Our Executive Management Team
Chief Executive & Creative Director
Michael has been Chief Executive of Mayflower Theatre since October 2012. He started as an actor before moving into theatre management when he became House Manager at the London Palladium. Michael has worked in UK regional theatre since 1999.
Michael is responsible for the overall strategy of the theatre but also selecting the productions that appear at Mayflower Theatre.
Michael has produced several regional shows, at Grand Opera House, Belfast he produced Richard Dormer’s award winning production of Hurricane directed by Rachel O’Riordan and A Night in November by Marie Jones. At Mayflower Theatre he produced the UK Tour of The Santa Trap and Here Be Monsters and was an Associate Producer on Titanic the Musical and Fiddler on the Roof.
Michael’s passion is offering young people the opportunity to engage in live theatre and he directs the Mayflower Theatre summer youth productions. He has directed 12 youth productions enabling over 2,200 young people the opportunity to appear on the stages of some of the best regional theaters in the UK.
Michael is a member of Dance Consortium and Chairs several regional cultural forums. He is an avid football fan and a regular attendee at St Mary’s.
Our Board of Trustees
▼ Paula Claisse - Chair of Mayflower Theatre Trust
Paula is honoured and delighted to chair the prestigious Mayflower Theatre, having supported the theatre for a decade as a trustee and chair of the Audit and Governance committee. A Chartered Accountant and Chartered Tax Adviser, Paula’s career has spanned three decades advising leisure and retail clients across the South, culminating in a decade as partner with KPMG. For her, Mayflower Theatre is a true combination of business and pleasure and she enjoys leading a proactive and dynamic Board supporting a sector leading Executive team. Our community should be proud that, in Mayflower Theatre, Southampton boasts arguably the most successful regional theatre in the UK, with a programme that attracts a diverse audience from across the South of England.
Having been born and lived most of her life in the city, Paula is passionate about Southampton and social mobility for the youth who reside here. She sees Mayflower Theatre as being at the heart of the community and her involvement the culmination of numerous voluntary initiatives both at home and overseas. Music, choral singing and musical and operatic theatre have always played a big part in her life given her interests in singing and piano. She is married to Matthew and they have two sons who have enjoyed taking part in Mayflower Theatre's excellent youth productions.
▼ Nick Vaughan – Vice Chair of Mayflower Theatre Trust
Nick has been a Senior Partner of Paris Smith LLP Solicitors for the past 17 years and for the past 25 years, has been acting for charities advising on governance, trustees’ liabilities, fundraising, etc. Nick has been a trustee or governor of City College, Testway Housing (now Aster), Hampshire & Isle of Wight Deaf Association, Friends of St Nicolas; Assistant Governor of Rotary International; Chair of Nuffield Theatre; Chair of the Winchester Hospice Appeal; St Mary’s School; Chair of Members of Rosewood School; Governor at St Edward’s Behavioural, Emotional and Special Needs School; Prince’s Trust and of course Mayflower Theatre as a member of the Bursaries Committee, Audit and Governance Committee Chair of the Nominations Committee and is delighted to be embarking on his new role as Vice Chair of the Trust.
Nick has had a love of theatre and music from an early age. He plays the piano, the organ, conducts and sings. Nick is married to Karen and has lived in the local area for most of his life.
▼ Dawn Fowler-Stevens
As a Director with many years’ experience in both Executive and Non-Executive roles within a regulatory environment, Dawn has first-hand knowledge of the responsibilities required of company boards. This includes not only technical skills in the areas of governance, audit, risk management, internal controls and strategic development, but also the interpersonal skills to objectively assess, challenge, analyse and support.
Dawn has a career spanning 25 years across the public and private sectors. In addition, Dawn’s areas of expertise include the creation of value through growth, group structure establishment and corporate structure consolidation. Dawn has also served as a board director of a specialist care provider and currently holds other executive directorships within Aster Group where she has executive responsibility for growth and assurance, as well as being a Trustee on a disability charity. Previous experience has included providing support to housing associations and local authorities focusing on: governance, organisational change, strategic partnerships, mergers and acquisitions, as well as, project management consultancy. Dawn is a member of the Chartered Management Institute, the Institute of Business Administrators and ICSA: the governance institute.
Dawn’s interest in the theatre dates back to her pre-teen years when she was an enthusiastic member of various amateur dramatic societies. She has a particular love of musicals and is a regular at Mayflower Theatre, where she hasn’t missed a festive season pantomime with her family in years.
▼ Colin Lewis
After an engineering apprenticeship in the aircraft industry, Colin trained as a technical illustrator and then became involved in marketing and advertising. Eventually owning his own advertising and public relations agency with maritime and governmental accounts he was involved in the public launch of the Mayflower Theatre.
