Six of the Best: Norfolk cultural highlights not to miss this weekend

Merry Opera's Kiss Me, Figaro!

Merry Opera's Kiss Me, Figaro! - Credit: Archant

A new comic opera, the returns of a stand-up favourite, acclaimed Americana and a celebration of 30 years of Fascinating Aïda. SIMON PARKIN picks six cultural highlights not to miss this weekend.


Kiss Me Figaro!

Diss Corn Hall, March 6, 7.30pm, £15 (£12 cons), 01379 652241, George's Theatre, Great Yarmouth, March 7, 7.30pm, £16 (£14 cons), 01493 331484,

The term 'jukebox musical' has become commonplace in the West End thanks to the number of shows packed with already successful hits, from ABBA to Queen. But why stop at pop and rock? Kiss Me, Figaro!, the latest production from Merry Opera, who have previously toured to region with their 'burlesque' version of La Traviata and last year's acclaimed Magic Flute, is effectively a 'jukebox' opera show including a wide range of operatic favourites by Mozart, Handel, Donizetti, Puccini, Monteverdi and Delibes, together with some more unusual repertoire and songs by Irving Berlin and his contemporaries. A romantic comedy set backstage at the opera where offstage romance and drama is played out for real; the soprano diva has hated the handsome tenor ever since he jilted her at the altar - but now he's returned and wants her back. Created by Lowestoft-born-and-bred director John Ramster, it features 12 singers with organ accompaniment. A treat for opera fans and a fun introduction for those new to opera.


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Lee Hurst

Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich, March 7, 7.30pm, £16, 01603 620917,

At the end of the 1990s Lee Hurst ranked among GQ magazine's Men of the Millennium and was one of the most recognised comedians in the country, thanks to his regular appearances on the hit BBC panel show They Think It's All Over. Then he all but disappeared, concentrating on running his own comedy club in London's East End. Recently he has returned to touring and this latest jaunt is entitled Things That Make You Go Aaarggh!!! and aims to discuss the stuff about this modern world that get right on both his and the audience's goat. Among the things that irritate him are political correctness (yes, in his eyes, it certainly has gone mad). And trying hard not to sound like the archetypal grumpy old man (he's not long into his fifties, after all), Hurst is aghast at the way technology appears to have dominated an entire generation's way of being.



Westacre Theatre, River Road, Westacre, March 7-8/March 14-15, 7.30pm, £16 (£12 cons), 01760 755800,

This play by Jim Cartwright, award-winning playwright of Road, Bed, Red and The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, centres on an evening in a pub somewhere in the North of England, presided over by the Landlord and Landlady trying to keep their marriage and the business afloat, visited by an assortment of characters and oddballs who pass through the doors and allow us a short glimpse of their fractured lives. All the characters are expertly portrayed by just two Westacre Theatre Company performers Katherine Shaw and Matt Grist. Each have a story to tell. There will be laughter, tears, many pints pulled and many glasses washed during the course of the evening. Funny, very moving and intensely dramatic.


The Toy Hearts

Norwich Arts Centre, March 8, 8pm, £10 adv/£12 door, 01603 660352,

The Toy Hearts core trio comprises of three Johnson family members, Hannah on lead vocals/mandolin, her sister Sophia on lead guitar/harmony vocals, and their father Stewart on steel/dobro/banjo. They have been making music together for almost 15 years. Their Nashville recorded third album, Femme Fatale, gained great acclaimed, while the follow-up, Whiskey, broke from their the acoustic bluegrass into western swing, rockabilly, jazz and blues. They return promoting their Flyin' Too High EP recorded in Austin, Texas. With a modern sound free of some of the clichés associated with country music, expect a dynamic show that features high lonesome country vocals, blood harmonies and hot instrumental pickin'.


Fascinating Aïda

Norwich Theatre Royal, March 9, 3.30pm/7.30pm, £21-£5.50, 01603 630000,

Following a sold-out 2012 tour, three Olivier Award nominations and over 10 million YouTube hits for Cheap Flights (their infamous anthem to budget air travel), Dillie Keane, Adele Anderson and Liza Pulman are celebrating 30 years of Fascinating Aïda. Keane founded Fascinating Aida in 1983, and was joined by key writing partner Adele Anderson in 1984, and since then the group has played in hundreds of theatres in the UK and Ireland, with London seasons. They have toured Australia three times, including a month at the Sydney Opera House, and also played everywhere from New Zealand to New York, Berlin to Singapore. Expect topical new songs hot off the press, plus some outrageous old favourites, as the trio continue to grow old disgracefully. Matinee show added by public demand.


The Furthest Lands: A Journey round the British Isles

Stables Gallery, Diss Corn Hall, until March 28, Mon–Fri 11am-4pm, Sat 11am-2pm, admission free, 01379 652241,

Norman Ackroyd is one of Britain's foremost landscape artists, and is one of the few who enjoys a respected position in the art world, while still being accessible to collectors of all levels of experience and budget. He has an obsession with 'The Furthest Lands', the edge of the British isles, and his images conjure up the wilder aspect of mountains and shores. His landscapes often depict age-old human habitations at the edge of contemporary life – the remote and depopulated St Kilda, the empty shoreline and skies of north Norfolk or the rugged coasts of the west of Ireland. This exhibition of his etchings records 30 years of his coastal wanderings. Ackroyd was awarded a CBE for services to printmaking in 2007 and in 2013 co-ordinated the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. His skill is to evoke the atmosphere of place, the crags, the water and the weather, through his mastery and manipulation of his chosen medium – aquatint.

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