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It's murder, Miss Marple

The new season at the People's Theatre in Newcastle starts tomorrow.

The new season at the People's Theatre in Newcastle starts tomorrow. Entertainment Editor Gordon Barr takes a look.

Murder, mystery, art, comedy and drama, a heady mix for the new season at the People's Theatre.

But it's what we have come to expect from the region's premier amateur dramatics group who are never afraid of tackling the toughest of productions.

Their new season begins tomorrow with a cracking Agatha Christie tale, A Murder Is Announced, which will run until Saturday.

When an advertisement is placed in the Chipping Cleghorn Gazette announcing a murder will take place, the local villagers are agog with curiosity. Is it a hoax? A practical joke? Unable to pass up such a mysterious invitation, a crowd begins to gather at the appointed time and location when, without warning, the lights go out and three shots ring out.

As chance would have it, Miss Marple is visiting an old friend in the village but can she crack the case before more people die?

Roger Liddle appears as Inspector Craddock and Ann Cater as Miss Marple.

Next month the People's give their take on the ever-art popular Art, by Yasmina Reza. Three friends find their solid friendship put to the test when one of them buys an expensive painting. The white canvas, on which a few white lines are drawn, provokes academic arguments between the men, but these gradually turn personal.

Also in February and March is the award-winning Night With Reg, by Kevin Elyot, which is set in London in the 1980s in which six gay men share one thing in common: a night they spent with a man named Reg.

That is followed by the creme de la creme of productions, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. In 1930s Scotland, the girls of the conservative Marcia Blaine Academy are assigned charismatic schoolteacher Jean Brodie.

While ideals of art, passion and daring inspire her young charges, her unconventional teaching methods provoke disapproval from her colleagues. But as war threatens Europe, personal rivalries, political ideals and power games threaten to destroy Brodie and those around her.

Heavy drama arrives at the People's late in April when they take on the mighty Anton Chekhov. Tom Stoppard's translation of The Seagull tells the tale of a household where success is dreamt of and failure dreaded.

Kate Atkinson is the Whitbread Prize -winning author of Behind The Scenes At The Museum and her Abandonment comes to the theatre in May. When recently separated, childless Elizabeth moves into a converted Victorian mansion she just wants to be alone. Unfortunately the new tenant finds herself with unwanted house guests.

The spring season ends with Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and The Boyfriend.

A murder is announced by Agatha Christie (adapted by Leslie Darbon), the People's Theatre, Stephenson Rd, Newcastle, January 23 to 27. Box office: (0191) 2655020 (opening times Mon-Fri 10am-1pm and Mon, Wed & Fri 7.30-9pm)

Buy one ticket, get one free for the 2pm matinee performance on Saturday January 27. To take up this offer, call the box office on (0191) 265 5020 and quote reference MARPLE27172. This offer is subject to availability. Offer ends 8pm on January 26.

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