2010 April to June


On the stage – for THREE weeks – CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG – is a stage musical based on the 1968 film produced by Albert R. Broccoli. The music and lyrics were written by Richard and Robert Sherman with book by Jeremy Sams. Chitty returned after 3 years, for the Easter Holidays and she had been dusted off, revamped, updated and redirected for this brand new production. Chitty has at its heart two fundamental human desires….the desire to fly and the desire to protect one’s children. All told through a magical journey. It is the story of loveand adventure, of good and evil and a family in search of something missing – all brought together by a fantasmagorical car! The cast was led by Darren Bennett, Katie Ray, John Griffiths and Dean Maynard.

This production took 12 artics to move the show between theatres, 30 performers, 46 children, 14 musicians, 30 technincians, 11 dogs and one flying car to operate each performance. And yes, the car really did fly.

The promo for the musical
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On the stage – for four days – ENGLISH NATIONAL BALLET – CINDERELLA – To mark ENGLISH NATIONAL BALLET’s 60th Birthday year the company presented Michael Corder’s CINDERELLA. Daria Klimentova performs this plethora of releves with a soft finesse and the sophisticated ease of veteran principal, impressively steadfast technique though not a natural physical choice for the role. Vadim Muntagirov made for a promising young prince, with silky landings and a gentle partnering technique. The two charismatic stepsisters carry the show and in Adele Ramirez and Sarah Mcllroy, Wayne Eagling has found the perfect pair. They tear round Cinderella with brilliant comic timing, relishing the chaos they whip up and reveling in their ability to intimidate. Mcllroy, in particular, makes for a deliciously stroppy madam, pouting and trotting around on pointe like a stubborn little pony. The end of Act I showcased a few exceptionally promising young dancers as seasonal fairies, most notably Shiori Kase who joined the company last year from The Royal Ballet School. As the Autumn Fairy, she no doubt has a brilliant career ahead of her. Visually, the production is enchanting – from the drifting mist in the moonlit opening, to the starry backdrop in the finale scene, David Walker’s designs evoke all the magic of this storybook tale.

The trailer for this production


On the stage – for six days – RIVERDANCE – The ever-popular, record-breaking Irish dance show Riverdance returned to the UK for another tour. The show was originally conceived and choreographed by Jean Butler and Michael Flatley, with a score by Bill Whelan, debuting at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1994, going on be performed all over the World, with over 19 million people having seen the show. The opening sequence got straight to business with a toe-tappingly steady dance that lets everyone know they are at the right show – ready-salted Riverdance, the kind you might see on The One Show. This paved the way for more experimental sets that play with traditional moves incorporating more modern concepts and influences from other types of dance.

The Irish dances and dancers were certainly energetic but the real depth to the show was brought by the foreign artists. The precise, emotional moves performed by an authentic Flamenco dancer were admirable and powerful. Interestingly, her two sets were the only occasions where there was just a single person on stage. A troupe of Russian dancers performing acrobatic Cossack routines stunned the audience with their skill; and a pair of jazzy New York tappers brought comedy coupled with unbelievable talent. The musicians – a fiddler, a saxophonist, a percussionist and another playing the Irish pipes amongst other such Irish things – were integrated into the production and frequently took centre stage. The music varied from the comparatively traditional to pieces that experimented with foreign sounds and styles. The fiddler seemed to want to pick a musical fight with the saxophonist on a number of occasions – in fact, there were many instances throughout the show where talents seemed keen to compete in artistic combat.

Riverdance is a spectacular, polished performance that entertains by delivering some of the world’s most awesome dance, unashamedly stomping Irishness all over it.

A snip from the 2010 peformance in Beijing

11th May – HAIRSPRAY

On the stage – for THREE weeks – HAIRSPRAY – an American musical with music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman and a book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan, based on John Waters’s 1988 film of the same name. The songs include 1960s-style dance music and “downtown” rhythm and blues. In 1962 Baltimore, Maryland, plump teenager Tracy Turnblad’s dream is to dance on The Corny Collins Show, a local TV dance program based on the real-life Buddy Deane Show. When Tracy wins a role on the show, she becomes a celebrity overnight, leading to social change as Tracy campaigns for the show’s integration. In 2003 it won eight Tony Awards, including one for Best Musical, out of 13 nominations. It ran for 2,642 performances, and closed on January 4, 2009.

The West End production opened at the Shaftesbury Theatre on October 11, 2007, for previews before its official opening on October 30. The original creative team of the Broadway production, with the director Jack O’Brien and choreographer Jerry Mitchell, reunited for the London production. The show garnered a record-setting eleven Olivier Award nominations and won for Best New Musical, as well as acting awards for Best Actress and Actor in a musical. The production closed on March 28, 2010 after a run of nearly two-and-a-half years and over 1,000 performances. After the West End production closed, Hairspray began touring the UK and Ireland, withMichael Ball as Edna, Les Dennis, as Wilbur and Laurie Scarth as Tracy.

