New season: Marina Theatre

Family entertainment is the name of the game at the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft. David Banks looks at the highlights of its autumn and winter season.

The ever-popular Lowestoft Marina Theatre launches its autumn-winter programme today with that ever-popular entertainer Gary Wilmot in the hit musical Half a Sixpence as one of the highlights.

But song and dance man Gary is only part of a season that includes a classic Agatha Christie mystery, opera star Lesley Garrett and a family musical version of The Jungle Book.

Adapted from the stories of Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book, from Brice James Productions - regular visitors to the venue - promises to be a half-term musical treat. (£12.50, concs £11.50, children £9.50, family (up to four) £28. See it on October 25 (3pm), Friday October 26 (11am, 3pm) and October 27 (3pm, 7pm).

Firm favourites arrive on October 28 (7.30pm) when stars from the D'oyle Carte present A Feast of Gilbert and Sullivan (£19.50, concs, £18.50).

The next day things hot up the next day (7.30pm) when the Chisinau National Opera, with a 170-strong company, full orchestra and chorus stages a traditional production of Bizet's Carmen (£18.50-£32.50, concs £16.50-£30.50).

That's followed on October 30 (7.30pm) with Verdi's splendid Nabucco (£18.50-£32.50, concs £16.50-£30.50) with its singalong Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves. There's a double saver discount of £5 if you buy £28.50 and £32.50 tickets for both productions.

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On October 31 (7.30pm) the voice of that evergreen performer Brendan Shine (7.30pm) can be heard at the Marina with An Evening of Irish Music and Song (£16.50, concs £15.50).

The on Friday November 2 (7.30pm) the West Country's cheekiest comedian Jethro (7.30pm) presents more of his popular, but strictly adult, material. So it's over-18s only for this one. (£17.50).

Talon the Best of the Eagles (7.30pm) bring their tribute to the West Coast soft rockers on November 3 (£16.50, concs £16).

Also paying tribute, on November 8 (8pm) there's One Night of Queen, when Gary Mullen performs as the late Freddie Mercury. (£17.50, concs £17).

On November 10 The Twelve Irish Tenors (2.30pm, 7.30pm) bring their voices and twinkling charm to the stage (£19.50, concs, £18.50).

More tributes are paid the next day when John Hylton - Real Diamond (7.30pm) performs the music of the great Neil Diamond (£16.50, concs £15.50).

Prog rock keyboard legends and ace storytelling are on the bill on November 13 (7.30pm) when live on tour you can see Rick Wakeman's Grumpy Old Picture Show. Using film, pictures and classic music Rick recounts his rich and varied life (£24.50).

From Eric Chappell, author of telly sitcoms Duty Free and Rising Damp, comes period comedy We're Strangers Here on November 15 and 16 (7.30pm) and November 17 (2.30pm, 7.30pm). (£14.50/£12.50, concs £13.50/£11.50). All matinee seats are £9.50.

There's an adaptation of Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall's Sixties classic Billy Liar on November 22 and 23 (7.30pm). As ever, in this Quaysiders production, Billy Fisher's over-active imagination intrudes on his real life. (£9, concs £8).

On November 24, opera star of television and stage, Lesley Garrett (7.30pm) takes to the stage with guest Cortes and the Manchester Camerata. It's already a sell-out, so returns only.

An evening of surprises, twists and intrigue is promised from November 26 (7.30pm) to December 1 (2.30pm, 7.30pm) when the Agatha Christie Theatre Company stage The Unexpected Guest. Performers include Susan Penhaligon, Dean (EastEnders) Gaffney, Derren Nesbitt and Mark Wynter (£24.50-£18.50, concs £23.50-£18.50) depending on night of performance.

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra begins its residency at the Marina with a series of gala concerts as revealed last week.

Spend An Evening with Derek Acorah on December 6 (7.30pm) when television's spirit medium brings his psychic abilities into play (£18.50, concs £17.50).

The next day (7.30pm) the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Pakefield Singers present a Gala Christmas Celebration (£27.50-£21.50, concs £26.50-£20.50).

The Russian Ice Stars present the spectacular Beauty and the Beast on Ice from December 12-16 (7.30pm) Matinees December 13, 14 and 15, 2.30pm. December 16, 1.30pm, 5pm. (£27.50-£18.50 depending on performance. Children £16.50.)

Lowestoft Players' Jack and the Beanstalk is this year's panto. It runs from December 21 to January 6 at 7.3pm with 2.30pm matinees Saturday and Sunday. (£12.50-£8, concs £10.50-£8).

The year ends with a New Year's Eve Gala Celebration (10pm) with the British Philharmonic Orchestra (£29.50, concs, £28.50).

Treats in stor for 2008 include the Syd Lawrence 40th Anniversary Tour (February 9) and Ray Cooney farce Tom Dick and Harry (February 14-16).

Then, from February 18 to 23 (7.30pm), the classic family musical Half a Sixpence stars West End star and celebrated song and dance man Gary Wilmot in the rags to riches tale. Matinees are February 20 and 23, 2.30pm. (£27.50-£25.50, concs £26.50-£24.50).

Music is the feature in February and March with Charlie Landsborough (28), Bjorn Again (29), American soul man Eddie Floyd is joined by Geno Washington and Pauline Black for This is Soul (March 2), Jimi Hendrix tribute Are You Experienced March 7) and Lena Martell (March 8).

And the shows just keep on coming with classical ballet Nutcracker, then The Terrible Tudors and Vile Victorians, Basil Brush of the Caribbean, Puccini's Madama Butterfly and the return of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (September 29-October 4 2008) among the up and coming delights.

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