VIDEO: Big name shows packed into new season at Northampton theatre

A wide range of drama, music, comedy, dance and family entertainment will be coming to Northampton.

Kinky Boots opens its UK tour in Northampton
Kinky Boots opens its UK tour in Northampton

It comes as the Royal & Derngate in Northampton announces its new season with a few shows announced into the new year.

The Made in Northampton season continues with world premiere stage adaptations of The Lovely Bones and Touching the Void for the Autumn, and Our Lady of Kibeho newly announced for the new year. Visiting drama includes Rebus: Long Shadows and Rain Man, with The Girl on the Train coming in Spring.

The sensational musical Kinky Boots starts its national tour in Northampton in September, with Doctor Dolittle and Rock of Ages to look forward to in 2019.

Kinky Boots opens its UK tour in Northampton

The top class comedy line-up features gigs by Dylan Moran, Sarah Millican, Chris Ramsey and Sara Pascoe.

Richard Alston Dance Company returns with the best of contemporary dance, while audiences can book ahead now for performances early next year by The Russian State Ballet of Siberia.

The season includes music from a host of top artists with concerts from Rick Wakeman, Echo and the Bunnymen and Jools Holland. The theatre’s Orchestral Season continues with the annual Malcolm Arnold Festival and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s Symphonic Rock concert. Family entertainment includes Peppa Pig’s Adventure and The Snail and the Whale.

For Christmas, this year’s spectacular Derngate pantomime is Peter Pan with a star cast including Darren Day and dance group Flawless, with The Worst Witch casting a magical spell over the Royal and The Everywhere Bear for Under 7s in the Underground Studio.

Harry Judd, Louis Smith and Aston Merrygold

On the Royal stage, the theatre’s Made in Northampton season continues with the world premiere of Alice Sebold’s novel The Lovely Bones, a unique coming-of-age tale that captured the hearts of readers across the globe. Award-winning playwright Bryony Lavery collaborates with director Melly Still (Coram Boy, National Theatre) on this unforgettable story about life after loss.

Joe Simpson’s best-selling memoir turned BAFTA-winning film, Touching the Void, charts his struggle for survival in the Andes in 1985. This nail-biting adventure is now adapted for the stage by award-winning writer David Grieg and directed by Tom Morris, telling of Joe’s mental battle as he teeters on the brink of death and despair in a mountain crevasse from which he can’t possibly climb to safety.

In the new year, Royal & Derngate’s artistic director James Dacre directs the UK premiere of Katori Hall’s Our Lady of Kibeho, inspired by true events in Rwanda in 1981, when a young girl claimed to have seen a vision of the Virgin Mary who warned her of the unimaginable: Rwanda becoming hell on earth. A vibrantly theatrical meditation on faith and everyday miracles, the play was critically acclaimed when it premiered in New York in 2014.

Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro’s masterpiece The Remains of the Day enjoys its world premiere in February. The story of memory, regret and undeclared love is adapted for the stage by one of Britain’s most exciting young writers Barney Norris and directed by Christopher Haydon (The Caretaker).

Rain Man

The theatre also plays host to plenty of touring drama. Ian Rankin’s iconic Scottish detective is brought to life in Rebus: Long Shadows, a new story adapted for the stage by Rona Munro (The James’ Plays), with Charles Lawson (Coronation Street) in the title role.

For one night visits, theatre companies Le Navet Bete bring their hilarious comedy Dracula The Bloody Truth and Ad Infinitum reinvent the timeless Greek myth The Odyssey. The inaugural stage adaptation of the Oscar-winning film Rain Man comes to the Derngate auditorium, starring Matthew Horne and Ed Speelers.

The new year sees return visits from popular productions of Agatha Christie’s murder mystery The Mousetrap and the award-winning The Full Monty. Then in April the gripping thriller The Girl on the Train, adapted from Paula Hawkins’ best-selling novel, comes to the Derngate stage, starring Samantha Womack.

Royal & Derngate is delighted to have the first ever tour of the award-winning musical Kinky Boots opening in Northampton this Autumn. Based on a true story which inspired the hit film, this dazzling show celebrates the joyous story of Brit grit to high-heeled hit, from the factory floor of Northampton to the glamorous catwalks of Milan.

The Lovely Bones

There is also the chance to see local group Northampton Musical Theatre Company perform the classic musical West Side Story.

Looking ahead to the Spring, the spectacular family musical Doctor Dolittle will star Mark Williams (Harry Potter, The Fast Show) as the eccentric doctor, alongside Brian Capron and Vicky Entwhistle (both well-known from Coronation Street), in a new stage version of the show brought by the producers of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

The global smash-hit musical Rock of Ages takes to the Derngate stage in May with an LA love story lavished with over 25 classic rock anthems. For one night only, musical lovers can enjoy Welsh National Opera’s musical comedy Rhondda Rips It Up!, looking at the world of the suffragettes through the lens of music-hall, with acclaimed singer Lesley Garrett as Emcee.

Showstopper! The Improvised Musical returns, promising to create a brand new musical comedy from scratch from audience suggestions, and there will also be The Showstoppers’ Kids Show, for ages 6 and upwards in the afternoon.

A great comedy line up in Derngate auditorium includes award-winning stand up comedian Chris Ramsey with The Just Happy to Get Out of the House Tour, the irrepressible Geordie comic Ross Noble with his latest show El Hablador, BAFTA Award-winning Dylan Moran showcasing his deadpan, witty and crackpot lyricism in Dr Cosmos and the unapologetically frank Sarah Millican with her latest show Control Enthusiast. Tickets are already on sale for Dave Gorman and Jason Manford, returning in 2019.

