Norwich events not to miss in 2012
Christmas is over for another year, New Year festivities will soon be a distant memory too. Fear not though, there are plenty of concerts, shows and exhibitions to keep us all busy through the dark evenings and into spring and summer. SIMON PARKIN picks the highlights.
Blue Hills Remembered
Maddermarket Theatre, January 19-28
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Originally broadcast as a television play in 1979, Dannis Potter's play tells of a group of seven-year-olds playing in the Forest of Dean on a summer afternoon during the Second World War. Set among the trees, and in a wooden barn, Potter's play tackles the theme of oppression in all its forms - including bullying and child abuse.
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Norwich Playhouse, January 23-25
Shakespeare's scurrilous tale of misrule, madness and mistaken identities is a delight at any time of the year, but a special treat for the post-Christmas period. The Movement's latest production restores the play to its wintry beginnings and its original power: the story of dawn breaking, of the days lengthening and of a family's love overcoming misfortune. A unique take on an endearingly funny and enduringly popular classic.
Norwich Theatre Royal, February 28-March 10
For the first time ever, the West End and Broadway sensation and 2011 Olivier Award winning musical comes to the Theatre Royal. Based on the hit movie starring Reese Witherspoon, this critically acclaimed new musical is created by a top-of-their-class creative team. College sweetheart and homecoming queen Elle Woods doesn't take no for an answer. So when her boyfriend, Warner, dumps her for someone serious, Elle puts down the credit card, hits the books, and heads for Harvard Law School.
Vernon God Little
Studio, Garage, March 29-31
A fast, superbly dark and riotously funny play, adapted for the Theatre Royal Youth Theatre by Tanya Ronder from DBC Pierre's Booker prize winning novel. When his best friend massacres his whole class then turns the gun on himself, Vernon is the only one left standing. As fingers start to point the hapless, cynical and gloriously unlucky Vernon is suddenly at the centre of Texan small town madness.
Norwich Theatre Royal, April 17-28
This smash hit musical comedy, produced by Whoopi Goldberg who starred in the movie, centres on disco diva Deloris Van Cartier who witnesses a murder and is put in protective custody in the one place the cops are sure she won't be found - a convent. Disguised as a nun she makes the wrong impression on the strict Mother Superior. But when she transforms the choir into the most glorious musical act in town, Deloris forms a lasting bond with her newfound friends. It's a family-friendly, feel-good show is packed with songs inspired by Motown, funk, soul and disco.
Norwich Theatre Royal, May 9-12
Led by director Edward Hall, internationally acclaimed all-male company Propeller return to Norwich following its triumphant productions of Richard III and The Comedy of Errors earlier in 2011. This year's double-header is Henry V, the tale of the greatest British warrior in English folklore, and the tragic fairytale, The Winter's Tale.
Norwich Theatre Royal, June 5-9
Connie Fisher and double Olivier Award nominee Michael Xavier star in this multi award-winning musical comedy, featuring a superb score by legendary American composer Leonard Bernstein. Connie plays aspiring writer Ruth Sherwood who arrives in New York City fresh from Ohio with her beautiful younger sister Eileen. Bursting with dreams of romance and riches, the indomitable pair meet an array of colourful characters in their search for success.
The Owl Who Was Afraid Of The Dark
Norwich Playhouse, February 9-11
Based on the classic children's book by Jill Tomlinson, this funny, gentle and reassuring tale is written especially for children aged 3-7. Join Plop, the baby barn owl as he journeys into the night-time world of campfires, fireworks, starry nights and moonlit adventures.
Norwich Theatre Royal, February 20-24
Always a hot ticket for older children is the chance to see the ever popular Horrible Histories live on stage! Using actors and ground-breaking 3D special effects, the two shows on this visit are The Terrible Tudors and The Vile Victorians. Historical figures and events will come alive on stage.
The Owl and The Pussycat
Norwich Arts Centre, March 11
Hiccup Theatre brings the life the adventures on the high seas. Silly songs, babbling puppets and live music combine in this enchanting retelling of Lear's classic poem.
