Some of the biggest names and shows in theatre
are coming to the city for the new Norwich Theatre Royal season.
After the sell-out success of Cats, the theatre
is banking on another run of musicals to deliver further record
returns at the box office.
The new season includes Cameron Mackintosh's new
production of Boublil and Schönberg's musical Miss Saigon.
Norfolk can also look forward to the Olivier Award
nominated production of Cole Porter's High Society and for lovers
of all things '80s, Boogie Nights 2.
Jane Walsh is the theatre's programming manager.
She said it's a combination of factors which draw the big shows
"The physical size of the theatre and seating
capacity puts us in the premier league of UK regional theatres,
but without the audiences we would be sunk," she said.
"More than 10,000 members in our Friends Scheme
makes it the biggest by far for a regional theatre and give us a
fantastic core audience. It's also to do with the marketplace.
"The Theatre Royal audience is a regional
one, with the main part of it coming from three counties: Norfolk,
Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.
"There's no direct competition in those counties
for the large scale musicals, so producers aren't worried about
venues competing against each other for the same shows," she
Rambert Dance Company
For dance lovers there are return visits from the
Richard Alston Dance Company, the Rambert Dance Company, St Petersburg
Ballet Theatre and Northern Ballet Theatre.
Opera buffs can look forward to Verdi's Aida and
Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana from the Chisinau National Opera.
Glyndebourne also return with works from Mozart and Puccini.
The balance of popular shows against the more challenging
and contemporary works is always a fine line to tread for Jane Walsh.
"If you look at the theatres around the country
that programme a lot of contemporary and challenging work they will
also generally get substantial amounts of public funding,"
"Because we generate more than 93% of our
income, our programming tends to be largely mainstream - each show
has to have a chance of at least earning its keep.
"But it's also important to recognise that
without contemporary work a section of the audience will get bored.
"Theatre is a constantly changing art form,
always developing, always moving forward, which is what a lot of
people like about it.
"A diet of just one kind of food gets very
boring and bland after a while, no matter how well prepared it is,"
The autumn line-up also brings a number of household
names to the county with appearances from Lulu, David Essex, Nicholas
Lyndhurst, Bill Wyman and Lenny Henry.
Theatre for children plays an important part of
the new season.
There are stage versions of The Fimbles, Scooby
Doo, Engie Benjy and the theatre's annual
pantomime, this year with the story of Sleeping Beauty with former
Casualty star Nicole Faraday.
"We've been working hard over the last three
years or so to improve facilities for families coming to the theatre,"
"There's more high quality work being produced
for children on the large scale, so we're reflecting that. As a
result, we're selling more tickets for children's shows, so it makes
sense to encourage that appetite.
"Finally, we have to think about long-term
audience development. If we don't encourage children to think that
theatre is fun and accessible and not exclusive, we won't have an
audience in 30 years' time," she added.