BUSINESS is booming for Mayflower Theatre - and it's thanks to you.

Full houses have returned to the South's largest theatre for the first time since its lengthy Covid-induced closure and theatre bosses have expressed their gratitude to local audiences for keeping them afloat. 

Chief executive Michael Ockwell has revealed for the first time the depth of problems faced by the venue during the pandemic when £3.5 million was lost as the venue remained largely dark for more than a year.

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Sales have been strong since reopening in June 2021 and for the first time last week, a show was a complete sell-out. SIX, a modern retelling of the lives of the six wives of Henry VIII, enjoyed 100 per cent ticket sales all week and will return for a third time in as many years in 2023.

More than 90 per cent of tickets have already sold for the epic Disney musical Lion King, which is due to enjoy a rescheduled six-week run in September.

Michael Ockwell told the Daily Echo: "We utilised furlough and were helped by the Cultural Recovery Fund, but it's still an awful lot of money.

Daily Echo:

"I think the darkest moment for me was when we attempted to put a panto on and it had to close after just four shows.

"We're returning to a very different industry. But since reopening, sales have been very strong.

"It remains to be seen how the current financial situation will affect them as everyone has less money in their pockets. But people love live theatre and are coming back. They feel safe and secure. 

"I felt very emotional during my first show back and I think, during the run of SIX, for the first time I felt real relief and positivity for the future. 

Daily Echo: SIX. Picture: Johan Persson

"People have wanted to watch shows like that and have waited until we could put them on. It was really heartening when we were closed that people weren't taking refunds they were happy to wait for shows that were rescheduled sometimes three or four times. It was quite remarkable really."

MAST Mayflower Theatre in Guildhall Square was added to the Mayflower Theatre family during the pandemic, a not to be missed opportunity according to Mr Ockwell. 

He is currently looking to the future and is in talks with a handful of major West End and Broadway producers for dates as far ahead as 2026.



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