Colchester Mercury’s spring and summer season
- Credit: Archant
Entertainment writer Wayne Savage looks at the Colchester Mercury’s spring and summer season.
Three very different dramas form the basis of the Colchester Mercury’s spring and summer season, featuring more than 60 shows in five months.
The Made in Colchester season, its in-house produced work, opens with the West End and Broadway smash End of the Rainbow, starring Loose Women’s Lisa Maxwell and directed by the Mercury’s artistic director Daniel Buckroyd.
Mixing drama, comedy and concert sequences, Judy Garland is about to make her comeback again. Struggling with addiction, she embarks on a series of concerts at the Talk of the Town to re-claim her crown as the greatest talent of her generation.
The theatre will also stage the regional premiere of Bruce Norris’ critically acclaimed, multi-award winning comedy drama Clybourne Park, a satire lifting the lid on race and real estate in a fictional Chicago neighbourhood. The swinging 60s are just around the corner as a black family move into a suburban white enclave, triggering predictable mutterings from the neighbours. Fifty years on, you return to the same house as gentrification sets in and roles are reversed.
Rounding up the Made in Colchester spring and summer season is Noël Coward’s classic comedy Private Lives. Glamorous divorcees Amanda and Elyot haven’t seen each other in years. When they find themselves honeymooning with their new spouses in adjacent suites at the same French hotel at the same time, old sparks are reignited.
Famously written in only three days, it premiered in 1930 but remains as fresh, funny and moving as ever.
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“We’re excited to be producing three acclaimed and very different dramas at the heart of our new season – a ferocious, funny and fascinating look at the last few months of Judy Garland’s turbulent life; a delicious dark comedy about who we’re prepared to have as our neighbours and a classic comedy of marital manners,” says Buckroyd.
After major refurbishment, the Mercury’s Studio Theatre hosts a wide variety of new talent, hard-hitting visiting drama and comedy.
Continuing its commitment to developing new talent, the theatre will be a partner venue for the National Theatre Connections Festival for the first time. Connections plays are commissioned for and about young people from some of the best contemporary playwrights and are performed by schools and youth theatres all over the UK and Ireland.
For drama lovers there’s Crazy Glue, following the tragicomic roller coaster of a couple’s romance as they move from the blossoming of first love through to the thornier terrain of married life. The studio also hosts the UK premiere of Hamlet, Who’s There - a claustrophobic drama that compresses the events of the play into a single continuous night.
Play Something reflects changes and lives of LGBT men while I Know All The Secrets In My World is a love duet for a father and son as they move through stages of grief. Thanks to access to the letters of Eleanor Roosevelt, learn about one of the most extraordinary women of the 20th Century in Mrs Roosevelt Flies To London.
One-man play Love, Bombs and Apples comprises comic and poignant tales of four men, each from different parts of the globe, all experiencing a moment of revelation. New play Groomed takes a darker look at education and how theatre can release and music can set you free. There’s also the world premiere of Boris and Ingrid, exploring the inevitability of time, solitude and the joys of being odd.
There is a half-term treat for ages four and up when interactive theatre show The Boy Who Bit Picasso visits the studio, featuring storytelling, music and the chance to make your own art as families are introduced to one of the 20th Century’s most influential artists through the eyes of a young boy.
“We’re proud to be a host venue for the 21st anniversary season of the National Theatre’s Connections Festival,” Buckroyd adds, “and to have a full programme of more intimate, adventurous and original work on offer in our newly refurbished Studio Theatre – some of the most exciting new work is now playing and being created here in Colchester.”
Other shows include Strictly Come Dancing favourites Ian Waite and Natalie Lowe, wartime drama Flare Path, a new production of the acclaimed comedy Invincible, actor Simon Callow probes into the life, work, triumphs and failures of Orson Welles, cricketer Phil Tufnell teams up with his TMS colleague Aggers for a no-holds-barred evening for cricket fans and Last Tango In Halifax actor Anne Reid presents her cabaret show I Love To Sing.
Thanks to improvements made in the main theatre with the introduction of acoustic screens earlier this year, the Mercury is partnering with Roman River Festival to extend its classical music programme next year. Tasmin Little, one of the best-loved violinists and one of the most recorded classical artists in the world, will be joined on stage by eminent pianist Piers Lane. Internationally renowned concert pianist Sergio Tiempo will also make his Colchester debut.
There’s plenty of comedy too from Lee Nelson, Russell Kane, Bridget Christie and Mark Steel. There’s circus fun for adults too courtesy of Britain’s Got Talent finalists the Circus of Horrors.
Dance lovers can journey to the heart of Spain with Jairo Barrull Flamenco Company’s El Llanto Se Mueve, with Barrull and Irene La Sentio joined by award-winning gypsy musicians from Andalucia to evoke the pure essence of flamenco’s soul - el llanto.
Popular community celebrations The Chinese New Year Gala and the Good Friday Service return. Local talent shines when the Lorraine George School of Dancing and Performing Arts stage their showcase Show Time ‘16 and the year three students of Colchester Institute’s BA honours musical theatre course perform new musical Big Fish.
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