In just a few weeks now, as the nights start to draw in and thoughts of summer begin to fade, the new season at Eastbourne’s theatres offers a wealth of drama to fill those autumn evenings.

The season sets sail with Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat (28 Aug-8 Sept) followed by Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest (25-29 Sept) and Dickens’ The Haunting (1-6 Oct) with Sheridan’s superb restoration comedy The Rivals (16-20 Oct) – all before the October half term.

Even more pre-Christmas drama comes along in the form of Tom Conti, who makes his Eastbourne debut in Rough Justice (22-27 Oct) with Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (13-17 Nov) and Tom Kempinski’s tragic but inspiring play, Duet for One (27 Nov-1 Dec) starring William Gaunt and Haydn Gwynne, completing the dramatic line up.

For those who prefer their evenings to be a little more comedic, an array of famous faces will be treading the boards in Eastbourne including Jimmy Tarbuck, Dara O'Briain, Jack Dee, Julian Clary and Jethro all bringing their stand-up shows to the Congress Theatre.

The autumn crop of musicals are shared between the Congress and Devonshire Park theatres with the larger venue offering Danny Bayne in Grease (20-25 Aug), 42nd Street (4-8 Sept) with Dave Willetts and Marti Webb and the premiere of the brand new Top of the Pops Live (18-20 Oct). A stellar cast including Joe McGann, Beverley Callard and Ray Quinn appear in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice (5-10 Nov) and, early in 2013, the Congress Theatre will also host a two week residency of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s dazzling musical, Starlight Express (26 Feb 2013-9 Mar 2013).

Following the extended run of their five star summer show, Gotta Sing Gotta Dance, the Devonshire park will be rocking to the sounds of Disco Inferno (18-22 Sept) starring Sam Attwater, enjoying wartime favourites with Gary Wilmot and Sarah Crowe in Radio Times (9-13 Oct) and boogieing to the sounds of Boney M when Jane McDonald and Sheila Ferguson star in Daddy Cool (19-24 Nov).

Of course, the autumn season wouldn’t be complete without the classic Devonshire Park pantomime. This year’s show is Sleeping Beauty, which runs from 13 Dec to 13 Jan 2013, and stars Bernie Nolan as evil villainess Carabosse. Making a welcome return is Eastbourne’s favourite Dame, Martyn Knight and he is joined, this year, by comedian Tucker as Chester the Jester.