New season: King's Lynn Corn Exchange

TREVOR HEATON, EDP Whats On Editor It’s been a very special year for King’s Lynn Corn Exchange – it’s celebrating its 150th anniversary. Event editor Trevor Heaton presents an exclusive look at its spring season.

TREVOR HEATON, EDP Whats On Editor

When the top-hatted Victorian burghers of Lynn stood back and admired their brand-new Corn Exchange in 1854, surely none could have guessed its future as one of East Anglia's top entertainment venues.

A brilliant conversion in the mid-1990s from run-down municipal shed to state-of the-art venue has helped bring some of the top names in showbiz to West Norfolk.

A mixture of familiar names and new talent is heading for the Tuesday Market Place venue for its new season – but there's no doubting the most daring attraction on offer.

For the first time in the venue's history, it is running a five-day production (April 12-16) – oh, and removing six rows of seat and creating a spectacular ice rink in the process. Cinderella on Ice features The Russian Ice Stars, with many Olympic and world-class performers presenting a very special version of this much-loved tale (tickets £11-£21).

Cabaret singer Tony Christie, one of the most distinctive voices on the circuit, will be calling in at the venue on March 25 and belting out such wave-your-hands-in-the-air classics as Is This the Way to Amarillo? and Avenues and Alleyways. Tony has recently been feted by a new generation of stars including Peter Kay and Jarvis Cocker (£16.50, concs £15.50).

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Another great singer makes a return visit to the venue. Barbara Dickson – who sang the gala opening concert of the newly-converted venue in 1996 – will be back in Lynn on March 6 (£17.50) with a selection of her favourite songs from musicals she has appeared in, together with tracks from her new album.

Soul fans will lap up the return appearance of American star Alexander O'Neal (March 4, £19.50), with more than 11 million album sales to his name.

Sixties fans will enjoy Call Up the Groups (March 3, £17.50-£8.50) featuring the Barron Nights (marking an incredible 45 years in showbiz in 2005) and the Tremeloes.

Music from the following decade features in Glitz, Blitz & 70s Hits (March 10, £19.50), returning with a new line-up including Sweet, the Rubettes and special guest Sailor, while heavy metal fans will welcome the return of Whole Lotta Metal (March 12, £16.50) aiming to do what it says on the tin!

Swing and jazz fans can look forward to the Syd Lawrence Orchestra (January 20, £15-£8.50) and brand new show Rat Pack Party (March 18, £15.50, concs £14.50) celebrating all that was Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jnr and Frank Sinatra.

Kicking off the season is comedy of a distinctively adult kind from Jim Davidson (January 11 – returns only – and January 30, £19).

Marking the year of the Rooster and the most important festival in the Chinese calendar will be Chinese New Year Celebrations (February 7, £14.50, £7.50). The first celebration of its kind at the Corn Exchange, 15 dance and music performers present a colourful family show.

A show especially for those with young children is Tractor Tom (March 5, £6.50, family tickets available), who brings a host of friends from Springhall Farm.

Opera, ballet and classical fans are also well catered for. Swansea City Opera present Rossini's most famous opera The Barber of Seville (March 15, £17.50-£14.50). Resident orchestra for seven years, the City of London Sinfonia returns to finish its eighth season with music by Schubert and Mozart (March 19) and Vaughan Williams and Beethoven on April 22. Ballet lovers will enjoy an appearance by Moscow Ballet – La Classique in the romantic Giselle (March 26).

That brilliant two-hander comedy drama Stones in His Pockets makes a welcome return on March 14. The show ran for five years in the West End, with two actors brilliantly bringing to life more than 15 extraordinary characters in a story of a rural Irish village invaded by a Hollywood film studio.

Other shows to look out for include the ever-popular psychological entertainer Derren Brown (March 22) stopping off on his national tour with all-new material for 2005, One Night of Queen (January 19), Beyond the Barricade (January 21), the monthly Comedy Clubs and celebrating music of Abba and the Bee Gees in Thank You For the Music (April 28), which rounds off the season.

t For further details call the box office: 01553 764864

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