2019 October to December

1st October – MOTOWN THE MUSICAL

On stage – for eleven days – MOTOWN THE MUSICAL – This was a coup for the Mayflower, being able to open MOTOWN the musical on the anniversary of the birth of the record label. In Detroit the Motown 60 Weekend ran the previous weekend and worldwide the celebratory film ‘Hitsville: The Making of Motown’ opened the previous night, 30th Sept. This, at the theatre where Motown legends including Stevie Wonder, The Supremes and The Four Tops had performed.

Motown: The Musical is a jukebox musical that premiered on Broadway in April 2013. The musical is based on Berry Gordy’s autobiography To Be Loved: The Music, the Magic, the Memories of Motown (1994), and on the history of his founding and running of the Motown record label, and his personal and professional relationships with Motown artists such as Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, and Michael Jackson. The production’s music and lyrics are taken from selections from the Motown catalogue. It received four nominations at the 67th Tony Awards. An eventual West End production opened at the Shaftesbury Theatre on February 11, 2016 and ran until 20 April 2019.

Set in 1983, at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, where recording stars are gathered to celebrate Motown Records’ 25th anniversary. In a flashback, the young Berry Gordy watches the neighbours dancing in Detroit. In 1957, the adult Berry forms his own record label, and begins to make lifelong friends with recording artists/singers such as Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson. Berry discovers the Supremes and Diana Ross, among many others. The recording stars sing their popular numbers, including: Diana Ross (“I Hear a Symphony”, “You’re Nobody till Somebody Loves You”, and “You’re All I Need to Get By”), Stevie Wonder, The Supremes (“Buttered Popcorn”, “Where Did Our Love Go”), The Miracles (“Shop Around”), The Marvelettes (“Please Mr. Postman”), Mary Wells (“Bye Bye Baby”/”Two Lovers Medley”), The Temptations, Martha and the Vandellas (“Dancing in the Street”), The Contours (“Do You Love Me”), and The Jackson 5. The UK tour started out from Birmingham New Alexandra Theatre in October 2018.

The tv promo for the show

13th October – ROB BECKETT

Live on stage – for one night only – ROB BECKETT – an English stand-up comedian and presenter. He was a co-host on the ITV2 spin-off show I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! NOW! from 2012 to 2014. Since 2016, Beckett has been a team captain on the E4 panel show 8 Out of 10 Cats and the narrator of the reality series Celebs Go Dating. He presents BBC One entertainment series Wedding Day Winners and All Together Now. His latest show, WALLOP, marks Rob’s first visit to the Mayflower. Known as Mouth of the South, the Metro newspaper said “There are hints that his eyes are set firmly on arenas that are as big as his mouth of his”.

Excerpt from a Rob Beckett performance

15th October – SOME LIKE IT HIP-HOP

On the stage – for two days – SOME LIKE IT HIP HOP – ZooNation’s smash-hit sensation Some Like it Hip Hop thrilled audiences and critics when it opened in 2011, prompting an Olivier Award nomination, five-star reviews and standing ovations with its infectious “wit, heart and magnificent energy” (The Independent). Some Like It Hip Hop is a story of love, mistaken identity and revolution, in a city where books are banned, and where women are kept subservient to men. The story revolves around two central female characters, Jo-Jo and Kerri. When they are discovered breaking the rules of the city, they are thrown out. They decide they have only one option – to return to the city dressed as men. It doesn’t take long for the two women to prove their worth, and it also doesn’t take long for Jo-Jo to fall in love with Simeon, the only educated man in the city. If only she wasn’t wearing a moustache… It takes all their efforts to maintain their disguise, find love, and change the world.

Influenced by themes from the classic movie Some Like It Hot, the hit US TV series Mad Men, and Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, a complicated comical tale of love, mistaken identity, gender stereo-types and revolution are played out in ZooNation: The Kate Prince Company’s trademark style of Hip Hop, comedy and physical theatre. Written and directed by Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Kate Prince with Felix Harrison and original music by DJ Walde and Josh Cohen.

Watch the tv promo

18th October – TOM GATES LIVE ON STAGE

On the stage – for three days – TOM GATES LIVE ON STAGE – MAYFLOWER –

There is barely a boring sentence in Liz Pichon’s books about schoolboy doodler Tom Gates. How, we wonder, will it work on stage in this adaptation, co-written by Pichon with director Neal Foster? Is it a musical, because Tom and his pals have a band, Dog Zombies, although they mostly spend rehearsals practising rock-star poses and eating biscuits. It’s more of a play with songs and while Pichon’s lyrics are typically witty, and well delivered the cast don’t play their own instruments School of Rock-style. Still, the compositions – by Pichon’s husband, Mark Flannery – help it all zip along with the pace of the books. Tom’s doodle world is created through Jackie Trousdale’s sets and costumes and Simon Wainwright’s nifty video design. Animations explode across a huge screen: there are Pichon’s instantly recognisable shooting stars and clusters of psychedelic rainbows. As Tom sketches, the drawings appear on screen. When his dreaded older sister Delia enters, a hand-drawn rain cloud hovers above with a flash of lightning. On an often bare stage, it is Pichon’s detailed drawings on the backdrop that chiefly provide the settings for each scene. It’s not as sophisticated as, say, 1927’s shows, but the careful amalgamation of drama and design reflects the well-judged balance Pichon achieves between writing and illustrating.

