Boys performing a Lloyd Webber number

17th February – IMPERIAL ICE STARS

On the stage – for five days – THE IMPERIAL ICE STARS – CINDERELLA – MAYFLOWER – The Imperial Ice Stars returned to the Mayflower for the third time bringing their unique brand of innovative skating and story-telling to the tale of Cinderella, all performed in the intimacy of a frozen theatre stage.

An excerpt from Cinderella On Ice

22nd February – THE MAGIC OF MOTOWN

Live – one night only – The Magic Of Motown – Get ready for all the hits, glittering costumes, dazzling dance routines and outstanding musicianship in this breathtaking live concert spectacular. You will be going Loco down in Acapulco as you’re taken back down memory lane with all the Motown classics from artists such as, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, The Supremes, The Four Tops, Martha Reeves, The Jackson 5, Smokey Robinson and many, many more. Celebrate the sound of a generation and Reach Out for The Magic of Motown!

The concert promo

23rd February – THRILLER LIVE!

On the stage – for six days – THRILLER LIVE! – is a two-and-a-half-hour concert revue celebrating the music of The Jackson 5 and the solo work and life of Michael Jackson. It had already been performed in the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and Scandinavia before opening back into the West End at the Lyric Theatre, London, on 21 January 2009. It had originally been seen at the Dominion in 2006. The show was conceived by Jackson family friend and author Adrian Grant and for the first time the tour continued while the show opened in the West End.

The 2008/9 extended promo for the show

An extended promo for the show – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtlB6KUGKWQ

2nd March – CALENDAR GIRLS

On the stage – for six days – CALENDAR GIRLS – This 2008 Chichester Festival Production play is written by Tim Firth based on the motion picture written by Tim Firth and Juliette Towhidi. Directed for the stage by Hamish McColl with set designs by Robert Jones, lighting by Malcolm Rippeth, costumes by Emma Williams, music by Steve Parry and sound by John Leonard. Based on a true story of a group of middle-aged Yorkshire women who produced a nude calendar to raise money for Leukaemia Research under the auspices of the Women’s Institutes after the cancer death of the husband of one of their members. This production moved into the West End, opening at the Noel Coward on 4th April. The cast featured Lynda Bellingham, Patricia Hodge, Siân Phillips, Gaynor Faye, Brigit Forsyth, Julia Hills and Elaine C. Smith along with Joan Blackham, Abby Francis, Gary Lilburn, Gerard McDermot and Carl Prekopp.

Promotional Video

10th March – WELSH NATIONAL OPERA

On the stage – for five days – WELSH NATIONAL OPERA – on Tuesday 10th and Thursday 12th WNO performed ‘THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO’ – Catalan director Lluis Pasqual directs a new production of what is widely regarded as Mozart’s most perfect opera. The cast includes Rebecca Evans, David Soar and Rodion Pogossov, a former member of Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Arts Development Programme. The conductor is Michael Hofstetter. This was a co-production with Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona.

On Wednesday 11th and Saturday 14th ‘THE ELIXIR of LOVE’ was staged – a Neapolitan 50’s glamour is brought to life in Daniel Slater’s enchanting co-production with Opera North of Donizetti’s romantic story. The cast includes New York tenor Dimitri Pittas who was compared to a young Placido Domingo and who sung Macduff in Adrian Noble’s production of Macbeth at Metropolitan Opera. Welsh soprano Camilla Roberts takes the role of Adina. The conductor was Rory Macdonald and the director, Daniel Slater.

Then on Friday 13th – André Engel’s co-production with Scottish Opera of ‘SALOME’ with an impressive cast, including Erika Sunnegardh in the title role, Sally Burgess, Matthew Best and Peter Hoare, who sang in WNO’s award winning production of Wozzeck. Erika Sunnegardh made a memorable debut at Metropolitan Opera in 2006 in Beethoven’s Fidelio. The conductor was Lothar Koenigs.

