New season: King's Lynn Arts Centre

TREVOR HEATON, EDP Whats On Editor The King's Lynn Arts Centre has a packed programme of music, comedy, drama, film and family entertainment.

TREVOR HEATON, EDP Whats On Editor

The King's Lynn Arts Centre has a packed programme of music, comedy, drama, film and family entertainment.

It's comedy names which grab the eye in particular. On April 20, comedy duo Punt and Dennis make a debut appearance in Lynn. First finding fame in cult comedy show The Mary Whitehouse Experience, their reputations as both performers and writers have grown enormously since those early days, with regular Radio 2 and 4 slots for their fine satirical series It's Been a Bad Week and The Now Show. Hugh Dennis is also one of the leading members of BBC2's excellent Mock the Week show. Tickets £14, concs £13.

And earlier on January 27, Sue Perkins - ex-Celebrity Big Brother housemate and a television and radio regular - presents her smart and snappy stand-up show (£13, concs £12).

The night before, Graham Fellows introduces his Sheffield singer-songwriter alter ego John Shuttleworth in the spoof film-documentary, It's Nice Up North, in which he endeavours to answer that age-old question, is it really nice up north? Tickets £6.50.

Altogether scarier is Robert Lloyd Parry's presentation of two ghost stories by that master of the genre, MR James. Tickets for A Pleasing Terror (January 19) are £9.50, concs £8.50

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The following night sees the acoustic version of veteran folk-rockers the Strawbs. Recently presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Classic Rock Society, their latest album release Deja Fou was a precursor to the most intensive international tour the band had ever undertaken. Tickets £11.50, concs £10.50.

A family treat on February 3 is Nine Nights - Stories From the Ramayana, in which storyteller Vayu Naidu presents an introduction to tales from the great Asian epic (£6.50, under 16s and students £5).

Chumbawamba (March 2) are famous for two things: their great hit Tubthumping and that notorious John Prescott soaking at the Brits. The long-running band have changed to an acoustic format in the last year or so and will be performing tracks from their recently released Live album. Tickets £12.50.

The following night sees a concert by one of Britain's most underrated singers, Ola Onabule. His four-octave voice and unerring ear for a good soul song has meant he is constantly in demand to open for the likes of the Natalie Cole and Gladys Knight. His acclaimed series of solo albums draw on his African roots and creates original soul and jazz compositions. If you need any more convincing, ask Posh and Becks - they got him to sing at their wedding! Tickets £12.50.

London Shakespeare Workout, a company of professional actors and ex-offenders, bring their latest piece Black Atlas to the venue on March 10. It tells the historical tale of two slaves, one of whom becomes the first black prize fighter. Tickets £12.50, concs £11.50, students £9.

King's Lynn Players present a black comedy by the great John Godber from March 15-17. Lucky Sods tells the story of a couple who have nothing on Friday night, but by Saturday night they are £4 million richer, thanks to the National Lottery. But is it really a dream come true? Tickets £10, concs £8.50.

More drama on March 23 with The Alchemist. No, not the Ben Jonson play but Paulo Coelho's mega-selling story of a young shepherd boy, from the colourful bazaars of Tangiers and into the unforgiving Egyptian desert. Tickets for the Cornish Theatre Collective production are £12.50, concs £11.50.

The Arts Centre continues its long-standing association with the Royal Geographical Society with another series of lectures, beginning on March 24 with one-time television vet Steve Leonard (£11, concs £10). They continue with Mikael Strandberg talking about Siberia (June 30) and BBC Wildlife producer Mike Salisbury on September 30.

There are two events on March 31. In the morning there's a puppet and animated sculpture version of Oscar Wilde's wonderful story The Happy Prince, while in the evening the five-piece African dance band Chimanimani are in concert.

Blues fans should check out the visit of Groundhogs frontman Tony McPhee on April 14, who'll be performing solo and with partner Joanna Deacon. Tickets £10.50.

Gordon Peters returns to the Arts Centre on April 21 with A Celebration of Flanders and Swann (£12, concs £11), while on April 27 there's foot-tapping jump jive with the eight-piece Dr Teeth Big Band (£11.50, concs £10.50) an eight-piece group who play old time swing and jive tunes.

For families there's the true story of the Ugly Duckling in Yuck! It's a Duck (April 28, £6, family tickets available). A new adaptation of a classic tale, this is one duckling's journey from muddy puddle to the bright lights of the big city.

And the centre will continue its regular screenings of films, with titles already lined up including The History Boys (January 11-13), The Departed (January 17-18) and Hoodwinked (February 12-17).

Visual arts are well represented with the return of the Eastern Open in March, plus Julian Opie in the 90s, and Kira Kim (January 27-February 24).

Box office: 01553 764864 or www.kingslynnarts.co.uk

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