The story packs in the same sort of scrapes as the novels. Tom has been racking up too many sad faces on his performance chart and if he’s not careful he’ll miss the school trip to a biscuit factory. Meanwhile, his Granny and Grandad (“the fossils”) plan to celebrate their long marriage by having another wedding. Secrets are hidden, squabbles are had and disasters are, of course, averted at the 11th hour.

Watch a trailer for Tom Gates Live

23rd October – ENGLISH NATIONAL BALLET

On the stage – for four days – ENGLISH NATIONAL BALLET – This sparkling production of CINDERELLA by Christopher Wheeldon, for the first time comes to Southampton.The classic fairy tale becomes a truly magical ballet brought to life with over 40 dancers, a live orchestra, and plenty of surprises. Enter an enchanting kingdom where forest creatures live alongside princes, a growing tree appears to dance in the wind, and Cinderella’s wit and generosity get her to the ball – with the help of a little bit of magic. This inventive production combines magnificent sets and costumes, surprising theatrical tricks and lively choreography to delight, move and astound – all to the melodious tunes of Prokofiev’s sublime score, performed by English National Ballet Philharmonic.

The trailer for ENB’s Cinderella

29th October – LES MISERABLES

On the stage – for FOUR weeks – LES MISERABLES – Cameron Mackintosh’s acclaimed production of LES MISÉRABLES returms to the Mayflower for its third season. With staging and reimagined scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo, this production was conceived in 2009 to celebrate the 25th Anniversary and broke box office records when it played the Mayflower in 2010 and it went on to be followed by productions in North America, France, Canada, Australia, Korea, Japan, Spain, Manila, Singapore, Brazil and Dubai. The production returned to the Imperial Theatre on Broadway for a run of over 1,000 performances and now returns to the Mayflower.

As when the original production played the Mayflower in 1998 there was a cast changeover mid-season. This time it was necessitated in order for some of the cast members to transfer to the Company that would be premiering this production in London’s West End when the Queens Theatre reopened as the Sondheim. At the Mayflower the opening cast is led by Killian Donnelly as Jean Valjean and Nic Greenshields as Javert, with Katie Hall as Fantine, Martin Ball as Thénardier and Sophie-Louise Dann as Madame Thénardier, Harry Apps is Marius, Tegan Bannister plays Éponine, Will Richardson is Enjolras and Bronwen Hanson is Cosette. From 18 November 2019 Dean Chisnall will play Jean Valjean, Ian Hughes will play Thénardier, Felix Mosse will play Marius, Charlie Burn will play Cosette, Francis Mayli McCann is Eponine, Barnaby Hughes will play Enjolras and Helen Walsh will play Madame Thénardier.

The trailer for the tour

26th November – WELSH NATIONAL OPERA

On the stage – for five days – WELSH NATIONAL OPERA – For their second visit of the year WNO brought three very different productions to Southampton. Opening on Tuesday and also performing on Friday was Bizet’s CARMEN. In Jo Davies’ new production, set in South America in the recent past, it displays all the passion and drama expected of this iconic opera. Bizet’s alluring music, from the famous Toreador Song to Carmen’s provocative Habanera, exposes the emotion of the characters to create a tension that captivated the audience.

The trsiler for Carmen
The Toreador song from this production

On Wednesday and Saturday WNO performed their updated version of Verdi’s RIGOLETTO. Verdi wrote that Rigoletto was his best opera, and with its dramatic storyline and score – featuring the instantly recognisable La donna è mobile – it’s easy to see why it continues to be such an enduring favourite. This timely revival of WNO’s acclaimed production is set in the White House during the Kennedy era, and sees Mark S Doss (Tosca, Spring 2018) return to the Company in the title role.

The trailer for Rigoletto

Thursday saw the WNO and Scottish Opera co-production of Janáček’s THE CUNNING LITTLE VIXEN performed. Inspired by a newspaper comic strip, this colourful production is charming, funny and profound in equal measure. It reunites Director, David Pountney with WNO Music Director, Tomáš Hanus who conducts Janáček’s blend of folk-like music and sophisticated orchestrations, gloriously evoking the vibrancy of nature.

