New season: Maddermarket Theatre

The Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich has unveiled its new programme, with four-in-house productions and more visiting one-nighters to enjoy.

The Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich has unveiled its new programme, with four-in-house productions and more visiting one-nighters to enjoy.

The historic venue, tucked away behind St John Maddermarket Church, has a unique flavour in Norfolk's cultural life with its mix of high-quality drama and touring shows.

The in-house productions begin with Arnold Wesker's classic Norfolk-set play Roots (May 17-19, 21-26). It's the 1950s, and Beatie Bryant returns from London to her family's Norfolk farm where she tries to mould them into the ways of her intellectual boyfriend.

Then from June 21-23 and June 25-30 it's Robert Bolt's celebrated A Man For All Seasons. It's the story of how Sir Thomas More dared to defy Henry VIII over the king's decision to divorce Catherine of Aragon and put himself at the head of the English church.

As a study of the conflict of power and conscience, it's deservedly world-famous.

The last two productions are lighter affairs: Little Shop of Horrors and Charley's Aunt.

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Little Shop of Horrors is Howard Ashman and Alan Menken's delightful spoof sci-fi musical comedy about a flower shop assistant who decides to grow an alien plant - which has a taste for music… and human blood. The production is running from July 19-21 and 23-28.

Then, from August 16-18 and 20-25, it's one of the best-loved stage comedies of all time: Brandon Thomas' Charley's Aunt. Oxford students Jack Chesney and Charley Wykeham need a chaperone so they can entertain two young ladies - so try to persuade a friend to imitate Charley's aunt from Brazil… where the nuts come from.

There's the usual Saturday matinee on the last day of each of these shows. Tickets for these in-house productions are £10 and £8.

Turning to the visiting shows, May 2-5 sees the return of the East Norfolk Operatic Society with another G&S favourite, The Yeomen of the Guard. Colonel Fairfax escapes from the Tower of London - which has bad repercussions for jester Jack Point. Seats £9 and £7, and £8/£6 for the Saturday matinee.

On May 30 the Norfolk Millennium Male Voice Choir will be in concert. The 60 members of the choir come from Norwich and the surrounding area and has sung at venues in Norfolk, Suffolk and in Holland. Tickets £8, concs £6.

Three tribute acts follow in quick succession, beginning on May 31 with Mandy Winters' portrait of one of the best-loved figures in country music in The Dolly Parton Story. The story of how Dolly rose from impoverished origins to become one of the most legendary singers of the genre is an inspiration one - and packed with great songs, of course. All seats £12.50.

The following evening features the much-acclaimed Backbeat Beatles, who were formed in 1994 by Chris O'Neill, who played George Harrison in the acclaimed film Backbeat. The band cover material from the whole gamut of the Beatles' career. Tickets £12.50.

Then on June 2, Genesis in the Cage recreates the music made famous by Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel and fellows. Trevor Garrard dons plenty of the costumes made famous in those 1970s shows, with a superb collection of analogue keyboards - including the rare chance to hear that staple of prog rock, the Mellotron, in action. Tickets £12.50.

On June 6 one of Britain's most dependable performers, Richard Digance, brings his songs, comedy and stories which has earned him a string of awards and a television series. All seats £13.50.

After a visit by psychic Mia Dolan on June 9 (£17.50, concs £15), Carry on Coward (July 4) will feature Karen Henson, John Goodrum and Roger Bowen in a feast of Noel's stories, sketches and, of course, songs. Tickets £10, concs £8.

Bookings and more information: 01603 620917.