Preview: New Wolsey springs towards 1 millionth ticket

As they bring their tenth birthday season to a close, and rehearsals begin for their annual ‘rock n roll’ panto, Robin Hood, Ipswich’s New Wolsey Theatre has just announced details of their new Spring Season.

After the tenth birthday season, the spring season marks another major milestone for the 400-seat venue. At some point during the season, the theatre will sell its one millionth ticket since the theatre re-opened; a remarkable success story in challenging times for regional theatre.

As has become usual for the New Wolsey, the season contains an eclectic mix of drama, new writing, physical theatre and comedy.

The venue has steadily established a name for nurturing new musicals and the first main production of the season is a return of Reasons To Be Cheerful, a co-production with Graeae Theatre that ran to packed houses in Ipswich during 2010. The show, centred around the music of Ian Dury and the Blockheads, plays in Ipswich ahead of a national tour.

The venue itself will be staging a brand new production of Alan Ayckborn’s classic comedy Bedroom Farce while New Wolsey associate company Gecko will be bringing its latest work, Missing, to the Ipswich venue ahead of a national tour.

Alongside the in-house programme, there is a strong programme of visiting productions on offer. Out of Joint and Chichester Festival Theatre’s hit production of Carol Churchill’s Top Girls arrives in Ipswich direct from the West End, while perennial favourites Hull Truck bring their new production of DNA to Ipswich.

If you’ve ever wondered what happens to actors once the work dries up, Nottingham Playhouse may have the answer as they turn the New Wolsey Theatre into a rest home for retired actors in their musical play Forever Young.

For those looking for the more surreal, madcap comedy theatre company Spymonkey bring their anarchic take on Greek tragedy with their unique Oedipussy.

There is another twist on a well-known tale with Talawa Theatre and West Yorkshire Playhouse’s version of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot with an all-black cast.

A line-up of short runs, children’s shows and comedy completes a busy season for the New Wolsey but it’s a season that excites Sarah Holmes, the venue’s Chief Executive.

“We are thrilled to bring back the Graeae and New Wolsey co-production Reasons to be Cheerful at the start of its national tour. This is going to be a great way to kick off the season.”

Asking a venue’s Chief Executive to pick highlights from the programme is like asking a parent to pick a favourite child but there are a couple of shows that Holmes can’t help enthusing over.
“I’m very pleased that Spymonkey is back with their new show. I think it’s an extremely balanced season with something for everyone. I’m also particularly looking forward to Top Girls and also to Tiddler by Scamp, our family Easter show.”
Like any venue the New Wolsey is looking at ways to encourage new audiences to get into the theatre habit and, for Holmes, the programming offers something for all age groups,

“My hope for the new season would be to see more family groups coming to see us. So much of what we present is perfect family entertainment and, in my experience, theatre is a great way to spend time with young people.”

The New Wolsey Theatre’s spring season goes on general sale on November 11 and full details can be found at http://www.wolseytheatre.co.uk/

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