Theatres shows you must see this season
PUBLISHED: 20:00 17 January 2019 | UPDATED: 21:20 17 January 2019
East Anglia continues to thrive as one of the leading theatre centres outside London. And this season there are a raft of premieres coming our way.
Here we look at the exciting programmes being staged by theatres in Suffolk and Essex during the spring season including a Giles musical, tales of The Broads and two plays with that Strictly factor.
There’s a frisson of expectation in the air as you see the word ‘premiere’ next to an unfamiliar title - of which there are plenty this season - while at the same time you feel a degree of comfort at the sight of a favoured classic which will be up for reinterpretation.
Here Andrew Clarke gives us his very personal, entirely subjective guide to the best in theatre in Suffolk and north Essex from now until May.
The highlight of the season is already sold out but it’s worth mentioning that acting legend Sir Ian McKellen will be visiting the New Wolsey, the Colchester Mercury and Bury Theatre Royal with his 80th birthday one-man show and raising funds for regional theatre in the process.
The Wisdom Club, by Danusia Iwaszko, Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, January 30 — February 9
The Wisdom Club is a funny, charming and genuinely thought provoking bold new play, by Bury-based playwright Danusia Iwaszko, which explores the way Britain’s aging population is altering society.
When Susanna tells her mother Megan she no longer wants her to look after the children, Megan can’t help but feel out of a job. If she’s not being a mother or a grandmother, then who and what is she? If retired Brewery worker, Lenny knew his retirement was going to be so long he would have started another career. Ex-hospital worker Rani is on a mission; the friends need to protest and step out of the shadows. This is Grey power, not girl power. They’re old but they’re not dead yet.
Epilogues, by James Cousins, DanceEast, Ipswich, February 8-9
Feminists proclaim, ‘time’s up’ but misogynists win presidencies. Are we moving forward? Or hurtling back in time?
These are the questions posed by choreographer James Cousins in his new production which is inspired by stories of division and separation. This world premiere weaves three duets into one emotive evening, leaving you shifting from the familiar to states of dreamlike wonder.
Two new works sit alongside the ‘visually breath-taking’ (The Stage) Within Her Eyes, in which the female dancer never once touches the floor. Within Her Eyes was originally commissioned by DanceEast and premiered in Ipswich during 2012.
James was a DanceEast Associate Artist 2012-2014, and his work is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Kiss Me Quickstep, by Amanda Whittington, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, March 13-23
A sequin-studded warm-hearted ballroom drama comes to the New Wolsey. This bittersweet comedy reveals the backstage stories behind the fabulous frocks, fixed smiles and fake tan, looking at the real lives of those for whom dancing is everything.
Three young couples are striving for glory on the competitive dance circuit - having finally made it to Blackpool’s National Amateur Championships via the motorway hard shoulder.
But there’s pain and heartbreak beneath the dazzling glitter ball when you’re dancing to other people’s tunes and hiding secrets. And with the world at your feet, it only takes one false step...
Ain’t Misbehavin’, by Murray Horwitz and Richard Maltby, Jr, Colchester Mercury, March 15-30
Take a step back into the raunchy nightclubs of 1920s Manhattan with Ain’t Misbehavin’ – a vivacious revue celebrating the legendary jazz musician Fats Waller and his energetic, exuberant and effervescent music.
A cast of extraordinary performers embark on a journey through an amazing period of American musical history, the Harlem Renaissance – an era where musicians were free to experiment with new styles and joints were jumpin’ with talented dancers, singers and instrumentalists jamming to a new beat known as swing.
This show is designed to get your toes tapping and fingers snapping with its sassy, sultry musical celebrations of life and love, and its huge sense of fun; a delightful evening of escapism. The Made in Colchester production will be directed by Tyrone Huntley (Jesus Christ Superstar) and choreographed by Strictly Come Dancing’s Oti Mabuse.
The Tide Jetty, by Tony Ramsay, Eastern Angles spring tour visiting: Ipswich, Stowmarket, Woodbridge, Peterborough, Aldeburgh and Coggeshall, from March 20-May 19. More tour dates to be added
The Tide Jetty is a new and thought-provoking play, exploring what we treasure and how and why we preserve it. The play celebrates the incredible Broads National Park landscape but also asks questions about its sustainability. Tony Ramsay’s previous plays include The Anatomist and Bentwater Roads.
We follow the story through the lives of two brothers, Tucky and Nathan, who grow up on the banks of Breydon Water alongside tomboy, Eliza. The three of them are inseparable. As they grow older the inevitable happens and both the boys fall for her. But tragedy tears the trio apart and years later it is time to discover the truth of what really happened…
Eastern Angles will be touring The Tide Jetty to locations in the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads as well as their traditional spring tour venues.
Much Ado About Nothing, by William Shakespeare, Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, April 2-6
Six years of war are finally over. Returning soldiers swap the battlefield for a landscape of love, masked balls and much-needed laughter. Two young dreamers fall head over heels, while two others resume their combative courtship.
Told in true Northern Broadsides style, this production of Shakespeare’s glorious romantic comedy, featuring Reece Dinsdale as Benedick, mixes comedy with high drama and is told with great imagination.
Silent Lines, by Russell Maliphant, DanceEast, Ipswich, April 5-6
Silent Lines draws upon Maliphant’s studies and explorations in dance and anatomy using a unique mix of movement, projection, and lighting. The world premiere of Silent Lines celebrates the range of poetic possibilities in movement and explores the visually rich and resonant connections between the internal and external.
In April 2018, the Russell Maliphant Company became one of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisations and have become DanceEast’s Company in Residence.
The Pantaloons present The Odyssey, Sir John Mills Theatre, Ipswich, April 14
The critically-acclaimed Pantaloons bring their hilarious new verse adaptation of The Odyssey to Ipswich. Stranded war hero Odysseus must struggle against the odds to get home to his wife; but can he battle his way through grumpy gods, naughty nymphs, monocular monsters and over a hundred sleazy suitors? All whilst wearing an Ancient Greek robe that looks suspiciously like a bedsheet? Or will he – and The Pantaloons – remain all at sea…? Greek myths have never been so entertaining. The show was described by one critic: “Part alt-rock group, part thespian… wholly charming”
Grandma Saves The Day! A Musical About the Giles Family, by Phil Willmot, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, April 26 - May 18
The New Wolsey closes its spring season with another world premiere, celebrating the work of one of the nation’s gereat cartoonists.
It’s Ipswich in the late 1980’s and the Giles family are thrown into confusion when the upwardly mobile Stinkletons move in next door. It takes Grandma Giles to sort it all out with a few swift blows from her brolly and her familiar battle cry – ‘Gertcha!’.
Combining the much loved Giles cartoon characters with classic hit songs from the 1980s, including Our House, Simply the Best, Wake Me Up Before You Go- Go and many more, all played live by the New Wolsey’s multi-talented company of actor-musicians, this is a fast-moving, funny and pop filled comic strip for all the family, directed by Pete Rowe.