Subsequently invited to join the Mayflower Theatre Trust board as a Director/Trustee he has been involved in a variety of voluntary posts including Mayflower Enterprises Ltd, Bursaries, Remunerations and Audit and Governance committees.
▼ Shaun Pantling
Shaun has been a Director of Mayflower Theatre for six years, and more recently of our “sister” theatre MAST Mayflower Studios and also the Chair of the theatre’s trading company Mayflower Enterprises Ltd. Prior to retirement, Shaun was the President of European Large Enterprises for Xerox Corporation. Now retired and living in East Dorset, Shaun spends his time motorcycling, sailing and playing golf.
Shaun is an enthusiastic supporter of the arts particularly musical theatre, enjoying immensely the super shows presented by Mayflower Theatre and now additionally MAST Mayflower Studios.
▼ Bob Primmer
Bob has been a board member for many years and takes an active interest in theatre and the arts. As well as main board activity he is also a Director of Mayflower Enterprises Limited. He is a Chartered Surveyor, now semi-retired having practiced in Southampton for more than 40 years.
Now living in Wiltshire he has recently been elected as a Town Councillor in Wilton where he involved with a number of community projects. In his spare time he enjoys live music and is a keen musician/guitarist.
▼ Kim Romero
Kim Romero joined the Mayflower Theatre Trust’s Board of Directors in June of 2021. Kim currently works as the Head of Growth for a local software development firm, and brings 20+ years of digital marketing and strategic sales consultancy experience to the Board.
Kim was raised in America on a steady diet of musical theatre – one of her favourite memories is seeing Michael Crawford as the Phantom of the Opera when she was a teenager – and continues to attend as many shows as possible, occasionally accompanied by one or both of her children. She has lived on the South Coast for over fourteen years and loves traveling and going for long walks in the New Forest and South Downs.
▼ Mike Smith
Mike qualified as a Chartered Public Service Accountant and Chartered Manager, working for Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, Teesside and Langbaurgh Councils before moving to Southampton City Council. He was Director of Finance, Executive Director and subsequently Deputy Chief Executive of Southampton City Council before retiring in 2006.
Together with Alan Whitehead former Leader of Southampton Council, now M.P. Southampton (Test), he purchased the former Gaumont from the Rank Organisation. He then set up all the initial support, management and financial systems.
He developed and managed the financial strategy for the purchase, and subsequent redevelopment and management of the theatre. Following acquisition he set up all the theatres support services and took on interim management of all the retained staff, and recruited the first cadre of new staff.
He was the City Council observer on the new MTT Board. Following his retirement from the Council in 2006 he was invited to join the Trust Board as a full Director. He has continued in that role since that time, also taking on the Chair of the Health and Safety Committee.
His detailed experience and knowledge of the history and development of the Theatre makes him uniquely qualified in serving the Theatre and its Board.
▼ Guy Allison
Guy has lived and worked in the area for many years, through careers in both the Royal Navy and with the UK’s largest air traffic control services provider, NATS, where his current role is as Director of Corporate Strategy. He has now settled in Alresford where he lives with his wife, daughter and their family labradoodle. Guy also serves as a Trustee for the charity Aviation Action which was set up during the COVID pandemic to support mental health and well-being for those working in the aviation industry. Guy has an MSc in Air Transport Management from City, University of London, and is currently studying for an Executive MSc in Social Business and Entrepreneurship at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Guy’s love of theatre and the arts began at an early age and he is extremely honoured to have been invited to support the ongoing success of Mayflower Theatre.
▼ Rachel Hall
Rachel is a Senior Consultant at dragonfish - an award-winning culture consultancy that partners with leaders in ambitious brands seeking to transform their organisation’s performance through culture change and employee engagement. Prior to joining dragonfish, Rachel was CEO for 4 years of £5m turnover Southampton charity City Catering, leading and supporting 250 employees to keep the city’s children and vulnerable adults fed in tough times. Rachel’s passion is for organisational transformation - unlocking the power of people. She is an International Coaching Federation accredited coach, and has a background in consultancy and leadership stretching back to the late 90s. Rachel is a Fellow at The Royal Society for the arts, manufacturers and commerce (RSA).
▼ Sam Sargant
Sam is the General Manager at The Old Vic theatre in London, where he has worked for 6 years. Prior to that, Sam worked in the West End on commercial large-scale musicals and plays for an independent producing and general management company, Playful Productions, running productions such as Wicked and Kinky Boots. Sam has always worked in theatre and has held roles at theatre such as the Watermill Theatre, The Gate - Notting Hill, Rose Theatre Kingston, Act Productions & National Youth Music Theatre. A graduate of Southampton University and King’s College London, Sam is a keen sportsman, an associate member of the MCC and liveryman of the Merchant Taylors’ Company. He, his wife and their young son recently moved from London to South East Hampshire.
Isobel Gatward - President
Helen Downey - Company Secretary