What's on in pictures

Platinum anniversary at Sidmouth

SIDMOUTH Folk Festival returns this year, from Friday 2nd to Friday 9th August – for the 70th anniversary, making it one of the world’s longest established celebration of traditional folk music and dance. Sidmouth has been at the heart of the English – and British, European and world – folk scene, championing traditional music, dance…

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Don Giovanni, Bath Opera, Wincanton

THERE are no makeweight roles in Don Giovanni. Every one of the eight characters is important to the story and each has his or her moment or more of operatic glory. The central partnership is that of the Don, woman-chasing, arrogant and domineering, and his servant Leporello, quick-witted and loyal (up to a point). But…

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Kipps at Shaftesbury Arts Centre

SIX decades ago, rock and roller Tommy Steele decided to turn his attention from Singing the Blues to the stage. Composer and lyricist David Heneker and Beverley Cross (book) were commissioned to write a “vehicle” show for him, and the HG Wells 1905 novel Kipps was chosen. In 1963 Tommy opened at the Cambridge Theatre as…

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Disney’s Aladdin, Bristol Hippodrome

THE always polished professional Disney stage productions put you in mind of modern day packaging of chocolates and sweets, beautiful presented giving the impression that there is far more of the product within the wrapping that there actually is. When you finally get over the shortage of the product on offer and sample the sweets…

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Suite in Three Keys, Bath Theatre Royal

NOEL Coward wasn’t called The Master for nothing, and up until the end of his long and prolific writing career he continued to produce wise and witty plays with an inimitable style. The last of these was a collection called Suite in Three Keys, all set in the same suite of a Swiss lakeside hotel,…

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Hit comedy at Cirencester’s Barn

THE adventurous Barn Theatre at Cirencester has a laugh-a-minute television favourite for its summer show, running to 17th August. With audience favourite Sam Denia in the leading role, the little theatre has a world premier revival of Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em, the show that made a huge star of Michael Crawford. Before Mr Bean,…

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Wildlife Photographer of the Year

THIS stunning image by Shashwat Harish is one of the photographs on view at Dorset Museum and Art Gallery in Dorchester in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition from 19th July to 3rd November. The world-famous exhibition from the Natural History Museum, returns to Dorset Museum & Art Gallery this summer, showcasing the world’s…

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Old Crockern and other Dartmoor tales

THE great West Country moors – Dartmoor in Devon, Exmoor in Devon and Somerset, and Bodmin in Cornwall – are steeped in history and myths. One significant area of Dartmoor is Crockern Tor, once home to the Stannary Parliament, and now the inspiration for a series of story walks, organised by Devon’s Villages in Action,…

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Labyrinth – a new arts festival in an ancient landscape

CRANBORNE Chase, with the Cursus, Badbury Rings and many prehistoric remains, is a magical landscape – where better to launch a new festival which aims to reconnect with nature and the rural environment, in a multi-arts programme of music, dance, storytelling and theatre for all the family? The Labyrinth Arts Festival will take place at…

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New era for Cerne Abbas Festival

CERNE Abbas Music Festival, established in 1991 as a relaxed but high quality celebration of the chamber music repertoire, takes a new direction this year, with a new venue and an inaugural autumn series. Most concerts for this year’s festival, from Friday 12th to Sunday 14th July, will be in the usual venue, the village’s…

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Player Kings, Bristol Hippodrome and touring

IN the show Cowardly Custard you will find a song entitled Why Must the Show go on, which makes it rather appropriate that it was from the stage of the Noel Coward Theatre that Sir Ian McKellen fell a couple of weeks ago, making it impossible for him to finish the run of Players Kings…

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Seeing the wood for the trees at The Art Stable

FORMER associate editor and senior artist at The Sunday Times, environmental artist Gary Cook has been exploring the mysterious and beautiful remnants of England’s temperate rainforests, and the results are on show in a powerful exhibition at The Art Stable at Child Okeford, running to 20th July. After graduating from Bournemouth University in the late…

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Moviola in high summer

IF you wanted a dream duo to lead a film, you really couldn’t do better than Olivia Colman and Jessie Buckley. So it’s no surprise to find Wicked Little Letters, with these two stunningly versatile and charismatic actresses in the lead, is the most in-demand film of the summer with Moviola audiences. Sad therefore, that…