Taking to the Royal stage are Hal Cruttenden, Sara Pascoe, David O’Doherty, Marcus Brigstocke, Seann Walsh, Phill Jupitus and Rob Newman. Upfront Comedy also returns for another night in the Royal. Intimate comedy gigs in Underground include performances by Scott Gibson, Darren Harriott, Steve Bugeja, Zoe Lyons and Stephen K Amos. Screaming Blue Murder also continues to feature many of comedy's rising stars in its fortnightly Comedy Club nights.

Touching the Void

The acclaimed Richard Alston Dance Company returns to Northampton for two nights of stunning dance, with a programme including Alston’s newest piece, Brahms Hungarian Dances. In January dance lovers will have a chance to see The Russian State Ballet of Siberia perform three classic ballets, Cinderella, Snow Maiden and The Nutcracker. The New Year also sees well-loved ballroom dancers Anton Du Beke and Erin Boag bring their latest new show to the Derngate stage.

With a sensational mix of music and dance, Rip It Up – Singing and Dancing Through the 60s brings the fabulous soundtrack of the 1960s to life, while Simply Sinatra celebrates the music of Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, featuring all the classic Sinatra hits.

Royal & Derngate's Orchestral Season continues in October with the annual Arnold Festival Gala Concert, featuring the BBC Concert Orchestra, as the culmination of the 13th Malcolm Arnold Festival Weekend, celebrating the work of the prolific Northampton-born composer. Performances from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra include Symphonic Rock, an electrifying evening of classic rock anthems, and a concert featuring Mariam Batsashvili performing Liszt’s First Piano Concerto.

The RPO continue the season in the Spring with The Colours of Mozart, when the spectacular Johann Strauss Gala also makes a welcome return. Marking Armistice Day 2018, the Heroes for Peace concert commemorates the heroes of Northamptonshire from the First World War, featuring performances by Northampton Male Voice Choir, the Northampton Bach Choir and Daventry Choral Society. In the Underground Studio, NC Jazz Presents continues to bring intimate performances of the best of contemporary jazz.

The widely varied music season also includes Rick Wakeman with a new show based on his album Piano Odyssey, performances by iconic bands Level 42, Echo and the Bunnymen and 10cc, and the ever popular Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra with special guest Marc Almond.

Evergreen folk duo Foster & Allen bring the best of Irish music, while Sixties Gold sees six acts from the era, including The Searchers, The Merseybeats and The Fortunes, bringing their most memorable hits back to life. Royal & Derngate continues to present some of the best tribute shows around, including The Etta James Story, Bowie tribute Live on Mars, rock ‘n’ roll variety show That’ll Be The Day and Michael Jackson celebration, Michael Starring Ben.

An Evening with Aggers promises entertaining tales from cricket commentator Jonathan Agnew. Celebrated BBC3 presenter Stacey Dooley makes a rare live appearance in an evening discussing a wide range of global topics, in an exploration of what it is to be a woman in the world today.

An Audience with Simon Reeve brings tales of the world famous journalist’s travels to the most remote and extreme corners of the planet. The legendary Joanna Lumley takes audiences through some hilarious and fascinating adventures from her incredible career.

Award-winning restaurant critic and Masterchef judge Jay Rayner presents The Ten (Food) Commandments – an audio-visual romp through the edible promised land.

A great season of family entertainment includes the return of Peppa Pig and friends with a new show, Peppa Pig’s Adventure, full of games, laughter and live music, and Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s best-selling picture book The Snail and the Whale is staged by Tall Stories in a magical musical production. There will also be a chance to see Michael Morpurgo’s moving drama Private Peaceful, marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One.

Looking ahead to Christmas, Jill Murphy’s The Worst Witch books are brought to the Royal stage in an original story by Emma Reeves. The Worst Witch is the story of an ordinary girl who finds herself in an extraordinary place: a school for witches. Now in her final year, accident-prone Mildred Hubble and her fellow pupils are about to embark on their biggest adventure yet… In the Underground Studio, the captivating story by best-selling author Julia Donaldson and illustrator Rebecca Cobb, The Everywhere Bear, is brought to life with rhyme, original music and delightful puppetry. Meanwhile this year’s spectacular family pantomime in Derngate auditorium will be the high-flying and swashbuckling adventure Peter Pan, starring TV and theatre star Darren Day, dance sensation Flawless, comedy double act The Grumbleweeds and musical theatre star Rachael Wood.

The theatre continues to support emerging and established artists and will be previewing work-in-progress productions as part of its Generate scheme. These showcases will include Andy Routledge’s playful retelling of Northampton’s past in 60 Miles by Road or Rail, the ongoing project Come to Where I’m From which invites playwrights to return to their hometown with plays about the places that shaped them and solo-show Oh Suburbia! by multi-award-winning Bob Karper.

Marking the 100th anniversary of the passing of the law which first allowed some women to vote, Shoulder to Shoulder sees Royal & Derngate collaborating with The Play’s the Thing Theatre Company and Cornerstone Arts Centre to work with local professional theatre companies and amateur groups, including the theatre’s own community theatre group, The Actors Company, to create four new performances and an installation that seek to measure the impact of the last 100 years of social and political change for woman.

For more information about any of these events, or to book, call the Box Office on 01604 624811 or visit