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

Cromer Pier Christmas Show 2014. Picture: Antony Kelly

Cromer Pier Christmas Show 2014. Picture: Antony Kelly - Credit: Archant

There is extra sparkle as the Cromer Pier Christmas Show begins its 10th anniversary season, singer-songwriter Nick Harper performs his mellow new album, there is an Olivier Award-nominated production of Michael Morpurgo's charming I Believe In Unicorns, comedian and activist Mark Thomas returns and author Louis de Bernières joins The Brook Street Band to celebrate Handel. SIMON PARKIN picks six cultural highlights not to miss this weekend.


Cromer Pier Christmas Show

Pavilion Theatre, Cromer Pier, November 30-December 27, various times, £15.30-£9, £5.40 children, £45-£40 (10% standard discount online for all seats), 01263 512495,

Putting on the glitz, the all-singing, all-dancing Cromer Pier's Christmas Show has sprinkled on extra glitter to mark its 10th anniversary. This year's show, which begins its near month-long run up to Christmas this weekend, includes adding well-known singer and actress Lyn Paul, who found global fame with the New Seekers, to the cast line-up. She will sing her hit songs as part of the show, as well as join in production numbers with the other cast — ever popular Norfolk all-round entertainer Olly Day, singer Eddie Bushell, magician Benson and a six-strong dance troupe. There will be boogie-woogie and ballet, festive treats, but also entertainment for all season and a Sister Act finale involving the Seaside Special dancers and children from the Marlene School of Dancing in Cromer.


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Nick Harper

Norwich Arts Centre, November 27, 8pm, £10 (£8 cons), 01603 660352,

Singer-songwriter and son of 1960s folk legend Roy Harper, Nick Harper also forged his own legendary career teaming up with Glen Tilsbrook, Squeeze and releasing a number of highly acclaimed solo albums. Widely acclaimed as a virtuoso acoustic guitarist – and once dubbed 'the accoustic Hendrix' – he is an unmissable live performer. After his epic album Riven from 2013, plus songwriting for the likes of Lana Del Ray, he returns promoting Nix, his ninth solo studio album, an old-fashioned acoustic snapshot of two weeks in the studio in Wiltshire with one microphone and one guitar. There is the customary see-saw pendulum swing of emotion and delivery here, but pure, distilled, uncluttered and free.


I Believe In Unicorns

Angles Theatre, Wisbech, November 29, 2pm, £8.50 (£8 cons), £28 family, 01945 474447,

The Olivier Award-nominated production of children's author Michael Morpurgo's tale is utterly charming returns following a hugely successful sell-out tours last autumn and earlier this year and a West End run over the summer. Set in a library full of books that hold more than stories within their pages, it is a tale of the power of books and the bravery of a young boy called Tomas. He loves playing in the mountains where he lives and hates reading and school, but his world is turned upside down the day he meets the Unicorn Lady in his local library. This 55-minute version has been created by Dani Parr and performer Danyah Miller.


Badke Quartet

Guildhall Theatre, King's Lynn, November 28, 7.30pm, £13, £6.50 under-18s, 01553 764864,

The Badke Quartet, formed in 2002, is widely recognised as one of Britain's finest string quartets, having received widespread acclaim for its energetic and vibrant performances. The quartet, made up of violinists Charlotte Scott and Emma Parker, Jon Thorne, viola, and Jonathan Byers, cello, regularly perform at concert halls and festivals in the UK and abroad, including the Aldeburgh, Aix-en-Provence and Verbier Festivals, London's Wigmore Hall and the Musikverein in Vienna. This King's Lynn Festival Winter Season concert will see them performing Haydn Quartet Op.77 No.2; Ravel String Quartet in F major; and Beethoven Quartet Op.132.


Mark Thomas

Norwich Playhouse, November 28-29, 8pm, £15 (£10 cons), 01603 598598,

Ten years ago an activist friend of Mark Thomas was exposed as a spy for BAE Systems infiltrating the movement. Now Mark wants to find him and has some questions to ask. His latest show Cuckooed picks up from where the award winning Bravo Figaro left off in style using interviews from friends, colleagues, activists and journalists to examine the impact of betrayal. It is a personal and timely tale that tries to unearth what it means to be spied upon by a corporation under the sanction of the state. As usual plenty of laughs, some weird characters, documentary style and the vague possibility that Mark might get beaten up in the making of it as he tries to find out if he wants revenge or if he can forgive a friend.


Mr Handel

Diss Corn Hall, November 29, 8pm, £17, £10 under-18s, 01379 652241,

Renowned author and Handel-lover, Louis de Bernières joins leading early music ensemble, The Brook Street Band and soprano Nicky Kennedy, to weave a magical tale through this special concert. Louis' specially-commissioned prose brings Handel to life in a story of music, passion, rivalry, friendship, struggle, and above all, success. The Brook Street Band are among one the country's foremost interpreters of Handel's music. Programme highlights include Handel's sparkling motet Dum coelestis spirat in aura HWV231, his Sinfonia (B flat Major) HWV339 and music by JS Bach. There are also guest 'appearances' by Handel's mentors, friends and rivals, with Corelli trio sonatas, music from Telemann's Tafelmusik, and vocal fireworks from Handel's adversary, Porpora.

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