A scene from the show


On the stage – for SIX days – STRICTLY COME DANCING – THE PROFESSIONALS – This was the first ever Strictly Come Dancing – The Professionals Tour featuring 10 popular dancers from the hit BBC1 series bringing Latin fever, ballroom magic and the passion of the tango to the Mayflower. The Professionals, all multi award-winning dance champions with world-class pedigree have wowed viewers of the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing. Now, due to their incredible popularity with fans of the show, they toured the UK in a spectacular dance extravaganza. Away from the pressure of the judges’ glare, the dancers, TV favourites Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace, James and Ola Jordan, Matthew Cutler and Kristina Rihanoff, Brian Fortuna and Ian Waite along with this season’s new faces Aliona Vilani and Natalie Lowe will dazzle audiences with their stunning routines and elegant gowns. Fans were taken on a rhythmic and colourful journey featuring the intensity and infatuation of the Argentine Tango, rumba rhythms, sizzling samba and mambo moves and enjoy the beauty of ballroom as The Professionals sashay across the stage accompanied by an amazing live band/

The tour trailer


June 7, 2010 – On the stage – for six days – WHEN HARRY MET SALLY – Nora Ephron’s 1989 film screenplay is known above all else for one iconic scene, where in a crowded restaurant, to convince Harry that women manipulate and sexually flatter men, Sally fakes a very noisy orgasm. The play debuted at London‘s Haymarket Theatre Royal in February 2004 where it ran for over six months. This UK tour marked its first visit to Southampton and was a fun evening, a romantic comedy staged, performed and directed rather well by Loveday Ingram. The play had been retimed so that it begins in the late 1980s and culminates on the eve of the new millennium as the year 2000 begins. We track the encounters between romantic, quirkily obsessive-compulsive journalist Sally (Sarah Jayne Dunn), who is hoping to meet her perfect man, and top lawyer Harry (Rupert Hill). Harry thinks that no friendship is possible between a man and a woman “because the sex part always gets in the way”. Harry’s life features serial sexual encounters as he dodges commitment. Harry’s friend Jack tells us admiringly that Harry once made a woman miaow.

Many of the bit parts are opportunities for good comedy: the other exercise cyclists at the gym working up a sweat but listening to Harry and Sally’s conversation; the drunk in the bar who falls off his stool at the end of the scene; the gay table in the cafe where the arrival of a third man upsets the romantic balance. In between scenes, there are filmed black and white reality TV anecdotes as elderly couples recall their schmaltzy romantic beginnings.

Sarah Jayne Dunn interview on This Morning


June 13, 2010 – Live – One night only – BRADLEY WALSH – an English comedian, television presenter, actor, singer and former professional footballer. Following his football career, Walsh had a variety of jobs including working as a bluecoat at Pontins in Morecambe for three months. In October 1982, performing as a newcomer comedian, he came second in a talent contest at the Rolls-Royce Sports and Social Club in his home town of Leavesden. Walsh was recruited by ITV, who offered him the role as presenter on one of the network’s new game shows, Midas Touch. In 1997, Walsh was asked to front the British adaptation of the popular US game show Wheel of Fortune following the decision of long-time presenter Nicky Campbell to leave the show after more than eight years. Walsh’s tenure on Wheel of Fortune lasted just one year, when he decided to turn his hand to acting. He also appeared on Lily Savage’s Blankety Blank. Walsh’s first acting job was a minor role in the Channel 4 series, Lock, Stock…. He also appeared as Dave Dodds in the 2001 Channel 4 TV film Mike Bassett: England Manager. Walsh returned to ITV in 2002, after landing a regular role in the short lived British soap opera Night and Day. He featured in a total of 52 episodes. In 2003, Walsh played a minor role in an episode of The Bill spin-off M.I.T.: Murder Investigation Team. On 31 May 2004, Walsh made his first appearance in Coronation Street as factory boss Danny Baldwin. It was originally envisaged that Walsh’s character would be called Vic, however, Walsh asked for the character’s name to be changed to Danny after his late father. In December 2006, Walsh was written out of the series at his own request. During his time in Coronation Street, Walsh also appeared as Burglar Bill in the one-off play The Queen’s Handbag. In October 2007, he appeared in TV drama Torn. In 2008, Walsh appeared in two episodes of Doctor Who spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures, in the second story of series two, The Day of the Clown, as a sinister entity that fed off other people’s fear. In his role, he played three parts of the same ego – a sinister American-sounding clown called Odd Bob, a mysterious European-sounding ringmaster called Elijah Spellman, and the infamous Pied Piper of Hamelin. In January 2009, Walsh and his son Barney featured in a special edition of the Channel 5 TV series, Dangerous Adventures for Boys, based on the best-selling book by Conn and Hal Iggulden, The Dangerous Book for Boys. Walsh and his son took part in hill-climbing before learning how to pilot a biplane. In January 2009, Walsh began appearing in ITV crime drama Law & Order: UK. Walsh playED the character of DS Ronnie Brooks, a recovering alcoholic who has been in the police force for more than twenty years.