WNO promotional trailer for Salome

15th March – CANCELLED – ONE NIGHT IN VEGAS

15th March 2009 – one night only – CANCELLED – ONE NIGHT IN VEGAS – Martyn Lewis and his own show ONE NIGHT IN VEGASThe show promised a cast including Vegas showgirls and Dame Shirley Bassey’s backing group – a swing band featuring musicians who have worked with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra performing hits by Tom Jones, Frank Sinatra, Cliff Richard, Elton John, Elvis and Barry Manilow and Michael Jackson.

But this was not to be – Martyn relocated to Texas and is now known as the Dallas piano player and wedding singer.

16th March – HOT FLUSH

for two nights – live on stage –HOT FLUSH – was aimed at largely female audience with outrageous jokes against men without being too offensive. Withoriginal music and lyrics written by Olly Ashmore, and wry humour of the four female characters. Ruth Keeling’s comic nostalgia was excellent as she wnt through her size ten wardrobe before squeezing into her size 18 jeans. Anne Smith is Helen and Hilary O’Neil, sexy Sylvia, who is having a clandestine affair with Myra’s 18-year-old son. Myra is played by Lesley Joseph and defends like a tigress her innocent boy who is played by Sam Kane along with every other male character, flashing his teeth with appealing good humoured raunchiness.

19th March – SCOOBY DOO AND THE PIRATE GHOST

On the stage – for 3 days – SCOOBY-DOO AND THE PIRATE GHOST – is a live ninety-minute stage performance, directed by Jim Millian. The show premiered on February 27, 2009. The story concerns holiday-makers being scared away from a tourist resort, by the ghost of a sword-brandishing pirate queen, lustily played by Sarah Chamberlain. The investigation by our heroes largely consists of hairy-scary chases through haunted hotels and spooky swamps. Jamie Brown who starred as Scooby-Doo just finished playing the title role in a production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet , when the 24-year-old actor was faced with a big decision when his agent called asking him to audition for this production.

An amateur video

23rd March – JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT

n the stage – for six days – JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT this was the eighth touring production to play the theatre, 25 years after it made its debut at the Gaumont in 1984. This Tim Rice/ Andrew Lloyd Webber collaboration has been a mainstay for the producer Bill Kenwright’s touring portfolio.

The lead in this production is taken by Craig Chalmers who was a finalist in the BBC1 show Any Dream Will Do. This augured well for a career in musical theatre but this came tumbling down in 2012 when it was discovered that he had starred in X-rated movies using the name Ryan Ryder, and that his profile and photograph were also included on an adult talent agency website.

Craig Chalmers sings Close Every Door

29th March – BAT – THE SYMPHONY

Live – for one night only – BAT-THE SYMPHONY – A force to be reckoned with in musical theatre, Steve Steinman went from being nearly bankrupt in the early nineties, to a multi-millionaire, by the time the straight-talking entrepreneur announced that his company, Rockman Music would produce the UK tour of Bat – The Symphony -– combining the full force of a 40 piece orchestra and the songs of Meat Loaf in what would become the ultimate rock opera (Bat Out Of Hell). The concert included hits from Meat Loaf’s record breaking albums Bat Out of Hell, Took The Words Right Out of My Mouth and Paradise By the Dash Board Light as well as duets on the Grammy Award-Winning hit songs Anything For Love and Dead Ringer For Love. It went on to become one of the world’s best selling rock-musical concerts.

The concert overture

31st March – LE GRAND CIRQUE

Live – for six days – LE GRAND CIRQUE – The brand new show – FANTAZIE – brought Le Grand Cirque back to The Mayflower. This was one of the top Cirque shows in the world. The thrilling ‘Cirque Du Soleil’ style show has magnificent performers, spectacular costumes and breathtaking acts. with white-knuckle thrill a minute acrobatic stunts from some of the world’s greatest acrobatic performers, and amazing costumes, this was a visually spectacular show.

The promotional trailer

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