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Something for all pledge at Wolsey

PUBLISHED: 13:08 03 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:18 03 March 2010

THE big green doors of the New Wolsey Theatre fly open in a huge welcome as the theatre announces the new season's programme. With a wide range of drama, music, and comedy designed to attract all age groups, the programme is aimed at bringing in new friends without alienating "regulars".

THE big green doors of the New Wolsey Theatre fly open in a huge welcome as the theatre announces the new season's programme.

With a wide range of drama, music, and comedy designed to attract all age groups, the programme is aimed at bringing in new friends without alienating "regulars".

Children's shows, including Saturday morning fun events, are high on the agenda, and music features strongly.

There is intense drama for adults, family shows, comedy, and at Christmas Cinderella, the rock 'n' roll party panto. The Caribbean Carnival Extravaganza will brighten up September, there is new writing as well as classics, and an Out & About project takes a Wolsey production of A Midsummer Night's Dream to schools in the autumn.

The season opens in September with the mystical dark fantasy The Magic Toyshop, brought by Shared Experience, who in the past have enchanted Wolsey audiences with shows including The Mill on the Floss and Jane Eyre. Opera Della Luna will delight many with their fresh interpretation of HMS Pinafore by Gilbert and Sullivan.

October brings Double Indemnity, a Wolsey in-house co-production with Salisbury Playhouse, which is directed by the resident artistic director Peter Rowe who created the opening show Sweeney Todd in February. This taut thriller is a stage version of Billy Wilder's 1944 film noir masterpiece built on a novel full of brooding shadows, smouldering passion and a storyline soaked in suspense.

Peter Rowe wrote the Cinderella rock 'n' roll panto in collaboration with Alan Ellis, and he will direct this Christmas treat with the invitation, "Come and Have a Ball". This will include a 10.30-start late night show for young revellers.

Among the tours booked in are Lord of the Flies with Pilot Theatre in October/November, Pinter's The Caretaker with English Touring Theatre in November, Tiny Dynamite, the impossible love story, with Paines Plough and Frantic Assembly, The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, with Lip Service, in November, and The Six Sided Man with the FAB Thunderbirds creative team who delighted the Wolsey with their Spittoon in the spring.

Music on the programme features Fever! The Making of Peggy Lee, June Tabor, Brazilian Monica Vasconcelos, and chanteuse Barb Jungr, Sax Appeal – eight young musicians – all-female quintet Black Voices and another a cappella group The Magnets.

The programme from September also features puppets for children, who are also offered Sooty, Brian Patten, and a half-term special.

"It's all a big balancing act," says Wolsey executive director Sarah Holmes. "It's a different style from the old Wolsey, which people are beginning to appreciate. But we hope to have made a visit to the

theatre a very appealing prospect

for everyone.

She is truly happy to receive feedback from audiences, has incorporated lots of special offers, concessions and weekday matinees into the programme. The new writing in the Wolsey Writers' Workshop will continue to be encouraged.

The theatre is not going to reinstate the Cardinal's Table theatre suppers, but the coffee bar catering is under discussion, and the idea of lunchtime events has not been dismissed – customer reaction will influence what is offered.

After the huge reaction when the Wolsey Theatre was forced, by financial misery, to close its doors two years ago, Sarah Holmes is well aware of the passion for theatre that exists in Ipswich and Suffolk, and is grateful for the continued support she receives.

She is also aware of the numbers of people who have yet to cross the threshold to share the live theatre experience.

The coming season is varied, enticing, stimulating and accessible.

"Most of all, we are aiming at quality," promises Sarah Holmes.

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