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

The Secret Garden is being staged at Westacre Theatre

The Secret Garden is being staged at Westacre Theatre - Credit: Archant

A key to unlock the spirit in this Christmas tale of magic that offers something different to panto, though no less popular is Westacre Theatre's The Secret Garden, while 60s musical Hairspray is at Norwich playhouse, The Locrian Ensemble Christmas show is performed in lavish period costume, and there is rock from Rival Sons and rap from Game. SIMON PARKIN picks six cultural highlights not to miss this week.



Norwich Playhouse, December 16-20, 7.30pm, 2.30pm Dec 20, £18 (£14 cons), 01603 598598,

Multi-award winning Threshold Theatre Company return to Norwich Playhouse with the Norfolk amateur premiere of this all singing, all dancing Broadway and West End smash-hit — and winner of eight Tony Awards — based on John Waters cult movie. Tracy Turnblad, an overweight teenager with all the right moves, is obsessed with the Corny Collins Show. After one of the stars leaves, Tracy makes it on the show, angering the evil dance queen Amber Von Tussle and her mother Velma. The dynamic, toe-tapping 1960s pop score brings an unbridled joy that is infectious.


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Rival Sons

UEA NRLCR, Norwich, December 16, 7.30pm, £15, 01603 508050,

Anyone who is into the Black Keys will love the kind of blues-funk rock that these Californian riffmasters pump out. Rival Sons' new record Great Western Valkyrie (released over here on the normally thrash-punk oriented Earache Records) nods to rock and roll history while achieving modern vibrancy. With a conscious decision for this band to be just what it is this latest album is more cohesive than previous efforts. The tunes range from distorted blues rock to jams infused with sprinkles of psychedelia. Frontman Jay Buchanan is also a top focal point as he struts around the stage. Support from Blues Pills.


The Secret Garden

Westacre Theatre, River Road, Westacre, December 17-27, various times, £16-£12, £12-£9 under-16s, 01760 755800,

A key to unlock the spirit in this Christmas tale of magic that offers something different to panto, though no less popular. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett is here staged in a adaptation by Andy Naylor, directed by Hayley Roberts. Mary Lennox, a sickly, foul-tempered, spoilt little girl brought up in India by a wealth of servants has a rude awakening when she is sent to Yorkshire to live with her Uncle. Friendless and disliked, she seeks refuge from her loneliness in a secret garden that has remained locked for many years. What she discovers there transforms her life and those of everyone around her.


The Locrian Ensemble

The Apex, Bury St Edmunds, December 16, 7.30pm, £19.50, £10 under-25s, £49 family, 01284 758000,

The Locrian Ensemble annual Christmas show is performed in lavish period costume, and in front of an evocative candlelit setting, with favourites including carols, string medleys of familiar Christmas tunes, and seasonal surprises. They will be joined by West End soprano Jill Washington for works including Rejoice from Handel's Messiah, White Christmas and the 12 Days of Christmas. They will also be joined by choirs from Bury Schools Partnership.



UEA NRLCR, December 17, 7.30pm, £17.50, 01603 508050,

It is not too often that Norfolk welcomes an American hip hop superstar who has sold millions of albums, been nominated for Grammys, delivering scene-stealing performances in movies and starring in his own hit TV show, but next week we will be rolling out the red carpet to rap royalty. For whatever reason the region tends to miss out on the big name stars, so it is a pre-Christmas treat for Compton rapper Game, best known for his second album, The Documentary, which topped the charts for five weeks in 2005, to be heading to the UEA as part of a UK tour in support of his recently released sixth studio album, Blood Moon: Year of the Wolf, the highly anticipated record is the follow up from the 2012 acclaimed Jesus Piece.


Members' Show 2014

Outpost Gallery, Wensum Street, Norwich, until December 21, daily 12pm-6pm, free admission, 01603 612428,

Norwich's Outpost is an artist-run gallery founded in 2004 that operates as a membership scheme with an annual fee of £15, meaning that each member's subscription effectively keeps it open for one day. It is committed — in a region with few such venues — to the uncompromising presentation of contemporary art, resulting in a core programme of 12 exhibitions a year. This special end-of-year exhibition features latest works by its members selected by Martin Westwood. Works on display includes these by artists John Lawrence, Robert Filby, Vera Kox, Fay Nicolson, Mike Goddard, Simon Liddiment, Kate Morrell and Gloria Zein.

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