Singer Kerry Ellis thrilled to join Mayflower Theatre's outdoor concert

People are ready to go out and have a good time again, says Kerry Ellis who joins a socially-distanced return to live entertainment being promoted by Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre.

Kerry Ellis
Kerry Ellis

The weekend of outdoor concerts will be held at Broadlands in Romsey under the title Voices of the West End, with Kerry combining with Earl Carpenter, John Owen-Jones and Katie Hall.

For over nine years between them, Earl Carpenter and John Owen-Jones brought down the chandelier at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London’s West End playing the lead role in Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s The Phantom Of the Opera. Now, in the wake of the greatest crisis their industry has ever faced, they have come up with a safe way to get back to business.

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Kerry is delighted to be part of it: “This whole thing has been such a mixture of emotions. I have got a young family, so it has been lovely to spend time with them, but to see the whole theatre industry just shutting down has been really shocking.

“But to see people putting something on now is really amazing. It is really good for our industry. It is baby steps. It is going in the right direction. I did perform at a drive-in a couple of weeks ago, and I was so surprised at the support that we got. I do think people are ready to go and hear some live music and have a bit of escapism.”

When lockdown struck, Kerry was due to do concerts, she was due to go to Japan, she had solo events lined up: “It was a really busy year for me, and I was looking forward to having a really busy time, and then it was such a shock when nothing was happening. It has never happened in my lifetime before. I have never not been busy. My concerts were all moved or closed or postponed… so it is great to see something happening again. The theatre really hasn’t had an easy time of it, but the rest of the world is trying to get things started again, and that’s great.”

Kerry doubts that the world of entertainment will ever be exactly the same again: “But we will get back to something that is quite close to it. We will find a way back. But it has actually given us a bit of time to reflect and to appreciate what we do and to realise that we are really fortunate to be in this industry. But yes, I think people are ready to get back.”

Ex-Phantoms Earl Carpenter and John Owen-Jones have combined to develop an innovative new production. For Voices Of The West End, three-metre-square roped-off picnic pitches will ensure lovers of live performance can again enjoy four of the West End’s finest voices perform with live musicians in a safe environment.

John said: “This has been inspired by so many friends and fans messaging both of us and saying one of the things they have missed the most is a trip to the theatre. Much has been written about the crisis facing live performers, so we wanted to do something positive in the face of that.”

Earl and John have developed an evening designed to celebrate the joy of musical theatre, as John puts it “Everyone knows one of the happiest and most joyful escapes can be a trip to see your favourite musical performed live and we felt a slice of that is exactly what was needed right now. We’ve all had enough of only looking at screens!”

By creating separate picnic plots marked out for you and your family or loved ones to sit together outside and enjoy the show at a safe distance from other attendees, Earl has developed a production that beats the confines of closed-down theatres.

“I’m hoping people will bring their own deckchairs or picnic or even dress up as their favourite musical characters!” John added.

Earl said: “I’m overwhelmed by the extraordinary support we’ve had from all the venues we’re visiting and the theatre box offices we’re partnering with. They’ve all commented on how positive this project is for their own teams. Rather than constantly refunding cancelled shows, they can positively sell tickets to these events.”

Michael Ockwell, Mayflower Theatre chief executive, added, “Voices of the West End was originally going to be performed on our stage in July. Whilst the current government restrictions do not allow for performances to be held inside the theatre, we are delighted to be able to be associated with and sell tickets for this very special and unique concert at Broadlands. Mayflower Theatre audiences and indeed musical audiences will be able to get their fix of listening to the very best performers in the business perform their favourite songs from the shows.”

Tickets are based on up to four people exclusively from two households or support bubbles

sharing a post and roped pitch that is allocated on arrival:

Prices - General Admission

ZONE A £185.00 Total number of 66 pitches

ZONE B £140.00 Total number of 144 pitches

ZONES C £110.00 Total number of 270 pitches

Dates

Friday, September 4 – Performance time: 7pm

Saturday, September 5 – Performance times: 2pm and 7pm

Sunday, September 6 – Performance time: 6pm

Tickets online only at www.mayflower.org.uk