New season: King's Lynn Arts Centre

TREVOR HEATON, EDP Whats On Editor King's Lynn Arts Centre is one of Norfolk's most impressive medieval buildings (Shakespeare may have played there), with the intimate atmosphere of its centrepiece, the Guildhall of St George, making it excellent for comedy and music.

TREVOR HEATON, EDP Whats On Editor

King's Lynn Arts Centre is one of Norfolk's most impressive medieval buildings (Shakespeare may have played there), with the intimate atmosphere of its centrepiece, the Guildhall of St George, making it excellent for comedy and music.

And talking of comedy, the stand-out for the new season is without doubt the appearance of the great Jeremy Hardy on May 6 (8pm, £12.50).

It's hard to imagine it, but Jeremy must now be regarded as one of the senior statesmen of political stand-up - but his surreal and sometimes biting wit is just as sharp as ever, as listeners to The News Quiz can testify. Jeremy remains firmly committed politically, a fact which led him to produce his acclaimed film Jeremy Hardy vs The Israeli Army in which he travelled to the flashpoints of Palestine.

Turning to music, there's a brace of folk/acoustic acts and a top jazz band to look forward to.

Leeds-based Waking the Witch (May 27, £11/concs £10) got together in 2003 and have made a brace of albums since. The all-female four-piece blend combine blues, r&b, rock and folk music.

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Ray Gelato and his Giants Orchestra (June 16, £15.50) were nominated for the BBC's Jazz Artist of the Year award last year for their irresistible brand of swing and jazz. And Robbie Williams requested Ray open for him at the famous Swing When You're Winning concert at London's Royal Albert Hall…

Then on July 1 there's a real treat for folk fans with the chance to hear the newly-crowned Best Group at the BBC Folk Awards 2006, Flook. Sarah Allen, Ed Boyd, Brian Finnegan and John Joe Kelly got together in 1997 and have forged a reputation at one of the most innovative bands on the scene. Tickets are £12.50.

The venue has been closely associated with the King's Lynn Festival for more than half a century and - as announced previously - it will be staging a number of events for this year's arts beanfeast.

Historian and broadcaster Richard Holmes presents his fascinating lecture In the Footsteps of Churchill on July 17, while comedian and author Tony Hawks will be making a return visit to the Arts Centre on July 23 talking about his new book A Piano in the Pyrenees.

Fans of drama should look out for The House of No Return (June 3, £10, concs £9) from the Oddbodies theatre company. Film, animation and live performance are all drawn together in the story of an American tourist who manages to lose his wife whilst on holiday in Dartmoor. The search for his partner leads him to a bizarre moorland mansion which houses a series of disturbing characters…

Mike Maran Productions bring their latest adaptation of a classic modern novel - Novecentro (1900) - on June 24 (£10.50, concs £9.50). Family shows include Anglian Ballet Company in Pictures At An Exhibition (May 20, £9.50), new colourful adventure Bink and the Giant Whizpop (May 13, two shows and a workshop, £7, family tickets available) and the chance to join in with Image Theatre's latest “participation musical” The Wind in the Willows (June 2, £5.50 family discounts available).

The venue is also West Norfolk's leading outlet for arthouse films.

Screenings lined up for the new season include George Clooney's excellent Ed Murrow biography Good Night, and Good Luck (May 4-5) and Ralph Fiennes' latest The White Countess (May 11-12).

Silent films are undergoing a bit of a renaissance at the moment - mainly due to championing by high-profile fans such as Paul Merton - and you can enjoy a brace of films featuring screen legend Buster Keaton on June 10. The evening includes his classic comedy The General, and there will be live piano accompaniment by James Harpham.

The complex's four galleries provide a popular and versatile showcase for the visual arts. The highlight is return of the celebrated Eastern Open from April 8 to May 27 will feature a wide variety of work drawn from artists from East Anglia and beyond.

Other exhibitions lined up include College of West Anglia: New Destinations (June 13-24), Paul Ebbens and Debbie Sedgwick; Blow Up (June 13-24), Fat Lava (July 15-August 12), Derek Nice: Of Ships and the Sea (July 15-August 12) and the ever-popular King's Lynn Art Club festival exhibition (July 15-29).

t The new brochure will be available from April 3. Bookings and information on 01553 764864

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