SPOTLIGHT ON: Theatre Royal Brighton’s winter season, from Ruby Wax’s journey to find peace to Liza with a Z and THE Dame Joan Collins

Brian Butler August 17, 2023

If you don’t know who Percy Gibson is, or which of Henry VIII’s wives were divorced, beheaded or survived, you need to study Theatre Royal Brighton’s winter season.

Comedian and mental health campaigner Ruby Wax gives us the aptly titled I’m Not As Well As I Thought I Was for one night on 14 September, which is her story of the journey to find peace and happiness – with a lot of laughs along the way.

On 16 September, Christina Bianco presents Liza with a Z and more! Full of Liza Minelli’s songs and backed by the 28-piece jazz orchestra, the London Gay Big Band, it has choreography by David Allwood, re-creating the legendary moves of Bob Fosse. The show elebrates 50 years of the album of the same name.

Explosive new musical La Bamba bursts on to the stage 19-23 September. Strictly star Pasha Kovalev, and The Wanted’s Siva Kaneswaran are joined by Inez Fernandez. It’s the story of how the power of music can transform a generation and celebrate a community. Full of Latin, R & B and rock/pop it’s about a young girl with a big voice. Choreography is by Strictly’s Graziano Di Prima.

Iconic musical Blood Brothers by Willy Russell is staged 3-7 October. Twins, separated at birth, grow up in Liverpool on opposite sides of the tracks until their fateful reunion. Worth it to hear Tell Me It’s Not True alone.

It’s followed 9 -14 October by Greatest Days – the official Take That musical. It includes 15 of their hits, alongside a story of love and laughter by Tim Firth, creator of The Calendar Girls. It stars Brookside’s Jennifer Ellison. For one night only, on 16 October, a talented cast of mimics re-create the 1950s hit radio series Hancock’s Half Hour. James Hurn plays the hapless Hancock, resident of 23 Railway Cuttings, East Cheam, with Colin Elmer playing the equally fabulous Kenneth Williams. The show comprises three of the series’ favourite episodes.

The stage will be full of Hollywood glitter on 21 October when Dame Joan Collins presents her show Behind The Shoulder Pads, based on her new memoir. Appearing with husband Percy Gibson, she’ll field questions from the audience and show footage across her seven decades of entertaining us.

2:22 A Ghost Story is a funny, adrenaline-filled night where secrets emerge and ghosts may or may not appear. Dare you discover the truth? It features TV stars Joe Absolom, Charlene Boyd, Nathaniel Curtis and Louisa Lytton. It’s written by Danny Robins, who created The Battersea Poltergeist. It runs 24-28 October.

If you’re up for some queer heart-warming musical moments, then the award-winning Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is up your street. Following record-breaking West End residence and UK tour, it comes back to the Theatre Royal from 31 October – 11 November. It’s the story of a 16-year-old Sheffield council estate boy who dreams of stardom as a drag artist. It stars the amazing Ivano Turco, who I was blown away by when he played the Prince in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ill-fated musical Cinderella. EastEnders star John Partridge plays drag queen Loco Chanelle, who becomes Jamie’s mentor.

We’re back to the ghosts and ghoulies from 14-18 November for The Enfield Haunting, which stars Dr Who and Queen of Oz star Catherine Tate and Funny Woman’s David Threlfall. It’s a world premiere from the pen of Paul Unwin, co-creator of TV’s Casualty. Based on real-life, it features one night in 1978 when events come to a climax. And you’ve no settee to hide behind.

Twelve Angry Men (20-25 November), is a classic courtroom thriller, where a young delinquent, accused of murdering his father, finds his fate is in the hands of a jury, who turn every which way until the stunning finale. It stars Dallas legend Patrick Duffy.

Tony Award-winning rock musical Six storms back to Brighton from 19 December – 6 January 2024. From Tudor queens to pop princesses, the six wives of Henry VIII take to the mic to tell their tales – and Henry doesn’t come off well. Smart, sassy, loud and glorious.

If you fancy seeing behind the scenes then Saturdays from 30 September – 25 November are for you. You get to see the secrets of one of the UK’s oldest working theatres – its nooks, crannies, ghost – you’ll see it all – well maybe not the ghost.

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