UPDATED @ 5.15pm 12 September 2005: Some of the Strictly Ballroom Dancing tour dates have been cancelled, see below.

Amongst the major touring productions launching in September are: new dance spectacular Strictly Ballroom Dancing, English Touring Theatre’s staging of Hamlet featuring Anita Dobson and Ed Stoppard, and a revival of father Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing, starring Tom Conti.

Based on the popular BBC series, Strictly Ballroom Dancing has taken to the stage this week at the Lowry in Salford, Manchester, after which it continues to Blackpool (in fact, calling there six separate times during its run) and then Bromley, Reading, Hull Wimbledon, Bradford, Cambridge, Aberdeen, Dartford, Glasgow, Brighton and Darlington, where it concludes on 26 November 2005.

The show features 14 professional international dance champions performing routines choreographed by Erin Boag and Anton De Beke from the TV series. The dancers are accompanied by a live orchestra, singers, and hosts Lionel Blair and Jane McDonald, as they pas de deux their way through the waltz, the quickstep and the tango.

The stops at Reading and Cambridge have now been cancelled. A spokesman for the show told Whatsonstage.com the producers decided to use those weeks as workshop periods to keep the show at its best.

Ed Stoppard takes the title role in English Touring Theatre’s new staging of Hamlet, alongside Anita Dobson (Frozen, Whatsontage.com Award for Thoroughly Modern Millie, TV’s EastEnders) as Gertrude. The tour begins on 23 September 2005 at Oxford Playhouse and continues to Guildford, Malvern, Buxton, Richmond, Truro, York and Brighton, where it concludes on 26 November 2005.

Stoppard and Dobson are joined in the cast by Michael Cronin, Patrick Drury, Richard Hansell, Sam Hazeldine, Martin Hodgson, Rhys Meredith, Alice Patten, David Robb, Ross Waiton and Ben Warwick. ETT artistic director Stephen Unwin directs.

While Ed Stoppard plays the Danish prince, a play by his father, Tom Stoppard, kicks off next week (from 12 September 2005) in Milton Keynes. Tom Conti stars in the new production of the 1982 multi award-winning comedy drama The Real Thing. He plays Henry, a successful playwright who leaves his wife for a new young lover, Annie, who he thinks is “the real thing”. But when the boundaries between life and art are blurred, what exactly is real?

Following Milton Keynes, The Real Thing heads to Brighton, Richmond, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Nottingham, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Bromley, Woking and Malvern, where it concludes on 3 December 2005.

Meanwhile, two other plays launch new legs of their extended tours:

  • Following record-breaking success in the spring, Nigel Havers hits the road for a further 11 weeks as Maxim De Winter in Rebecca, starting at Birmingham Hippodrome on 19 September 2005 and then continuing to Belfast, Wycombe, Nottingham, Aberdeen, Malvern, Wimbledon, Bath, Salford and Bromley (See News, 22 Dec 2004). The chilling drama about a man and his new bride who are haunted by his first wife is based on the 1938 novel by Daphne Du Maurier and has been adapted for the stage by Frank McGuinness. Havers is joined in the cast by Maureen Beattie and Sandra Nicholl.

  • Edward Hall’s production of The Winter's Tale embarks on a new 13-stop UK and international tour after its run at the Watermill and a seven-venue UK tour earlier this year (See News 6 Jan 2005). This time, Hall’s Propeller Theatre Company – the unique all-male Shakespeare ensemble - launches in Swindon on 7 September 2005, with stops in Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Spain, the US and China.

    - by Caroline Ansdell