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There's a Spring to Norwich's Step This Autumn

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You have a wide choice of theatrical entertainment if you go to Norwich this autumn. The town may have lost out in its bid to become the UK’s next City of Culture but both the Theatre Royal and the Playhouse have some interesting productions to prove that titles aren’t everything.

September prances in with Dancing Queen from 31 August to 4 September. This features a large cast of singers and dancers as well as hits from Abba. Then Oklahoma! takes the stage between 14 and 18 September. The cast includes Mark Evans as Curly, Gemma Sutton as Laurey and Marti Webb as Aunt Eller. That’s followed for the week of 21 to 25 September by Carrie’s War (also to be seen at the Cambridge Arts Theatre) with Brigit Forsyth and Hannah Waterman starring in the adaptation of Nina Bawden’s novel about wartime child evacuees.

Another classic, though of a different sort, is Peter Hall’s new production of Sheridan’s The Rivals. Penelope Keith plays verbally-challenged Mrs Malaprop and Peter Bowles is Sir Anthony, so determined that his son shall wed only as his father dictates. That’s on between 27 September and 2 October, followed on 4 October by a very different sort of farcical comedy in the shape of Spamalot, But then, you always look on the bright side of life. Well, don’t you? Although the Theatre Royal is predominantly a touring venue, it does have its own professional Actors Company, which mounts its productions across the city at the Playhouse. From 19 to 23 October they’re staging Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman. It was originally staged at the National Theatre in 2003 and won the 2004 Olivier Award for Best New Play. McDonagh is concerned here with child-murder and a writer whose short stories echo these atrocities.

Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution has already been reviewed for this site. If you missed it earlier this year, there’s a chance to catch up between 8 and 13 November at the Theatre Royal. The month closes from 23 to 27 November with Shakespeare’s Globe’s first full-scale tour in the shape of Christopher Luscombe’s production of The Merry Wives of Windsor. Christopher Benjamin plays Falstaff and Serena Evans and Sarah Woodward are the women who run rings around him with Andrew Havill as unnecessarily jealous husband Ford. Then it’s almost panto time. But first from 30 November to 4 December you have the chance to make up your mind about the Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus and Tim Rice musical Chess directed by Craig Revel Horwood and with Sarah Travis as musical supervisor and orchestrator. The Cold War may be behind us, but power struggles continue, on and off the board.

This year’s pantomime is Jack and the Beanstalk with Richard Gauntlett as Dame Trott, André Vincent as her dim son Billy and Charlotte Scott as Jill. It runs from 14 December until 16 January with some Sunday performances. A different sort of feel-good comes between 1 and 12 February in the bouffant shape of Hairspray starring Michael Starke and Micky Dolenz. If you prefer a different sort of footwork and couldn’t get seats for the sold-out Matthew Bourne’s iconic Swan Lake (9 to 11 September), try for Bourne’s completely revised production of Cinderella (22 to 26 March). It’s set in London during the Blitz and is designed by Lez Brotherston.


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