Norwich Theatre Royal’s new season is unveiled

Alan Bennett's People is at the Theatre Royal in October. Photo Johan Persson.jpeg Alan Bennett's People is at the Theatre Royal in October. Photo Johan Persson.jpeg

Wednesday, July 24, 2013
2:45 PM

It is a case of farewell Dame Edna, hello Happy Days and welcome back Cats as Norwich Theatre Royal unveils its new season.

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New season at Norwich Theatre Royal unveiled. Graham Weaver as Felicia, Richard Grieve as Bernadette and Jason Donovan as Tick - Priscilla Queen of the Desert - Photo credit Paul ColtasNew season at Norwich Theatre Royal unveiled. Graham Weaver as Felicia, Richard Grieve as Bernadette and Jason Donovan as Tick - Priscilla Queen of the Desert - Photo credit Paul Coltas

The glittering line-up also sees acclaimed all-male Shakespeare company Propeller present a double-bill of the Bard’s plays exploring love and mistaken identity, a world-renowned version of a classic ballet and a breathtaking ice spectacular created by one of Britain’s best-known Olympic medallists.

Spring 2014 will be the final time to wave the gladioli and say goodbye to housewife superstar Dame Edna Everage as comedy legend Barry Humphries brings his farewell tour to Norwich from February 4-8. The star will don the persona of the world-famous comedy icon for her Norfolk possums in a show which will feature a number of other characters including the lecherous Sir Les Patterson, plus dazzling sets, gorgeous costumes and stunning dancers.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s multi-award winning musical Cats arrives on April 2-12. Based on T.S Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, the heart-felt tale follows the Jellicle Cats as they gather on the evening of the Jellicle Ball combining fantasy, drama and romance with spectacular set designs and a charming score, in a show which has entertained audiences worldwide for over 3 decades.

Then get ready for some sunshine as Happy Days makes its Norwich Theatre Royal debut. From March 10-15 wave “goodbye to grey skies and say hello blue”, as the feel-good musical rolls into town. Former Sugababes pop star Heidi Range will star as heart-throb Fonzie’s love-interest Pinky Tuscadero, with further star casting to be announced soon. Star of the original TV show Henry Winkler aka The Fonz will be working behind the scenes as Creative Consultant to ensure the show is as close to the TV series as possible. This follows his recent work with school-children about his battle with dyslexia which included a visit to Norfolk.

New season at Norwich Theatre Royal unveiled. Pam Ayres. Photo Trevor Leighton.New season at Norwich Theatre Royal unveiled. Pam Ayres. Photo Trevor Leighton.

Edward Hall’s critically acclaimed all-male Shakespeare company Propeller will present two well-loved productions from March 25-29. Their award-winning A Midsummer Night’s Dream sees dreams and reality become intertwined when two lovers become caught up in fairy mischief on the eve of a Royal Wedding. The story will be paired with The Comedy of Errors, which proved hugely popular on its last visit to Norwich in 2011. Perhaps Shakepeare’s smartest and most ludicrous play, the story follows two sets of estranged twins who cross paths 25 years later with hilarious consequences.

Matthew Bourne’s award-winning Swan Lake makes an eagerly anticipated return to Norwich Theatre Royal. The acclaimed director’s original production is best known for flipping the traditional Swan Lake corps de ballet on its head by replacing the customary female dancers with a powerful male ensemble. From November 19-23, the production features award winning set-designs and dazzling costumes in a visual spectacle that gives the classic story of Swan Lake a contemporary feel.

Olympic Champion and Dancing on Ice judge Robin Cousins’ dynamic new skate show ICE slides into Norwich Theatre Royal from March 19-23. Robin has hand-picked the finest ice skaters from across the globe to bring his brand new production soaring into life. The skaters spin, twist and glide through the ice to a high-energy musical soundtrack full of reworked modern classics.

The Russian State Ballet Of Siberia will also make their Norwich Theatre Royal debut with a triple bill of traditional ballet masterpieces from February 17-19. Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker and Swan Lake will be performed by some of Russia’s finest ballet dancers.

Richard Alston Dance Company bring their latest programme of contemporary dance to the theatre on February 21-22. They will perform a diverse range of pieces from ‘Rejoice in the Lamb’, created especially to celebrate the centenary of Britten, to Martin Lawrance’s critically acclaimed ‘Madcap’, set to the thrilling, fast-paced beats of the New York band, Bang on a Can All-Stars, who performed at the theatre as part of the most recent Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

Children’s favourite Horrible Histories will bring their Barmy Britain production to Norwich from February 26- March 1. Get ready for the best history lesson of your life as special 3D Bogglevision effects bring historical figures and events to life in front of your very eyes. Aimed at 7-11 year olds, the educational show brings a madcap twist to key moments in history from Guy Fawkes’ plot to blow up Parliament through to Queen Victoria’s reign, and the First World War.

