9 stage shows to enjoy in Suffolk and north Essex in September and October

The cast of Once gathered outside The New Wolsey's rehearsal space. Picture: MIKE KWASNIAK

The cast of Once gathered outside The New Wolsey's rehearsal space. Picture: MIKE KWASNIAK - Credit: Archant

From Motown sounds to a musical adaptation of DreamWorks animation Madagascar, there are many theatrical treats in Suffolk and North Essex over the coming weeks.

Richard Digance is set to appear at the Riverside Theatre in Woodbridge.

Richard Digance is set to appear at the Riverside Theatre in Woodbridge. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Once, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, September 6-22

Launching the New Wolsey’s autumn season, this is a new production of a hit musical following the poignant story of a Dublin street musician and a Czech flower seller. The unlikely couple assemble a band from her family and his pals, and, as the music flows, romance begins to blossom. This musical won eight Tony Awards in 2012, including best musical. If the story sounds familiar, you might have seen the award-winning film which inspired the stage version. This is a chance to catch the show, co-presented by the New Wolsey and Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch, as it makes its regional premiere.

The theatre’s autumn season also includes An Evening of Marvin Gaye, Bronte spoof Withering Looks and drama The Return of the Soldier, based on the novel by Rebecca West, plus many more shows. See the website for more details and to book.

The Magic of Motown, Spa Pavilion, Felixstowe, September 8

Reach out, you’ll be there! This show has now been seen for more than a million people worldwide, featuring back-to-back classic Motown hits, glittering costume changes and dazzling dance moves. Among the songs featured are Ain’t No Mountain, Grapevine, Dancing in the Street, My Girl, Blame it on the Boogie, My Cherie Amour and many more, showcasing the sounds of stars like Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, and the list goes on.

The Spa’s new season also features a range of other concerts and musical shows, including The Greatest Show - Songs from Hollywood, based around songs from the smash hit film The Greatest Showman, which only has a few tickets left, Hallowe’en Rocks and Swing with Laughter, a magical variety show starring Bobby Davro and Anita Harris. See the Spa website.

Richard Digance - The Not Bad for His Age Tour, Riverside Theatre, Woodbridge, September 28

After celebrating 50 years in showbiz last year, Richard Digance is back with a new series of dates playing his guitar and singing, as well as telling stories. Digance has performed 4,000 live shows over the years, including 62 British tours, and still loves entertaining. He is visiting the Riverside Theatre on his tour, and will be supported by local singer-songwriter Eric Sedge on the night.

For more details, see the Riverside website, which also has information on its whole current programme, featuring many films and live broadcasts from the National Theatre.

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Moll Flanders, Mercury Theatre, Colchester, September 28 to October 13

A cast of terrific actor-musicians are set to feature in Nick Perry’s unfaithful adaptation of Daniel Defoe’s classic novel. Author Defoe falls into bed with a notorious courtesan, Elizabeth Atkins, raised in Colchester, and decides to turn her amazing stories about her life into a book. But things become complicated as he finds himself falling for Elizabeth and getting caught up in her adventures. The show is a mix of 18th-century bawdiness and 21st-century humour, and is suitable for ages 14 and over.

Other shows coming up at the Mercury include a visit by Jason Donovan on his Amazing Midlife Crisis Tour, an Audience with John Challis entitled Only Fools and Boycie, music from the Illegal Eagles and Singalonga Rocky Horror Show. See the website for more details.

Bond - An Unauthorised Parody, Quay Theatre, Sudbury, September 29

Comedian Gavin Robertson takes on 007 in this quirky comedy evening, turning his attention to the super-spy and aiming to explode every cliché in the book. The show includes Bond meeting his greatest arch-villain yet, Ian Fleming, courtesy of a time machine, and also features an extremely small car chase!

This is just one of several comedy nights at the Quay, also including Richard Digance, Andrew Lawrence, Simon Evans and a tribute by comedy historian Robert Ross to the Forgotten Heroes of Comedy. The autumn-winter programme also includes a children’s Alice in Wonderland ballet and a range of dramas and shows. See the website for full details.

Sherlock Holmes - The Sign of Four, Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, October 4-6

The game’s afoot. If you’ve enjoyed Robert Downey Jr and Benedict Cumberbatch’s screen takes on Holmes, now’s your chance to see a stage production going back to the great detective’s roots. Adapted from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s epic second Holmes tale, this touring production from Blackeyed Theatre includes adventure, romance, comedy and, of course, some brilliant deductions. The mystery starts when Mary Morstan arrives at 221B Baker Street to ask for help to find her missing father.

The Theatre Royal’s latest season also includes Bury St Edmunds Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Society’s production of classic musical High Society, a ‘Allo ‘Allo, The Goon Show, Shakespeare’s Henry V and much more. See their website for details.

Russell Watson: Canzoni d’Amore, Snape Maltings Concert Hall, October 5

He’s known as the “People’s Tenor “ - and, after selling more than seven million albums around the world, Russell Watson is now the UK’s all-time best-selling classical crossover artist. Following a sell-out tour in 2015-16, he is back with a new show, in the atmospheric setting os Snape Maltings Concert Hall.

Snape is also set to host a wide range of concerts over the autumn, with events including the William Alwyn Festival and Britten Weekend: The String Quartets. See the Snape Maltings website for more details.

Madagascar - A Musical Adventure, Ipswich Regent, October 16-20

Fans of the hit DreamWorks animated movie can now see the characters on stage in this fun family musical, set to star X-Factor winner Matt Terry as Alex the Lion. Other characters include Marty the Zebra, Gloria the Hippo. Melman the giraffe and the scene-stealing penguins. The story follows a group of animal friends as they escape from their home in Central Park Zoo in New York, and land up in Madagascar, where they meet up with outrageous ringtailed lemur King Julien. The show features an upbeat musical score, including I Like to Move It Move It.

There are also many more shows and concerts in store at the Regent over the coming weeks, including a touring production of Fame the Musical and musical tributes to everyone from Michael Jackson and Tina Turner to Pink Floyd and Elvis Presley. For more details, visit the website.

READ MORE - 11 great shows at the Ipswich Regent

Rick Wakeman - Piano Odyssey Tour, Ipswich Corn Exchange, October 26

Following his successful Piano Portraits tour last year, Rick Wakeman is back with a new tour, based around his follow-up release, Piano Odyssey. Known both as a musician and a TV personality, Rick will intersperse his piano arrangements with comedy interludes and his personal memories and anecdotes about the tunes. He will also include a few musical surprises. The concert will include tracks from both piano albums.

Other visitors to the Corn Exchange over the next few weeks include Les McKeown’s Bay City Rollers, The Three Degrees, and tributes to Neil Diamond and Bon Jovi. See their website for full listings of shows.