LARGE scale shows are to return to Southampton this week as Mayflower Theatre reopens its doors after 15 months of darkness tomorrow.

Staff, led by chief executive Michael Ockwell, have spent the time working hard to survive the pandemic and taking on a new venue, MAST Mayflower Studios in Guildhall Square.

In September last year, the theatre put on a short season of socially distanced filmed musicals on a big screen in the auditorium.

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It was also one of very few theatres in the country to put on a pantomime, albeit for just four performances before restrictions were tightened again.

Daily Echo:

The theatre reopens with two performances of Draw From Within, a stunning new dance piece from world renowned dance company Rambert, and the season of shows continue including, Peter James’ Looing Good Dead, the Rocky Horror Show, Hairspray, SIX, and the Summer Youth Project production of Summer Holiday.

Michael Ockwell told the Daily Echo: “It’s such a relief to us all that we are finally opening to present shows in Mayflower Theatre whilst also having opened our new venue MAST Mayflower Studios last month.

"Whilst we can reopen, it is not in the circumstances that we had hoped for with the government’s delay in the relaxation of restrictions to allow theatres to run at full capacity. Our shows up until the proposed 19th July date will run with socially distanced seating, and this has an impact on the industry as a whole.

Daily Echo:

"We have been grateful for the support our customers have offered over the closure period and are very excited to have audiences back to enjoy live theatre.

"I want to reassure all of our customers that it is safe to return to our venues and we will continue to treat their safety as our main priority. We will continue to follow the Government advice and there will still be processes in place to ensure everyone remains safe.

"I have put together a programme of some of the best feel-good shows for the rest of 2021 and we want our audiences to arrive, switch off from the outside world and be enchanted, uplifted and inspired for a couple of hours as live theatre is back.”