The trailer for The Cunning Little Vixen

1st December – JOOLS HOLLAND

Live – one night only – JOOLS HOLLAND & HIS RYTHMN AND BLUES ORCHESTRA – Jools Holland was a founding member of the British pop band Squeeze, formed in March 1974, in which he played keyboards until 1981 and helped the band to achieve millions of record sales, before pursuing his solo career. He began issuing solo records in 1978, his first EP being Boogie Woogie ’78. He continued his solo career through the early 1980s, releasing an album and several singles between 1981 and 1984. He branched out into TV, co-presenting the Newcastle-based TV music show The Tube with Paula Yates. In 1983 Holland played an extended piano solo on The The’s re-recording of “Uncertain Smile” for the album Soul Mining. In 1985, Squeeze (which had continued in Holland’s absence through to 1982) unexpectedly regrouped including Holland as their keyboard player. Holland remained in the band until 1990, at which point he again departed to resume his solo career as a musician and a TV host. In 1987, Holland formed the Jools Holland Big Band, which consisted of himself and for the show Gilson Lavis from Squeeze. This gradually became the 18-piece Jools Holland’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra. The Orchestra includes singers Louise Marshall and Ruby Turner and his younger brother, singer-songwriter and keyboard player, Christopher Holland. The band’s first appearance at the Mayflower was back in 1991 and this concert marked their ninth appearance in what has become an annual event. Guest artists this year included Gilson Lavis, Pauline Black and Arthur ‘Gaps’ Hendrickson.

A 2019 performance

3rd December – NATIVITY! THE MUSICAL

On the stage – for five days – NATIVITY! THE MUSICAL – is a stage musical written and directed by Debbie Isitt (co composed by Nicky Ager), based on Isitt’s 2009 film of the same name (part of the Nativity film series). The musical follows a Coventry based primary school, St Bernadette’s, where teacher Mr Maddens and his assistant, Mr Poppy mount a musical version of the nativity with the students, promising it will be adapted into a Hollywood movie. The musical features songs from the film including “Sparkle and Shine”, “Nazareth”, “One Night One Moment” and “She’s The Brightest Star”. The musical made its world premiere at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in October 2017, before touring the United Kingdom over the festive period. This is it’s first visit to Southampton and starred Scott Garnham, Ashleigh Gray and Dani Dyer.

Here is the promo video

14th December – PETER PAN

On the stage – until January 4, 2020 – PETER PAN – Marti Pellow led the cast of this family pantomime Peter Pan, playing the role of the evil Captain Hook opposite television and stage star Darren Day, Union J singer Jaymi Hensley and the hilarious Grumbleweeds. Pellow has achieved some of the UK’s biggest number-one singles, and has regularly featured in the UK charts throughout his career, both as a solo artist and as the frontman to Wet Wet Wet. The BRIT and Ivor Novello award-winning artist has released over twenty studio albums, including his recent hit album Mysterious. Marti has enjoyed over 25 hit singles and continues to sell out with his live concerts and arena shows. He also wrote a number of new songs for this panto. He has also starred in numerous high-profile theatre productions in the West End and on Broadway, including Chicago and the sold-out, award-winning musical Evita for which he was nominated for Best Actor at the WhatsOnStage Awards, as well as many record-breaking theatre tours, including The Witches of Eastwick, Blood Brothers and Jekyll & Hyde. As Hook’s right hand man Smee, will be actor, singer and television presenter Darren Day who’s extensive stage career includes Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Grease, Summer Holiday and Godspell and numerous UK tours. In the title role as Peter Pan, Union J star Jaymi Hensley making his Mayflower debut. Jaymi made his pantomime debut for producers Qdos Entertainment in 2015 and has recently been touring the UK in the title role of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Robin Colvill and James Brandon, better known as The Grumbleweeds, will star alongside them as the pirates. Regulars on the UK comedy scene since the 1960s across radio, television, theatre, cabaret and pantomime the ‘guv’nors’ of live comedy bring their inimitable style of family entertainment, musical comedy and laugh-out-loud routines to the production.

Produced once again by Qdos Entertainment, Peter Pan delivers all the laughter, spectacle, special effects and festive magic audiences have come to expect each year from Southampton’s ultimate pantomime.

The tv promotional

Here’s the tv promo – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PADmdkVMppU

18th December – THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

On the stage – for one day only – THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS – On THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, Emily stares out of the window, hugs her teddy and waits excitedly for the morning, while in the corner a little mouse called Eddie can’t understand why only humans are allowed to get presents. So he sets off in search of Father Christmas to find out for himself. Along the way he dodges the family cat, gets directions from a cowardly robot and is given some unexpected advice from the magical fairy on top of the tree. Will Eddie get an answer? Will Emily get her wish? And what is that funny-shaped present sitting under the tree???

The Night Before Christmas is produced by Big Wooden Horse, creators of the shows Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, The Way Back Home, Monstersaurus and Aliens Love Underpants.

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