Swallows & Amazons
Norwich Theatre Royal, March 13-17
Arthur Ransome's classic tale as been turned into an action-packed musical adventure by the National Theatre. Captain John and his able crew as they set sail to Wildcat Island on an exotic adventure to encounter savages, capture dastardly pirates and defeat mortal enemies. This delightful imaginative production is directed by Tom Morris who also directed War Horse, with music by Neil Hannon from The Divine Comedy.
Norwich Playhouse, April 4-5
This enchanting experience for small children, starring Patrick Lynch from Cbeebies, took the Edinburgh Festival by storm last summer. When Mr Green comes back from his Christmas holidays he finds that Mr White has moved into his house and covered everything in snow. Make a giant snowman, have a super snowball fight and help to bring back the spring.
Cirque du Ciel's ShangHi
Norwich Theatre Royal, April 12-14
The eagerly awaited, internationally acclaimed production of ShangHi by Cirque Du Ciel comes to the UK for the first time with a run at the Theatre Royal. A marvellous two hour extravaganza, originally directed by Cirque Du Soleil's Guy Caron, it combines acrobatics, modern dance, original music, martial arts and many other Chinese elements in an amazing adventure.
Romeo & Juliet
Norwich Theatre Royal, February 1-4
One of Russia's most successful ballet companies, Moscow City Ballet, formed by the distinguished Russian choreographer Victor Smirnov-Golovanov, a highly acclaimed ex-soloist of the Bolshoi Ballet, tackle the ultimate tale of love in their own distinctive style.
Richard Alston Dance Company
Norwich Theatre Royal, February 14-15
Music and dance will again feature strongly in the latest programme from Richard Alston with two brand new Alston pieces, to strikingly different soundtracks. A Ceremony Of Carols is choreographed to Benjamin Britten's masterpiece for boys' voices and harp, and there is a revival of Alston's iconic Roughcut, probably his best-loved signature piece performed to the shimmering peals of Steve Reich's New York & Electric Counterpoints.
Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker!
Norwich Theatre Royal, March 27-31
One of the most popular dance productions ever staged in the UK, Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker! returns to celebrate its 20th anniversary. This delicious theatrical feast has family-sized helpings of Matthew Bourne's trademark wit, pathos and magical fantasy. Tchaikovsky's glorious score and Anthony Ward's unforgettable sets and costumes combine with sizzling choreography.
I Got Rhythm
Norwich Theatre Royal, May 29-June 2
Ballet meets jazz in Northern Ballet's sizzling revival of the Roaring Twenties. A perfect fusion of skilful and exuberant dance, live music and vocal performances, it celebrates Gershwin's America through his sensational music, including Rhapsody in Blue and Summertime.
Norwich Playhouse, February 17
You may well have heard German comedian Henning on Radio 4 or seen him on QI, Dave's One Night Stand or Edinburgh and Beyond, now's your chance to see the self-appointed German Comedy Ambassador to the UK in the flesh. Tuetonic jolliness at its best.
Norwich Arts Centre, February 21
Bridget Christie is a regular on the sketch and stand-up circuit and regular panellist on Radio 4′s News Quiz. The surrealist's latest show will see her hands out communion wafers, eat a banana, explain religion and suggests how Ken Clarke should eat a toad in the hole.
Norwich Playhouse, March 9-12
Since appearing in the guise of his redneck alter ego Otis Lee Crenshaw in 1998, award-winning Rich Hall has won critical acclaim by performing to sell-out audiences each year at the Edinburgh Fringe, through sell-out UK tours and at comedy festivals worldwide.
Norwich Theatre Royal, March 11
A new full length touring show from the acclaimed star of BBC 2's Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle. Formerly stand-up's youthful iconoclast, he will be pondering what a sexless middle aged married man, whose life now consists mainly of watching Scooby Doo cartoons with a four-year-old, possibly find to write comedy about?
Norwich Playhouse, March 15-20
Due to an overwhelming public demand, Jon Richardson has added a fifth night to his run at the Playhouse. The host of Channel 4's Stand Up For The Week and Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee will be performing his show, Funny Magnet, that sees him working his pessimism with some hilarious consequences.