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Hardy novel opera premiere for Dorset Opera’s golden jubilee

DORSET Opera celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, with performances of one of the world’s best-loved operas and the premiere of an opera adapted from a favourite Thomas Hardy, with its roots firmly in Dorset. There will be seven performances of the two works at Bryanston School’s Coade Hall, Blandford Forum, from 22nd to 27th…

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The Dressing Book, The Rude Mechanicals on tour

JUST a short time before the powerful Bridgerton family burst into the London society, 30 miles away in Tunbridge Wells the social scene was already abuzz, and “fashion”, in all its many meanings, was the beating heart of life. There, coal merchant and magistrate Sir George Erstwhile daily reminded his decorative wife that she was…

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Birthday Day, Wassail at The Speedwell, Crewkerne and touring

WASSAIL, known as Somerset’s resident theatre company, is back with a bang (or at least a strawberry pavlova) in a new show called Birthday Day, currently touring until the beginning of September. Based on a short story by company founder Nick White, it does what Wassail does best – get into the heart of the…

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Thirty plays from 21 companies in the open-air this summer

IT’S hard to imagine sitting in the open air on a balmy summer’s evening after the winter and spring we have had, but that clearly hasn’t deterred any of the touring theatre companies from planning a 2024 season full of delights to suit all ages and most tastes. The post-COVID doldrums have receded, and new…

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Hamlet, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, Kingston Lacy and touring

WHEN stoically British audiences go to “summer’ open air performances, they are weighed down with food and drink for picnics, camping chairs, tables, and in some cases rugs, snuggle-suits and pillows as they set off from the car park to the auditorium, ready to spread out and relax. Then comes the play, and most of…

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Here Be Dragons – Somerset myths

SOMERSET is a county full of myths, legends and magic – from King Alfred and the burned cakes to King Arthur and Camelot. These and many other tales are brought to life in a new play, being toured by Taunton Thespians, from 16th to 27th July. Here Be Dragons, Somerset’s own mythical comedy, is a…

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Debuts and premieres at 15th Ballet Under the Stars

COVENT Garden Dance Company celebrates 15 years of Ballet Under the Stars in the beautiful historic walled garden at Hatch House near Tisbury. This year’s four night festival, from Thursday 25th to Sunday 28th July, will include the first live music, the first time Balanchine’s Diamonds has been performed and a debut for the Somerset-based…

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Wide-ranging programme for Lumas Winds

LUMAS Winds, an award-winning quintet of young woodwind players, comes to Dorset and Somerset from Friday 19th to Sunday 21st July for a Concerts in the West series. The programme ranges from an Afro-Cuban concerto by Valerie Coleman, to Six Bagatelles by Gyorgy Ligeti. Lumas Winds will be at Bridport Arts Centre on Friday 19th…

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Love Riot, Miracle Theatre, ECOS Frome and touring

IT’S good to see the Cornish-based Miracle Theatre back on the summer touring circuit, and this year they have chosen what they describe as a reimagining of Hannah Cowley’s play The Belle’s Stratagem and entitled it Love Riot. The company has been touring a huge variety of plays over more than two decades, so it…

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Crime, comedy … and Ben Hur!

SIDMOUTH is once again getting ready for its unique summer programme of entertainment – the beautiful south Devon town’s Manor Pavilion theatre hosts the country’s only surviving summer rep season, from 24th June to 21st September. This year audiences for the three-month series of plays will be treated not only to the familiar mix of…

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Clean lines at Sladers Yard

CERAMICIST Yo Thom and painter Vanessa Gardiner do not immediately have much in common, but when you see their work together – as you can at Sladers Yard gallery at West Bay until 14th July – you see synergies and a shared sense of structure in the clean lines of their very different artworks. North…

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Somerset Printmakers at the Rural Life Museum

THE historic setting of Somerset Rural Life Museum at Glastonbury, with the ancient tithe barn, is the setting for a showcase of artwork by 13 printmakers living and working in Somerset, from 25th May to 1st September. Somerset Printmakers are a group of professional artists dedicated to creating original prints and pushing the boundaries of…

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