New season: Theatre Royal, Bury St Ed.

TREVOR HEATON, EDP Whats On Editor It's the end of an era for the beautiful Theatre Royal at Bury St Edmunds - and the dawn of a new one too. For the Westgate Street venue, the only Regency theatre still surviving in this country, is closing its doors on September 18 for a major £5.1 million refurbishment which will take 18 months.

TREVOR HEATON, EDP Whats On Editor

It's the end of an era for the beautiful Theatre Royal at Bury St Edmunds - and the dawn of a new one too.

For the Westgate Street venue, the only Regency theatre still surviving in this country, is closing its doors on September 18 for a major £5.1 million refurbishment which will take 18 months.

The work will restore the building to its original glory and also provide a new foyer and bar area.


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So does that mean it's going to be all quiet on the performance front? Not a bit of it.

Until the theatre re-opens in spring 2007, it will present a busy programme in a variety of venues in the Bury area and other Suffolk towns.

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A high-quality drama programme opens with the Theatre Royal's annual autumn touring production, featuring Sherlock Holmes: The Athenaeum Ghoul (September 8-17), a new mystery written by the Theatre's writer-in-residence, Carl Miller and seasoned with all ingredients of a classic Conan Doyle story. On September 17, after the final performance of Sherlock Holmes, the audience will have the opportunity to take part in a special auction in aid of the Theatre's Restoration Appeal - and even take home their very own part of the Theatre!

Next in the drama programme is KAOS Theatre's daring adaptation of Daniel Defoe's Moll Flanders. KAOS is famous for taking classic texts and giving them a modern spin, with fast-moving physical theatre, storytelling, music and song. This production runs from October 7-8 at Haverhill Town Hall arts centre.

After their highly-successful world premiere of Talking to Terrorists earlier this year, Out of Joint returns to Bury St Edmunds (at the Guildhall, November 2-6) with its acclaimed version of Macbeth. Shakespeare's shortest and most savage tragedy is relocated to an African state, divided by war and in thrall to witchcraft.

The autumn season has also a fine selection of smaller-scale productions to offer, starting with The Tale of Beatrix Potter, performed by Rohan McCullogh (September 24, Guildhall), an account of the sometimes tragic life of the children's author.

RSC actor Philip York portraits the life of newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell in his acclaimed one-man show Lies Have Been Told (October 6, Guildhall). And as the nights grow longer and darker, David Benson's Haunted Stage brings classic ghost stories to spine-chilling life in a spooky, yet sometimes comic, show at the Guildhall (October 14).

Award-winning actress Faith Brook stars in The Colour of Poppies, her acclaimed portrayal of a 75-year-old woman who is in love for the first time. The show runs at the Guildhall on October 29.

Turning to music, the Theatre Royal Community Music Tour features former BBC Young Folk award winners 422 from October 14-22 in a range of venues.

Sweeping from the British Isles to Asia and Africa, the Theatre Royal will present two other world music highlights, the all-action Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers (October 21, The Athenaeum) and Black Umfolosi (November 12, same venue).

Barb Jungr, regarded as Britain's foremost chansonnier, presents Love Me Tender, an uncharted journey into Elvis Presley's musical legacy, on September 15 at the Guildhall.

Celebrity evenings include novelist and playwright Sir John Mortimer at the Garland Street Baptist Church in Bury (October 5) and ex-SDP stalwart Baroness Williams (November 2, same venue).

As a treat for all the family, there will also be a wide range of children's work, entertainment and - of course - the panto!

Highlights include The Whales' Song, presented by Anima Dance, which is this year's Theatre Royal Community Children's Tour. It tells the enthralling, captivating tale of Lilly and the whales through dance, music and lighting design. It's running at a range of venues which include Breckland Middle School in Brandon (October 25), Stella Maris Hall, Lowestoft (October 26) and Abbotts Green School, Bury (October 29).

The Christmas show will be Tarzan - A Jungle Pantomime. Based on Edgar Rice Burroughs' classical tale, the newly-written adaptation will run from December 8 to January 8 2006 at the Theatre Royal Big Top in Nowton Park.

t There's plenty more in the new brochure: 01284 769505. Please note that general booking for these shows opens July 25.

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