New season: Marina Theatre

TREVOR HEATON, EDP Whats On Editor Lowestoft Marina Theatre announces its most ambitious season yet. Yes, really. Trevor Heaton explains all…


When you can line up not just one, but two, entertainment legends, that's when you start to think that a new season of entertainment must be very special indeed.

But that's just what Lowestoft Marina Theatre has done with the appearances of Mickey Rooney and Buddy Greco.

And that's on top of hit stage shows Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Annie, spectacular ballets Romeo and Juliet and Coppelia, drama, comedy, family favourites - plus more music than you can shake a stick at.

Oh, and one of the world's favourite orchestras too.

If there's only one statistic that emphasises just how jaw-dropping Mickey Rooney's career has been it's this: it began in 1923 - EIGHTY-THREE years ago! That debut as an 18-month toddler in his parents' vaudeville show set the scene for a glittering career as a child actor, musical star and Broadway stalwart.

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Now the 85-year-old actor brings his off-Broadway production, Let's Put on a Show!, to the venue on June 8. Mickey shares the stage with his wife of 25 years, Jan, with a show which draws on Mickey's vast film career plus tributes to Judy Garland and Patsy Cline. Seats - running from £21.50 to £25.50, concessions available, will be in big demand!

Earlier (April 13), it's the turn of jazz favourite Buddy Greco to make a rare UK appearance. The renowned singer-pianist has guested on every major television show in the United States, played venues all over the world - and sold millions of records. He recently celebrated the completion of his 65th recorded album and boasts some 100 singles, ranging in style from jazz to country and pop. Tickets £19.50-£23.50, concs available.

Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is one of the most popular family musicals ever written. So its appearance at the Marina (April 17-22) will be one of the highlights of the new season. Packed with great songs, including Any Dream Will Do, this is the new national touring production from Bill Kenwright. Seats start at £14.50 (for matinees) for this production, which will pack in 11 shows while at Lowestoft.

Another solid-gold family favourite is feelgood musical Annie, which runs from October 23-28. The rags to riches story of the orphan stars Hi-Di-Hi favourite Ruth Madoc as the gin-soaked Miss Hannigan. Tickets start at £14.50 (for the matinees).

The spectacle of traditionally-staged ballet is a big draw for Marina audiences, so expects big demand for the visit of the Russian Classical Ballet Theatre. The 120-strong company (featuring more than 50 dancers) will be presenting Profokiev's Romeo and Juliet (November 15-16) and Coppelia (November 17-18). Tickets start at £17.50.

Music fans are well catered for too. On March 31 there's the return of country star Charlie Landsborough (sold out - returns only), followed by top tribute act The Australian Bee Gees (April 1, £17.50), and sounds from the classic era of British rhythm'n'blues with The Manfreds - featuring Messrs Paul Jones, Mike Hugg, Tom McGuinness, Rob Townsend, Marcus Cliffe and Simon Currie - on April 2 (£16.50, concs £15.50).

The classic West coast country rock sounds of the Eagles are recreated by Talon on May 5 (£15.50, concs £14.50), followed the next day by Seventies pop favourites the New Seekers for a nostalgic evening of hits such as I'd Like To Teach the World to Sing (tickets £16.50, concs £15.50).

Irish country favourite Dominic Kirwan is one of the biggest names in Irish music, with perhaps only a certain D O'Donnell out-scoring him in the popularity stakes. So tickets will be short supply for his May 7 visit (£17.50, concs £16.50).

Fans of 'The King' will lap up the visit of Richard Atkins' Elvis in Concert - The Vegas Years (May 12, £16.50, concs £15.50), also starring the RCA Band, the Heartbreak Horns and the Divine Inspirations.

Tony Hadley's vocals helped make Spandau Ballet one of the best-loved bands of the Eighties. He will be in concert on May 28 with a 'by request' show - the first half a performance of some of his favourites, and the second half a chance for you to request your favourites. Tickets £19.50.

