It may not be quite summer yet but the Mercury Theatre in Colchester is already getting ready for autumn and winter.

They released their new brochure this week and in terms of big names it’s the most star-studded it’s ever been with more one-nighters than ever before.

That said, the theatre has still technically managed to cram in four Made in Colchester shows, starting with this year’s family summer show, Babe, The Sheep-Pig based on the book by Dick King-Smith, and adapted for the stage by David Wood, who has been billed as the national children’s dramatist, thanks to his many adaptations of Roald Dahl books.

Directed by Katie Posner, designed by Sara Perks and with music by regular panto musical director Richard Reeday, it runs from July 27 to August 26.

The first proper homegrown show, and perhaps the most exciting, is a stage version of Daniel Defoe’s novel about the original ‘Essex Girl’, Moll Flanders, partly written while the novelist was living in Colchester.

Following his triumphant recent success with hit new musical Pieces of String, director Ryan McBryde makes a welcome return to lead a cast of actor-musicians.

That runs from September 28 to October 13, slightly overlapping with another Colchester woman doing very well for herself, playwright Nicola Werenowska.

With a huge regional tour of Guesthouse currently taking place courtesy of Eastern Angles, Silence is another play telling the story of three generations, this time focussing on a Polish/British family dealing with the past and the future.

It takes place in the Studio space from October 12 to 20.

Gazette: Speaker - John Bercow will be giving the town’s annual lecture this October.

Last, but of course by no means least, it’s the Mercury Pantomime, which this year is Jack and the Beanstalk running from November 24 to January 20.

Written by the Mercury’s outgoing artistic director, Daniel Buckroyd, it’s being directed by Abigail Anderson and will feature panto favourites, Antony Stuart-Hicks, Dale Superville and Ignatius Anthony, and the welcome return of Colchester-based Carli Norris, who was an absolute revelation in last year’s production.

And that’s all before we get to the huge list of one-off shows which include magic, comedy, live music and drama.

Among the ‘names’ appearing at the Colchester theatre include Lucy Worsley, legendary cricket commentator Henry Blofeld, and Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow who will be delivering the annual lecture this year.

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