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Nicholas Parsons to star at West Acre

PUBLISHED: 11:58 25 March 2008 | UPDATED: 10:49 08 July 2010

VETERAN Just a Minute presenter Nicholas Parsons, world music, Ibsen, Defoe, souped-up Shakespeare and a Keith Waterhouse comedy gem... Put them all together and you've got the vital ingredients of the new Westacre Summer Theatre programme.

VETERAN Just a Minute presenter Nicholas Parsons, world music, Ibsen, Defoe, souped-up Shakespeare and a Keith Waterhouse comedy gem... Put them all together and you've got the vital ingredients of the new Westacre Summer Theatre programme.

The mix of music, drama and other entertainment unfolds at the tented arena, set in the familiar picturesque ruined priory setting at West Acre, from Sunday, June 1 and continues until Saturday, August 23.

And Isobel Smith, who runs the Westacre River Studios set-up with Andy Naylor, is confident that the 2008 programme will appeal to all ages and tastes.

She said initial response to the 2008 Summer Theatre brochure had been encouraging. "It only hit doorsteps a few days ago and already we have been inundated with bookings," Isobel added.

Nicholas Parsons is there for one night only - the opening night - to present his self-penned one-man show, How Pleasant to Know Mr Lear, an affectionate portrait of the great 19th century artist, illustrator and writer of nonsense verse, Edward Lear. Expect to rub shoulders with a host of characters from the Owl and the Pussycat to The Jumblies.

From June 6-8, it's picnic time beside the babbling River Nar as Eileanora and Friends present Summertime: Music and Melliflousness, a medley of songs, sketches and snippets augmented by the back catalogues of, amongst others, Nina Simone, Edith Piaf and Nat King Cole.

Then it's the turn of world music, with concerts on successive evenings (June 13 and 14) by the returning Aquarelle Guitar Quartet, and Afro-Tema, who mix funk with reggae and Latin rhythms. Twenty people of all ages can also take part in a drumming workshop at the River Studios earlier on Saturday, June 14.

The Oxford-based Tomahawk Theatre Company presents two performances of Henrik Ibsen's masterpiece, Hedda Gabler, on June 20 and 21, then July and August see two home-grown Westacre productions: a stage version of Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall's classic comedy, Billy Liar, then Comedy of Errors, a 1950s take on the Bard's similarly-named play in which Lieber and Stoller meet Dennis Potter!

Rounding off the summer drama offerings is a Brute Farce Theatre production of Daniel Defoe's Moll Flanders (August 22 and 23).

This year's complementary programme of Sunday afternoon Jazz Picnics will feature, on July 13, the Lumiere Rouge Ragtime Band, on August 3 the Dixie Jazz Bandits, and on August 17 the Cocktail Jazz Band.

For full details of the Westacre Summer Theatre programme call 01760 755800 or visit www.westacreriverstudios.co.uk

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