A highly-anticipated musical telling the story of an iconic singer and performer, the Norwich debut of work by a globally-renowned dancer, and stage versions of popular comedies and novels are all on the cards in the new season from Norwich Theatre Royal.
Add in a musical spectacular featuring the cream of young performing talent, a classic mystery, and the return of two big favourites with East Anglian audiences, and the stage is set for an exciting season of performances.
A heart-warming musical adaptation of the Merseyside showbiz icon Cilla comes to the city on April 17-21. Penned by the Bafta Award-winning writer Jeff Pope (Philomena, Little Boy Blue) it follows the extraordinary story of Liverpool teenager Priscilla White and her rocky, but incredible, rise to fame. Packed with her biggest hits including Anyone Who Had A Heart and Alfie, it stars Andrew Lancel (Coronation Street, The Bill, The Sound of Music) as legendary music manager Brian Epstein while Cilla Black is portrayed by Kara Lily Hayworth, who was discovered after weeks of open auditions nationwide.
Ballet star and international dance icon Carlos Acosta will bring his brand new company Acosta Danza to the UK to make their Norwich debut on May 31-June 1. Based in Havana, they are made up of Cuba’s top dance talent and will perform a mix of work created by some of the best Cuban and international choreographers. Confirmed for their Theatre Royal debut are pieces by Marianela Boán, Jorge Crecis, Goyo Montero, Justin Peck and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, and Acosta himself is also set to make a guest appearance.
Fresh from the critical acclaim for Giulio Cesare, English Touring Opera are back with two productions. They present an energetic new production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro on May 3-4 followed by a double bill of short Puccini operas on May 5. On stage will be the moody romance Il Tabarro which ends in tragedy, followed by the sparkling comedy Gianni Schicchi which is set around the battle to secure a family inheritance in Florence.
Memorable characters, great new songs and a fantastic story about family and belonging are promised when a new stage adaptation of The Jungle Book is performed on April 10-14. The story of Mowgli as he battles for survival comes from the team behind the hit stage versions of the classic novels Goodnight Mister Tom and Running Wild.
More family entertainment is promised next summer as the Norwich Theatre Royal Youth Company presents the classic musical Grease on July 25-28. Set in 1959 at Rydell High, it will follow the Summer Lovin’ and romance of Danny and Sandy against a soundtrack of classic songs including You’re The One That I Want and Greased Lightnin’. It will also give young people the chance to learn acting skills, sing and dance, and also to form the production crew for the popular show.
Young people also get the chance to shine when English Youth Ballet presents Cinderella In Hollywood on May 25-26. Dancers from across the region will get the opportunity to audition for the production which will see them share the stage with professional performers. The production will move the classic fairy-tale into the glamorous era of Fifties Hollywood movies and feature a score mixing Shostakovich jazz tunes with music from classic films of the period.
There is drama too as the classic suspense thriller Love From A Stranger takes to the stage on July 17-21. Penned by the Queen of Crime herself Agatha Christie, it tells the story of Cecily Harrington who is whisked off her feet by a handsome man and goes to live with him in a beautiful country cottage. Unfortunately, she soon discovers her blissful surrounding and new-found love may not be quite what they seem.
There is classic comedy as popular performer Joe Pasquale takes on the role of the ever-accident-prone Frank Spencer in Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em on July 9-14. Based on the original TV series, it follows Frank and his long-suffering wife Betty through a host of misadventures and co-stars popular comedy actress Susie Blake, who played The Queen in the hit comedy Handbagged at the Theatre Royal back in 2015.
And don’t miss the thrills and spills of the super-spectacular Cirque Berserk on April 5-7. The mix of contemporary circus artistry and thrilling stunts is set to help mark the 250th anniversary of the invention of circus. As well as jugglers, acrobats, aerialists, dancers and drummers, it will also include the amazing motorcycle spectacle The Globe Of Death.
Two other theatre favourites are also set to make their return. That master of mind-games Derren Brown brings his latest show Underground to the city on June 19-23. Also returning is renowned singer, performer and former Strictly contestant Daniel O’Donnell who is sure to attract a large audience for his Norwich return on April 30-May 1.
There are also plenty of one-night shows being added to the programme. For fans of music, George Michael is celebrated in Fast Love (April 8), an electric and emotional tribute to the legendary Billy Fury in Halfway To Paradise (April 29), the UK’s premier rock ‘n’ roll show Halfway To Paradise (June 17), and the celebration of Irish music and dance Rhythm Of The Dance (June 24).
Some comedy favourites are set to tickle the funny-bone with British Comedy Award nominee Jon Richardson (May 21-22), popular broadcaster and raconteur Danny Baker (July 29), and the ever-inventive Ross Noble (September 24).
Also heading to Norwich are two of Strictly’s favourite dancers Ian Waite and Oti Mabuse with their show Rhythm Of The Night (May 20). Pupils from two local dance schools will also showcase their talents as Stella School of Dance presents Lights, Camera, Action on May 6 and the Central School of Dance and Performing Arts brings its show Grand Central Circus to life on July 15.
John Bultitude, of Norwich Theatre Royal, said: “The talent of two very diverse but iconic performers are celebrated in our new season. The voice and personal touch of Cilla Black and the creative punch of Carlos Acosta head a line-up of entertainment which also features incredibly inventive productions and the return of some audience favourites.
“As we continue to expand the variety and breadth of the shows we present, this new season is a great chance to experience a huge range of entertainment from performers keen to showcase their skills and delight Norwich audiences.”
Booking dates for all new shows (except Daniel O’Donnell) are:
Nov 20 – Gold Friends and Corporate Club
Nov 21 at 9.30am – Friends online
Nov 27 at 9.30am – Friends in person and by phone
Dec 1 at 9.30am – Public booking online
Dec 5 at 9.30am – Public booking in person and by phone
Booking dates for Daniel O’Donnell are:
Nov 23 at 9.30am – Gold Friends and Corporate Club
Nov 24 at 9.30am – Friends
Nov 25 at 9.30am – Public booking in person
Nov 25 at 10am – Public booking by phone and online