Six of the Best: Norfolk cultural highlights not to miss this weekend

PUBLISHED: 08:45 04 April 2014 | UPDATED: 08:45 04 April 2014

The Selecter who are playing the Open venue in Norwich.

The Selecter who are playing the Open venue in Norwich.


Two Tone stalwarts The Selecter returns as part of their 35th anniversary tour, there is a night of sawdust-scented vaudeville cabaret, Rob John’s acclaimed local play The Canada Boys gets a welcome revival and the second solo exhibition by Nicola Slattery. SIMON PARKIN picks six cultural highlights not to miss this weekend.


The Selecter

Open, Bank Plain, Norwich, on April 4, 7.30pm, £16.50, 01603 763111,

Singing and touring – The Selecter, alongside The Specials, one of the leading lights of the 2 Tone label, whose black and white logo echoed the then radical collaboration between musicians of different races, play the Open venue in Norwich tomorrow as part of their 35th anniversary tour. The band, which includes original co-vocalists Pauline Black and Arthur ‘Gaps’ Hendrickson, will be performing their seminal 1980 album Too Much Pressure, which mixed punk, ska and reggae and reflected the social and political issues of the early Thatcher years, giving a voice to disaffected youth across the racial divide, in its entirety, followed by classic and contemporary hits, including from their most recent album Made in Britain.


Gossamer Thread’s Greatest Show on Earth

Norwich Arts Centre, April 5, 7.30pm, £12 adv/£15 door, 01603 660352,

After the sell-out success of their show Curious Cabaret, Gossamer Thread returns to Norwich for a night of sawdust-scented vaudeville spectacle. Boasting one of the country’s best burlesque performers, a ‘psychic’ comedian and a love-struck automatons, Gossamer Thread’s Greatest Show on Earth promises to be a more intimate music hall style show than Curious Cabaret but don’t rule out some of Daisy Black’s trademark fire and aerial antics. It will include Velma Von Bon Bon, voted in the Top 20 UK burlesque performers in 2013; Natalia Kalashnikov, a vodka-drinking, cigar smoking Russian with a lust for danger; and ‘psychic’ comedian Peter Antoniou, the enfant terrible of stand-up comedy. Gossamer Thread’s sideshow duo Carny & the Tramp present their unusual take on love and affection with a romantic meal of razor blades. Resident musical mischief-makers Below The String will also return with an all-new ditties to beguile, enthral and amuse.


The Canada Boys

Guildhall Theatre, King’s Lynn, April 5, 7.30pm, £12 (£10 cons), 01553 764864, Theatre, Wells, April 6, 7pm, £10, £8 under-18s, 01328 710193,, North Walsham, April 8, 7.30pm, £10, £5 children, 01692 400080,

Rob John’s acclaimed play based on the true story of a group of workers at Colman’s mustard factory in 1912, gets a welcome revival. Concerned by rising unemployment in Norwich, Colman’s offered some of its employees the opportunity of a new life on the other side of the Atlantic. This is the story of Jack and Eddie Craske, two brothers who’d never travelled west of Wymondham but whose lives are about to change for ever. Produced by fEast Theatre, specifically formed to develop and showcase new work by professional writers, actors and directors from Norfolk, it’s a funny, sad and thought-provoking play which resonates with Norfolk voices.


Swinging at the Cotton Club

Norwich Playhouse, April 5, 7.30pm, £21.50 (£19 cons), 01603 598598,

A chance to take a step back into 1920s New York City and through the doors of Harlem’s hottest nightclub, The Cotton Club. Celebrating the music, dance, and songs of the famous nightclub who house bands included Duke Ellington’s orchestra and later Cab Calloway and his Missourians. Performances by Louis Armstrong, Lena Horne and Fats Waller would have had the club swinging, whilst dancers such as Bojangles Robinson and the Nicholas Brothers lit-up the stage with their breathtaking routines. The exciting dance is recreated by the Jiving Lindy Hoppers, one of the country’s best jazz dance companies, music from the Harry Strutters Hot Rhythm Orchestra, featuring vocalist Marlene Hill and compere/vocalist Megs Etherington.


Billy Pearce

Pavilion Theatre, Cromer Pier, April 6, 7.30pm, £17.50, 01263 512495,

National treasure and one of Britain’s best loved comedians, Billy Pearce emerged from the fertile talent fields of Butlins in the mid-1980s. He may not be cool but over the years Billy has won just about every comedy award going, including a British comedy award, solo comedian of the year, and Best television comedy newcomer at the London Palladium. When old school variety fell out of fashion with the rise of alternative comedy, he found a niche in family-friendly panto but has always continued to entertain adult-only audiences with his surprisingly razor-sharp wit.


Nicola Slattery: Imagine

Mandells Gallery, Elm Hill, Norwich, April 5-26, Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, free admission, 01603 626892,

Fresh from being awarded the “Alfred Daniels’ Award” for a narrative work exhibited at the annual Royal Society of British Artists exhibition, Nicola Slattery holds her second solo exhibition at Mandells Gallery with around 30 paintings and dry point etchings. Imagination is the source for all Nicola’s work. As a painter and printmaker she portrays images of people and places created in her mind. Her work has been compared to Paula Rego, Anna Maria Pacheco and Eileen Cooper. “The subject is almost exclusively figurative and sometimes inspired by fiction or myth and frequently by events or emotions experienced or imagined,” she explains. “I am told that there is a hard to define but universally recognised element within each image that draws the viewer back to look again and again and I hope that this is true.”

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