A poignant play marking the 100th anniversary of the First World War, a family musical with a twist and a spectacular showcase from two Strictly stars are part of a packed summer programme at Durham’s Gala Theatre.

Birdsong, which runs from Monday 21 to Saturday 26 May, is based on the world famous novel by Sebastian Faulks and will be performed by a large ensemble company including Olivier-nominated actor and former Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan.

Tickets cost £25 or £23 for concessions but can be bought for £20 if booked before Friday, 4 May.

The new season’s theatre schedule also includes Rattle Snake on Wednesday 30 May, a dramatic story based on real life experiences of women who have faced and survived domestic abuse.

Other productions include Woven Bones, a tale which brings to life the untold accounts of Scottish Soldiers who were marched to Durham and imprisoned in the disused Cathedral and Castle, and Happy Hour, a fast-paced comedy exploring the modern obsession with happiness and success.

There’s plenty to keep young people entertained, from Northern Ballet’s Ugly Duckling on Thursday, 10 May to Tidy Up – a dance theatre show inspired by children’s desire to create order, patterns and systems on Sunday, 27 May.

Gala Theatre Stage School will also return with their latest production, The Addams Family, from Wednesday 1 to Saturday 4 August.

The heart-warming story of love, family and friendship will include some of the region’s most talented young performers, with tickets costing £15 or £50 for a family ticket.

Kate Rusby, one of folk’s most original songwriters whose musical career spans over 25 years, will grace Gala’s stage on Thursday, 3 May for an unforgettable concert, while inventive musicians Decostruttori Postmodernisti showcase their unusual arrangements on Friday, 8 June – featuring the electronic instrument the Theremin.

English Touring Opera is also returning to Gala Theatre, starting with a new production of The Marriage of Figaro on Monday, 14 May.

The following day sees a double bill of Il Tabarro and Gianni Schicchi, one-act operas that show Puccini at his finest. Tickets cost £29 each or £49 when booking for both evenings’ shows.

Strictly’s Ian Waite and Oti Mabuse will also bring their dazzling dance routines to Durham on Sunday, 17 June, followed by one of the most popular dance shows in the world, Rhythm of the Dance, on Thursday, 12 July.

Side-splitting comedy returns to Gala, with One Woman Sex and the City promising both laughs and heartaches on Sunday, 13 May, and Grumpy Old Women – starring Jennie Éclair, Dillie Keane and Lizzie Roper – visiting the city on Saturday, 19 May.

For more details, visit www.galadurham.co.uk