Variety is the watch-word of the new season at Norwich Theatre Royal with a wide range of new productions announced from the highly-anticipated debut of Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw in the city to the National Theatre’s stunning production of Hedda Gabler.
Add in an exciting ballet version of a classic fairy-tale, a concert season featuring top-class orchestras drawn from all over the globe, and a new musical co-produced by Gary Barlow and you have the ingredients for an exciting 2017 and early 2018 at the venue.
They tugged at the heart-strings in the iconic Seventies movie Love Story, and now Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw are set to reunite on stage in Love Letters which is performed from October 10-14. They play Andrew Makepeace III and Melissa Gardner who are first loves and maintain their relationship over half a century via pen and paper through wars, marriages, children and careers. First love and second chances loom large in this poignant production which has already enjoyed a critically-acclaimed Broadway run and sold out US tour.
Meanwhile the bond of familial love is at the heart of Blood Brothers which makes its Norwich Theatre Royal return on September 19-23. Penned by popular playwright Willy Russell, it tells the moving story of two twins who are separated at birth and forge very different lives only to meet again with tragic consequences. It has now been performed over 10,000 times in London’s West End and features a superb score which includes the emotionally charged Tell Me It’s Not True.
One of the music world’s most prolific and legendary stars Carole King is brought to life in Beautiful which runs from October 3-7. This musical has also enjoyed incredible success in the West End as well as winning both Olivier and Tony Awards. Carole was an ordinary girl with an amazing talent who penned a host of iconic songs for herself and a range of artists including (You Make Me Feel) Like A Natural Woman, Take Good Care Of My Baby, You’ve Got A Friend and The Locomotion.
And there is plenty more for fans of musicals to enjoy with the previously-announced Crazy For You on October 31-November 4. Norwich Theatre Royal favourite Tom Chambers (Top Hat, Casualty) and Norfolk’s own Caroline Flack who will be making her onstage debut on home ground will star in this high energy show which is gleeful, glamorous and packed with Gershwin classics including I Got Rhythm and They Can’t Take That Away From Me.
Also previously confirmed is the new musical The Band which features the music of Take That. Running from February 6-12, it is written by Tim Firth (Calendar Girls, West End hit The Girls), directed by Jack Ryder who directed the smash hit The Full Monty, and is co-produced by Take That themselves. It will also feature the winners of the BBC’s Let It Shine TV show.
Direct from a sold-out run in London, the modern version of Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler comes to Norwich Theatre Royal on November 7-11. The production will be adapted by Patrick Marber and is directed by the Olivier and Tony Award-winning director Ivo van Hove who made his National Theatre debut with this production.
A host of top stage and TV stars join forces to star in Alan Ayckbourn’s comedy favourite How The Other Half Loves on November 27-December 2 which sees a couple try to cover up an affair only to find their spouses drawn in and a third couple falsely accused of adultery leading to some disastrous dinner parties. Already confirmed for the cast are Robert Daws (The Royal, Outside Edge), Caroline Langrishe (Lovejoy, Holby City), Matthew Cottle (Game On) and Sara Crowe (Four Weddings And A Funeral).
Heading back to Norwich Theatre Royal by public demand is the breath-taking Slava’s Snow Show on November 21-25 which invites you to enter an enchanting winter world peopled by clowns and massive balloons, and ending with a massive blizzard. The show has already entertained audiences in over 80 countries and has gained global acclaim.
The theatre is also announcing its very first International Concert Series which will see some of the globe’s top musicians, conductors and soloists visit the city. It begins on Sunday October 22 with the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra who are well-known for the Leningrad premiere of Shostakovich’s 7th Symphony. Their Norwich programme will feature Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony, top pianist Peter Donohoe playing Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto no. 4 and the colourful Scherazade by Rimsky Korsakov. The season then continues with the European Union Chamber Orchestra performing works by Bach, Mozart and Vivaldi on Saturday March 24, 2018 and the Czech National Symphony Orchestra with a programme including Dvorak’s New World Symphony on April 15 next year.
Opera fans are also in for a treat as English Touring Opera present the magnificent Giulio Cesare. Presented in two parts, this story of passion and revenge will be performed over consecutive evenings on October 16-17. Set in 49 BC, it details the battles for control over the throne of Egypt featuring characters like Julius Caesar, Pompey, Cleopatra and The Pharoah, Ptolemy. This epic production will feature Christopher Ainslie in the title role and ETO’s partner baroque orchestra The Old Street Band.
Also returning for their traditional autumn visit will be Glyndebourne who will be bringing three very diverse productions to Norwich. They present the popular tragicomedy packed with beautiful music, Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte, on November 14 and 16, which is directed by Nicholas Hytner, former director of the National Theatre. Rossini’s classic comedy favourite set in a sultry and surreal Spanish world Il Barbiere Di Siviglia is performed on November 15 and 18, and Brett Dean’s exciting and energy-filled production of Shakespeare’s timeless tale Hamlet is presented on November 17.
