New season: King's Lynn Corn Exchange

TREVOR HEATON, EDP Whats On Editor Some of the best known faces from the worlds of entertainment, media and even sport are heading to King's Lynn Corn Exchange, which has lined up one of its best-ever seasons.

TREVOR HEATON, EDP Whats On Editor

Some of the best known faces from the worlds of entertainment, media and even sport are heading to King's Lynn Corn Exchange, which has lined up one of its best-ever seasons.

Familiar faces of the calibre of Lenny Henry, Sir Trevor McDonald, Jethro, Curtis Stigers, Paul McKenna, the Hollies, Tony Robinson, Ken Dodd and Gary Wilmot will all be appearing during the packed season.

The Tuesday Market Place venue has once again lined up a mix of returning favourites with some new star names.

The great Lenny Henry returns to his first love, stand-up, on November 18 in a show which arrives direct from its run at London's Wyndham Theatre. The comedian and actor first burst on to our screens in New Faces and has gone on to become one of the best-loved television personalities around.

And talking of New Faces, another star launched by the talent show was Gary Wilmot, who takes a break from his frequent West End appearances (including most recently Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) to make his first visit on November 7. Accompanied by the London Community Gospel Choirs and a 10-piece orchestra, his new concert, My Kind of Music, sees Gary performing songs from the musicals together with classic hits.

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Comedy is well represented by five guaranteed crowd-pleasers: Jethro (September 26), Kevin 'Bloody' Wilson (October 23), Ken Dodd (October 21) and Mike Reid (December 3) all making welcome returns. Fresh from his stint on ITV1's Hell's Kitchen, Al Murray (October 8) returns to the stage as the British-thinking and commonsense reasoning Pub Landlord.

There'll be plenty of laughter, too, on October 20 when Time Team and Blackadder star Tony Robinson looks at the world's worst jobs, and on December 2 when the Reduced Shakespeare Company presents its original and arguably funniest abridgement – The Complete Works of Shakespeare (ever heard Othello as a rap? You will!), plus the Corn Exchange's ever-popular Comedy Club (September 22, October 27 and November 22).

Music has always been one of the strengths of the Corn Exchange programme, and there is a wide range of artists to enjoy this autumn.

Of special interest will be a chance to hear Curtis Stigers (October 30). The singer, songwriter and sax player scored huge pop hits with the likes of I Wonder Why in the early Nineties, but has recently returned to his roots to produce some much-acclaimed jazz material.

His concert will no doubt feature songs from his award-winning 2003 set You Inspire Me, which led critics to dub him “this generation's Tony Bennett”. Praise indeed!

Another popular visitor looks likely in the shape of Best of the 80s (October 6) which features four names synonymous with chart hits during that decade. The line-up is Nick Heyward (who rose to stardom with Haircut 100), Toyah Willcox, Curiosity Killed the Cat and Altered Images, fronted by Claire Grogan, whose parallel career as an actress has included stints in EastEnders and that much-loved film Gregory's Girl.

Returning performers include Stacey Kent (November 8) performing songs from her sixth album The Boy Next Door, Pink Floyd tribute group Think Floyd (November 11), Rumours of Fleetwood Mac (November 13), Bjorn Again (November 30), Sarah Jory with her band Jezebel (November 26) and Maddy Prior fronting Steeleye Span (November 27) plus the Hollies (November 9) and the Manfreds (October 28).

Lynn Corn Exchange was one of the final venues played by Lonnie Donegan, so it's fitting his music will live on in Lonnie D (October 29), a look back at the life and music of the King of Skiffle with two of his sons, Anthony and Peter.

There's more nostalgia in Reelin' and a Rockin' (November 19) which brings together six of the original Sixties stars, including Tremeloes frontman Brian Poole, plus Merseybeats Tony Crane and Mindbenders leader Wayne Fontana.

On the classical side, Pimlico Opera present Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte (October 1) and the winners of Channel 4's Operatunity – Denise Leigh and Jane Gilchrist – on the road with their first national tour (November 10).

City of London Sinfonia has been resident orchestra at the King's Lynn Corn Exchange for seven years. Their eighth season starts on November 25 with a concert featuring Julian Lloyd Webber and percussionist Evelyn Glennie.

Other events include an evening with the nation's favourite news broadcaster Sir Trevor McDonald (September 17), and Mike Gatting with fellow stars of Radio 4's Test Match Special talking about life in the box in their show Sticky Wicket (September 30).

Kicking off the dance programme is George Piper Dances (September 24) featuring ex-Royal Ballet stars Michael Nunn and William Trevitt in their debut Lynn appearance.

Additional dance to look out for includes two classical ballet favourites, The Sleeping Beauty presented by Moscow Ballet La Classique (October 17) and Swan Lake presented by St Petersburg Ballet Theatre (December 21 and 22).

Other shows to look out for include the return of Paul McKenna (November 12), and – not for the squeamish – the Circus of Horrors (November 24), making its first visit to Lynn.

Festive shows include Carols By Candlelight (December 4) featuring the Locrian Ensemble, from the producers of Spirit of the Dance Broadway Spirit of Christmas (December 8 and 9), and Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree starring Alvin Stardust (December 11).

The always popular That'll Be the Day brings its Christmas special for two nights (December 13 and 14) and the Christmas Comedy Club (December 19) rounds off events.

For further details call the box office on 01553 764864 or visit www.kingslynncornexchange.co.uk

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