Contemporary dance has always figured strongly in the Arts Theatre seasons; the Richard Alston company brings a triple bill of Light Flooding into Darkened Rooms, Even More and Overdrive on 28 and 29 September, followed by the award-winning one-man show celebrating the fleet-footed, nimble-witted Eric Morecambe starring Bob Golding. That runs from 30 September to 3 October. Tripping lightly on its heels comes Peter Hall’s production of Sheridan’s The Rivals, starring Penelope Keith as the verbally-challenged Mrs Malaprop and Peter Bowles} as the patriarchal Sir Anthony.
And then it’s time for a return visit from The Calendar Girls, this time with [Jan Harvey and Ruth Madoc as well as Lynda Bellingham in the cast. 18 to 23 October if you’ve never seen it or just fancy refreshing your memory. As the cast bares all, bear in mind that a percentage of production profits go to Leukaemia Research. The month ends with a half-term treat from the Horrible Histories team – Horrible Science may well blast you from your seats between 26 and 30 October.
Henri Oguike and his dance company bring a triple-bill in the shape of the première production of Butterfly Dreaming, Freq and Point of Contact to the stage on 1 and 2 November. 3 and 6 November see English Touring Opera’s world première production of Promised End by Alexander Goehr, based on King Lear. In lighter vein on 4 and 5 November is The Duenna with the original Thomas Linley music for Sheridan’s words (those of us with long memories may recollect the lively 1954 score by the late Julian Slade, not to mention Prokofiev’s 1946 setting).
Master Class is the story of Maria Callas, that meteor of a diva who burned so brightly on the world’s opera stages before crash-landing both her career and her personal life. Stphanie Beacham plays Callas in Terrence McNally’s play, which is directed by Jonathan Church; it runs for the week beginning on 8 November. A resurrection of a different sort takes to the board from 22 to 27 November, when Alison Steadman as Madame Arcati conjures up more than one Blithe Spirit in Thea Sharrock’s production of the Coward classic.
It’s panto time from 9 December to 16 January with Aladdin in the shape of Julie Buckfield seeking fame, fortune and the hand of the lovely princess with very little help from the likes of Matt Crosby, Brad Fitt] and James Hirst. But before that there’s some vintage Ayckbourn – Bedroom Farce directed by Peter Hall with Juliet Mills and Maxwell Caulfield heading the cast between 29 November and 4 December. Indeed a season worth stepping out for.