Six of the Best: Cultural highlights not to miss this week

West Side Story returning to Norwich Theatre Royal. Photo: Alastair Muir

West Side Story returning to Norwich Theatre Royal. Photo: Alastair Muir - Credit: Alastair Muir

Boasting stunning choreography, and iconic songs from Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim West Side Story returns to the Norwich stage, Paul Zerdin has his brand new show featuring your favourite sponge characters, some of East Anglia's most talented artists exhibit in the Anteros Summer Show and there are revivals of Godspell and Three Men In A Boat. SIMON PARKIN picks six cultural highlights not to miss this week.


West Side Story

Norwich Theatre Royal, September 2-13, 7.30pm, 2.30pm Sept 3-4, 6, 10 and 13, £41.50-£6.50, 01603 630000,

Boasting stunning choreography, and iconic songs from Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, including Maria, Tonight, Somewhere and America, West Side Story arrives in Norwich direct from a sell-out season in the West End. It stars Katie Hall, who was most recently seen in the tour of The Phantom Of the Opera and who also made it to the boot camp stage of the BBC's I'd Do Anything reality show, as Maria, with Dom Hodson playing Tony. Loosely based on William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story tells the story of the romance between Maria and Tony, members of rival gangs, the Jets and the Sharks, which occurs in parallel with an increase in hatred and violence between the two factions. With groundbreaking choreography by the legendary Jerome Robbins, book by Arthur Laurents, an unforgettable score, the show is credited with changing the course of musical theatre when it opened on Broadway in 1957. The film version won 10 Oscars.


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Paul Zerdin

Britannia Pier, Great Yarmouth, September 2, 7.30pm, £17.50 (£15.50 cons), 01493 842209, Theatre, Hunstanton, September 3, 7.30pm, £18-£13.50, 01485 532252,

How many ventriloquists can you name? If you could only think of one, the chances are that the name you have come up with is Paul Zerdin. He is the best and he didn't put those words in our mouths...although, obviously, he could have done. Here he returns with a brand new show featuring your favourite sponge characters, stand up and some wicked audience participation.


The Black Feathers

The Bicycle Shop, St Benedict's Street, Norwich, September 2, 7.30pm, £5, 01603 625777,

Formed in 2012, The Black Feathers — aka Ray Hughes and Sian Chandler — sound like they draw their influences from a number of high quality wells: Americana and folk influences rub shoulders even as edgy rock sensibilities peek through the tight-as-blood harmonies. Their spirited, home-recorded demos burst with promise and have helped them waltz their way with ease onto many stages including the prestigious Cambridge Folk Festival and Maverick Festival. They've just got back from a summer tour of the US, following an earlier well received eight-date jaunt in and around Nashville.


Anteros Arts Summer Open Exhibition

Anteros Arts Foundation, Fye Bridge Street, Norwich, until September 27, Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, free admission, 01603 766129,

A selling exhibition of paintings, prints, drawings, sculpture and ceramics by some of East Anglia's most talented artists and makers. Anteros Arts Foundation was overwhelmed with the response with nearly 100 artists applying to be included and the standard being incredibly high. It meant they had a very tough job choosing which pieces to select, but they hope to have achieved a good balance of style and media; selecting across the board to suit all pockets from pieces which cost under £100 to some costing several thousand. Entry to the exhibition is free– donations welcome.



Norwich Playhouse, September 3-6, 7.30pm, 2.30pm Sept 6, £16 (£14 cons), £9 matinees, 01603 598598,

The first major musical theatre offering Oscar winner composer Stephen Schwartz, whose subsequent credits include Wicked, playwright John-Michael Tebelak's concept featuring a group of young New Yorkers improvising scenes from the gospels became a sensation in the 1970s. The show's parade of songs including Prepare Ye The Way Of The Lord, Learn Your Lessons Well, All For The Best, All Good Gifts, and international hit Day By Day, meant it quickly grew from its humble origins, being stage din a parking lot, into a major Broadway hit. Two years ago a major revival returned to Broadway and here Norfolk performance company Mixed Voice become one of the first companies in the UK to perform this newly revised version. Based on a series of parables, mostly based on the Gospel of Matthew, it draws from various theatrical traditions, such as clowning, pantomime, charades, acrobatics and vaudeville.


Three Men In A Boat

Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, September 4-12, £26-£8.50, 01284 769505,

Following a sell-out hit tour in 2012, Craig Gilbert's ingenious, acclaimed adaption of Jerome K Jerome's classic tale of boating misadventure returns to the UK stage armed with more singing, wilder adventures and sporting even brighter blazers. Originally intended as a guide to boating on the Thames, Jerome's ripping yarn of youthful friendship, mischief and folly celebrates the very essence of Britishness inspiring many of our comic legends from Morecambe and Wise to Monty Python. The producers of Birdsong take this classic tale of British misadventure and folly by the scruff of the neck. Equipped with a working pub, live piano accompaniment, some ale, music hall singing, a dog and a feast of physical comedy, settle yourself in for a night out to remember.

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