By Graham Chalmers
Harrogate Theatre has unveiled the programme for what it hopes will be its most successful new season to date.
Its chief executive David Bown said last week in Centre Stage, his new column for the Harrogate Advertiser, that the range of acts, shows and arts events the theatre was bringing to Harrogate was extraordinary - and he wasn’t joking.
The brochure for the new season covering the range of venues in town run either entirely or partly by the theatre is packed with star faces - and daring new ventures.
Among the most recognisable names set to appear over the new five or six months are comedians Al Murray, Dylan Moran and Simon Amstell, musicians Elvis Costello, The Bootleg Beatles and Bryan Ferry, not forgetting Jeeves and Wooster and the nation’s favourite choirmaster, Gareth Malone.
New member of Harrogate Theatre’s board, Mark Hollander, said: “The new season really shows how Harrogate Theatres is able to provide something for everyone. On every scale the season is packed with work for all tastes, ages and interests.”
Hollander’s appointment to the board, alongside fellow arrivals writer and director Joyce Branagh, sister of Kenneth, and Amanda Whittington, one of the most-performed female playwrights in the country, comes at a time of growing success and confidence at the theatre.
Now programming shows at the Royal Hall and Harrogate International Centre, the new programme can boast top quality opera (Rigoletto), ballet (Swan Lake), popular feel-good musicals such as The Twist, talks with inspirational figures such as Sir Chris Bonnington and children’s shows such as Pongo’s Party and Who Shot The Sheriff: A Tale of Robin Hood and Maid Marian presented by Harrogate Youth Theatre.
Drama offerings include perennial favourites such as Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and The Complete History of Comedy (Abridged).
But the new season also includes new and adventurous drama, often involving the theatre itself or the many associate companies it now works with.
Board member Joyce Branagh said: “I saw Edith in the Dark last year in the studio. It’s was a wonderful play, scarily well done by the theatre and Reform Theatre. It gave me goosebumps!
“So I’m really looking forward to that coming to the main stage and seeing how the bigger auditorium and larger scale, ramps up the atmosphere. “