New season: Norwich Theatre Royal

Rob GarrattA clutch of old favourites will be returning to the stage in Norwich as the Theatre Royal announces a new programme for 2010.Rob Garratt

A clutch of old favourites will be returning to the stage in Norwich as the Theatre Royal announces a new programme for 2010.

Hit productions of The History Boys and the Rocky Horror Show will be returning after sellout performances in the city, alongside a feast of new star-studded shows.

Alan Bennett's multi-award- winning The History Boys, which also spawned a hit film, returns to the theatre on May 24-29.

It follows the lives of a group of bright male sixth-formers who are trying to gain entrance to Oxbridge while fending off distractions from girls and sport.

Meanwhile, audience participation is expected with the return of cult musical the Rocky Horror Show on June 7-12, which will star Christopher Cazenove as The Narrator.

Also making a welcome to return to Norwich are the world-renowned Russian Ice Stars, who bring with them a lavish and spectacular production of Snow White on Ice on June 15-19.

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Casualty and Holby City star Clive Mantle plays one of Britain's best-loved comedians in A Night Out With Tommy Cooper - Jus' Like That, on May 17-18.

And TV star Alison Steadman, of Abigail's Party and Gavin and Stacey fame, will be joining the Royal Shakespeare Company's David Troughton in a production of another Alan Bennett comedy, Enjoy, from March 22-27. The performance comes just a day after Gareth Gates will star in the much-anticipated 25th anniversary run of Les Mis�rables, from February 16 to March 20.

Meanwhile, Hitchcock's classic thriller, The 39 Steps, will be given an overhaul in an Olivier Award-winning Best Musical that sees four performers playing 139 roles in 100 minutes.

And JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit will be brought to life with spectacular effects and stunning sets on June 1-5 in a show that has already reached an audience of nearly half a million people.

Popular porker Peppa Pig will star in a family puppet show from the producers of the Lazytown Live and BFG shows on April 17-18.

More family fun is promised with an Audience with the Chuckle Brothers on April 11, and The Little Big Club on June 6, which will feature the likes of Barney, Bob the Builder, Angelina Ballerina, Pingu, Fifi and the Flowertots, and Fireman Sam.

From January 27, the theatre is hosting the launch of the UK tour of Stop Messing About, which celebrates the wit of Kenneth Williams. Written by the team behind classics like Robin's Nest and George and Mildred, the show comes direct from the West End and replaces the cancelled Last Of The Summer Wine.

Next year's musical highlights include the English Touring Opera, who will present Donizetti's classic comedy Don Pasquale on April 12, and an elegant period production of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro a day later.

Elsewhere, Dave Berry and Brian Poole head the line-up of the Solid Silver 60s Show on May 23, and the Robert Cray Band bring their flavour of the blues on July 4.

The creators of Spirit of the Dance will take the audience on a whistle-stop tour of tap in box office smash Tap Dance Fever on May 19-22.

John Bultitude, spokesman for Norwich Theatre Royal, said: '2010 promises to be a big year for us. To have not just one but two highly-acclaimed Alan Bennett plays in the season is very exciting.

'Add in the return of Rocky Horror, the welcome return of an ice show to Norwich and the highly-anticipated Les Mis�rables, it shows we are continuing to work hard to bring some of the best theatrical experiences right here to Norfolk.'

Bookings open to the public via post, fax and online on January 5, and in person and by phone on January 11. The Theatre Royal box office is on 01603 630000 and at