25 nights at the Norfolk theatre not to miss this spring

Guys and Dolls coming to Norwich Theatre Royal in May. Photo: Johan Persson

Guys and Dolls coming to Norwich Theatre Royal in May. Photo: Johan Persson - Credit: Archant

Drama, comedy, musical and kids' shows, this spring offers something for everyone on the region's stages. SIMON PARKIN picks 25 not to miss.

1. Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Norwich Theatre Royal, February 8-13, various times, £29.50-£8, 01603 630000, www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk

Jason Donovan returns to this heart-warming, uplifting adventure of three friends who hop aboard a battered old bus searching for love and friendship and end up finding more than they could have ever dreamed of. With a dazzling array of outrageous costumes and a hit parade of dancefloor classics including I Will Survive, Hot Stuff, Finally, Boogie Wonderland and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun its a favourite that has outgrown its cult movie source.

2. Land of Our Fathers

Bury Theatre Royal, February 16-19, 7.30pm, 2pm Feb 17, £20.50-£8.50, 01284 769505, www.theatreroyal.org

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Winner of Time Out's Critics' Choice and Fringe Show of the Year 2013, Chris Urch's critically acclaimed debut play is packed full of blistering comedy and echoes a generation of lost voices. Set in South Wales in 1979, Margaret Thatcher is counting her votes, Sid Vicious is spinning in his grave and six Welsh miners are trapped down a coal mine. As the men await their rescue, secrets emerge and accusations fly. Within two weeks, everything they believe in and everything they know will have changed.

3. Secondary Cause of Death

Marina Theatre, Lowestoft, February 19-20, 7.30pm, 2.30pm Feb 20, £19.50 (£17.50 cons), 01502 533200, www.marinatheatre.co.uk

Hi De Hi's Jeffrey Holland heads the case in this second in the Inspector Pratt trilogy of spoofs of the Agatha Christie 'whodunnit' genre. Insp Pratt arrives at Bagshot House with grim news for Colonel Craddock, but that's just the beginning. Who is the strange Polish Count? Is Henrietta really an army Captain? How does the eccentric thespian, Longfellow fit in to the equation?

4. The Beaux' Stratagem

Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich, February 19-27, 7.30pm, 2.30pm Feb 20/27, £12-£8, 01603 620917, www.maddermarket.co.uk

A host of colourful characters in George Farquhar's rollicking good frolic. Archer and Aimwell want money and have a great idea for getting it. Mrs Sullen wants to be rid of her husband and have some fun. Dorinda wants love. Bellair wants sex. Lady Bountiful wants to help people. Squire Sullen just wants to drink, hunt and play cards. The landlord and the local highwaymen want money...How many of them do you think will get what they are after?

5. The Devil Speaks True

The Garage, Chapel Field North, Norwich, February 29, 7.30pm, £15 (£5 cons), 01603 630000, www.thegarage.org.uk

Theatre but not as you know it. A chilling visceral experience where you are cast as Banquo from Macbeth in a first person auditory adventure, tracing Banquo's journey from bloody battlefield to spectral banquet table. Sitting in a pitch-black space and wearing wireless headphones, you will be surrounded by a world created through binaural sound, video projection and a solo performer.

6. Toast

Norwich Theatre Royal, February 29-March 5, 7.30pm, 2.30pm Mar 3/5, £25-£8, 01603 630000, www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk

After the international success of his One Man, Two Guvnors, Richard Bean returns to his brilliantly observed breakthrough drama about a bread plant in Hull in the 1970s that will be rising to the occasion with a cast that will include Matthew Kelly and Simon Greenall, best known as Michael in Alan Partridge. Its based around the humour of the workers who want to bet anywhere but at work and is inspired by Bean's own experiences.

7. Flare Path

Bury Theatre Royal, February 29-March 5, 7.30pm, 2pm Mar 2/3pm Mar 5, £30-£8.50, 01284 769505, www.theatreroyal.org

Set in 1942, against a backdrop of heartache and quiet bravery, Terence Rattigan's epic wartime romance paints an evocative portrait of life in wartime Britain for the RAF bomber crews and their wives and sweethearts who were left awaiting their return. RAF pilot, Teddy and his wife, former actress, Patricia have their marriage tested to the limit by the surprise arrival of her ex-lover Peter Kyle. This major revival comes from the producers behind the hit touring production of Birdsong and stars Graham Seed as Swanson and Charlie G Hawkins as Percy.