Genesis fans have a double treat in store. On June 2 it's top tribute act G2 with their Definitive Genesis show, while on July 2, former band singer-songwriter Ray Wilson performs some of the songs from the Gabriel- and Collins-led eras of the band as well as the album he featured on (Calling All Stations).

There's a special ticket rate if you book both these shows.

Sixties favourites Barron Knights are now in their 46th year which must be some sort of record (but not compared to Mr Rooney, of course!). They have played with everyone from the Beatles to Ken Dodd and their brand of music comedy is still popular. Tickets £14.50, concs £13.50 for their July 7 date.

When original Abba member Benny Andersson says that Bjorn Again are the closest thing you will get to the original band, then you just have to sit up and take notice! The hugely-popular tribute act will be calling in on August 2 (£15).

Re-live the new wave era when original member Rick Buckler brings his version of the Jam to the venue on September 17 (£18.50).

Stars In Their Eyes' Grand Final winner Gary Mullen brings his band the Works to Lowestoft on October 6 (£16.50, concs £16) for their ever-popular One Night of Queen show, which has toured to great acclaim as far afield as New Zealand.

Silence will be Golden on October 12 when Sixties favourite Brian Poole brings his Tremeloes. Tickets £16.50, concs £15.50.

The theatre continues its highly-successful partnership with the world-famous Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with a Spanish gala on April 7. And - surprise, surprise - it's a complete sell-out. On June 30 it's a Summer Serenade concert, with violinist Chloe Hanslip, followed by a special Noisy Kids family concert on July 1 (aimed at children aged five to 12) and then on September 22 it's the Autumn Concert (soloist Derek Han on piano).

Comedy fans will lap up the return of two of the most outrageous adults-only stars on the circuit. On April 8 it's the madcap Freddie Starr (£17.50, concs £17), promising another evening of comedy mayhem, while on April 24 it's Jim Davidson (plus a special guest star) with his usual politically-incorrect humour. Seats £20.

Family fun is guaranteed by The Sooty Show on April 9 (adults £8.50, child £7.50, family of four £28), Joe Pasquale's eagerly-awaited new stage version of Seventies' favourite Rentaghost - The Musical runs on June 18 (two shows, £9.50, child £8.50, family of four £32) in a re-scheduled date.

Then on October 13 (two shows), it's CBBC favourite Basil Brush - all tickets £12.50.

The theatre has been steadily building its drama content, and there's plenty to enjoy in the new season, including Francis Durbridge's kidnap thriller House Guest (April 27-29), classic comedy 'Allo 'Allo (June 14-17) starring Marina regular Damian Williams and Crossroads' Lynette McMorrough, Alan Ayckbourn's One Man Protest (June 21-24), A Bed Full of Foreigners (July 12-15), thriller Dangerous Corner (September 6-9) and classic farce Charley's Aunt (October 18-21).

Buxton Opera House presents its powerful adult production of DH Lawrence's celebrated (and notorious) Lady Chatterley's Lover on May 13.

Last year the theatre revived summer season variety after a break of many years, and it was so successful it's back for 2006. Running on Fridays from August 4 to 25 inclusive, The Bernie Clifton Summer Spectacular promises oodles of family fun.

And there's more… including Derren Brown (April 23, returns only), A Night at the Musicals (April 30), Magical Dance of Ireland (May 14), Yorkshire Imperial Band (May 20), We'll Meet Again (June 3), Legends of Football, with Alan Mullery, Tony Cottee and local legend Kevin Beattie, hosted by Elton Welsby (June 5), That'll Be The Day (June 10, September 24), Viennese Romance Gala Concert (July 16), Spirit Of The Dance (September 2-3 - two shows each day), Peter Corry (September 29), Beyond The Barricade (September 30) and a Tribute to the Ted Heath Orchestra (October 14).

t Find out more from the Marina box office on 01502 533200

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