The Norfolk & Norwich Operatic Society will bring Cole Porter’s award-winning musical Anything Goes to Norwich from January 27 – February 1. Set on board a luxury ocean liner bound for London from New York, this musical comedy is packed with classic feel-good tunes and a whole-host of high-energy dance routines.

Casting has also been confirmed for a trio of previously-announced productions. TV and stage actor Jason Donovan will head the cast of the hit musical Priscilla Queen Of The Desert. Direct from the West End, the show arrives in Norwich from November 25 - December 7 and follows the story of three friends who search for love and friendship.

Three of Britain’s most respected actresses head the cast of Alan Bennett’s People from 1-5 October. West End performer Siân Phillips and the hugely popular Brigit Forsyth (The Likely Lads, stage hit Carrie’s War) will star in the bittersweet comedy alongside Selina Cadell who will reprise her West End role in the play. The story follows two sisters who ponder over the future of the stately home they own. Do they sell it to a shadowy company or donate it to the National Trust?

And an all-star company has also been confirmed for Agatha Christie’s psychological thriller Go Back For Murder, which runs from September 2-7. The story follows a daughter’s mission to clear the name of her mother who is wrongly accused of murder. The cast includes Sophie Ward (the BBC’s Land Girls), Robert Duncan (the jargon-spouting Gus from Channel 4’s Drop the Dead Donkey), Gary Mavers (Peak Practice), Lysette Anthony (Looks Who’s Talking Now, Three Up Two Down, Poirot), Ben Nealon (Soldier Soldier) and Norfolk based TV and stage actress Liza Goddard (Bergerac, Give Us A Clue) who also starred in Norwich Theatre Royal’s pantomime Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 2008.

Talking of pantomime, it’s almost that time of year again, oh yes it is! Cinderella will cast her spell on audiences from December 17- January 19. Stunning vocalist Sheila Ferguson, best known as one of The Three Degrees, will play the Fairy Godmother opposite popular TV actor Matt Milburn (Emmerdale, Hollyoaks), and Richard Gauntlett, who is best known for wearing a host of flamboyant frocks as the Dame in the Norwich panto. This year Richard will be swapping his usual role of the Dame for Buttons, whilst he continues to write and direct the pantomime for the 13th year running, with more star casting will be announced over the next few months.

And there’s a variety of one night performances to suit every taste this season.

Britain’s best-loved Strictly Come Dancing star Brendan Cole brings his Licence To Thrill show on February 23. Accompanied by talented musicians and sensational dancers, Brendan will entertain you with an evening of the finest Ballroom and Latin dancing around.

Comedy favourites Steve Punt (Mock the Week) and Hugh Dennis (Outnumbered) will bring their brand new double-act show Punt and Dennis to Norwich on February 9. Cornish comic hero Jethro is set to perform his near-the-knuckle gags on March 5, Sean Lock will bring his surreal show packed with silly voices and observational humour on October 19, and Russell Kane’s latest show Smallness arrives on January 13.

Music fans can also choose from a wide range of shows. Beyond the Barricade will celebrate 15 years of performing West End and Broadway hits on January 7, Rat Pack Live will bring glamour, glitz and golden tunes to Norwich on February 2, The Bootleg Beatles will play tribute to the legends from Liverpool on October 15 and on March 2, That’ll Be The Day will celebrate the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s in their rock ‘n’ roll show.

If that wasn’t enough music, Mike and the Mechanics celebrate their 25th anniversary on 16 February and Paul Carrack is back by popular demand on 19 April.

Meanwhile other shows include children’s TV favourite Fireman Sam on 19 October, Ready Steady Cook Live! on March 3 which features top TV chef Lesley Waters and celebrity host Russell Grant, and the female musical comedy act Fascinating Aida on 9 March.

John Bultitude, of Norwich Theatre Royal, said: “It may be bad news that Dame Edna is saying farewell to the stage but we are so excited the self-proclaimed Australian icon has chosen the city as one of the places to say goodbye in her far-from-understated style.

“Talking of icons, Cats remains one of the world’s best-loved musicals and is sure to be one of 2013’s hottest tickets. Add in the return of Matthew Bourne’s prestigious dance company, Robin Cousins’ spectacular show ICE and two more stunning productions from Propeller, and it promises to be a hugely exciting new season.

“Our advice is book fast to see some of the globe’s best theatrical entertainment right here in Norfolk.”

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