21 of the best events to enjoy in Northants in the coming days, weeks and months

Priscilla Queen of the Desert is among the shows heading to the Royal & DerngatePriscilla Queen of the Desert is among the shows heading to the Royal & Derngate
Priscilla Queen of the Desert is among the shows heading to the Royal & Derngate
Enjoy thrilling theatre, top comedy, exciting open-air cinema and more


Animal Farm, Royal & Derngate, Northampton until May 22

Award-winning political playwright Tatty Hennessy adapts George Orwell’s classic as an allegory for our own times, exploring themes of revolution, the price of sovereignty and power with humour and sharp wit. When the downtrodden animals of a farm overthrow their master to run the show themselves, they imagine it is the beginning of a life of independence and equality. But gradually a cunning, ruthless elite among them starts to take control. Soon the other animals discover that they are not all as equal as they thought, and find themselves hopelessly ensnared as one form of tyranny is replaced with another and independence isn’t what they were promised it would be. Directed with playful invention by Ed Stambollouia, this Made in Northampton production, in association with Kneehigh Theatre will star Britain’s best young performing talent from the 2020 National Youth Theatre REP Company. The production is a collaboration between Royal & Derngate and the National Youth Theatre, whose renowned alumni rank amongst Britain’s greatest actors, including Northampton’s Matt Smith, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Helen Mirren and Daniel Day Lewis.


Othello, Royal & Derngate, Northampton, May 25 to 29

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This thrilling and lyrical retelling of Othello, with Francesca Amewudah-Rivers in the title role, sees the National Youth Theatre REP company explore themes of love, jealousy, systemic racism and misogyny through the lens of crime and power.

Set against the early ‘90s rave scene, Olivier Award-winning director Miranda Cromwell gets to the heart of the play in this abridgement by dramatist Dzifa Benson. The production is a collaboration between Royal & Derngate and the National Youth Theatre.


Comedy in the Park, Wicksteed Park, June 26

It’s billed as the biggest comedy tour ever staged – and it kicks off at Wicksteed Park. The extrava-ganza is headlined by John Bishop, who’s joined on the bill by Rob Beckett, Al Murray, Judi Love, James Acaster and Tom Davis. James Penny of organisers M&B said: “After the year we’ve all had what could be more blissful than a full day of world-class comedy under the sun. This is what we have all been dreaming of, now more than ever we need joy, laughter and togetherness. It’s been a tough year for live comedy, but it’s coming back with a bang.” Tom Davis added: “I’m double excited to be hosting the opening event to mark the return of live comedy. It will be my first time performing in a park since quitting Sunday league – hopefully I can bring the same amount of laughter to this as me playing football brought to many.” Audience members can also expect award-winning street food, pop-up cocktail bars, cafés, bars, shops and stalls.


Circus of Horrors, Castle Theatre, Wellingborough, May 25

When the Circus of Horrors started in Glastonbury in 1995, few people thought it would run for 25 weeks let alone 25 years. Yet a quarter of a century later, the Circus of Horrors is still touring all over the world, still getting rave reviews. The new revamped show will be a celebration of the 25 years and will include an amalgamation of acts, driven by a rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack, a show that promises to have the audience “sat on the edge of your seat when not falling off it with laughter”. From sword swallowers to aerialists hanging from their hair and their teeth, from the Whirl Wind Jugglers to Voodoo Acrobats, Pickled People to human pin cushions, expect plenty of intrigue, surprise and skill.


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Visualise, The Charles Rennie Mackintosh House, 78 Derngate, Northampton, until July 18

Enjoy abstract, realistic and figurative art using a wide variety of media: paper, fabric and found objects. The exhibition of textiles and mixed media work has been created by the Visualise textile group, which was formed several years ago by like-minded artists who enjoy creating diverse work with stitch as the common thread. Wendy Bates, Anne Clayton, Sandra Jenkins, Karin Kirk, Sue Latimer, Judith Laundon, Dora Mack, Mary Martin, Alison Ranson, Alyssa Robinson, Lyn Spencer, Jane Stock and Val Taylor meet regularly in Welford, with the aim of promoting creativity with rigorous discipline, underpinned by an interest in the history of textiles worldwide. The exhibition includes work inspired by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and 78 Derngate, Northampton.


Megaslam Wrestling, The Deco, Northampton, May 30

The stars of one of Europe’s biggest touring wrestling shows are coming back to Northampton with an all-action family spectacular. The afternoon event includes a Heavyweight Challenge, a Tag Team Thriller and a Main Event Championship Match for the Megaslam Championship. A spokesman for Megaslam said: “The pandemic has been difficult for everyone and the entertainment industry has been hit hard. We are chomping at the bit to get back out there and I think fans are also excited at the prospect of seeing some live entertainment. The show will feature a mix of heavyweight wrestling stars, exciting high-flyers and some incredible matches.” Fans will be invited to stay behind after the show and meet their favourite stars.


Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Royal & Derngate, Northampton, August 2 to 7

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Pack up your wigs, heels and all the glitter you can find – the joyous musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert is returning to North-ampton. Based on the Oscar-winning film, Priscilla is the comical and heart-warming adventure of three friends who hop aboard a battered old bus bound for the Australian Outback to put on the show of a lifetime. Two worlds collide on this journey of self-discovery and friendship, and along the way the trio discover the true power of love, acceptance and sass. The show features spectacular dance routines, a dazzling array of eye-popping costumes and a singalong soundtrack full of dancefloor favourites, including Hot Stuff, It’s Raining Men, I Will Survive, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Finally and many more.

This show is recommended for audiences aged 14 and above.


Filmhouse@Delapré, Delapré Abbey, May 22 to June 6

Drive-in cinema returns to Delapré Abbey this month with a bumper season of blockbusters and cult favourites. Filmhouse@Delapré will be curated by Northampton Filmhouse, with more than 20 films projected on a large screen on the South Lawn, set against the beautiful and historic backdrop of Delapré Abbey.

The whole family can enjoy the likes of Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon and Frozen, while there are classic thrills in store courtesy of Jurassic Park.

Lovers of musicals will be well catered for with screenings including singalong versions of The Greatest Showman and Rocketman. Meanwhile, The Grand Budapest Hotel promises laughs galore, while the 2020 smash hit Tenet brings things up to date with excitement, drama and intrigue aplenty.

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A selection of hot food, snacks and treats will be available before each screening. Social distancing and enhanced hygiene measures will be in place across the site in line with government advice.

Drive-in tickets start from £25 per car and for anyone without access to a vehicle, a limited number of Cycle-in tickets will be available, to watch from a socially-distanced seating area.


April in Paris, Castle Theatre, Wellingborough, June 4 to 6

John Godber’s classic comedy April in Paris will light up the Castle Theatre in Wellingborough next month.

The show stars Joe Pasquale and Sarah Earnshaw as Al and Bet, taking audiences into the heart of one ordinary couple’s life as they go on both the journey of a lifetime and a journey into their relationship. April in Paris is believed to be the first show to tour after theatres are allowed to reopen.


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Educating Rita, Royal & Derngate, Northampton, July 26 to 31

A critically acclaimed production of Willy Russell’s much-loved Educating Rita heads to Northampton in July. The show tells the story of married hairdresser Rita, who enrols on an Open University course to expand her horizons, and her encounters with university tutor, Frank. The two soon realise how much they have to learn from each other. Stephen Tompkinson and Jessica Johnson will take to the Derngate stage as Frank and Rita.


Happyland Festival, Northamptonshire County Cricket Club, Northampton, September 25

slowthai will headline his inaugural Happyland festival in Northampton this summer, joined by some of the most exciting acts from the UK’s music scene.

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Curated by slowthai, the one-day festival will take place at Northamptonshire County Cricket Club in September and see the chart-topping rapper joined by Idles, beabadoobee, Shygirl, Easy Life, Pa Salieu, Greentea Peng, Ethan P Flynn and fellow Northampton rapper, Izzie Gibbs. Billed as ‘The Happiest Place in The Universe’ with a ‘No Smile, No Entry’ policy, Happyland will be a belated celebration of slowthai’s number one album Tyron, which was released in February.


Ballet Central, The Core at Corby Cube, June 30

The renowned company of young graduate dancers will be performing a crowd-pleasing mix of pieces by leading choreographers to showcase the dancers’ considerable technique and skills as they embark on their professional careers. Act 1 from Le Corsaire, a thrilling classical ballet with romance and daring, dashing pirates, and a magical pas de deux set against a backdrop of the high seas will open the show. A new piece, jigsaw, by upcoming choreographer Charlotte Edmonds, is being created to a commissioned score by Ballet Central resident composer Philip Feeney, especially for the tour. To conclude the performance, audiences will be treated to Act 2 of Matthew Bourne’s Highland Fling, a Gothic fable of winged fairies, romanticism and kilts, filled with wit, magic and wicked humour. Ballet Central is the touring company of Central School of Ballet in London, the world-leading centre for professional dance training and education.


