Gallery/Ipswich: New Wolsey announces spring season programme

The Threepenny Opera

The Threepenny Opera - Credit: Archant

The New Wolsey Theatre’s spring 2014 programme goes on sale next week, with its new #LoveYourTheatre ticket packages boasting four big musicals and four big dramas, which means big savings for audiences.

The Threepenny Opera

The Threepenny Opera - Credit: Archant

Included in the musical package are Matthew Bugg’s blitzy wartime blackout romance Miss Nightingale, fresh from a five star tour which started at the Ipswich theatre; the regional premiere of the smash-hit West End musical comedy Betty Blue Eyes, adapted from the screenplay by Alan Bennett of the film The Private Function; actor-musician rock and roll show Tom, the story of Tom Jones and The Threepenny Opera.

The latter is the New Wolsey’s co-production of Brecht and Weill’s musical masterpiece, with Nottingham Playhouse, Birmingham Rep, West Yorkshire Playhouse and Graeae Theatre Company.

With well-known songs such as Mack The Knife, it will welcome back familiar faces from Our House, Reasons to be Cheerful, plus Will Kenning, fresh from four years’ service as the pantomime dame, who is playing the role of Tiger Brown.

“I wanted to do a version of The Threepenny Opera where we create a company of contemporary ‘beggars’ to tell the tale from their perspective - a parable about the corruption of the world, told by those excluded from it,” says Peter Rowe, artistic director and co-director.

“Jenny’s (Sealey, of Graeae) production of Reasons to be Cheerful seemed to have exactly the spirit The Threepenny Opera requires - defiant and irreverent, funny and fearless and set me thinking.... what would it be like if we brought together the Graeae motley crew with the Wolsey actor-musicians?

“Brecht’s own mash up of John Gay’s Beggar’s Opera has a brilliant, instinctive, cabaret flair. The team we are putting together to re-invent this musical for our times aims to recapture that heady mix of gallows humour, razor-sharp satire and up front entertainment. I can’t wait.”

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Included in the drama package are Moon on a Rainbow Shawl, Classic Ghosts, a spine-tingling double bill of Dickens’ The Signalman and MR James’ Oh Whistle and I’ll Come To You My Lad; Translations, a story of love and conflict as the British Army arrives to translate Gaelic place names into the King’s English and Refugee Boy which brings together the works of poets Benjamin Zephaniah and Liam Sissay.

The theatre’s Creative Learning department brings two big productions to the spring season among the many other projects they present throughout the year. Key highlights are the Young Company’s The Elephant Man, a collaboration with the award-winning visual theatre company Gecko; and When I Grow Up, designed for children in school years five and six.

The New Wolsey is supporting the work of the Romany Theatre Company with Our Big Land, a provocatively dark atmospheric piece with the culture clash of Romany and non-Romany communities at its core while the bad bads of abridgement The Reduced Shakespeare Company tackle the great theological questions in The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged). As part of LGBT month, Total Theatre Award winner The Worst of Scottee encounters past flames, ex-friends and people who no longer like him in four snapshots of his troublesome teens.

This year’s annual PULSE Fringe Festival, providing a platform for the development of new talent across a range of art forms, features three companies who will bring their new projects to the New Wolsey Studio in the shape of Chris Dobrowolski’s All Roads Lead to Rome, Toot’s Ten out of Ten and Sh!t Theatre’s Job Seekers Anonymous.

Youngsters haven’t been forgotten, with Peaceful Lion’s Hey Preston, Norwich Puppet Theatre’s The Front and The Princess, The Poetry Joe Show, Scamp Theatre’s Pirate Gran, death-defying insects performing for your amusement in Insect Circus, sing-along songs from Stuff and Nonsense’s Little Red Hen, Transport’s 1001 Nights which uses everyday objects to tell the stories of the Arabian Nights and Square Peg Contemporary Circus’ Rime.

Other highlights include music treats from Jonny and The Baptists with the Stop UKIP Tour, guitar whisperer Richard Durrant, The Magnificent Music Hall, Opera Della Luna’s The Gondoliers, The Ben Water’s Band and The Ultimate Louis Armstrong Show.

Accessible performances are expanding in this season.

Fingersmith’s Frozen, sees a cast of four deaf and two hearing actors bring a visual and physical theatre style to this play. It will be performed in British Sign Language and spoken English throughout the whole run.

As well as captioned, audio described and BSL interpreted performances throughout the season, Frozen Light’s Tunnels is a unique adventure for teenagers with profound and multiple learning difficulties; a multi-sensory production fusing live music, sign and movement, it’s for an audience of six teenagers and their companions.

Tickets go on general sale November 16. Friends, best friends, benefactors and group bookers can book from tomorrow. Call the box office on 01473 295900 or visit

Check out the online gallery above of upcoming shows

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