Paul Henry is Tony Hancock in Colin Bennett’s Hancock’s Finest Hour, the touring production from Birmingham-based Maverick Theatre between 29 April and 1 May and the Theatre Royal’s own touring production of Cider with Rosie returns from 5 until 9 May before resuming its travels.
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, from European Arts (you may have seen their Pickwick Papers last year) is on 10 and 11 May. A classic comedy by farce-master Ray Cooney, Arne Sultan and Earl Barret bounces in between 24 and 29 May. It’s Wife Begins at 40 and stars Vicki Michelle, Trevor Bannister and Mark Curry. This Brian Godfrey production is from the Playhouse Entertainment Group.
There’s a treble American connexion with The Poor Soldier from 29 June to 3 July. The hero of John O’Keefe’s 1783 musical comedy – the score is by William Shield – has just returned from the War of Independence. It’s credibly reported to have been a favourite with George Washington and inspired the first home-written American professional play – Royall Tyler’s 1787 The Contrast in which two of the characters watch a performance of The Poor Soldier.
Shakespeare’s Globe last year brought The Comedy of Errors in a deliberately small-scale production designed for indoor and outdoor performance to the Theatre Royal. This year it’s the turn of A Midsummer Night’s Dream which was staged mainly out of doors last summer. 8 to 11 July are the dates and yes, there are Sunday performances for this as well as Wife Begins at 40 and Cider with Rosie.
Lip Service offer up Desperate to be Doris from 22 to 24 July. It’s about a frustrated mail-order firm’s buyer , his fixation with Doris Day and his chance with the local am-dram’s production of Calamity Jane. The chorus will be made up from local volunteers. Also stepping forward is The Gruffalo from 21 to 23 May for daytime performances and a new David Wood adaptation Guess How Much I Love You from Sam McBratney’s book. That’s also given matinee performances from 31 May to 2 June.