I am a freelance writer specialising mainly in health and education and living in Staffordshire. Find me on Linked In
Cutting edge theatre, top acts and community involvement
Star names, innovative theatre and a strong community focus will be very much to the fore as part of the newly launched winter/spring season at the Lichfield Garrick Theatre.
New Artistic Director, Tim Ford, who took over at the Garrick this summer, has clearly exerted his influence, together with a flourishing contacts book of top-notch theatrical people, to literally deliver something for everyone.
Although the new season officially runs from November 2015 to June 2016, Tim has largely been responsible for compiling the programme from next January onwards.
And he has jam-packed it full of brand new shows and popular favourites to suit all tastes, with the Lichfield Garrick also being chosen to kick off a number of top productions before they embark on national tours.
Gyles Brandreth brings his inimitable style to Lichfield
Big names treading the boards this year include singers Gareth Gates, Jodie Prenger, Nancy Kerr, comedians Jenny Éclair, Mark Thomas, and Arthur Smith, plus the likes of the inimitable Gyles Brandreth, wildlife cameraman/presenter Gordon Buchanan and Strictly Come Dancing winner Pasha Kovalev.
But that is not even a fraction of the story, or the amazing entertainment in store for theatre-goers to the Lichfield Garrick during the winter/spring season.
Comedian Jenny Eclair joins Susie Blake and Kate Robbins as the Grumpy Old Women
One of the highlights of the programme is the Garrick's first ever community musical, The Hired Man, which will run from July 29 to August 6.
Directed by Tim Ford, and originally created by Melvyn Bragg and composer Howard Goodall (Blackadder, Bend It Like Beckham), auditions for every role from singers and actors to musicians and technicians will start at the end of March.
Tim has promised a "radically different" programme with the emphasis on more artistic work at the expense of tribute acts, although one or two of the more popular ones remain.
A full programme of entertainment awaits at the Garrick
And he has certainly delivered on his pledge to cover lots of different genres, with several leading theatrical companies coming to the Lichfield Garrick for the first time.
They include Oddsocks theatre who bring a musical version of Shakespeare's 'Much Ado About Nothing' to the Garrick on June 7 and 8 ahead of a UK tour.
Jodie Prenger stars in Tell Me On A Sunday
Similarly, the Garrick will be opening the national tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Tell Me On A Sunday' starring Jodie Prenger, from March 3-5, while Derby Theatre presents Joan, based on the story of Joan of Arc, on May 13 as part of its UK tour.
Other great theatre includes Alan Ayckbourn's 'Round And Round The Garden' (Feb 8-10), Agatha Christie's 'A Murder Is Announced' (Feb 23-27) and 'The Mousetrap' (April 4-9), and the Judy Garland story, 'End Of The Rainbow' (May 16-18).
Marvellous Imaginary Menagerie offers something completely different
But there is also a great deal of innovative theatre such as the UK touring production of 'Dracula: The Kisses' with an all-female cast (Feb 12), 'Boris And Ingrid' (Mar 12) which explores the impact of dementia, 'Marvellous Imaginary Menagerie' (Mar 18), described as Roald Dahl meets Tim Burton, improvised musical Showstopper (Feb 6), and The Best Thing (July 1-2) by Vamos Theatre with no dialogue and the cast all wearing masks.
And, as well as Strictly winner Pasha, other dance shows range from Vienna Festival Ballet's production of Giselle (May 19-21) to a performance by the all-male Balletboyz on May 28.
The Garrick's other new additions include the introduction of monthly Film Nights and Jazz Nights, and the promotion of local talent including Rebecca Newman's new production, 'The Enduring Romance of Cathy and Heathcliff (April 9).