Current season: Creative Arts Centre

TREVOR HEATON, EDP Whats On Editor Creative Arts East has unveiled its Village Stage programme with a fascinating mix of musical, theatrical, and comic delights for some of the area’s smaller venues.

TREVOR HEATON, EDP Whats On Editor

The staff at Wymondham-based Creative Arts East believe you shouldn't have to live in a big town to enjoy quality entertainment. And they've been working for years to prove just that.

The spring programme is no exception, bringing together acclaimed storytelling, superb family shows, stylish jazz, comedy theatre and much more.

It kicks off on Wednesday with the first of five dates from award-winning duo Hugh Lupton and Chris Wood. Storyteller Hugh is a firm favourite on the Village Stage programme with his spellbinding tales and in this show he teams up with folk star Chris Wood.


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The pair won a British Folk Award last year for Best Original Song for their One in a Million and in this programme of stories, music, poetry and song they celebrate the extraordinary lives of ordinary people and the places they have inhabited.

It's a programme that is funny, exciting, poignant, spooky, bawdy and tragic in turn.The tour starts on Wednesday February 7 (7.30pm) at Welborne Village Hall, near Mattishall (booking 01362 850268/01362 850787); Thursday February 8 (7.30pm), Whissonsett village hall, four miles south of Fakenham (01328 700010/01328 700288/ Whissonsett post office); Friday February 9 (7.30pm), Upton village hall near Acle (01493 750697/01493 751915/ Upton post office); Saturday February 10 (7.30pm), Bergh Apton village hall (01508 480696); Sunday February 11 (7.30pm), Freckenham village hall (01638 720118/01638 720082).

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Creative Arts East always lines up a half-term treat or two and February is no exception. First up is puppet show The Singing Storycloth, produced by Obelon Arts. Two tailors work on a brightly-coloured storycloth - but the tales it depicts keep drawing them into the world of stories from Nigeria, Scotland, India, China and America…

This family treat is at Framingham Earl High School (February 12, 2.30pm, 01508 558526/01508 550861), Brundall Memorial Hall (February 13, 2pm, 01603 716767), Saxlingham Nethergate village hall (February 15, 2.30pm, 01508 498170) and finally on February 16 at Freckenham village hall (2pm, 01638 720635/01638 720111).

Audiences at King's Lynn and Sheringham have already enjoyed the inventive, funny and poignant story SSSH! from Rhubarb Theatre - and now it's the turn of four Norfolk villages. Blending physical theatre, puppetry, mask and song, it tells the story of fed-up librarian Lil, who gets sucked into a world of adventure in her books. The show comes to Hockwold village hall on February 13 (3pm, 01842 827713/ 01842 827268), Fleggburgh village hall on February 14 (2.30pm, 01493 369292/01493 369097), Watlington village hall (February 15, 2.30pm, 01553 811955/01553 810605) and finally to New Frost Hall in Foulsham on February 16 (2pm, 01362 683897/ 01362 683620 or foulshamgigs@yahoo.co.uk)

Tickets for either of these half-term shows are - in advance - adults £4, concs/children £3, on the door price £1 extra.

What could be more appropriate for Nelson's County than a celebration of the music and stories about the Battle of Trafalgar? Folk musicians New Scorpion Band bring their show Bold Nelson's Praise to two local venues as part of the Village Stage programme. They weave together naval, maritime songs and traditional songs celebrating his victories, the dance music loved by the ordinary sailors, plus extracts from contemporary accounts, letters and journals. They are at Baconsthorpe village hall on February 23 (7.30pm, 01263 577539/01263 577787) and Wood Norton village hall the next day (8pm, 01362 683731/01362 683232).

Talented classical duo Calderon - guitarist Tom McLauchlan and flautist Claire Jefferies - will be a must-see for many. They are playing Hindolveston village hall (March 1, 7.30pm, 01263 860583), St Margaret's Church in Thorpe Market (March 2, 7.30pm, 01263 833252/01263 833697 or info@thorpemarket.org.uk) and finally at Whissonsett village hall (March 3, 7.30pm, 01328 700010/ 01328 700288).

A tongue-in-cheek version of King Lear - complete with spoof 'masterclass' - comes from Blacksheep Theatre in its I, Lear show. Whether you're a fan of the Bard - or just like a laugh - this is a show well worth catching. It's at Hobart High School in Loddon on March 8 (7.30pm, 01508 520359 - school hours - or 01508 493712), Wymondham High School studio theatre on March 9 (7.30pm, 01953 713108) and Kettlestone village hall on March 10 (7.30pm, 01328 878012/01328 878200).

There are two more musical treats to round off the season. Acclaimed jazz singer Sophie Garner and her band promise a sophisticated evening of song at two Norfolk venues: Ashby and Thurton village hall (March 16, 8pm, 01508 480600/01508 480276) and Wretham (not Wrentham!) village hall on March 17 (7.30pm, 01953 498362/01953 498265).

Another Village Stage favourite, the Daniel Smith Blues Band, will be playing their brand of barrelhouse boogie-woogie influenced by Slim Memphis and Jools Holland blended with dry humour. Daniel and his band perform at Fleggburgh village hall on March 30 (7.30pm, 01493 368224/01493 369097) and Watlington village hall on March 31 (7.30pm, 01553 810584/01553 810732).

t Tickets for all the above shows - with the exception of the half-term ones - are: (in advance) adults £6, concs £5; (on the door) £1 extra. As many of these venues are small and intimate, you are strongly advised to book in advance - particular if you are travelling some distance. www.creativeartseast.co.uk

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