Norwich Theatre Royal, April 8
Following 2010's 150 date sell-out tour, and bestselling DVD This Is The Show, Irish funnyman Dara O Briain returns to the Theatre Royal again with a brand new show for 2012. Catch one of the most charismatic, intelligent, fast-talking and down right funny live performers working today.
Norwich Playhouse, April 18
The award-winning Richard Herring returns to take on another controversial challenge, the definition and destruction of love. Having sorted out religion (Christ on a Bike), politics (Hitler Moustache) and penises (Talking Cock), he will be seeking to define and destroy love.
Norwich Playhouse, April 27
Andrew Maxwell returns to the Playhouse touring with his latest Edinburgh-busting show, The Lights Are On, which received this Irish-born comedian glowing tributes at the 2011 Fosters Edinburgh Comedy Awards, being nominated for the Best Show Award.
Norwich Playhouse, March 3
Following a fantastic run at this year's Edinburgh Festival, comedic conjuror Pete Firman brings his hilarious new show Jiggery Pokery to the Playhouse. Expect amazing feats that defy logic, a fast and furious delivery of gags and astounding tricks that will leave you dumbfounded for days.
An Evening of Burlesque
Norwich Theatre Royal, June 23
This West End production recreates the tradition of burlesque, giving it a modernday twist. Compered by the delectable Kiki Kaboom, the show includes the cream of British burlesque talent including Miss Hotcake Kitty, Amber Topaz, Chrys Columbine, Miss Slinky Sparkles, Ginger Blush and The Kalki Hula Girl.
Norwich Playhouse, May 3-4
Camille O'Sullivan enjoys a formidable international reputation for her dramatic interpretations of the songs of Brel, Cave, Waits, Bowie and more. The award-winning singer has stunned audiences around the world, including acclaimed performances in Norwich. Dark, fierce, amusing and mesmerizing, she transforms each song into an intense theatrical experience.
Waterfront, January 22
Third time lucky for this twice delayed appearance by The Horrors who in Skying, produced one of the albums of 2011, the follow-up to their equally praised 2009 effort Primary Colours. Having bridged the unseen gap between a number of musical genres in the past including punk, garage rock, goth and indie, their latest nod towards 1980s new wave.
Waterfront, February 1
One of the most distinctive and respected MCs the British hop hop scene has seen, Roots Manuva returns to Norwich in support of his eighth studio album 4everevolution, which features a kaleidoscope of styles and is one of his best to date.
UEA, February 6
No surprise that tickets have already sold out for this UEA appearance on the Leeds' band's first UK tour in almost two years. Having headlined festivals, this is a rare treat to see the band as they promote latest album, The Future Is Medieval.
UEA, February 9
The Atlanta-based rock behemoths started out rehashing 80s metal, but have reinvented themselves to mastermind a string of complex concept albums and are now one of the hottest metal bands. And they're seriously loud.
Waterfront, February 14
Ghostpoet, the softly spoken rapper gained a Mercury Prize nomination for his off-kilter, loopy electronic ditties on his debut album, featuring his delightfully rambling musings on modern life. He seems destined for further greatness in 2012, but will it translate live?
UEA, March 4
Two hotly tipped urban artists for the price of one. Exciting song-writing and producing phenomenon, Labrinth arrives at the UEA — upgraded from the Waterfront due to demand — on his debut UK tour. In support is the equally hyped rapper Dot Rotten.
Waterfront, March 12
Wild Beasts also received a Mercury nomination for their third album, Smother, the follow-up to the critically acclaimed - and Norfolk recorded - Two Dancers. They continue to brave their own way, outside the vicissitudes of fashion blending the differing voices of Hayden and Tom.
UEA, March 30
Cher mesmerised X Factor audiences with her unique urban-pop performances and strong personal style. In 2011 however she emerged with the genre-baiting, tempo-twisting debut album Stick and Stones which suggests there is more to her than TV talent.
UEA, April 3
After members notched up wins on both I'm A Celebrity… and Strictly Come Dancing, McFly's Up Close And Personal tour marks a revival — if they ever went away. With an impressive record of 17 Top 10 singles, they'll also be playing new material from their upcoming sixth album.
