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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: Contributed Victoria 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: Contributed Definitely 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.

In an adaption by acclaimed playwright Jessica Swale, who has had huge recent West End success with Nell Gwyn starring Gemma Arterton, Gallery Players present Thomas Hardy’s classic Victorian novel of love, pride and class with a charismatic, flawed female character at its centre.

Oxy and the Morons, by Paul Sirett, Mike Peters and Steve Allan Jones, New Wolsey Theatre, until October 21

From Co-Op Juniors productions and Linda Shipton’s School of Dancing to the Royal Ballet the professional dancer has come a long way. Now she is back with the latest tour by Rambert Dance Company.

The New Wolsey Theatre has a reputation for putting lots of great music in their shows. But, as Arts editor Andrew Clarke, discovers with Oxy and the Morons they are looking at whether the punk spirit can survive into middle age.

When foreign language plays are translated for the stage they usually end up as starchy period pieces with cut-glass accents. Arts editor Andrew Clarke spoke to writer Blake Morrison about making the classics much more egalitarian.

Far From The Madding Crowd is a Victorian classic but as David Henshall finds out a new stage version written by Olivier-award-winng Jessica Swale reveals it to be a story filled with surprisingly contemporary characters

Strictly Come Dancing’s Joanne Clifton will reprise her star role in Flashdance - The Musical when it comes to the Ipswich Regent next April.

It seems that the era of the long-running West End show is coming to an end. The trend is now for short-term engagements which, Arts editor Andrew Clarke says, is a good thing for our cultural economy and offers greater opportunities for new work

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