A new production of Willy Russell’s classic play Educating Rita is among the highlights of another packed season at Gala Theatre.
The spring programme at the Durham City venue also includes a varied and exciting line-up of comedy, music, film screenings and much more.
Intelligent, funny, and as relevant today as it was when it was written in 1980, Educating Rita is a modern classic. Hairdresser Rita is unhappy in her job. With a thirst for knowledge, she signs up for an Open University course in English Literature, where her tutor Frank is a middle-aged alcoholic. Forming an unlikely bond, brash Rita and academic Frank begin to inspire each other.
The Gala-produced show follows September’s critically acclaimed The Fighting Bradfords, which was the venue’s first theatre production outside of its pantomime for six years.
Educating Rita runs from Tuesday, 4 April to Saturday 8 April, with a two-for-one ticket offer for Gala members on opening night.
There’s more live theatre in February, with The Empty Nester’s Club. Mum Vicky shares her story of empty bedrooms, fresher’s flu, boyfriends, long goodbyes, motorway service stations and trips to Ikea. She also tells how she fought back to be the woman she is today.
Presented by the John Godber Company and Theatre Royal Wakefield, who return to Durham after last year’s Shafted!, The Empty Nester’s Club is at Gala Theatre on Monday, 6 February and Tuesday, 7 February.
The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) presents The Tempest via the big screen on Friday, 3 February. The production sees Simon Russell Beale return to the RSC after 20 years to play Prospero in a ground-breaking and unforgettable show.
On a distant island a man awaits. Robbed of his position, power and wealth, his enemies have left him in isolation. But this is no ordinary man and no ordinary island. Prospero is a magician, able to bend nature to his will.
There’s a second RSC screening on Wednesday, 26 April with Julius Caesar. As the race to claim the empire spirals out of control, betrayal turns to violence in Shakespeare’s epic political tragedy.
The new season also brings more screenings from the National Theatre’s NT Live programme. Game of Thrones star Lucian Msamati takes on the role of Amadeus on Thursday, 2 February, while The Affair’s Ruth Wilson stars as Hedda Gabler on Thursday 9 March.
Spring also brings music to Gala Theatre with songs and sounds to suit all tastes.
The Pitmen Poets share songs and stories on Sunday, 5 February and there’s a chance to relive the music of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr on Saturday, 25 February with The Rat Pack Vegas Spectacular.
Elkie Brooks, one of the most popular singers the UK has ever produced, performs on Sunday, 5 March. With numerous hit singles and million-selling albums, Elkie promises an evening that will be a treat for fans new and old.
Also taking to the stage are the Yamato Drummers, who will be captivating audiences with an explosive visual spectacular on Tuesday, 11 April, while guitarist and singer-songwriter Chantel McGregor, showcases a bigger and bolder rock sound on Thursday, 13 April.
There are also plenty of laughs lined up with a gaggle of top class comedians set to entertain audiences over the coming months.
Susan Calman celebrates her 10th year in comedy with a brand new show, which she brings to Gala on Sunday, 12 February.
And, later in the month, on Friday, 24 February, audiences can expect a heady mix of spontaneous stand-up and outlandish musical talent courtesy of Alex Horne and The Horne Section.
In The Sound of Mucus, showbiz legend Count Arthur Strong pays tribute to one of the best musicals he can remember, recreating the salient and poignant moments for the audience’s enjoyment. Demand for tickets has led to a second date being added, with the show now running on Wednesday, 22 February and Thursday, 23 February.
Publican, politician and philosopher Al Murray – The Pub Landlord embarks on a common sense campaign to re-Great Britain in his brand new show at Gala on Saturday, 18 March, while Lee Nelson is back on the road, visiting Durham on Sunday, 30 April.
Other comedy highlights include Love Island narrator Iain Stirling (Monday, 27 February), Mock the Week’s Andy Parsons (Sunday, 23 April) and writer, journalist and DJ Danny Baker (Wednesday, 8 March).
Fans of Gala’s regular The Comedy Store slot, meanwhile, can snap up a season ticket. Valid for three shows (Sunday 29 January, 26 February and 16 April), it means a saving of £2 per show.
The new season at Gala also includes plenty of fun for all the family with a selection of shows aimed at younger theatre-goers.
Sponge is a fabulously kitsch adventure for babies aged from six months to children under four and their grown-ups. At Gala on Friday, 24 February and Saturday, 25 February, the show is infused with audience participation, improvisation and multi-sensory experiences.
Dare you take on the dangers of Dinosaur World? Grab your compass for a journey across uncharted territories to discover a pre-historic world of astonishing and remarkably realistic dinosaurs. The whole family can enjoy the interactive show on Saturday, 15 April and Sunday, 16 April.
The Scarecrow’s Wedding is at Gala on Tuesday, 18 April and Wednesday, 19 April. From the creators of The Gruffalo, this truly heart-warming show is bursting at the seams with style, wit, drama and wedding bells.
Robin Byers, Durham County Council’s service manager for place and experience, said: “Gala is well established on the touring circuit for many of the country’s top comedians, musicians and performers, and each season we try to select the very best of that work for our audiences.
“We feel we have a really strong season this spring, and we know it will appeal to our regular Gala customers, as well as bringing new people to the venue.”
To view the full spring programme and book tickets, visit Gala Theatre box office, call 03000 266 600 or go online at www.galadurham.co.uk