Top drama, comedy and music at the Royal and Derngate


All ages and tastes will be catered for as the spring season will see plenty of excitement at the Royal and Derngate in Northampton.

The visiting drama programme includes the hilarious West End hit The 39 Steps, the acclaimed historical trilogy The James Plays, directed by former Artistic Director Laurie Sansom, and Peter James’ thriller The Perfect Murder.

The Perfect Murder

The Perfect Murder

This is in addition to the Made In Northampton 2016 season already announced. These shows include the story of Shakespeare’s daughter The Herbal Bed, a major new production of Shakespeare’s King Lear, and the world premiere of Roy Williams’ Soul telling the tragic story of the legendary Marvin Gaye.

Among the selection of musicals this Spring are West End phenomenon Jersey Boys, Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Chicago, with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to follow later in the year.

Saint Petersburg Classic Ballet will be performing Giselle and The Nutcracker in January, while Anton and Erin are the first of several Strictly stars to grace the Derngate stage over the coming months.

The theatre’s orchestral season continues with more concerts by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, in a varied music programme that also include the singers Heather Small, Shane Filan, Jason Donovan and Lulu.

Brendan Cole

Brendan Cole

The top class comedy line up features gigs by Ed Byrne, Katherine Ryan and Bill Bailey. Family entertainment includes children’s favourites Horrible Histories, Peppa Pig and Gangsta Granny.

For musical lovers this Spring comes the Broadway and West End smash hit Jersey Boys, telling the true life story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, four boys from the wrong side of the tracks who invented their own unique sound and sold 175 million records worldwide.

Then Duncan James, from boy band Blue, stars in Priscilla Queen of the Desert The Musical, the heart-warming, uplifting and outrageous stage adaptation of the smash-hit movie.

X-Factor winner Joe McElderry dons the coveted coat in a brilliant new production of the ever popular family musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

The award-winning Broadway and West End musical Chicago, returns to Northampton, starring EastEnders actor John Partridge (appearing in Cinderella at Royal & Derngate this Christmas), Coronation Street star Hayley Tamaddon and X-Factor winner Sam Bailey (at certain performances).

For one night only, Beyond the Barricade recreates West End and Broadway hits with amazing authenticity and Jodie Prenger stars in one-woman musical Tell Me on a Sunday.

Looking ahead to the Autumn, one of the world’s favourite musicals, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang will have audiences of all ages flying high with its mixture of madness, intrigue and exuberance, featuring a star cast including Phill Jupitus and Michelle Collins.

Direct from the West End, there will also be the chance to see Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage and Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story.

The Royal auditorium also plays host to the classic spy thriller The 39 Steps, brilliantly and hilariously recreated on stage, as it starts a national tour after nine years in London’s West End.

Drama coming to the Derngate stage includes the ingenious and critically acclaimed stage adaptation of Peter James’ best-selling thriller The Perfect Murder, starring award-winning actors Shane Richie and Jessie Wallace, both well-known from EastEnders.

A sell-out success at the Edinburgh International Festival and then in London, The James Plays, directed by former Royal & Derngate artistic director Laurie Sansom for the National Theatre of Scotland and the National Theatre, now comes to Royal & Derngate, giving Northampton audiences the chance to see Rona Munro’s thrilling trilogy of history plays, vividly bringing to life three generations of Stewart kings.

For the first time ever, ITV’s popular Sunday evening 1960s-set police drama Heartbeat comes to the stage, starring original members of the TV cast, David Lonsdale and Steven Blakeley.

Blowing away the January blues, Saint Petersburg Classic Ballet bring two enchanting and well-loved ballets, The Nutcracker and Giselle, while one of the UK’s favourite dance couples, Strictly Come Dancing professionals, Anton Du Beke and Erin Boag, bring their latest show, Just Gotta Dance.

In February, fellow Strictly dancer Brendan Cole dazzles audiences with his latest show, A Night to Remember. Strictly stars Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace visit Northampton for a week in March in their final ever theatre tour, The Last Tango, while Pasha Kovalev appears for one night only in April.

Opera producer Ellen Kent returns to Royal & Derngate in March with Puccini’s Tosca. The theatre’s orchestral season continues with more performances from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and their world-class conductors and soloists, starting with Alan Buribayev conducting Rimsky-Korsakov’s epic Scheherazade. There is also a rare chance to hear the RPO conducted by their Artistic Director Charles Dutoit, when he presents a concert featuring Dvorak’s Cello Concerto and New World Symphony.

The popular and spectacular Johann Strauss Gala also returns with a sparkling evening of music and dance.

The widely varied music season includes performances by top recording artist Heather Small (former member of band M People), Shane Filan, who has made a name for himself as a solo artist after huge success with Westlife, star of stage and screen Jason Donovan, and the legendary Lulu celebrating a career spanning 50 years.

80s Invasion brings iconic performers from the era, Midge Ure, Nick Heyward, Big Country and Curiosity Killed the Cat, to the Derngate stage, while former members of the Dubliners perform as The Dublin Legends. Dillie Keane takes a break from her Fascinating Aida colleagues to bring her entertaining solo show to the Royal, while Clare Teal and her Trio offer a dazzling evening of jazz.

Royal & Derngate also presents some top tribute shows around, including performances from Rumours of Fleetwood Mac, The Bootleg Beatles, The Illegal Eagles and Motown’s Greatest Hits – How Sweet It Is.

A stellar line up of top class comedians taking to the Derngate stage this Spring includes top Irish comic Ed Byrne, the hilarious Canadian comedienne Katherine Ryan, the brilliantly intelligent Sean Lock, and the blisteringly funny Russell Kane, with the sharp-witted Bill Bailey among those to look forward to later in the year.

Comedy fans can also enjoy performances in the more intimate setting of the Royal auditorium with a programme featuring David O’Doherty, Tommy Tiernan and Richard Herring. Upfront Comedy returns with a raucous international line up, while the fortnightly Screaming Blue Murder Comedy Club continues in Royal & Derngate’s Underground, featuring many of the comedy circuit’s rising stars.

Also bringing laughs to the Derngate auditorium, BBC Radio 4’s multi-award-winning antidote to panel shows, I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, returns with its popular stage show, featuring Barry Cryer, Graeme Garden, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Jeremy Hardy and host Jack Dee, in an unmissable evening of inspired nonsense.

A packed season of family entertainment includes two new live stage shows from the ever popular Horrible Histories – Groovy Greeks and Incredible Invaders – both including thrilling 3D special effects.

This Summer the producers of Horrible Histories also bring David Walliams‘ popular children’s story Gangsta Granny to the stage for the very first time. Peppa Pig’s Surprise sees Britain’s favourite pig return to Northampton in a charming, colourful new show.

Other children’s shows include the fun-filled Count Duckula, and CBBC show Bear Behaving Badly on its first ever live tour, while Hello Kitty Live – Fashion and Friends brings the world of Hello Kitty to the stage.

From dance company Turned On Its Head, the delightful interactive show Shiny has been created especially for children aged six months to four years.

Showcasing home-grown talent, Royal & Derngate’s Youth Theatre and Young Company come together to perform the well-loved, multi-award-winning musical Oliver! in a spectacular new production on the Royal stage.

Young Company: Connect will also be presenting acclaimed writer Patrick Marber’s The Musicians, while Young Company: Respond perform short plays inspired by the Made in Northampton production of The Herbal Bed. Adult drama group, the Actors Company bring to life the market jungle of David Eldridge’s savage yarn, Market Boy.

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