Two companies well-known to dance devotees return with two very different programmes. Northern Ballet brings Han Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Little Mermaid to life on September 26-30. The title character has to decide whether she should give up everything she has in exchange for love and a human soul in this magical and poignant story suitable for all ages. Choreographed by David Nixon OBE, it will take you to a mystical world beneath the waves.
Meanwhile the choreographic masterpiece Ghost Dances forms part of the 2017 programme from Rambert on October 19-20. The title characters interrupt the lives of ordinary people in a piece created by Christopher Bruce which aims to demonstrate the power of political oppression in South America. It features some of the most striking scenes in modern choreography and will be part of a triple bill which also includes The days run away like wild horses which depicts the key moments in life and a new piece by Andonis Foniakis, the artistic director of Greek National Opera Ballet.
And there will the welcome return of The National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company with a trio of favourites this autumn and a cast headed by the city’s versatile panto favourite Richard Gauntlett. It begins on September 14 with the colourful characters and big songs in The Mikado. Swashbuckling pirates, unwed daughters and bumbling bobbies are back in The Pirates of Penzance on September 15, before you can take to the high seas with the nautical comedy HMS Pinafore on September 16. In addition, the company will present a Dementia-Friendly Concert of some of Gilbert and Sullivan’s best-known ditties along with some music hall favourites on September 15 at 2pm in what is a first for the Theatre Royal.
The theatre will also be continuing its season of popular one-night shows and is bringing some big names to the city. Those show business legends Des O’Connor & Jimmy Tarbuck will be sharing their stories of life in the spotlight on June 20 before TV and stage sensation Joe McElderry is joined by a host of fellow performers including Lloyd Daniels and Keith Jack to perform a host of hits on August 6.
Jimmy Carr promises to showcase a host of his favourite routines as well as weave in some new material for his The Best Of, Ultimate, Gold, Greatest Hits Tour on September 17 before one of Britain’s best-loved chat show hosts reminisces about his career for An Evening With Sir Michael Parkinson on September 24.
We-eeee-llll. Lulu performs some of the biggest hits from her 50-year career including Shout, To Sir With Love, Relight My Fire and The Man Who Sold The World on October 21 before the slightly surreal Milton Jones takes a sideways look at society on November 5.
There is plenty more to entertain music fans too as The Glenn Miller Orchestra bring some of the best in swing music to life with the help of the Moonlight Serenaders and guest vocalists on June 11 before the welcome return of Killer Queen on June 18 who celebrate the biggest hits of Freddie Mercury and his musical colleagues.
World champion dancers and a traditional Irish band celebrate the Celtic culture with Rhythm of the Dance on July 10 swiftly followed by top vocalist Paul Metcalfe reprising the iconic songs from Rod Stewart’s back catalogue in Some Guys Have All The Luck on July 11.
The biggest hits from the biggest shows are performed with Norfolk entertainers The Joe Ringer Band presenting A Night at the Musicals on July 30 before two country music legends who have topped the charts worldwide are showcased in the toe-tapping production Islands In The Stream celebrating the work of Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers on September 10.
Gerry and the Pacemakers come to the city as part of their farewell tour with the cast of Sixties Gold on October 15 which will see them sharing the bill with the likes of The Searchers, Brian Poole and the Tremeloes, and Vanity Fare
The multi-award-winning folk favourite Kate Rusby celebrates 25 years of success with a Theatre Royal visit on October 24 followed by one of the most influential artists from the British blues world, John Mayall, on October 25, and song-writer/virtuoso guitarist Richard Thompson ends a week of top class musicians with a concert on October 28.
Those 20-million-plus record sellers, rock ‘n’ roll favourites Showaddywaddy, will perform some of their biggest hits including Under The Moon of Love and Three Steps To Heaven on October 29 before the pop icon who reinvented himself and his music many times growing a global fan following is celebrated with The Bowie Experience on November 26.
There is also a summer holiday treat as the Theatre Royal becomes the prehistoric place to be as it is transformed into Dinosaur World on August 3-5 for an exciting family adventure which features a Tyrannosaurus Rex, Triceratops and Segnosaurus amongst others. Families can also enjoy a popular CBeebies duo and their friends with The Chris and Pui Show on October 23.
John Bultitude, of Norwich Theatre Royal, said: “Our new season truly is wide-ranging with Hollywood superstars, a highly-anticipated drama production and some of the globe’s finest orchestral musicians all forming part of it.
“Add in a host of top superstars as part of our popular run of one-night shows and you have a very diverse range of productions and performances running into early 2018 right here on the doorstep without the time or cost of a trip to London’s glittering West End.”
Glenn Miller Orchestra, Killer Queen, Des O’Connor and Jimmy Tarbuck, Rhythm of the Dance, Some Guys Have All The Luck, The Joe Ringer Band, Dinosaur World, Joe McElderry, Islands In The Stream, Jimmy Carr, An Audience With Michael Parkinson, Lulu and Richard Thompson are on sale from Thursday 23 March
The Band goes on sale to Friends/Corporate Club on April 1 at 9.30am and to the public on April 3 at 12 noon
All other new shows go on sale at 9.30am on:
March 29 – Friends online
April 5 – Friends in person and by phone
April 12 – Public online
April 19 – Public in person and by phone