New season: Maddermarket Theatre

TREVOR HEATON, EDP Whats On Editor Spring may have only just begun, but local venues already have their minds firmly set on summer. Event editor Trevor Heaton takes a peek at the new Maddermarket Theatre line-up.

TREVOR HEATON, EDP Whats On Editor

The historic Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich has won many celebrity fans – and a devoted local audience – for its packed in-house programme of drama.

But the theatre, tucked away down St John's Alley, has moved in recent years into putting on a busy programme of touring attractions to complement its core programme.

And you won't be surprised to hear that summer 2005 will be no exception.


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Jazz fans have two big treats in store: the 50th anniversary tour of British jazz stalwart Terry Lightfoot and the return visit of one of the country's most popular vocalists, Stacey Kent.

Clarinettist, saxophonist and vocalist Terry came to prominence in the mid-1950s and was one of the standard bearers of the trad jazz boom and now has more than 40 albums to his credit.

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In recent years he has been showcasing the music of Louis Armstrong – he first played alongside him in 1956 and shared the bill on Satchmo's legendary 1965 UK tour – and his band's show on May 29 will feature classics such as Lazy River and, of course, Wonderful World and Hello Dolly. Tickets are £13 for this trad jazz treat.

Stacey Kent has established herself at the forefront of the new jazz boom championed by the likes of Michael Parkinson. The American-born vocalist has been based in the UK for several years and has six best-selling albums to her credit.

She will be paying a return visit to the Norwich venue on June 5 as part of a mammoth 250-date tour to promote her latest CD, The Boy Next Door. Tickets (£14) are sure to be in heavy demand.

And still on the subject of fine female singers, Christine Collister joins the Dave Kelly Band on May 8 (£12) for a show which blends elements of folk, soul, pop and jazz. Christine has been hailed as one of Britain's most versatile vocalists over her critically-acclaimed 20-year career.

The Maddermarket was the first Norfolk venue to latch on to the Locrian Ensemble and their reward has been umpteen visits by the crowd-pleasing classical music group. Their June 2 visit features William Walton's witty Façade, Mozart and South American music (£12.50).

Fans of 'The King' should check out the June 3 and 4 appearance of Jake Rivers and his band in their Tribute to Elvis show – the first half takes us backstage for rehearsals for the legendary Las Vegas comeback, with the second half featuring full band, brass section and singers. All seats £14.

The stage version of David Croft and Jeremy Lloyd's television favourite 'Allo 'Allo is brought to the Maddermarket stage from June 7-11 (7.30pm, Saturday 2.30pm matinee) by Only Once Productions. Expect plenty of double entendres, outrageous accents and general silliness in this show, with all performances in aid of charity. Tickets £10.

The Maddermarket's in-house season begins with the East Anglian premiere of By Jeeves! (April 21-30, not April 24), Andrew Lloyd Webber and Alan Ayckbourn's stage version of characters created by PG Wodehouse. The spiffing musical comedy features the unflappable “gentleman's gentleman” trying to sort out the chaotic love life of Bertie Wooster.

Ben Elton's Hollywood-set comedy Popcorn is the next production, from May 19-28 (not May 22). It tells the story – with strong language – of how director Bruce Delamitri has to rethink his predilection for violent films when that violence comes calling rather close to home.

Nicholas Wright's play Vincent in Brixton won critical plaudits – and awards – when it was staged in the West End last year. It tells the story of how an 1873 stay in London shaped the life the tortured genius of 19th century art. It is being staged by the Maddermarket from June 23-July 2 (not June 26).

One of the most famous period comedies in English drama is being staged from July 21-30 (not 24). Richard Brinsley Sheridan's witty The Rivals – which includes the word-mangling classic creation Mrs Malaprop – will be staged in lavish period costume.

Agatha Christie plays are firm favourites at the venue and the final in-house production features one of the most famous of them all. And Then There Were None (August 18-27, not 21) tells the story of ten people invited to an island by a mysterious host. Then one by one they start being murdered…

The theatre's summer thrillers are something of an institution, so don't delay booking your ticket.

Tickets and information for all the summer shows is available from the Maddermarket Theatre box office 01603 620917

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