New season: Maddermarket Theatre

Trevor Heaton Readers of Event will, we hope, be aware by now about the many brilliant local venues out there working hard to bring you top entertainment. But none of them has the unique mix of the Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich.

Trevor Heaton

Readers of Event will, we hope, be aware by now about the many brilliant local venues out there working hard to bring you top entertainment. But none of them has the unique mix of the Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich. This much-loved venue, tucked away in St John's Alley behind St John Maddermarket, brings touring one-night attractions alongside a packed programme of inhouse drama productions. There's some eye-catching visiting shows, ranging from jazz to rock'n'roll, drama to folk.

It starts on February 27 (£15) with Maddermarket favourite Clare Teal. The award-winning jazz singer and Radio 2 presenter will be featuring songs from her first two albums Paradisi Carousel and Don't Talk as well as new material. Clare was BBC Jazz Vocalist 2006, and followed this up by being named British Jazz Vocalist 2007 at the 19th British Jazz Awards.

The following evening country fans will lap up the visit of one of the biggest names on the Brit circuit. Raymond Froggatt is known simply as 'Froggie' to his many followers, and has been in the business for more than 40 years, penning songs for the likes of Cliff Richard and the Dave Clarke Five before forging his own highly-successful solo career. £12.50.

On February 29 the latest line-up of The Drifters make their first visit to the venue with a feast of pop classics honed from a back catalogue which goes back more than 50 years. £16.

March 1 sees Mike Hall return with his Classic Clapton show (all seats £12). Mike not only looks like the great man, but sings and plays guitar like him too, and will be featuring solo classics as well as material from The Bluesbreakers, Cream, The Yardbirds and Derek & The Dominos years.

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Folk legends Oysterband are in concert on March 25, with all seats £15.

The following evening it's British rock'n'roll original Marty Wilde (with the Wildcats, of course) who'll be playing favourites such as Jezebel and Teenager in Love and many more. Seats £16.50.

The latest regionally-themed production from Eastern Angles comes to the Maddermarket on March 27. The Cuckoo Teapot is set against the background of the annual migration of local labourers to work in the Burton-on-Trent malting industry. The lads traditionally brought home a Potteries teapot to their mums on their return. But one lads brings something else - a baby. Tickets are £12, concs £10 for Kate Griffin's unusual love story.

A show aimed squarely at women (but the chaps'll enjoy it too) comes on March 28. Mutton Dressed Up As Lamb stars Jean Heard, Donna Flinn, and Julia Munrow in their Edinburgh hit comedy show about reaching that, ahem, 'certain age'. Tickets are £10 for this show.

Maddermarket regular Stacey Kent returns to the venue on March 29 with songs from her new Blue Note album, Breakfast on the Morning Tram. This includes a mixture of classic jazz standards, plus new songs written by husband and saxophonist Jim Tomlinson in collaboration with award-winning novelist Kazuo Ishiguro. All seats £15.

What more appropriate for All Fools' Day than Radio Norfolk's popular comedy quiz Should The Team Think? As ever, David Clayton will be trying to keep a panel in check which will include the likes of Keith Skipper and the Squire of Trunch, Sid Kipper. All seats £10.

Putting on the Style (April 2, £14.50) pays tribute - but you've guessed it - to the King of Skiffle, Lonnie Donegan, who inspired some many of the great musicians of the last 50 years to pick up guitar. Paul Leegan and The Legends their tribute to Lonnie and to more recent performers of the skiffle and country blues music that he popularised.

Daniel Defoe's bawdy romp Moll Flanders is brought to the stage by Brute Farce Theatre on April 3 in the compelling and outrageous tale of the misadventures and 'continu'd Variety' of the unlucky Moll. Tickets £12, concs £10.

Humphrey Lyttelton celebrates 60 years as a bandleader in January and this much-loved jazzman brings his band to the venue on April 4. The band's repertoire extends from early traditional to modern by way of Duke Ellington and Count Basie. Tickets £17.50.

A Maddermarket season wouldn't be complete without at least one visit by what it undoubtedly their best-loved 'regular'.

The Locrian Ensemble (April 5) play popular classics while dressed in period costume and their visits are always keenly-anticipated.

This time round their theme is Musical Vienna, and you can expect music by Haydn, Schubert and, of course Mozart and the Strauss family. Tickets £14.

Another regular - East Norfolk Operatic Society - bring their latest helping of the witty output of the immortal 'G&S' from April 30-May 3. Patience satirises the 'aesthetic' craze of the 1870s and 1880s. Seats £9 and £7, reductions for the matinee.

The in-house productions follow the usual format, with shows every night except Sundays, and with a 2.30pm matinee on the final day of the run. Tickets are £12, £10 and £8.

They begin on January 17-26 with Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, adapted for the stage by Roger Parsley and Andy Graham. It's a fast-moving adaptation of Austen's first published novel, about the sisters Elinor and Marianne Dashwood.

From February 14-23 it's Ray Cooney's farce Funny Money. Accountant Henry Perkins leads an unremarkable life - until the day he accidentally picks up a briefcase containing £735,000 in used fivers. He decides to emigrate at once. But things don't go quite to plan!

Yasmina Reza's international hit ART, translated by Christopher Hampton, is the next production, running from March 13-22. This much-loved play about a group of three friends was a huge hit in the West End. Its witty script tells what happens when one of them buys an expensive new painting… a white canvas.

Noel Coward's work always goes down well with Maddermarket audiences, and one of his wittiest comedies - Hay Fever - will run from April 17-26. Set in a country house, it revolves around four members of the Bliss family, all self-centred - and all eccentric.

Looking ahead (although not yet booking) the theatre will stage Canterbury Tales: The Musical (May 15-24), Top Girls by Caryl Churchill (June 19-28); Tom Jones, adapted by Joan Macalpine from the novel by Henry Fielding (July 17-26); Frederick Knott's thriller Wait Until Dark (August 21-30); Frank Marcus' ground-breaking The Killing of Sister George (September 18-27); Tom Stoppard's much-acclaimed Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (October 16-25) and John Steinbeck's moving tale Of Mice and Men (November 13-22).

Box office 01603 620917;

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