New season: Maddermarket Theatre

TREVOR HEATON, EDP Whats On Editor The Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich has unveiled its spring 2007 season – once again a mixture of its trademark in-house productions and touring shows. Trevor Heaton reports.


Nestling in the heart of Norwich, the unique Maddermarket Theatre brings together its professionally-directed in-house productions with a programme of visiting shows which has steadily grown year-on-year.

And the list for next spring is no exception.

Looking at the 'visitors' first, the attractions begin (February 8) with an appearance by a giant of British Country music, Raymond Froggatt.

'Froggie', as he is known to his host of admirers, has been in the music business for more than 40 years as a performer and songwriter. He has written songs for the likes of for Cliff Richard, Daniel O'Donnell and Julio Iglesias and his warmth and talent has made him a firm favourite with East Anglian country lovers. Tickets £12.50.

The following evening sees a night of storming rhythm and blues from the Blues Band. Messrs Paul Jones, Dave Kelly, Tom McGuinness, Gary Fletcher and Rob Townsend got together in 1979 to play a gig or two… and they're still gigging. They'll play original material plus blues classics from the likes of Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and Willie Dixon. £18.

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There'll be musical nostalgia galore on February 10 in C'Mon Everybody!, a 10-piece show which re-creates the classic songs of the 1950s and early 1960s. The show, which stars Chris “Fenderman” Black on guitar, will include songs by the likes of Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Connie Francis, Bill Haley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles and, of course, Eddie Cochran. £15.

The Maddermarket wouldn't be the Maddermarket without a visit from one of its best-loved 'regulars', the Locrian Ensemble. Their show on March 6 will celebrate the genius of Mozart - Piano Concerto in A and excerpts from The Marriage of Figaro - performed with a setting of period costumes and candlelight. £13.50.

A comic take on the Bard, and that famous unnameable play, arrives on March 7. Elsie and Norm's Macbeth is a Broad Horizons Theatre Company production starring Judi Daykin. John Christopher-Wood's comedy tells the story of a northern couple who decide to rewrite Macbeth - for their living room! Seats are £10, concs £8.

Take it nice and easy with a visit by Con and Dec - otherwise known as the Bachelors. The group enjoyed a massive 18 top ten hits in the 1960s and sold millions of records worldwide. Tickets are £12.50 for their March 8 show.

Husband and wife partnership Stacey Kent (vocals) and Jim Tomlinson (tenor sax) have brought the Great American Songbook to a new audience over a series of fine albums which have made her a firm favourite with Michael Parkinson's Sunday Radio 2 audience. Enjoy this fine pairing in concert on March 9 when they will be performing songs from their latest album, The Lyric, and more. Tickets £15.

A tribute to one of the best-loved vocal groups of the 1970s arrives on March 10 with the Karpenters, who pride themselves on meticulous attention to detail in re-creating the songs of Karen and Richard Carpenter. All seats £13.50.

Eastern Angles, currently touring the region with their version of Birds Without Wings, are at the venue on April 2 with Peapickers. Nicky Werenowska's drama, set in the 1960s and the 1990s tells of the effect of a black US airman on the lives of three Essex women. £10, concs £8.

On April 4 there's a visit from one of the finest folk performers of her generation, Eliza Carthy, with her band the Ratcatchers. Eliza, a member of folk's “first family”, has brought a contemporary edge to the genre and helped reached new audiences over her 15-year career. Tickets £15.

The East Norfolk Operatic Society make their traditional visit to the venue from May 2-5 (7.30pm nightly, 2.30pm matinee on May 5) with that G&S favourite The Yeomen of the Guard. The gallant Colonel Fairfax escapes his cell shortly before he is due to be beheaded on a trumped-up charge of sorcery. But his flight to freedom has tragic repercussions for jester Jack Point. Tickets £9 and £7.

The in-house productions once again cover a wide range of genres with the aim of bringing something for everyone and also giving local audiences the chances to see acclaimed works they might not be familiar with.

The charming tale 84 Charing Cross Road will run from January 18-27. James Roose-Evans adapted Helene Hanff's best-seller for the stage to great acclaim. It tells the story of an American writer's 20-year correspondence with staff at an antiquarian bookshop in London.

Award-winning The York Realist, by Peter Gill, is performed from February 22 to March 3. The bittersweet romance, which won the Critics' Circle award for 2002, tells the story of a Yorkshire farmhand who takes part in the York Mystery Plays - and forms a relationship with its London-based assistant director.

Bertolt Brecht's The Caucasian Chalk Circle - a classic of 20th-century theatre - is staged from March 22-31. Brecht adapted an ancient Chinese tale about two women who claim the same child to make telling comments on religion and inequality.

Alan Bennett plays are always a treat, and The Lady in the Van - being staged from April 19-28 - is a delightful tale on the eccentric old lady who for 15 years lived in a van in Bennett's garden in Camden Town.

t All shows 7.30pm unless stated. In-house plays run daily over the run (not Sundays) with a 2.30pm matinee on the final Saturday. Tickets for the in-house plays are £10 and £8. Box office: 01603 620917.

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