Walsh brought all this talent to the stage of the Mayflower in this one night show “The Wife‘s New Shoes“ which was his first at the theatre since 1992. For this show Bradley cut loose with his own brand of stand-up comedycasting a gaze on the ordinary and making it hilarious. The show mixed observational comedy, with tales of his life in showbiz including many antics involving comedy friend Joe Pasquale, and some jazz songs with the backing of the Alan Rogers band. The Wife’s New Shoes title is nothing other than a quip used on the phone to Bradley’s manager. He took the words literally and had the posters printed up.

A tv interview with Bradley at around the time


June 16, 2010 – On the stage – one night only – TRIBUTE TO FIREMEN – A fundraising event in memory of two firefighters killed in a fire at a block of flats in Southampton was held at the Mayflower. James Shears, 35, died alongside colleague Alan Bannon, 38, in the 15-storey Shirley Towers on 6 April. Comedian Jim Davidson hosted the show and money raised went to the James Shears and Alan Bannon Memorial Fund. Davidson said the firefighters were from the same team who rescued him and his wife Michelle when they became trapped in a lift one New Year’s Eve in the city. The comedian said he was so moved by the news that the two firemen, from St Mary’s Red Watch, lost their lives in the line of duty that he contacted the theatre to see what could be done. Also appearing were Bobby Davro, Mike Osman and Jethro.

A controversial interview with Jim Davidson at the time


June 17, 2010 – On the stage – for three days – STOP MESSIN’ ABOUT – is set during a live recording, packed with outrageously funny sketches, parodies and songs, which reunited Kenneth Williams with his Carry On co-star Joan Sims and Hugh Paddick transporting you back to a time when comedy meant being funny, with scarcely a swear word in sight. This wonderfully entertaining show comes from the pens of comedy writing legends Johnnie Mortimer and Brian Cooke who were responsible for some of Britain’s best-loved sitcoms including; Man About The House, Robin’s Nest, Father Dear Father and George and Mildred. Robin Sebastian, whose devastating impersonation of Williams lit up the Round the Horne shows, stars as Williams with Nigel Harrison as a smoothly versatile Paddick, and Emma Atkins as a brightly sexy, slimline Sims. They are at their funniest as confessional siblings where the sister encourages big brother to recall his adventures with his good friend, Clint: at one point the brother vividly recollects how, on board ship, the seaman Clint “took me down below”.

Robin Sebastain being Kenneth Williams


June 21, 2010 – On the stage – for six days – RUSSIAN ICE STARS – SNOW WHITE ON ICE – Romance, treachery and skating skills were the order of the day at the Mayflower as The Russian Ice Stars returned for their six day run of Snow White on Ice. The theatre, had been transformed to accommodate industrial pool liners and some four tons of ice. Irina Tkachuk and Valdis Mintals play the starring roles of Snow White and her prince in this take on the classic fairy tale, The show, which combines ballet, gymnastics, aerial aerobatics and ice-skating was billed as a real family event for adults and children alike.

The trailer


June 28, 2010 – On the stage – for six days – LAUGHTER IN THE RAIN – The latest music icon to receive musical treatment will be Neil Sedaka in the upcoming Laughter in the Rain, titled from his 1975 hit. The musical is a biopic, showcasing the highs and lows of the pop performer’s career. The show, which has a book by Philip Norman, premiered on 1 March 2010 at Bromley’s Churchill Theatre. Laughter in the Rain is produced by Bill Kenwright and Laurie Mansfield. For more than four decades, Neil Sedaka’s timeless standards have influenced the sound of popular music. With countless hit singles, platinum and gold records, Sedaka is recognised as one of rock and pop music’s legendary pioneers, with songs that continue to stand the test of time. Starting in his high school years, Sedaka formed a vocal group, The Tokens, which recorded two hit singles. Soon to follow was Sedaka’s introduction to Howard Greenfield, and together they began a successful songwriting partnership in the late 1950s, selling more than 25 million records during their 30-year collaboration. Sedaka headlined the opening concert at the Mayflower in May.

The trailer for the show
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