From a celebration of boyband fandom to a modern family favourite, there's olenty to enjoy...
Abigail’s Party, Royal & Derngate, March 4 to 9
Jodie Prenger leads the cast in Mike Leigh’s groundbreaking comedy classic, at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate.
One of Britain’s most celebrated comedies, Abigail’s Party sees Beverly and her husband Laurence throwing a party for their newly-wed neighbours, Tony and Angela. Joining them is highly strung Susan, who’s been banished from the party of her teenage daughter, Abigail.
Welcome to 1970s suburbia and its heady mix of free-flowing cocktails, classic disco and cheese and pineapple sticks. As tensions rise and tempers flare, the sheen of respectability is torn away by the warring couples with hilarious and potentially disastrous consequences.
Jodie Prenger rose to fame after winning the role of Nancy in Cameron Mackintosh’s revival production of Oliver! on BBC’s I’d Do Anything. Joining Jodie are Vicky Binns (Coronation Street, Emmerdale) as Angela, Calum Callaghan (Midsomer Murders) as Tony, Daniel Casey as Lawrence and Rose Keegan as Susan.
David Baddiel’s ANiMAL-COLM The Musical, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, March 6 and 7
Malcolm doesn’t like animals, which is a problem because his family loves them, in fact, they’re wild about them. Their house is full of pets of all shapes and sizes, but what it’s not full of is stuff Malcolm likes. Such as the laptop he wanted for his birthday. The only bright spot on the horizon is the Year 6 school trip, which Malcolm never thought his parents would pay for. And yet there he is, on the bus, heading to... a farm.
What follows is a school trip like no other, where Malcolm begins to understand animals more deeply than anyone. But will he end up the same as before? A vibrant, energetic and funny musical from the award-winning Story Pocket Theatre, ANiMAL-COLM combines physical theatre, puppetry and outstanding storytelling to bring David Baddiel’s magical comic story to the stage.
Naturally 7, The Stables, Sunday March 3, 8pm
Naturally 7 is an American music group with a distinct a capella style they call ‘vocal play’, which, according to group leader Roger Thomas, is “the art of becoming an instrument using the human voice to create the sound”.
They simulate the sounds of an instrumental band using only their voices, mouths and distortion effects. The group was formed in 1999 in New York City. It currently consists of the Thomas brothers Roger and Warren, Rod Eldridge, Rickey Cort, Garfield Buckley and Kelvin ‘Kelz’ Mitchel.
They have performed with Michael Bublé, Coldplay, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Phil Collins, Ludacris, Mahalia Jackson and Queen.
Wightwick Hall Launch, Bucks Railway Centre, Quainton, Sunday March 3, 10.30am to 5pm
After 40 years of restoration, the stunning locomotive Wightwick Hall no. 6989 is being launched into steam on Sunday. Bucks Railway Centre is opening during its closed season especially for this exciting event.
In 1978, Quainton Railway Society bought an old locomotive from the scrapyard in Barry Island, Wales. Since then, Locomotive no. 6989 Wightwick Hall has been undergoing a long and complicated restoration.
Built by British Railways in March 1948, Wightwick Hall worked for 16 years and covered 640,645 miles working in fast freight and express passenger roles until June 1964. She was then sent to the scrapyard, where she spent over 13 years. Her rusty hulk was spotted by the Bucks Railway Centre restoration team, who raised £9,000 for her purchase. Wightwick Hall arrived at Quainton after a long journey, having to avoid the Severn Bridge as she was too heavy, and the new crossing had not yet been built.
Over 80 people have been involved in the 40-year restoration project. Finally, on December 11, Wightwick Hall passed her steam test, allowing her to be used for passengers, in time for the Bucks Railway Centre’s 50th anniversary this year.
On Sunday, visitors will be able to have a ride behind this stunning loco, as well as two other locomotives which will also be running.
The Railway Museum and the miniature railway will both be open, weather permitting. The Visitor Centre with shop and cafe will be open, serving food, drinks and snacks.
