The curtain rises on a revamped Theatre Royal and big name shows
The Theatre Royal Plymouth is putting itself in the spotlight this autumn when the curtain rises after a summer in the dark.
The theatre closed in the spring for a £7 million refurbishment of the 31-year-old venue. The dramatic redevelopment includes an extension allowing level access and a new box office, shop and cafe. There will be an outdoor terrace and an extended restaurant. A new studio space in the basement will be the city-centre home of the theatre's creative learning department. It will seat 100 and be the venue's third auditorium
To celebrate the facelift is a great autumn season which begins with the UK touring premiere of War Horse, based on the book by Devon author Michael Morpurgo.
Such is the show's popularity that it sold out months ago. Happily there are lots of other delights, great and small, for Westcountry audiences.
After War Horse (which runs from September 27 to October 12) dance takes centre stage with Matthew Bourne's iconic production of Swan Lake.
The production, with its all-male chorus, has been a global success since its premiere in 1995. The new production begins its national tour in Plymouth – a venue which has long enjoyed a close collaboration with the choreographer.
Swan Lake is followed by the return of another popular visitor – Birmingham Royal Ballet with their ever-popular triple bill. This year you can see Tombeaux – David Bintley's homage to classical ballet and a tribute to his mentor, Frederick Ashton – with E=mc2, which explores Einstein's celebrated Special Theory of Relativity and Still Life at the Penguin Cafe, a witty and poignant look at man's effect on the world.
The triple bill is in season with the full-length ballet, The Sleeping Beauty.
Dance fans will also be delighted by the return of Rambert with a programme that features four spectacular works including; L'Après-midi d'un faune, a masterpiece by the legendary Ballets Russes set to wonderful music by Debussy; the hugely enjoyable What Wild Ecstasy by Rambert's artistic director Mark Baldwin, and Itzik Galili's SUB, a muscular high-energy work for seven male dancers. There's also a world premiere by Barak Marshall – a rare chance to see work by one of America's most celebrated choreographers who is making his Rambert debut with The Castaways.
All male theatre group Propeller bring Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream to life in a multi award-winning production that has enchanted packed houses all over the world.
A new Alan Bennett play is always popular and the Theatre Royal is lucky enough to be staging his latest – the National Theatre production of People.
It will star Sian Phillips as Dorothy, owner of a stately home that her sister wants to hand to the care of the National Trust, but Dorothy favours a more creative solution.
It also stars Brigit Forsyth, Selina Cadell and Michael Thomas. The director is Nicholas Hytner who worked with Alan Bennett on The History Boys and The Habit of Art.
On the operatic front, Glyndebourne Touring Opera offer a choice of three works – Humperdinck's Hänsel und Gretel, Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore and The Rape of Lucretia by Benjamin Britten.
Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake is at the Theatre Royal Plymouth from October 18-26; Birmingham Royal Ballet appear from October 29 to November 2; Propeller's A Midsummer Night's Dream is November 6-9; People is November 12-16; Rambert is November 27-29; Glyndebourne Touring Opera is December 3-7.