8. King Charles III

Norwich Theatre Royal, March 14-19, 7.30pm, 2.30pm Mar 16/19, £29-£8, 01603 630000, www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk

Following a sold-out critically acclaimed West End season, Mike Bartlett's multi award-winning new play comes to Norwich with Robert Powell as the newly crowned King Charles III. The Queen is dead: after a lifetime of waiting, the prince ascends the throne. But how to rule? It explores the people underneath the crown, the unwritten rules of democracy and Britain's most famous family.

9. Joseph

King's Lynn Corn Exchange, March 15-19, various times, £30.50-£20, £20.50-£18 under-16s, 01553 764864, www.kingslynncornexchange.co.uk

X Factor winner Joe McElderry dons the coat of many colours to stars in Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's ever popular family musical which continues on its record breaking tour having sold to date an estimated 15 million tickets. Retelling the Biblical story, Joseph, his eleven brothers and the coat of many colours, this musical is full of unforgettable songs including Those Canaan Days, Any Dream Will Do and Close Every Door To Me.

10. The Dresser

Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich, March 18-26, 7.30pm, 2.30pm Mar 19/26, £12-£8, 01603 620917, www.maddermarket.co.uk

After its recent BBC adaptation starring Sirs Anthony Hopkins and Ian McKellan, Ronald Harwood's bracing, heartbreaking drama, based on his own experiences as dresser to Sir Donald Wolfit, comes to the Maddermarket Theatre, directed by Peter Beck. Backstage at a theatre in the English provinces during the Second World War, Sir, the last of the great breed of English actor/managers, is in a bad way, as his dresser Norman tries valiantly to prepare him to go on stage as King Lear.

11. Somewhere in England

Seagull Theatre, Pakefield, March 24, 7.30pm, £12 (£11 cons), 01502 589726, www.theseagull.co.uk

Eastern Angles stage Polly Wiseman's fascinating and moving play telling the wartime story of the arrival of thousands of American GIs from the 8th US Army Air Force. Nylons, Hershey bars and jitterbugging to Swing Bands in the local village hall all feature but there was another side to this shared history – a tale of segregation and of rural communities turned upside down. Also touring see details at www.easternangles.co.uk

12. Urinetown

Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich, April 6-9, 7.30pm, 2.30pm, April 9, £12, 01603 620917, www.maddermarket.co.uk

Greg Kotis, author of this bizarre but hugely successful musical, conceived the original idea after encountering a pay-per-use toilet whilst travelling in Europe. The original Broadway production went on to be nominated for 10 Tony awards. A social and political satire set in a dystopian future where a terrible 20-year drought has crippled the city's water supplies, this regional premiere is staged by Sound Ideas Theatre Co.

13. The Importance of Being Earnest

Fisher Theatre, Bungay, April 8, 7.30pm, £10 (£9 cons), 01986 897130, www.fishertheatre.org

'You must not laugh at me, darling, but it had always been a girlish dream of mine to love someone whose name was Ernest...' Everybody loves Ernest. The only trouble is, he doesn't exist. Or does he? Oscar Wilde's comic masterpiece gets The Pantaloons treatment in our anarchic take on the classic comedy of manners. This energetic show featured all the usual Wildean wit, plus a few Pantaloony surprises including singing butlers.

14. Hobson's Choice

Norwich Theatre Royal, April 12-16, 7.30pm, 2.30pm Apr 14/16, £28.50-£8, 01603 630000, www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk

Martin Shaw plays Henry Horatio Hobson, self-made man, shopkeeper, skinflint and boozer, a tyrant to his daughters and a law unto himself. When Maggie, his eldest daughter, defies Hobson's wishes by marrying Will Mossop, his own boot-maker, a battle of wills begins in which he stands to lose his customers, his girls and his pride, but ultimately it is Hobson's choice. This production marks the 100th anniversary of Harold Brighouse's classic comedy.

15. Winter '53

On tour from April 16, full list of dates and booking details at www.feasttheatre.com

Following the success of The Canada Boys and Parachute, fEast Theatre's latest touring production is the third play in Rob John's Norfolk trilogy. Set in the fictional Norfolk coastal village of Boxham in the months leading up to the catastrophic floods of January 1953 this sad but funny play explores the complex and turbulent relationships of the Spence family as they struggle to make sense of past events in the face of conflicting memories.

16. Nelson: The Sailor's Story

St George's Theatre, Great Yarmouth, April 30, 2.30pm, £11 (£9 cons), 01493 331484, www.stgeorgestheatre.com

Actor/writer Nicholas Collett offers a fascinating portrait of Horatio Nelson in his one-man show about an inspirational hero, flawed maverick and tactical genius could not be seen anywhere better than Great Yarmouth. Amidst Trafalgar's shot, smoke and din, the crew of the Victory strive to destroy the Combined Fleet of France and Spain. Then on New Year's Eve 200 years later, Nelson surveys the world from his column in Trafalgar Square.

