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Newcastle Theatre Royal's spring/summer season will leave audiences spoilt for choice

Shrek, Annie, The Car Man, Al Murray, Opera North, The RSC and The Bodyguard are among the highlights in the programme

Shrek the Musical is coming to Newcastle Theatre Royal
Shrek the Musical is coming to Newcastle Theatre Royal

I realise in these days of touch screen phones, tablets and laptops as thin and light as I always resolve to be by February 1, things like paper diaries and wall calendars may not be as popular as they used to be.

But whatever your chosen method of planning ahead, I’m betting my entire arsenal of electronic devices that you’ll find something worth inputting among the upcoming spring/summer season at Newcastle Theatre Royal.

Now I’ve thought a lot about how to best order the melting pot-like (but not exhaustive) list of productions which will be gracing the historic stage in the coming months. For practical reasons, I have chosen chronology as the overriding theme. And used a metaphorical highlighter. Booking details can be found at the bottom. You will be needing them, I’m sure.

JANUARY

A sequel gets things underway after the panto marathon reaches the finish line. Dreamboats and Miniskirts (Jan 20–24) follows the successful musical Dreamboats and Petticoats. Set in 1963, the new show allows audiences to catch up with Norman and Sue and Bobby and Laura whose lives are unfolding to a swinging sixties backdrop.

Later in the month, the National Theatre’s multi award-winning - and must-see - production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - adapted by Simon Stephens from Mark Haddon’s best-selling novel will arrive (Jan 27 to Feb 7) direct from the West End.

FEBRUARY

Al Murray, aka The Pub Landlord celebrates 20 years of on-stage success with a new show, One Man, One Guvnor on February 8.

Later in the month, Scottish Ballet return with Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece The Nutcracker (Feb 11-14).

Meanwhile Cameron Mackintosh and Newcastle-born Michael Harrison’s exhilarating musical Barnum (Feb 17-28) sees leading man Brian Conley celebrating the irrepressible imagination and dreams of America’s Greatest Showman.

MARCH

Opera North’s residency will see the popular company bring a new staging of Verdi’s La Traviata for the first time in 15 years (March 4 and 6); while Jo Davies brings a fresh approach to Mozart’s effervescent comedy The Marriage of Figaro (March 5 and 7).

A revival of Falla’s exuberant La Vida Breve (Mar 3) offers a wonderful celebration of folk-inspired melodies and will be presented in a double-bill with a new staging of Gianni Schicchi, Opera North’s first production of Puccini’s only comic opera in 25 years.

Audiences should prepare to go green after Opera North pack up, when one of the most popular fairy tales of recent years arrives on stage from the West End in the form of Shrek: The Musical (Mar 11-29). Expect singing, dancing and the aforementioned green motif.

JOHAN PERSSON BARNUM is coming to Newcastle Theatre Royal
BARNUM is coming to Newcastle Theatre Royal
 

APRIL

West End musical smash The Bodyguard (April 1-18), is based on the Oscar-nominated 1992 film starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner and will see X Factor winner Alexandra Burke share the leading role with Consett-born Zoe Birkett.

Also from the West End comes a critically acclaimed new stage adaptation of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird (April 20-25) from the award-winning Regent’s Park Theatre.

And if that wasn’t enough, Matthew Bourne’s internationally acclaimed dance thriller The Car Man, which is inspired by Bizet’s popular opera Carmen will follow soon after (April 28-May 9).

MAY

Rebecca, May 11-16

One of the world’s most celebrated Theatre companies, Kneehigh, brings a spellbinding new production of Daphne Du Maurier’s absorbing masterpiece Rebecca to Tyneside (May 11-16).

Then the world premiere stage adaptation of John Boyne’s best-selling novel The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas arrives for what will doubtless be a popular stay (May 19-23). Set during World War II it is the heart-wrenching tale of an unlikely friendship between two innocent boys, and promises a deeply moving and thought provoking production.

Also adapted from a bestselling book comes Dead Simple (May 26-30), based on the work of crime novelist Peter James. An all-star cast includes Jamie Lomas, Michael McKell and Gray O’Brien.

JUNE

For lovers of all things musical, a new production of classic show Putting on the Ritz (Jun 2-6) will offer some glittering summer delight while later in the month the return of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! (Jun 23-27) has classic written all over it.

Before it heads to the West End, Newcastle audiences can look forward to Oscar Wilde’s much loved masterpiece The Importance of Being Earnest (June 8-13) starring Emmy-award winning David Suchet as Lady Bracknell.

From one nail biter to another, and following its record breaking West End run, a powerful new production of Reginald Rose’s Twelve Angry Men (June 15-20) promises to bring the drama of the courtroom to the stage.

At the end of the month (Jun 30) the Royal Shakespeare Company’s First Encounters programme for young people brings The Famous Victories of Henry V - which incorporates all the exciting moments from three great plays: Henry IV Parts I & II and Henry V - to Tyneside.

JULY

A new comedy for 2015, Peter Pan Goes Wrong (Jul 1-4) offers a riotous new spin on a family favourite while for younger audiences, the delightful The Tiger Who Came To Tea (Jul 3-4) returns to bring Judith Kerr’s classic story to life.

The movie remake of Annie has been getting a lot of attention over the festive period, and this new tour of the stage production looks set to follow suit (Jul 11-18). A third show from Newcastle-born producer, Michael Harrison, it will star STrictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood as the tyrannical Miss Hannigan.

* Tickets for all of the above, and more, are available from the box office on 08448 11 21 21 or online at www.theatreroyal.co.uk

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