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The real Ed Sheeran performing in Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich? Nearly

PUBLISHED: 19:00 14 June 2017 | UPDATED: 20:12 14 June 2017

Jack Shepherd mingles with the crowd during his The Ed Sheeran Experience set at The Nearly Festival. Photo: Contributed

Jack Shepherd mingles with the crowd during his The Ed Sheeran Experience set at The Nearly Festival. Photo: Contributed

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This year’s Nearly Festival is benefitting from the Ed Sheeran factor, with the Suffolk singer-songwriter’s tribute act proving almost as popular as the real thing.

Victoria Goddard performs a Motown set at The Nearly Festival. Photo: ContributedVictoria Goddard performs a Motown set at The Nearly Festival. Photo: Contributed

Co-organiser Danny Banthorpe laughed: “I’ve booked the real Ed a few times for events before he was famous. It’s become quite a joke that I’m paying these tribute acts more than I paid the real Ed Sheeran.

“I think his mum’s going to be there selling her Ed range because we’ve partnered up with St Elizabeth Hospice this year. It’s a cause close to everyone’s heart in Ipswich and hopefully we’re going to help make lots of money for the charity.”

Asked what they wanted to see and what they were looking forward to most, a Sheeran tribute topped onlines polls followed by Queen.

Queen, Bon Jovi, Oasis, Ed Sheeran, Kings of Leon, Beatles, George Michael, Stevie Wonder and Motown play Abbey Gardens, Bury St Edmunds, this Saturday and Sunday and Ipswich’s Holywells Park the following weekend.

Definitely Might Be as Oasis, performing at The Nearly Festival in Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich. Photo: ContributedDefinitely Might Be as Oasis, performing at The Nearly Festival in Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich. Photo: Contributed

The Bury St Edmunds dates also include Kaiser Chiefs, Blur, Taylor Swift and Katy Perry. The Ipswich line-up, moved back a week so it didn’t clash with Saturday’s Elton John gig, also features tributes to Amy Winehouse, Stereophonics, Specials and Madness.

“It’s a bit of a mixed bag this year to keep everyone entertained; just feel good music everyone can sing along with and reminisce,” Danny said of the festival, now in its second year in both towns. Saturday in Bury St Edmunds has sold out with limited availability Sunday. Ipswich is selling well and last weekend’s Colchester debut sold out too.

The idea beind the event is it’s nearly a festival - not as big, not as loud and not as expensive as the real thing can be. As well as music, there are lots of kids activities to enjoy.

“We’ve changed directon with our kid zone. Last year we had a stage with a few acts through the day. It was often the case parents wanted to see a certain band and it clashed with the workshops so we’re making it more informal. We’re doing lots of different stations with princess sing alongs, dance classes, craft workshops, more interaction so kids can join in whenever they want. About half will have a small fee and the other half free.”

Gates open at 12.30pm, closing 9pm Saturday and 8pm Sunday both weekends.

Rural touring theatre company Wonderful Beast loves telling a good story and winning the hearts of the community. Arts editor Andrew Clarke spoke to artistic director Alys Kihl about their discovery of a new audience.

The timeless re-telling of the classic story Peter Pan has had a burst of new life injected into it by the team of Daniel Buckroyd and Matthew Cullum. Barrie’s wonderful story about the boy who never grew up started life as a stage play before being turned into a best-selling novel, so it is fitting that Buckroyd and Cullum have returned this tale of children and their fears of the adult world to the stage for this innovative adaptation.

Top comedian Rob Brydon has lined up a date at the Ipswich Regent this year for his first stand-up tour since 2009.

Bringing together some of his favourite work, there were unicorns, dragons... okay, that’s a lie. In fact, he asked the whole audience to lie about what we’d seen so we didn’t spoil it for others.

A new community arts centre serving Felixstowe, Trimley and Kirton is being unveiled this weekend.

“Best of” - two words that often signal the winding down of a career. Not in the case of psychological illusionist Derren Brown, heading to Ipswich next week.

What I hate about reviewing theatre in the forest is, more often than not, I can’t tell you about the bits that make it so special. I’ll leave it at wrestling, singing goats, lion boxing and moustaches.

Organisers of an annual Suffolk theatre festival have revealed plans to take this year’s shows on the road for a new venture.

Theatre in the Forest returns to Jimmy’s Farm as Shakespeare meets the wild west (with a dash of Richard Curtis) in Red Rose Chain’s As You Like It.

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