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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All the fun of the Fringe

IF your thoughts go north of the border at the mention of “the Fringe” you clearly haven’t discovered the Shaftesbury Fringe, a weekend of entertainment, comedy, music, dance, theatre, cabaret, poetry, eccentricity and all-round original creativity. This year’s Shaftesbury Fringe, running over four days, from Thursday 25th to Sunday 28th July, features a massive line-up…

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Sweeney Todd – a Victorian melodrama

STORIES don’t come much more melodramatic or gory than Sweeney Todd, a popular penny dreadful-style tale of Victorian times, made famous for a new generation by Stephen Sondheim with his brilliant musical re-creation of the story of the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Now comic opera specialists Opera Della Luna come to Bath Theatre Royal…

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London City Ballet at Bath Theatre Royal

THE volume and warmth of the reception afforded to London City Ballet as they returned to touring to Bath’s Theatre Royal after an absence of nearly 30 years, is testament to the way that ballet, dance and movement have recaptured the imagination, particularly of younger theatre-goers, over the past decade. Harold King’s once enormously popular…

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Dorset vineyard celebrates anniversary and awards

LANGHAM Wine Estate this year celebrates 15 years of the vineyard at Crawthorne Farm, near Dorchester. The anniversary was marked with a party for friends of the winery and vineyard, and the release of an outstanding new still wine. Managing director Justin Langham said: “I take immense pride in evolving what was once my father’s…

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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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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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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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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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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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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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Elevate new work festival returns at Bath

ELEVATE Festival, a celebration of new work by local writers, companies and performers, returns to Bath Theatre Royal for a second year, with a two-week programme in September in the Egg theatre. The festival is presented by the theatre’s Engage programme, which is dedicated to creating participatory opportunities across Bath for creatively curious adults and…

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Summer rep at Lyme Regis

A SUMMER repertory season of popular comedies and thrillers used to be a staple of the British seaside summer, but it has largely disappeared in the past few decades, surviving only at Sidmouth, with its three-month summer rep season. Now summer rep comes to the Marine Theatre, a few miles along the coast at Lyme…

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Here Be Dragons, Taunton Thespians at Barrington Court and touring

THERE really is something special about Somerset, as indigenous families will know and Taunton Thespians’ original summer 2024 play encapsulates the county’s myths and legends in a most delightfully informative and humorous fashion. Now on tour, Lorna Evans’ play Here Be Dragons tells the tales of the fears and fancies of generations of Somerset dwellers,…

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Opera – and more – in Oborne

OPERA in beautiful rural settings is now almost as much part of the English summer (whatever the weather) as the village fete and strawberries and cream. The tiny village of Oborne near Sherborne has quietly but steadily been developing its own mini opera festival, and this year, from Friday 26th July to Sunday 4th August…

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Michael Rosen’ golden jubilee visit to Bridport

FORMER Children’s Laureate, best-selling children’s writer Michael Rosen is coming to Bridport’s Electric Palace on Thursday 1st August, celebrating his 50th anniversaries of his live performances and the publication of his first book. The talks are at 11.30am and 2.30pm. One of the world’s best-selling writers for children, and a popular broadcaster, Michael, who was…

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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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