West-end farce, dance premieres, new musicals and classic Jane Austen: Suffolk theatres unveil their autumn seasons
PUBLISHED: 19:00 16 August 2019 | UPDATED: 11:04 17 August 2019
@ Mike Kwasniak Photography
Suffolk theatre offers a dazzling array of high quality, home-produced theatre which utilises West-End talent to offer local audiences something extra special. We take a look at the productions seeking to entertain us on the run-up to Christmas
Farce, murder-mystery, new musicals, classic crime, Shakespeare, contemporary drama, Suffolk's theatres have it all for the coming season. There's something for all tastes contained in the programmes for our major theatre companies.
The New Wolsey Theatre, based in Ipswich, continues to provide the focal point for much of the cultural output. The lead show for the autumn season will be One Man, Two Guvnors, one of the great West End hits of the last decade.
In a wonderful piece of synchronisticity, it plays on the main stage of the Wolsey, 40 years after the show which inspired it, A Servant of Two Masters, opened the theatre in 1979.
This new version, set in the colourful underworld of Brighton in the swinging sixties, mixes all the elements of classic comedy into a fizzing cocktail of fun. Mistaken identity, cross-dressing, slapstick, mad gags and outrageous puns are shaken and stirred as Francis Henshall, cast out of his skiffle band, finds the best route to satisfy his considerable appetites for food, sex and money is to become One Man serving Two Guvnors.
The fast-paced comedy will be directed by the New Wolsey's artistic director Peter Rowe. This joyous updating of Goldoni's classic Italian comedy from the 18th century, The Servant of Two Masters, has quickly established itself as one of the great British comedies of the 21st Century and will launch the autumn season running from September 5-28.
The New Wolsey also has a well deserved reputation for staging new musicals and this autumn, the New Wolsey Theatre will co-produce a brand new romantic comedy, The Season. Filled with heart-warming and hilarious songs, from award-winning writers Jim Barne and Kit Buchan, this musical is set on Christmas Eve and Dougal has travelled from Ipswich to New York for his father's wedding. At JFK Airport he's greeted by Robyn. Dougal loves Christmas and Robyn is the original Grinch.
Thrown together for a wild weekend in the city that never sleeps, their adventure becomes a musical whirlwind of confession, frustration and maxing-out credit cards in Macy's. Will these two endearing misfits provide the ultimate test for the theory that opposites always attract? The Season showing from November 5-16.
Original Theatre return to the New Wolsey stage this October with The Night Watch adapted by Hattie Naylor from the Sarah Waters novel. A story of illicit love and everyday heroism, which takes us from a dazed and shattered post-war Britain back into the heart of the Blitz, towards the secrets that are hidden there. This atmospheric drama will be playing from September 30 to October 5.
Also this Autumn, the New Wolsey is staging a Gothic retelling of Bleak House, adapted by David Glass from the Dicken's novel. This physical drama follows Esther Summerson's search for family and identity set against a brutal legal system hell bent of destroying those beneath it. This performance runs from October 18-19.
From October 28-30, Agatha Christie turns sleuth in a play by Philip Meeks. Murder Margaret And Me is a story of friendship identity and the achievement of women in the longlost world of the silver screen. As Agatha and Margaret play tug of war with Miss Marple, the Queen of Crime finally unearths the shocking truth buried in Margaret's past.
Meanwhile on the Ipswich Waterfront, DanceEast is celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Jerwood DanceHouse with a season of premieres by leading choreographers and companies that have a relationship with the building.
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Associate artist Julie Cunningham is staging an evening of new work on Friday September 27, Joseph Toonga is premiering his third work with DanceEast, a hip-hop double bill which looks at the world in terms of cultural identity and society's looming mental health crisis. Born To Manifest will be staged on October 4.
Jonathan Goddard, who has appeared several times at the DanceHouse with Mark Bruce's company is taking the leap to become a choreographer and has been working with director Lily McLeish to create a dance/theatre piece entitled While You Are Here, which looks at our relationship with the environment. This will be premiered on October 11.
Also in October Shobana Jeyasingh Dance will be celebrating the life and work of controversial Austrian artist Egon Schiele, famous for his stylised nudes and unflinching self-portraits. This will be a fusion of art and dance and will result in a very striking performance on October 18-19.
One of DanceEast's longest relationships is with the Richard Alston Dance Company and the Snape Maltings Concert Hall and the two come together for one final time as Alston unveils Final Edition, his last production before retirement. Final Edition is at the Snape Maltings on November 1-2.
Eastern Angles' autumn tour will be Food Wars, a multi-dimensional entertainment covering rationing, food supplies, and the response of agriculture and government to the threat of national food shortages during two world wars.
Featuring two halves of story, it is a collaboration between Eastern Angles and New Heritage Solutions, which previously staged Somewhere in England in 2016.
Oh, What a Lovely Food War, the first half, features a music hall treatment of the U-Boat war, the first introduction of food rationing, and the National Food Kitchens that fed rich, poor and everyone in between.
Saving Our Bacon takes up the story in World War II, when pigs in blankets were something different, and the black market was just round the corner. Memories and interview from care home residents have formed the script to resurrect the stories of the home front that often get forgotten.
Food Wars plays at Sir John Mills Theatre, Ipswich from September 10-14.
At Bury St Edmunds Theatre Royal, their 200th anniversary celebrations continues with a large-scale production of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice which will include members of the theatre's young company performing alongside a professional cast.
The production stars Eastenders' Sophia Capasso as headstrong daughter Elizabeth Bennet and Birdsong actor George Banks as the imperious Mr Darcy. It's fitting that a classic Georgian theatre, one of only a couple of working Georgian theatres in Britain, should stage a classic Georgian story to mark a milestone anniversary. Pride and Prejudice runs from August 23 to September 7.
Later in the season they will be staging Austentatious, a romp through a new Jane Austen play prompted by suggestions from the audience. Previous 'lost' masterpieces have included Sixth Sense and Sensibility, Double 0 Darcy and Mansfield Shark, and no two shows are ever the same. This production is running from October 31 to November 1.
Fans of classic literature will also be treated to a staged production of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre which has been described as a Gothic masterpiece. The new stage adaptation by Blackeyed Theatre is designed to capture the novel's brooding and intensely powerful atmosphere. Jane Eyre is a moving and unforgettable portrayal of one woman's quest for equality and freedom, and is rightly regarded as one of the great triumphs of storytelling. Jane Eyre is on stage November 14-16.
Then Christmas is upon us...but that's another story.