17. Guys and Dolls

Norwich Theatre Royal, May 3-7, 7.30pm, 2.30pm May 4-5/7, £37.50-£8, 01603 630000, www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk

Direct from the West End, this highly-acclaimed production of one of the best musicals ever heads to Norwich. The sizzling New York tale of gamblers, gangsters and nightclub singers and some of Broadway's greatest show-stopping tunes, including Luck be a Lady, Sit Down You're Rockin' the Boat and My Time of Day. With dazzling choreography by world-renowned Cuban ballet star Carlos Acosta and Andrew Wright.

18. Travels With My Aunt

Bury Theatre Royal, May 5-7, 7.30pm, 3pm May 7, £20.50-£8.50, 01284 769505, www.theatreroyal.org

Four actors will take on over 20 characters in this hilarious madcap dash around the world with Harold Pulling from Creative Cow, who recently visited Bury Theatre Royal with She Stoops To Conquer and Charley's Aunt. A retired suburban bank manager with a penchant for dahlias when he meets his eccentric Aunt Augusta at what he supposes to be his mother's funeral, she persuades him to travel around the world with her.

19. Death Toll

Marina Theatre, Lowestoft, May 13-14, 7.30pm, 2.30pm May 14, £19.50 (£17.50 cons), 01502 533200, www.marinatheatre.co.uk

A desolate ex hunting lodge in the Scottish Highlands is the setting for the latest thriller by James Cawood, best known for Stone Cold Murder, here performed by Talking Scarlet. Mixing black comedy and shocks, a famous playwright and his wife await the arrival of his new 'muse' – a charming and charismatic young actor determined to secure a role in the playwright's latest production. What starts out as a seemingly innocent, though macabre audition soon leads to murder.

20. The James Plays

Norwich Theatre Royal, May 14-15, 11am/3pm/7.30pm, £85-£24, 01603 630000, www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk

The James Plays – James I, James II and James III – are a trio of new history plays by award-winning writer Rona Munro. Exhilarating and vividly imagined, they bring to life three generations of Stewart kings who ruled Scotland in the tumultuous 15th century. Since their premiere, the critical and public reaction to these productions has been extraordinary. Don't miss.

21. Avenue Q

Marina Theatre, Lowestoft, May 23-28, various times, £30.50-£22.50, 01502 533200, www.marinatheatre.co.uk

The Tony Award-winning musical that is part flesh, part felt and packed with heart. Hilarious, cheeky and uproariously entertaining, with a terrific batch of songs performed by a cast of hugely talented performers and puppets, its the musical like no other.

22. The Bodyguard

Norwich Theatre Royal, May 24-June 4, various times, £43.50-£8, 01603 630000, www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk

Three-time Brit nominee and X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke heads the cast and channels Whitney Huston in this award-winning musical based on the blockbuster film. Former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard, Frank Farmer, is hired to protect superstar Rachel Marron from an unknown stalker.

23. The End of the Rainbow

Bury Theatre Royal, May 31-June 4, 7.30pm, 3pm June 4, £30-£8.50, 01284 769505, www.theatreroyal.org

The Judy Garland story as she makes her explosive London comeback at the height of the swinging sixties. This fiercely funny and emotionally charged play finds the once-glittering star sparring with her new fiancé, her devoted accompanist, and her own demons. Filled with Garland's legendary tenacity, razor-sharp wit and once-in-a-generation voice, plus her most memorable songs, including, of course, Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Lisa Maxwell will play Judy, Gary Wilmot is Anthony and Sam Attwater Mickey.

24. 9 To 5

Norwich Playhouse, May 31-June 4, 7.30pm, 2.30pm Jun 4, £18 (£15 cons), 01603 598598, www.norwichplayhouse.co.uk

Threshold Theatre bring their production of the hilarious musical comedy, based on the hit movie, the show centres on three office workers, Violet, Judy and Doralee who turn the tables on their sexist boss Franklin Hart Jr. Outrageous, thought provoking and even a little romantic, it is about teaming up and taking care of business and features a brand-new score by Dolly Parton, plus original numbers Backwoods Barbie, Shine Like the Sun and the title hit song.

25. Mary Poppins

Norwich Theatre Royal, June 29-July 30, various times, £55-£8, 01603 630000, www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk

This summer's big show at Norwich Theatre Royal is the magical multi award-winning musical of the world's favourite Nanny. Arriving on Cherry Tree Lane, her adventures are spectacularly brought to the stage with dazzling choreography, incredible effects and unforgettable songs including Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and Feed the Birds plus new songs by the Olivier award-winning team George Stiles and Anthony Drewe.

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