School of Rock the Musical, Royal & Derngate, Northampton, November 1 to 6

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s smash hit West End show School of Rock is heading to Northampton later this year. Based on the Jack Black film, the show follows Dewey Finn, a failed wannabe rock star who decides to earn a few extra bucks by posing as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school. There he turns a class of straight-A students into a guitar-shredding, bass-slapping, mind-blowing rock band – performed live by the production’s young actors every night.While teaching the youngsters what it means to truly rock, Dewey falls for the school’s uptight headmistress, helping her rediscover the wild child within. The show features 14 new songs from Webber and all the original songs from the movie.


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Anton & Giovanni - Him and Me, Royal & Derngate, Northampton, July 24

Two of Strictly Come Dancing’s most popular professional dancers are teaming up for a show heading to Northampton. Anton & Giovanni - Him and Me unites the Ballroom King and the Jive Master for what promises to be a true dance extravaganza.Du Beke and Pernice are embarking on a national tour – with the show at the Royal & Derngate being the final date. And according to Giovanni and Anton, the audience is in for a special treat. Giovanni said: “It’s going to be a really, really fun show. Northampton, you are lucky!” Anton added: “Yes, go out with a bang! We can’t wait to see you all.” According to Anton, organising it during a pandemic has brought surprising benefits. He said: “It’s actually still been fun as we have had a load of great Zoom calls putting it all together.”


McFly, Wicksteed Park, Kettering, August 27

Pop favourites McFly will bring their ‘hands-in-the-air’ rock and pop to Kettering this year after the band were announced as the latest act to play the Open Air series of shows. McFly have notched up seven UK number one singles including Five Cokours in Her Hair, , five top ten albums, six sell-out tours and sold 10 million records worldwide.


Billy Lockett, Black Prince, Northampton, May 30

Billy Lockett will return to the Northampton venue where he played his first ever gig later this month for a free show to conclude his UK tour. The singer-songwriter is playing 12 socially distanced dates across the country this month and will headline the Black Prince on Sunday, May 30. There will be no tickets for the show and attendance will be on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. The Abington Square venue is expected to provide further guidance for fans hoping to attend the show very shortly. Support on the evening is by Katie Malco and Afreine.


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The Tempest, St Peter’s Church, Marefair, Northampton, June 30

Classical language combines with live music and choral sea shanties to bring to life what is thought to be Shakespeare’s final play in this new open-air production. The tale of revenge, love and forgiveness is presented by theatre company This Is My Theatre, which promises a fun-filled show for all ages. Audience members are invited to take chairs, blankets and picnics to enjoy while watching the play, which the company says will be performed “in all but the very worst weather”.


The Big Dirty, Picturedrome, Northampton, June 24

Northants rockers The Big Dirty will be premiering their latest short film and music video Swine next month. The project, which also features the Drunken Master and Tony Ceaser, has been in development for three years. It will be revealed at The Picturedrome on Thursday, June 24. As well as the screening, there will be performances by the band and support from Karl Phillips and the Rejects and White Raven Down.


The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal & Derngate, Northampton, June 16 and 23

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The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra will return to Royal & Derngate with two socially distanced concerts - Spotlight on Strings and The Music of Bond. Spotlight on Strings will be directed by Duncan Riddell and the 75-minute concert will include performances of Grieg’s Holberg Suite, Mendelssohn’s String Symphony No.10 and Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings. The Music of Bond will feature iconic theme songs from across the films.


Film & Food Fest, Northampton Racecourse, September 16 to 19

A new touring summer festival is coming to Northampton this year, promising great films, food and comedy galore. The Film & Food Fest will be hosted by some of the UK’s most acclaimed comedians. Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights welcome names such as Ivo Graham and Eshaan Akbar, who are known for their appearances on Mock The Week, Live at the Apollo and more. Other hosts include Josh Jones, who has been named as one of Chortle’s Ones to Watch in 2019 and has become a regular at some of the biggest comedy clubs in the country. All will be performing stand-up sets before the evening movies get under way. While Friday to Sunday will focus on big movies such as Dirty Dancing, The Greatest Showman, Joker, Onward and more, Thursday night is all about short film. The festival will feature a special showcase of short movies from some of the region’s finest independent filmmakers. Organisers are inviting submissions, with the chance for new talent to have their work shown on the big screen. Adventure Cinema, the team behind Film & Food Fest, have also brought together a mouth-watering range of street food.


Slay Duggee, Picturedrome, Northampton, December 4

Children have got the chance to have their first taste of a live rock gig when Slay Duggee headline The Picturedrome later this year. The ‘lords of toddler metal’ will be performing their first gig in Northampton following sold out shows in the region in 2019. Slay Duggee, who perform dressed as dogs, play sets of their own material as well as some well-known covers. The show is for children under 10 years old who must be accompanied by parents or guardians throughout. There will be face painting before the show and prizes on offer for best painted and best dancing.

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