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

Brian Conley as 'PT Barnum'. Photo by Johan Persson

Brian Conley as 'PT Barnum'. Photo by Johan Persson - Credit: Archant

Roll up for Brian Conley in Barnum, Simon Amstell, music and theatre, SIMON PARKIN picks six cultural highlights not to miss this week.



Norwich Theatre Royal, March 3-14, 7.30pm, 2.30pm Mar 4-5, 7, 11, 14, £21-£5.50, 01603 630000,

'Barnum's the name, P T Barnum, and I want to tell you that tonight, on this stage, you are going to see - bar none - every sight, wonder and miracle that name stands for!' Brian Conley takes on the flamboyant, all-singing, all-dancing lead in Cameron Mackintosh smash hit, which tells the story of Phineas T Barnum and his famous circus, even sees Conley take to the high wire — 70ft in the air. The musical, which also stars award-winning actress Linzi Hateley, tells the story of Barnum's life and his marriage to Chairy as he follows his dreams and finally teams up with J A Bailey to create Barnum and Bailey's Circus – the Greatest Show on Earth.


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Simon Amstell

Norwich Playhouse, March 3, 6pm, £21 (£18 cons), 01603 598598,

Following sold out residencies in New York and London, Simon Amstell arrives on his fourth international stand-up tour To Be Free. With intense vulnerability and troubling honesty, the former Buzzcocks host and star of Grandma's House, will be exploring freedom, joy, love, death, adventure, art, peace and sex, with the kind of honesty that saw him nominated for a BAFTA. The original 8pm show has already sold out, so its returns only for that, but the good people at Norwich Playhouse have added an extra early evening show at 6pm, cramming all the best bits into one hour. Support comes from Daniel Simonsen (8pm show only).


Trio Da Kali

The Apex, Bury St Edmunds, March 4, 8pm, £12.50 (£10.50 cons), £5 under-25s, 01284 758000,

The three musicians of Trio Da Kali hail from the Mande culture of Mali. Auspiciously, their first international appearance was at the BBC Proms in 2013; they have since gone on to collaborate with the celebrated Kronos Quartet, and were most recently seen with Toumani Diabate at last year's London Jazz Festival. Performances revolve around the soaring, rounded vibrato voice of Hawa Kassé Mady (daughter of legendary singer Kasse Mady Diabaté), Mamadou Kouyaté (son of Bassekou Kouyate) underpins the music with punchy bass lines on a large ngoni.


The Business of Murder

Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, March 2-7, 7.30pm, 2pm Mar 4/3pm Mar 7, £26-£8.50, 01284 769505,

From Richard Harris, whose TV writing credits include A Touch of Frost, The Sweeney and The Last Detective, this whodunit enjoyed a nine year run in the West End. Stone, a dour man, invites Dee, a television playwright, to his flat on the premise of discussing a script. Once there, she is surprised when Superintendent Hallett, the man with whom she is having an affair, also arrives for an entirely different reason. But nothing is as it seems, and as the plot twists and turns the motive of their host Stone gradually becomes clear. The cast includes Robert Gwilym, best known as Dr Max Gallagher in Casualty, alongside Emmerdale actor Paul Opacic and Joanna Higson.


Stars from The Commitments

Marina Theatre, Lowestoft, March 5, 7.30pm, £23.50 (£21.50 cons), 01502 533200,

Dublin's finest mix of gritty soul and irresistible Irish charm, since 1993 the Stars From The Commitments have continued to spread the word of Dublin's nine-piece soul band which features within their ranks actual cast members and musicians from the original film, based on the Roddy Doyle novel. They will be performing all the hits from the multi-million selling soundtrack albums including Mustang Sally, Chain of Fools, Take Me To The River, Try A Little Tenderness, Nowhere to Run and In The Midnight Hour.


Doric String Quartet

The Apex, Bury St Edmunds, March 5, 7.30pm, £18-£15, £5 under-25s, 01284 758000,

One of the finest young string quartets, the Doric has emerged as the leading British string quartet amongst the new generation, receiving enthusiastic responses from audiences and critics across the globe. Having played at leading concert halls throughout Europe, the quartet, made up of violinists Alex Redington and Jonathan Stone Hélène Clément viola, and cellist John Myerscough, make their first visit to The Apex with a programme including Haydn String Quartet Op 76 No 5, Britten Quartet No 2 in C Op 36, and Beethoven Quartet in B flat Op 130.

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