Book at www.bucksrailcentre.org
Here Come the Girls, The Grove Theatre, Dunstable, Sunday March 3, 7.30pm
Here Come The Girls is a new dance show starring three current and former Strictly Come Dancing professionals. Dianne Buswell and Amy Dowden are joined by Chloe Hewitt, who has now left Strictly, for a mix of individual performances and group numbers with their supporting dance partners. The show, which has a mix of ballroom and Latin routines, has been choreographed by Patrick Helm, who will also perform with Dianne.
BBC Voice singer Leanne Jarvis also joins the show.
The Band, Milton Keynes Theatre, March 5 to 9
If you’re a fan of Take That, Britain’s most successful boy band of all time, then Tuesday, March 5, could be the Greatest Day for you, when The Band opens at MK Theatre. While the show is not about Take That, it uses their music, including the songs Never Forget, Shine, Back for Good, Rule the World and, of course, Greatest Day, as a soundtrack.
Out of thousands who applied to take part, five boys won through four gruelling rounds of a competition to become ‘the band’ who feature in the show that is currently touring the UK and Ireland.
But the story is really about five 16-year-old girls who, as best friends back in 1993, bonded in their devotion to ‘the band’. Now, 25 years on and in their 40s, they try once more to fulfil their dream of meeting their heroes. But a lot can happen in 25 years.
Gary Barlow, Take That lead singer and co-producer of the show, says: “If you sat us down, then we’d all say that friendship is what is at the heart of Take That. It has kept our work strong; we’ve been a gang. The Band is about the relationships really, not the music.”
The musical stars Rachel Lumberg, Alison Fitzjohn, Emily Joyce and Jayne McKenna, with AJ Bentley, Nick Carsberg, Curtis T Johns, Yazdan Qafouri and Sario Solomon as The Band.
7 WEDDING FAIR
Wedding Inspiration Day, Waddesdon, Sunday March 3, 10am to 3pm
For the fifth year running, Waddesdon’s wedding team are opening the doors to The Dairy and the Five Arrows in this free event. Waddesdon’s historic venues will be decked out in contemporary boho chic decor, inspired by the latest bridal trends. Guests will be greeted with a glass of fizz on arrival, and have the chance to meet over 50 wedding profes-sionals.
Highlights include the latest bridal trends shown on the catwalk by Ellie Sanderson Bridal Boutique, hair and make-up demonstrations, and live performances.
Couples who register on the Waddesdon website will also receive a goody bag on the day (please note, these are on a first come, first served basis).
Bring Your Own Baby Comedy, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Monday March 4, noon
Bring Your Own Baby Comedy is the UK’s premier baby-friendly comedy club, featuring comedy stars from the circuit and TV, for parents with babies up to 12 months old. Soft flooring, toys, buggy parking and baby changing are provided, so your baby is happy and you can relax, have a coffee and be entertained. The show includes two acts, plus a compere, and lasts about 75 minutes including a 15-minute interval.
Pancake Day in Olney, Cowper & Newton Museum, Olney, Tuesday March 5, 10.30am to 4.30pm
Come inside the Cowper & Newton Museum to learn all about 18th-century life on Pancake Day in Olney, interpreted with Heritage Lottery funding. See the Georgian ladies and gentlemen taking in the beneficial Olney morning air as they promenade around the Market Place. Usual museum admission applies.
On Shrove Tuesday every year, the ladies of Olney compete in the Pancake Race, an Olney tradition dating back to 1445. This year’s race starts at 11.55am.
VIP Spring Preview, centre:mk, tonight, Thursday, 4pm to 8pm
centre:mk is hosting a VIP Spring Preview event which will see the Sunset Walk area transformed into a hub of activity including pop-up shops, exclusive discounts, live music and complimentary food and drink, plus spot prizes and goody bags.
The evening, which is free and open to all, will see special offers, treats and pop-ups from favourite retailers.
For a list of retailers and offers see www.centremk.com/whats-on/vip-spring-preview