New season: Norwich Playhouse

Trevor Heaton Norwich Playhouse has been a venue revitalised in the last few years, with a formidable reputation for - especially - comedy helping to make the St George's Street venue a real favourite with local audiences.

Trevor Heaton

Norwich Playhouse has been a venue revitalised in the last few years, with a formidable reputation for - especially - comedy helping to make the St George's Street venue a real favourite with local audiences.

And it's that comedy strand which inevitably grabs the attention in the latest programme.

One of the sharpest - and hottest - new names on the comedy circuit is at the venue on June 14. Iranian stand-up Shappi Khorsandi has a feisty, flirty and sometimes edgy style, in which she delivers razor-sharp cultural commentary delivered with oodles of charm... and wrapped in a Top Shop frock.

Her successes include a sell-out 2006 Edinburgh show Asylum Speaker, an extended run at the Soho Theatre in London, plus numerous television appearances. Tickets are £12, with concs £10.

Making a popular return is the irrepressibly camp and cheeky Scottish star Craig Hill on June 20 with his new show, Makin' a Big Song and Dance! His blend of incisive stand-up, musical characterisations and improv has earned him rave reviews from audiences worldwide. (£12, concs £10).

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Red Dwarf veterans Hattie Hayridge and Norman Lovett both starred as the voice and face of Holly the computer in the cult TV sci-fi comedy series. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first series, Hattie and Norman are together on stage for the very first time to create a comedy evening with their own routines, and insights into Red Dwarf. Tickets £12, and concs £10 for the June 28 show.

Still on the subject of intergalactic humour, on July 4 and 5 there's two chances to catch Charles Ross' acclaimed One Man Star Wars Trilogy.

The Canadian actor spent much of his childhood in a galaxy far, far away, watching Star Wars videos over and over... which means he's the perfect chap to single-handedly plays all the characters, sings the music, flies the ships, fights the battles and condenses the plots into just 60 minutes!

Tickets £15, concs £13, family of four £48.

Janey Godley (who you may have heard recently on a brace of Just A Minute shows recorded at King's Lynn Corn Exchange) brings her stage show to Norwich Playhouse on July 25.

A radio regular, her blog attracts half a million hits per week and her autobiography, Handstands in the Dark, was a best-seller. Tickets £10.

And, of course, it's not just comedy on offer at the St George's Street venue. May 1 sees Pink Floyd tribute act The Floyd Effect with tracks from seminal albums such as Wish You Were Here and The Wall and features a complete performance of Dark Side of the Moon. Tickets £12 (concs £10).

There's a popular return on May 7 when The Winelight Club presents The Terry Reid Band, showcasing the Sixties cult favourite who could have joined Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple. Enough said! Tickets £15 (£13 concs).

There's drama from May 20-24, when the new professional rep company Norwich Theatre Royal Actors Company presents a 1974 play by a modern master of the theatre, David Mamet.

Sexual Perversity in Chicago is a ferocious yet hilarious look at sexual politics. Tickets £10 (£8 concs, £6 student groups).

In contrast, the award-winning Norfolk & Norwich Threshold Theatre Group presents Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical from May 28-31, with a preview show on May 27. Tickets £10 (£8 concs), £7.50 preview, £7 matinee.

There's new drama on June 3-4 with Olivier Award-winner David Bradley in The Quiz. Richard Crane's acclaimed play is about an acting pondering the ultimate performance. £12, concs £8.

On June 6-7 Unexpected Opera presents The Barber of Savile Row, with Rossini's classic opera given a 1950s-style makeover by Tim Riley and John Lovat. Tickets £27.50 (£25 concs)

Jazz on June 13 (£12, concs £10) features the acclaimed quintet Empirical (Jay Phelps, Nathaniel Facey, Kit Downes, Tom Farmer, Shane Forbes), branded 'the shape of British jazz to come' by BBC Music Magazine.

Then on June 16 there's Future Imperfect? The Debate, a New Writing Worlds event in partnership with RSPB and the EDP with a panel which will include writer Giles Foden (The Last King of Scotland) and acclaimed environmentalist Andrew Watson. Tickets £12 (£10 concs).

Germaine Greer is at the venue on June 18 for a show based on her book Shakespeare's Wife. Greer attempts to throw new light on the life and career of the much-maligned farmer's daughter. There'll be a Q&A session too where Germaine can let rip on topics of the day too! £15 (£13 conc).

Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance! (June 19, £15, concs £13) features a night of music and dance Gershwin to Grease and Lloyd Webber to Wicked, supported by an onstage five-piece band.

Locally-based classical Indian dance company Natyapriya return to the venue on June 21 (£8.50, concs £6.50) for the classic epic Sri Rama Sri Rama, while five days later fans of jazz violin have a treat in store with the Angelo Debarre Quartet (£14, concs £12).

Fans of Laurel and Hardy (which, let's face it, is just about everyone) will relish a new and touching new play staged on June with Guildford's Yvonne Arnaud Theatre and The Warehouse Theatre. Stan Laurel: Please Stand Up! is by award-winning writer and performer Bob Kingdom. £10, concs £8. Another new show (July 14-15, £10) with a Latitude Festival commission, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, explores every aspect of 'the break-up'.

On July 16 Paston College's Far East Theatre Company presents a double treat with, at 7pm, their take on Shakespeare's gender-swap comedy Twelfth Night, followed at 9pm by Joan Littlewood's fierce satire Oh! What A Lovely War. £7 (concs £5) for each show or £10 (concs £7) for both - call P 01692 402334 or Playhouse box office for tickets.

Livewire Opera Company presents the much-loved Viennese operetta Die Fledermaus on July 16-19. Tickets £9 (£7 concs) - call P 01953 851543 for tickets.

While July 26 sees the return of jazz legend and all-round good egg Humphrey Lyttelton and his Band for what's sure to be one of the new season's hottest tickets (£17.50, concs £15).

And one of Humph's musical collaborators, Digby Fairweather's Half Dozen ends the season on August 1 with a new partnership with Brit blues icon Paul Jones. Rockin' in Rhythm show features Jones' solo and Manfred Mann hits alongside new arrangements of jazz and blues standards.

It sounds like a cracking show's in prospect... tickets £17.50 (concs £15).

t P 01603 598598 The Playhouse box office is based at the Norwich Theatre Royal; www.norwichplayhouse.org.uk