New season: Norwich Playhouse

TREVOR HEATON, EDP Whats On Editor Comedy, dance, drama – and more comedy. That’s the tempting line-up in the autumn season at Norwich Playhouse.


It's its intimacy which makes Norwich Playhouse so appealing to comedians. Which is why performers of the likes of Jack Dee, Ross Noble and Al Murray have snapped up chances to appear at the St George's Street venue. And why there's another queue of comics lined up for the autumn season.

On September 11 Jenny Eclair presents her new show, The Andy Warhol Syndrome. It's a hilarious and thought-provoking morality tale about a wannabe who ends up a hopeless has-been. Carol Fletcher is 43 and jettisoned into reality TV stardom. But what happens when your 15 minutes of fame is up? Hot from Edinburgh, Jenny's brand new one-woman show, co-written with Julie Balloo, marks a real departure for the comedian, actress and broadcaster. (tickets £12, £10 concs.)

Wednesday September 22 sees the latest incarnation for one of the most famous breeding grounds for comedy talent with the return of the Cambridge Footlights. Their new show Beyond a Joke is a chilling mosaic of sketches in a show most definitely not for the easily scared. All tickets £10.

Rob Brydon's brilliant Keith Barret persona has won huge acclaim in the poignant Marion and Geoff series. Now the unlucky-in-love driver has a new career – television relationship pundit. He starts the new series – The Keith Barret Show – next week on BBC2 and you can make a date for the live version on October 1. (£14.50)

On October 16 it's the turn of Perrier nominee Natalie Haynes with her show Still Not Sorry. Mix a death fixation, fears over latent Nazism, renewable energy and maths – ladled over with caustic wit – and you have Haynes' show. She has been a big hit with audiences in the United States and continental Europe as well as this country. (£10)

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Mark Thomas (October 28) is a stand-up with a difference. Never happier than when he's annoying the Establishment with such shows as Channel 4's Mark Thomas Experience. He sells out at venues up and down the country with his unique campaigning style which proves yet again that the best weapon in politics is humour. (£14, concs £10)

When it comes to Perrier Award nominations, then Aussie Adam Hills is your chap. He's notched up no fewer than three mentions in comedy's most sought-after shortlist. On November 18 he'll be bringing Go You Big Red Fire Engine 2: Judgement Day show to the Playhouse. (£12, concs £10)

You'll know Jeff Green from radio and television panels games and his appearances with the likes of Jonathan Ross. The thoroughly likeable British stand-up will be bringing his A-Z show to the venue on November 27. Based on his best-selling books The A-Z of Living Together and The A-Z of Being Single, his latest show also focuses on love, life and domestic bliss. (£12)

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without the Nimmo Twins, and the comedy favourites are back at the Playhouse with another December mega-run. This year's show, running December 8-22 (not December 12), is the latest in their Normal for Norfolk series. This is number nine – The Diss Enchanted – and once again features plenty of satirical humour with a local flavour, cataloguing a year of footballing triumph, council tragedy and the ongoing search for a replacement for the phrase 'A Fine City'. (£14, concs £12)

The Nimmos will also be in action at the Playhouse on September 17 and 18 when they help headline two nights of music and comedy. Beat the Famine 2: Concerts for new hope in Ethiopia will feature them alongside London-based singer-songwriter David Saw and his band, plus a selection of artists from this list: Cathy Burton, Big Sister, 4D Jones, Click, Kat Osborne, Ruby Flipper, Robin Phillips and Rob and Ecky. All profits go to Oxfam's Ethiopia Appeal. (£15, concs £12)

Still on the subject of music, on October 3 Christopher Bailey Promotions presents

An Evening of Jazz and Cabaret in aid of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, featuring Richard Shelton, saxophonist Pete Long, pianist Geoff Eales, vocalist Louise Rutkowski (recently seen in concert at Norwich Arts Centre), plus Earl Okin, Emma Blake, Roland Perrin, the Simon Brown Trio and the John Leslie Quartet! (£16)

On October 9 John Knowles presents Men of a Certain Age 3, the third show featuring a range of local musicians of a certain age. They reflect on their lives and loves with their music – rock, soul, blues and jazz – and humour. The show features singer and guitarist John Knowles, American songwriter David Morrison, Adrian Wright, Geoff, Henry and William King, Savoir Faire, Tucker's Torpedoes, 4heads and the Cannibals Jazz Band from Denmark and more. (£10)

On November 6 the excellent jazz singer Stacey Kent will be making a welcome return to Norfolk. Stacey's latest CD, The Boy Next Door, has been described as her most personal album yet, dedicated to some of the artists who have enriched her life, and this is sure to be one of the hottest autumn tickets at the Playhouse. (£15, concs £12)

There's more jazz on November 26 with the highly-rated Pizza Express All Stars led by Tommy Whittle, and featuring Enrico Tomaso, Roy Williams, Julian Marc Stringle, Allan Ganley, Len Skeat and Martin Litton with special guest Barbara Jay. (£12, concs £10)

Back on December 4 for his fifth year is the legendary George Melly with Digby Fairweather and His Half-Dozen. It's a show packed with humour and good-time blues and jazz. Tickets £15 (concs £12)

Drama is well represented too. Goodies include a stage adaptation of Dickens' Hard Times (October 6-7, £10, concs £8), a Shakespeare Schools Festival (October 13-15), Sense and Sensibility (October 20-22, £9 concs £7), family show Rumpelstiltskin at the Fairytale Laundry (October 27, two performances), school bullying drama and workshop One Step Behind (November 5), The KAOS Richard III (November 9-10) and Saltmine Theatre Company's Three Wise Men and a Baby (November 29-30).

Dance fans can enjoy appearances by Alma Flamenco Dance Company (October 2, £12/£10), Amici Dance Theatre Company (October 23, £7/£5) and African Cultural Exchange (October 26, £10/£8).

There's something a bit different on November 16 with the return of the Celebrity Flowers Christmas Roadshow, with florist-to-the-stars Mig Kimpton with his theatrical Christmas flower show full of music, light, fireworks and amazing floral designs. As ever Mig will be joined by a celebrity guest. Tickets £13 (£11 concs)

And Norfolk company Phoenix Opera are back at the Playhouse (December 2-3) with Hansel and Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck. This production brings together a strong cast of singers and dancers, with choreography by Heather Millan and musical direction by Eric James. All tickets £10.

· Norwich Playhouse box office is at the Theatre Royal. 01603 598598

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