Panto might be just about everywhere we look at the moment, but Darlington Civic Theatre is looking beyond the traditional favourite to a spring season packed with fresh surprises.
Once Aladdin wraps up on January 12, the Dame has packed away her frocks and The Chuckle Brothers are homeward bound (please note, they’re already signed up to return next year), audiences can look forward to a classical treat in Magical Mozart by Candlelight, followed by a January packed with something for all musical tastes.
These treats include The Elvis Years 1954-1977; the Mayor’s Gala Strictly Musicals; UK Pink Floyd Experience, Hammonds Saltaire Brass Band in Concert and Vampires Rock.
A change of tempo will smooth the transition into February as the Russian State Ballet, with the Orchestra of Siberia, present a triple-bill of all-time favourites Giselle, Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake.
February has in store a big name in Jenny Seagrove, one of the country’s most respected actresses, who will join Scottish actress Sarah Crowe to play best friends Julia and Jane in a week-long run of Noël Coward play Fallen Angels, which here has been revived by Bill Kenwright.
There’ll also be a visit from tribute band Rumours of Fleetwood Mac and, one for opera lovers, the Russian State Ballet and Opera House, with its productions of Carmen and La Traviata.
Young ones, meanwhile, can renew acquaintance with Peppa Pig, who returns with a Big Splash, all her pals and sing-a-long shenanigans.
Fascinating Aïda returns as it celebrates 30 years; comedy favourite Stu Francis will star in The Good Old Days of Music Hall and Variety, and Steve Steinman will present The Meat Loaf Story.
The sensational Ballet-Boyz will fuse more spectacular dance with music and film, before comedian Jason Manford presents an evening of First World Problems.
The advent of March promises more for the children with Tom’s Midnight Garden then, in the week running up to March 1, another anniversary is marked in Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story, the rock ‘n’ roll show, which is now celebrating 25 years. The month continues with English Touring Theatre presenting the Shakespeare’s Globe production of Eternal Love, bringing back to life the 900-year-old true love story of Abelard and Heloise, the affair between a 12th-century philosopher and theologian and his student.
London After Midnight brings the squeamish Circus of Horrors in the same month, then well-known actor John McArdle leads the cast of Brassed Off – the stage version of the film hit which promises to be a cracker.
Grease comes courtesy of the theatre’s resident amateur operatic group, then there’s the Syd Lawrence Orchestra, The ELO Experience and local favourite Dirty Dusting, by local playwrights Ed Waugh and Trevor Wood.
And as for April, look out for an Easter pantomime this time – Peter Pan; TV actor Warwick Davis with The Reduced Height Theatre Company’s version of the farce See How They Run; The Simon and Garfunkel Story; and Hot Flush! – billed as the naughtiest musical in town, with Birds of a Feather’s Lesley Joseph.
The month is rounded off with the popular Suggs from Madness, this time recounting his Life Story in Words and Music, then playing us into May will be The Illegal Eagles, Jane McDonald and her Singer of Your Song Tour, then the Searchers.
For details of the full season, and a New Year Viennese Spectacular on January 6, call 01325 486 555 or visit www.darlingtoncivic.co.uk