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Pic ‘n’ Mix: a selection of treats at the Merlin

The Merlin’s Spring Brochure is stuffed full with drama, film, live screenings, music, dance, comedy and more to inspire, amuse and generally enliven the coming months.

Stage drama begins with Miracle Theatre’s ‘Dr Livingstone, I presume?’ – Saturday 7th February at 7.45pm – in which the traditions of Victorian Music Hall are used to tell the story of the famous explorer.

Another real-life character features at the end of the month: after playing Churchill, Dickens and Hitler, Pip Utton, doyen of the one-man-show, takes on the challenge of becoming Margaret Thatcher in ‘Playing Maggie’ on Saturday 28th February.

Shakespeare is well represented this spring. On the 12th and 13th February, Frome Community College Expressive Arts students tackle ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in an updated version set in contemporary China.

Another innovative production is Hammerpuzzle Theatre Company’s ‘King John’ on Saturday 7th March, a 60 minute adaptation originally commissioned by Theatre Royal Bath for Shakespeare Unplugged Festival in 2014.

There is also a filmed theatre screening of ‘Hamlet’, from the Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester on Monday 23rd March, this time with a woman playing the lead as Maxine Peake takes on the title role.

Other dramatic highlights include ‘Wuthering Heights’ from Butterfly Psyche and Live Wire Theatre on Tuesday 10th March, Selwood Academy’s ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’ from 19th to 21st March, ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ from Merlin Youth Theatre on Monday 30th and Tuesday 31st March and Frome Drama Club’s ‘Tom Jones’ at the end of April.

There’s a varied programme of world cinema from Frome Film Club showing on selected Wednesdays throughout the season, starting with ‘Blancanieves’, a Spanish re-imaging of Snow White set in 1920s Seville on 14th January. National Theatre Live screenings begin with ‘Treasure Island’ on 22nd January and include new plays from Tom Stoppard and David Hare.

Music features with the Southern Tenant Folk Union on Saturday 24th January and a half-term Disney’s ‘Frozen’ sing-a-long on Thursday 19th February, with new dance from the Yorke Dance Project features on the 31st plus a curtain-raiser by the Tri-Art dance students. The Tri-Art students themselves take centre stage in April with a full-length ballet of ‘Sleeping Beauty’.

If comedy or the spoken word is your thing, don’t miss Alexei Sayle in ‘Listen with Alexei’ on Tuesday 3rd February with readings from his second volume of memoirs, ‘Thatcher stole my trousers’, or performance poet Rob Gee, in ‘Rob Gee’s Fruitcake’, a Poetry Platter presentation on Friday 27th March.

All in all, a season with something for everyone!