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Our Blue Heaven

Pantomimes continue to dominate the theatre schedules this month, and none more so than the New Wolsey’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto.  The popularity of this panto is beyond compare locally and shows no sign of waning.  Whether or not you like pantomimes, that is great news for Suffolk theatre lovers as it is the popularity of the panto which helps to enable the daring and progressive programming which has now become a hallmark of the New Wolsey.

It seems quite incredible to think that Suffolk’s leading theatre is forty years old this year and, in keeping with a milestone which is meant to provoke refection, the Wolsey’s big show this spring concerns another event which also celebrates its fortieth anniversary in 2018.

The 6th of May 1978 is an historic date as far as supporters of Ipswich Town are concerned, as that is the date on which Town went to Wembley, overturned the odds, and beat Arsenal in the FA Cup Final.  Our Blue Heaven is a new musical which celebrates, to date, Town’s only victory in this competition and has been created from the memories of Town fans themselves.  Around these memories a narrative has been woven which involves a hasty wedding, a first birth and missing tickets to the final.

However, it’s not just the final but the whole cup-run over which the story takes place.  The frozen pitch beneath the M32 at Bristol Rovers (I don’t remember ever being colder on a football terrace than that day), rioting Millwall supporters at the Den and dodgy refereeing at Villa Park all feature.  I’d love to think John Wile’s bloodied head in the Highbury semi-final against West Brom might somehow also make an appearance.

The Wolsey has made a name for itself by using live musicians in their productions and this production continues that tradition with a soundtrack of chart hits from ’78.  It should be an incredibly nostalgic trip down Wembley Way for any Town fan who was there and illuminating and enjoyable for those who are too young to remember it.

The production opens on Friday May 5th, almost exactly 40 years on from the win.  This has production has been helped by funding raised from the community and local businesses, meaning that this production really will be a show drawn from the local community, for the local community!

Tickets are on sale now via the New Wolsey box office on 01473 295900 or by booking online at  Interestingly there’s been nothing in the publicity about a discount for Norwich fans, although I’m sure that there’ll be block booking enquiries from Carrow Road prior to opening night.

Well that’s it from me, not just for this month but for good as far as Grapevine is concerned.  If you’ve read this far with any regularity then I thank you and urge you to continue supporting the region’s venues and, of course, to keep reading Grapevine. Take care.

Steve Hawthorne
Steve previews theatre and comedy on BBC Radio Suffolkat 5.50pm every Wednesday and presents the Wednesday Breakfast Show on ICR 105.7FM. He also crochets coasters for disabled sailors...

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