PREVIEW: Our pick of the entertainment highlights for 2016

Avenue Q

Avenue Q

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As the festive productions close across Blackpool and we recover from the social whirl of the festive season, entertainment writer Anna Cryer looks forward to some of the expected highlights of 2016 to put in your diary.

Amid the blustery winds of winter, it can be hard to imagine long summer nights, enjoying the best of Blackpool’s entertainment scene.

The Last Tango

The Last Tango

But in no time at all, the resort’s hot spots will be the coolest places to be, with a galaxy of stars already lined up to wow residents and tourists alike.

Where we’ve enjoyed the long summer runs of the likes of Cats and Mamma Mia at the Opera House, this year’s programme is more about the variety on offer, with a host of touring productions already announced.

Kicking off the year at the Winter Gardens’ theatre will be Joe McElderry staring in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, from February 9 to 13, followed by Blood Brothers from April 5 to 9.

While also coming to the Opera House will be Save The Last Dance For Me (May 31 to June 4), Avenue Q - produced by Poulton’s Richard Darbourne (June 6 to 11), The Sound Of Music (July 5 to 9) and a new UK tour of Dirty Dancing which will launch there on August 11 - with further announcements to come.

The Sound of Music

The Sound of Music

Just along Church Street at the Grand Theatre, there’s the usual mix of drama, musicals and family friendly shows.

Getting the year underway tomorrow night is the first of the The Russian State Ballet of Siberia’s triple bill offering, Giselle, followed by The Snow Maiden and The Nutcracker.

For musical theatre fans, there’s a new offering for Blackpool in the World War Two-set Miss Nightingale (February 4 to 6) and a return visitor of Let It Be , The Beatles’ celebration show, (March 28 to April 2).

Of Mice And Men (March 22 to 26) is among the dramatic highlights on offer, while members of Poulton Drama are looking forward to treading the boards with the Royal Shakespeare Company in its very special production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, celebrating the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death.

Brian Conley

Brian Conley

Dance offerings include the return of Sadler’s Wells’ groundbreaking hip hop theatre and culture festival Breakin’ Convention, hosted by the Grand on May 21, with other venues and activities to be announced, as well as the farewell tour for former Strictly Come Dancing favourites Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace - The Last Tango (June 27 to July 2).

As ever, getting the year’s entertainment calendar under way will be Showzam! Blackpool’s celebration of all things circus and carnival, with performances and activities running at various locations from February 13 to 20.

Headlining, at the Tower Circus, there’s the UK premiere from French circus company Akoracro, while the street theatre festival Showzam! Central will once again take over the Winter Gardens during the half term break.

Comedians are among those topping the bill at Viva, another Church Street venue, with Joe Pasquale (September 1) and Brian Conley (April 8) confirmed, as well as regular shows from Roy Chubby Brown, Cannon and Ball and Billy Pearce throughout the year.

At the Pleasure Beach, Hot Ice will celebrate 80 years’ of shows with Desire, running at the park from July 7 to September 10, and magic is once more centre stage at the Horseshoe Bar on selected dates between April 9 and September 11 with Craig Christian’s Evolution Of Magic.

And Lytham Festival is set to return from August 1 to 7, with headliners including Bryan Adams, the YMCA, and the Fylde’s own stage stars Jodie Prenger and Lucie Mae Sumner as well as Collabro and Lea Salonga.