Theatre Royal lines up stage gems

As the time draws near for the curtain to rise on Norwich's new-look Theatre Royal, a kaleidoscope of cultural gems are preparing to grace the stage for the coming season.

As the time draws near for the curtain to rise on Norwich's new-look Theatre Royal, a kaleidoscope of cultural gems are preparing to grace the stage for the coming season.

Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats, the Royal Shakespeare Company's A Comedy of Errors, Grammy award-winning Van Morrison and the Christmas pantomime Dick Whittington are just a few of the performances to entice audiences back to the theatre that closed in March this year for a major multi-million pound revamp.

Audiences curious to see the £10 million transformation when the Theatre Royal opens its doors in November, will be treated to more legroom in the auditorium, better acoustics, a large outdoor balcony to enjoy interval drinks, and more bars, restaurants and toilets.

Glyndebourne on Tour, one of the world's finest opera companies, will perform the opening show with their production L'elisir d'amore, a moving tale about the troubled path to true love by composer Donizetti.

Verdi's Macbeth and Benjamin Britten's Albert Herring will complete the company's repertoire for opening week and in the months that follow theatre-goers will enjoy a colourful mix of musicals, serious drama, Shakespeare, children's shows and more.

“I am a big opera fan and to have Glyndebourne for opening week is hugely exciting. Van Morrison is going to be great too,” said Jane Walsh, the theatre's press and programming manager.

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“Casting has finished for our pantomime Dick Whittington and we have a great group of performers including former Dr Who Colin Baker and Terry Molloy, who played Dr Who's nemesis Davros, and Richard Gauntlet is returning for his seventh pantomime with us.

“Disney's High School Musical has already been a huge film so to see it on stage will be brilliant and Disney productions are always such high quality.

“Greta Scacchi is a renowned film and TV actress so it is wonderful that she is coming here to perform in the drama The Deep Blue Sea.

“The return of Cats is also very exciting - it sold out so quickly the last time it was here and there were lots of people who weren't able to see it first time round.”

Other highlights in the theatre's programme include David Essex in Aspects of Love, the St Petersburg Ballet Theatre's The Nutcracker, and Roald Dahl's Danny, The Champion of The World.

The Norfolk and Norwich Operatic Society also will be performing the epic Titanic - The Musical and the Richard Alston Dance Company will present an extravaganza of music and movement.

Rupert Bear will also be making an appearance, as will Basil Brush is his comic show Basil of the Caribbean.

Ms Walsh said work on the £10 million revamp was progressing well.

“Until a few weeks ago everything was still in the demolition stages but now the basic structure has been put in and things are really shape.

“The auditorium has been re-stepped and restructured and the foyer, balcony, restaurant, bar and toilet areas are coming together.

“It is very exciting because now it is really starting to resemble the artist impressions we have been looking at for so long.”

The fundraising pot had reached in excess £8.6million so far and much needed donations were still pouring in said Ms Walsh.

She added that theatre's recent star-studded Twelfth Night fundraiser at Houghton Hall, which about 2,500 people attended, had been a big success and was expected to provide a big boost to the fund.

For more information visit www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk or call 01603 630000.

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