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Big stars all set to make it a bright start to the new year; What's On:Theatre.

Byline: WITH MARION McMULLEN

IT'S a starry start to 2006 with some of the biggest showbiz names and smash hit shows heading your way.

International hit musical Blood Brothers gets things rolling by taking to the Belgrade Theatre stage in Coventry next month.

Willy Russell's funny and moving tale of twin boys separated at birth is one of the last big productions at the city theatre before it closes for major building work. Other Belgrade highlights include Girls Talk featuring Mari Wilson, Fun Song Factory for youngsters and comedy from Brendan Burke, one of Ireland's finest stand-ups.

Comedy is also on the agenda at Warwick Arts Centre as they present the world premiere of Thatcher The Musical as well as one-nighters by Ben Elton, Paul Merton, Jenny Eclair in Grumpy Old Women, Dylan Moran and TV's The Mighty Boosh.

Channel 4's psychological illusionist Derren Brown also pays his first visit to the arts centre with Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Theatre treats includes film director Mike Leigh's National Theatre hit Two Thousand Year, Alan Ayckbourn's new comedy Improbable Fiction and world famous director Peter Brook's The Grand Inquisitor.

Arts centre director Alan Rivett says: "Our spring programme of events is full to the brim."

Ricky Tomlinson heads to the area as part of Bedworth Civic Hall's new season while the Royal Spa Centre in Leamington offer an evening with Joan Collins and dates with Ken Dodd, Jethro, Phoenix Nights comedy actor Paul McGuinness and the Reduced Shakespeare Company in Completely Hollywood (abridged).

2006 is also going a busy year for the real Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford as they prepare to stage The Complete Works. Sir Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Dame Judi Dench and American acting star F Murray Abrahm are among those who will be performing every Shakespeare play, sonnet and song in a year-long festival.

Jerry Springer The Opera, Edward Scissorhands, Miss Saigon and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang are among the top shows at Birmingham Hippodrome while Dawn French and Alison Moyet star in Smaller at the Alexandra Theatre. Also heading for the theatre is Grease, Footloose featuring Cheryl Baker, Sweeney Todd with Jason Donovan and Richard O'Brien's Rocky Horror Show.

UB40 stage the world premiere of musical Promises and Lies at Birmingham Rep and Little Britain returns to the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham.

Dance star Michael Flatley also bring his new dance spectacular, Celtic Tiger to the NIA in April. He says enthusiastically: "It is very fast- moving, powerful and hard-hitting and I think it is something that people have never seen before."

American comedy star Roseanne Barr also heads to the Midlands for her only UK dates at Leicester De Montfort Hall in February. Tickets are on sale from 0116 2333 111.

Box office numbers Belgrade Theatre 024 7655 3055, Warwick Arts Centre 024 7652 4524, Royal Shakespeare Company 0870 609 1110, Royal Spa Centre, Leamington 01926 334418, Bedworth Civic Hall 024 7637 6707, Royal Shakespeare Company, Alexandra Theatre 0870 607 7533, Birmingham Hippodrome 0870 730 1234, Birmingham Rep 0121 236 4455, NIA 0870 909 4144.

CAPTION(S):

NEW SEASON... (Clockwise from far left) Derren Brown, Ben Elton and Jenny Eclair will all make visits to Warwick Arts Centre and Roseanne Barr heads for the De Montfort Hall in Leicester.LOOKING FORWARD... Sean Jones and Daniel Fine (left) star in Blood Brothers at the Belgrade Theatre, Paul Merton (top) has a date at Warwick Arts Centre, and Ricky Tomlinson (above) brings comedy to Bedworth Civic Hall.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Dec 30, 2005
Words:581
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