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New Year stage highlights for the south west

As the last of the Christmas decorations come down and thought turn to the promises of the New Year, Kris Hallett looks at some of his theatrical highlights coming to the South West over the coming months.

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West Side Story - Bristol Hippodrome

West Side Story, Bristol Hippodrome (28 January-8 February 2014)

The 50th anniversary production of this most iconic of musicals visits Bristol for two weeks as part of its UK National Tour. Featuring classics such as "Tonight", "Maria" and "I Feel Pretty" this promises to be one of the most anticipated of touring shows coming to the South West this year.

A Number, Nuffield Theatre (6-22 February 2014)

A new era has begun at the Nuffield Theatre under its new artistic director Sam Hodges and his team of exciting young associates. One of these, Michael Longhurst, directs father and son John and Lex Shrapnel, in Caryl Churchill's astonishing 2002 play, which originally premiered at the Royal Court with Daniel Craig in the role of the son. Later in the season, other associate Blanche Macintyre will direct all nine of Noel Coward's one-act plays brought under the banner Tonight at 8:30.

Jane Eyre, Bristol Old Vic (10 February-29 March 2014)

Playing in two parts, Sally Cookson's actor/musician adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's gothic romance, this will surely add to the collection of high quality storytelling productions that have come out of Bristol over the past few years, including Swallows and Amazons, Peter Pan and A Midsummer Nights Dream.

American Season, Ustinov Studio (6 March-28 June 2014)

Laurence Boswell continues his highly impressive run at the Ustinov Studio with the UK premieres of three award-winning American plays. The Big Meal by Dan LeFranc sees Michael Boyd direct his first work since leaving the RSC, A Steady Rain by Keith Huff and directed by David Grindley had a star studded Broadway run with Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman, and the season is brought to an end by Lynn Nottage's Intimate Apparel directed by Boswell himself. If the other works are any indication this could be the theatrical highlight of the year in the South West.

Arcadia, Bristol Tobacco Factory (27 March-3 May 2014)

Tom Stoppard's dazzling 1993 Olivier winning play, crossing two time periods and an array of subjects, joins with As You Like It to make up Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factories fifteenth anniversary year. Stoppard started as a journalist in the Bristol area so this feels like a return to his old stomping ground. Under the direction of Andrew Hilton expect a play that challenges the intellect whilst hitting the emotional bulls-eye.

Betty Blue Eyes, Salisbury Playhouse (24 April- 17 May 2014)

Styles and Drewe's musical had a criminally short six month run in the west end when it premièred in 2011. Based on Alan Bennett's film A Private Function fingers crossed this regional production, co-produced by Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, Colchester Mercury and West Yorkshire Playhouse, will find more success in its second incarnation.

- Kris Hallet

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