Theatre Royal Winchester is getting ready for an autumn winter programme of music, comedy, family entertainment, song, dance, drama, a sprinkling of magic, ghost stories, puppets, big names, talks, Christmas shows and, to round it up, panto!
The season starts with music and A Celebration of Celine Dion – with multi award-winning tribute artiste, January Butler (01 Sept); the 50th anniversary of Pink Floyd’s classic rock album, Dark Side of the Moon – with a spectacular performance from The Wall of Floyd (07 Sept); tribute act, Elo Again, re-enact the music of the Electric Light Orchestra (13 Sept); there’s an homage to legendary country singer-songwriter, Johnny Cash (14 Sept); and world-class jazz in The Ronnie Scott’s Story (21 Sept). Later, audience participation is required in Choir!Choir!Choir!’s brand-new show, Teen Spirit: An EPIC 90s Singaglong! (04 Oct); Graffiti Classics, the comedy string quartet, make classical music funny (15 Oct); enjoy an evening of the world’s most iconic guitar with 50 Years of Fender: The Stratocaster Story (19 Oct); impressionist Steven Brinberg takes to the stage as Barbra Streisand (20 Oct); and Winchester A Cappella present Wacappela – harmonies from well-loved films and musicals (e.g. The Little Mermaid, The Lorax) and modern artists (Queen, Rag’n’Bone Man) (21 Oct).
Comic relief comes in the form of steel worker turned police officer turned stand-up comic, Alfie Moore in A Face For Radio (02 Sept); Ed Byrne tests the formula – humour is tragedy plus time (10 Sept); Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast is back – with more top guests (15 Sept); and a comedy-award winner and poetry slam champion retells the classic film, Die Hard in Yippee Ki Yay (20 Sept). Seann Walsh presents his renamed tour, Back from the Bed (22 Sept); and Britain’s Got Talent winner, Axel Blake, shares his own brand of observational comedy (23 Sept); while Mark Watson searches for meaning (28 Sept); and there’s talent galore thanks to the Winchester Comedy Festival (29 and 30 Sept) – including the only British vicar to have had a number-one hit single, Reverend Richard Coles (01 Oct). America’s Got Talent winner and ventriloquist, Paul Zerdin, is Puppetman (27 Oct); and Phil Wang has brand-new stand up (28 Oct). TV comic, Mark Simmons, presents top-level one-liners in Quip Off The Mark (03 Nov); Ross Noble celebrates his 21st solo stand-up tour with Jibber Jabber Jamboree (05 Nov, sold out); Andy Parsons is Bafflingly Optimistic in his show (17 Nov); while Reginald D Hunter explores what’s true and what’s real in The Man Who Could See Through Sh!t (18 Nov).
There’s plenty of family entertainment – from Sofie Miller’s playful and quirky performance of Pippi Longstocking, ‘the strongest girl in the world’ (10 Sep) to the Horrible Histories’ hit West End show, Barmy Britain NEW! – including new characters and new rulers (16 – 17 Sept). The Splash Test Dummies are here with exciting stunts, acrobatics, juggling and more (23 – 24 Sept); and Winchester’s own, world-renowned magician Ben Hart returns with JADOO – wonderment inspired by his Indian family heritage (08 Oct). An award-winning storyteller brings to life best-selling author Michael Morpurgo’s I Believe In Unicorns about books and bravery (23 Oct); while singer turned children’s writer Tom Fletcher sees his interactive adventures take to the stage with There’s A Monster In Your Show (04 – 05 Nov).
Drama bookers will delight in the National Production Company’s full-scale production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth – with sorcery and sword fights (26 – 27 Sept). The Haunting – brought to the stage by Conn Artists Theatre Company – is a gripping adaptation of some of Charles Dickens’ most haunting works (05 – 07 Oct). Multi award-winning playwright, John Godber, indulges his love for Northern Soul with new dance fuelled comedy, Do I Love You? (12 – 14 Oct). Blackeyed Theatre mark the 60th anniversary tour of the classic, Oh What A Lovely War – a satirical attack on the military incompetence and disregard for human life that the First World War has come to represent (16 – 18 Oct). There is comic wizardry from a troupe of improv stars in Spontaneous Potter and Spontaneous Potter Kids (22 Oct); while Shock Horror is the must-see ghost story combining live performance, illusion and film (24 – 25 Oct). Crime and Comedy Theatre Company presents Ground Rules by British sitcom writer, Eric Chappell – with flirting, frayed tempers, jealousy and misunderstandings (01 Nov); while London Classic Theatre’s Faith Healer features four enthralling monologues that weave the stories of a spiritual healer, his wife and manager (14 – 16 Nov).
This season’s talks come from natural history film-maker, Doug Allan, who looks back over his career and gives his take on climate change on the world’s wild places (09 Sept) and former politician and railway enthusiast, Michael Portillo, tells his story (26 Oct).
There is dance from Welsh storytelling ballet company, Ballet Cymru, who present – for audiences young and old – popular children’s book author, Roald Dahl’s Little Red Riding Hood & The Three Little Pigs – with glorious costumes and stunning video (10 Oct).
Finally, to try and help more audiences enjoy more shows at a price that works best for them, each season there are a number of ‘Pick Your Price’ options. This season they are Priscilla Queen of the Disaster – an honest but comedic look at motherhood (08 Sept); Alex Lewis: Mountain – an award-winning film that follows the Hampshire resident and quadruple amputee as he sets out to climb Ethiopia’s highest mountain by way of a mobility hand cycle – with proceeds going to Play to the Crowd, the arts and education charity that runs the theatre (12 Sept). Unknown Realms is a dance double bill rooted in African and contemporary culture that examines the past and present, and features six dancers and dynamic soundscapes (03 Oct). Let’s Talk About Phillip tells the story of a sister investigating the hidden story behind her brother’s suicide (11 Oct). Finally, Triffids! – presented by Platform 4 – who have worked with the likes of The National Theatre and folk group, Bellowhead – takes the audience into John Wyndham’s classic cold war novel, The Day of the Triffids – with music and digital projection (30 – 31 Oct).
There are also a number of Christmas shows including A Christmas Carol featuring Dr Who star, Colin Baker, and former Blue Peter presenter, Peter Purves (11 Dec); Tenors Un Limited at Christmas, which sees the duo perform festive favourites such as Silent Night and Last Christmas, and popular classical and musical numbers (12 Dec); Santa’s Christmas Wish – an interactive family show with songs and a meet and greet where every child gets a present from Santa (18 Dec); and this year’s traditional family pantomime, Cinderella (30 November 2023 – 1 January 2024) – supported by regional law firm, Paris Smith.
For more information or to book tickets visit theatreroyalwinchester.co.uk, call 01962 840440 or drop into the theatre’s Box Office, which is open Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 1pm.