Stars head theatre's autumn programme

By Roddy AshworthGARDENING guru Alan Titchmarsh, feminist icon Germaine Greer and Father Ted star Ardal O'Hanlon are the headline acts appearing at one of the region's top theatres this autumn.

By Roddy Ashworth

GARDENING guru Alan Titchmarsh, feminist icon Germaine Greer and Father Ted star Ardal O'Hanlon are the headline acts appearing at one of the region's top theatres this autumn.

The Mercury Theatre in Colchester announced yesterday a number of touring shows for its autumn season, including opera, jazz, dance, pop and rock as well as celebrity one-nighters and drama.

Comic offerings span the gentle classic humour of the Best of Joyce Grenfell, through offbeat stand-up with Father Ted and My Hero star Ardal O'Hanlon, to musical silliness with the return of Sing-along-a Sound of Music.


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Colchester illusionist Michael J Fitch and the Circus Of Horrors will also feature, adding their special brands of magic and the bizarre.

Two visiting dramas also promise to bring a host of famous faces to the Colchester theatre.

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The Play What I Wrote is Kenneth Branagh's comic celebration of Britain's greatest comedy double act, Morecambe and Wise.

The show was a sell-out hit in the West End with celebrity guest stars including Roger Moore, Dawn French and Will Young, but mystery still surrounds who will be appear as the guest star at its run in Colchester between August 31 and September 10.

Much-loved actors Rosemary Leach - who appeared in A Room With a View and Berkeley Square - and Francis Matthews, who was in About Alice and Heartbeat, will also take to the stage in William Douglas-Home's romantic comedy The Kingfisher from October 11 to 15.

Among the celebrities set to appear in one-night shows are broadcaster and writer Germaine Greer, television historian Adam Hart-Davis and gardening legend Alan Titchmarsh.

The season of music and dance ranges from Mid Wales Opera's production of Carmen and Independent Ballet Wales' Hamlet to jazz stars Georgie Fame and Humphrey Lyttleton and classic pop tributes Backbeat Beatles and The Blues Brothers Party.

Theatre-goers will also be able to experience the autumn season from the comfort of newly-installed seats in the main auditorium.

Much of the existing seating dates back to the theatre's opening in 1972, but more than 400 chairs will be replaced during the summer.

Tickets for the new season go on sale from Saturday and are available on 01206 573948 or online at www.mercurytheatre.co.uk.

roddy.ashworth@eadt.co.uk

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