Thetford Forest, June 15
Chart-topping Plan B (pictured) headlines one of this year's Thetford Forest concerts. The singer-songwriter, rapper and actor reinvented himself on the meg-selling soul-influenced The Defamation of Strickland Banks, featuring hit singles Stay Too Long, Prayin' and The Recluse, earning him a trio of Ivor Novellos.
Norwich Arts Centre, January 25
Empirical need no introduction, the project of four young, British Jazz musicians, who aim to expand on the traditions of jazz, their unique music manages to be both timeless and totally now. They have carved out a place as one of jazz's most exciting young bands and they have won numerous awards including the 2010 Mobo for best jazz act.
King Creosote & Jon Hopkins
Norwich Arts Centre, February 1
Diamond Mine, the collaborative album from King Creosote and Jon Hopkins, was nominated for the Mercury Prize. Featuring lyrics and vocals from King Creosote sung over musical backdrops arranged and recorded by Jon Hopkins, its a genuine labour of love.
Norwich Playhouse, March 7
An evening of songs, daft stories and monologues from Mike Harding, back on the road for the first time in 15 years. With a couple of guitars and more than 40 years of material to draw on, he will revive his own comic world with stories and songs.
The Albion Band
Norwich Playhouse, March 23
Beyond a simple line-up change, 2012 will see a complete reboot of The Albion Band. Folk-legend Ashley Hutchings' torch is passed to a newer generation of English folk talent. The band will perform self-penned, re-written and traditional material as well as re-booted Albion Band classics.
Norwich Arts Centre, April 16
Parliamentary Jazz award winning guitarist and composer Nick Tyson brings his new project to Norwich Arts Centre as part of their debut UK Tour. Featuring a stellar line-up comprised of the UK's finest jazz and string players, this new music for guitar trio and strings trio combined, explores group interaction within the realms of classically orchestrated music and contemporary jazz.
Norwich Playhouse, June 1
Stacey Kent, a best-selling member of the Blue Note roster of recording artists, now boasts six bestselling albums, a string of awards, including the British Jazz Award and BBC Jazz Award for 'Best Vocalist'. Her career continues to go from strengthto- strength.
Japan: Kingdom of Characters
Sainsbury's Centre, February 4-June 24
This vibrant exhibition offers the chance to encounter characters from television, computer games and comics. Many have become much loved household names around the world. Providing an overview of manga and anime through the second half of the 20th century, the exhibition provides a unique insight into this cultural phenomenon.
Titian's Diana and Actaeon
Norwich Castle Museum, March 3-April 15
Titian's 16th century masterpiece arrives in Norwich as part if an ongoing regional tour from the National Gallery. Diana and Actaeon is one of six large-scale mythological works inspired by the Roman poet Ovid that were painted for Philip II of Spain. Nothing he ever painted was more inventive in beauty and power.
There Is Here: Photographs by Avi Gupta
Sainsbury's Centre, February 4-July 1
The exhibition presents a series of photographs of domestic interiors taken in private homes in Washington DC and in Kolkata, India, focusing on objects that suggest everyday activities. These poetic images are devoid of people yet filled with human presence, leaving you with the sensation something has just happened.
Norwich Theatre Royal, February 11
With a mix of music and spoken word, the Madness frontman offers an access-all-areas backstage pass to the his own life including the ups and downs of an astonishing 30-year career spanning pop music, radio, television, film — and the pie and mash industry.
John Peel's Shed
Norwich Arts Centre, February 16
Following its airing on Radio 4 over Christmas, John Osborne brings his acclaimed ode to radio back to his home town. Inspired his acclaimed debut novel Radio Head: Up And Down The Dial Of British Radio, the one-man show tells the story of what happened when he decided to listen to a different radio station every day, all day, for a month.
UEA, March 6
Renowned for her piercing and lyrical fiction, Jeanette Winterson's recent memoir, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, is an extraordinary account of the story behind her acclaimed debut novel Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. She will be talking about it as part of the UEA Spring Literary Festival.