Mon 4 - Sun 10 Nov
THEATRE: My Fair Lady, Alban Arena, 5-9 Nov
This classic tale of the trasformation of a cockney flower girl into elegant lady, brings all the well known tunes with it, including ‘Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?‘, ‘The Rain in Spain’ and ‘On the Street Where You Live’.
COMEDY: Enter the Dragons, Rhodes Arts Complex, Bishop’s Stortford, 6 Nov
Forget all the stereotypes – there’s a new hero in town, and it comes in the shape of a modern-day mature woman. Yeah, yeah, tell us something we don’t know! But the hero in this surreal and dark-humoured show is on an epic quest to defeat Chronos, the god of time, and discover how to halt the inevitable ageing process (now there’s something we would like to know!), with a few wigs and puppets thrown in. It’s tipped to throw everything we think about beauty, sex and feminity out the window.
KIDS: Dear Zoo, Hertford Theatre, 6-7 Nov
Cutesy animal fun for little ones who loved the beloved lift-the-flap book by Rod Campbell. Think puppets, music and gentle audience participation.
THEATRE: Annie, Bedford Corn Exchange, 7-9 Nov
You can bet your bottom dollar (sorry…) this will be worth checking out. It’s by the UK’s largest youth musical theatre group Rare Productions and promises to be an all-singing, all-dancing whirl through the adventures of everyone’s favourite fictional orphan.
DANCE: Swan Lake by the Russian National Ballet, Hertford Theatre, 8 Nov
It’s all tutus and pointy toes with ballet season upon us. Tchaikovsky’s tragic romance is being brought to life by the Russian National Ballet. I don’t know about you but I still feel a little bit scarred by the big screen version nearly a decade on, but I reckon this one will be more spellbinding than scary. Let the twirling commence.
MUSIC: Jools Holland And His Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, Watford Colosseum, 8 Nov
Hands up if you watch his Hootenanny on the TV every New Year (guilty!) Now you can see the man himself and his trusty R&B orchestra live on stage doing their thang… naturally, there’ll be special guests in tow, including BRIT award-winning Eddi Reader, gospel vocalist Ruby Turner, soul singer Louise Marshall and Squeeze drummer Gilson Lavis.
CHRISTMAS: Knebworth Christmas Gift Fair, Knebworth House, 8-10 Nov
There’s nothing like a Christmas Fair to get you in the festive spirit and at this one you can take in the lovely setting of Knebworth House while shopping for unique hand-made and artisan produced pressies, plus meet the makers, too.
BOOKS: Tring Book Festival, 8-17 Nov
Bookworms listen up! There’s a brand new literary fest coming to our ‘hood. Brought to you by the people behind the Tring comedy fest, Tringe, and the owners of Tring’s brand new high street book shop, The Tring Book Festival has got a cracking line-up. There’s Sunday Times Best Seller Adele Parks, kids’ favourite Olaf Falafel, comedian Russel Kane, TV history buff Alice Roberts, and loads, loads more. It’s sure to be a sell out!
THEATRE: Othello, The Place Bedford, 9 Nov
It’s the green-eyed monster but not as you know him. Quirky theatre co The Pantaloons have given this Shakespearean tragedy an unexpected twist, setting it in the jazz era. There’ll be live music, intense drama and bags of mischief.
KIDS: The Adventures of Dr Dolittle, The Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead, 9 Nov
Little ones will love this re-telling of the classic story about an eccentric animal loving do-gooder. Produced by Illyria Theare – open air theatre experts – the show is now being brought undercover to Hemel Hempstead’s Old Town Hall. Meet Polynesia the parrot, Jip the dog and Chee-Chee the monkey who help the Dr on his mission to heal the sick and spread the love for the animal kingdom.
FAMILY: James Mayhew Family Concerts, University of Hertfordshire Arts, 10 Nov
This sounds mesmerising – watch artist James Mayhew paint colourful and captivating pieces on stage to the soundtrack of live music as the de Havilland Philharmonic Orchestra play Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and the Wolf’ and Ravel’s ‘Mother Goose Suite’.
KIDS: Family Arts Studio, Shadow Art, Broadway Studio, Letchworth, 10 Nov
This free workshop is suitable for ages 3+ as artist Chantelle Stephenson demonstrates the magical world of shadow art – ie making cool bird and animal shapes using your hands.
ART & EXHIBITIONS
Vogue fashion and portrait photographer Tim Walker‘s enchanting, fantastical, frankly insane work is the subject of a new V&A exhibition (until 8 March). Tilda Swinton (below), Björk and, er, Sir David Attenborough are among his subjects and he’s also created 10 new works for the show.
Meanwhile this autumn’s big-hitter is William Blake at Tate Britain, below, (until 2 Feb 2020). The visionary painter and poet’s work will be imaginatively displayed – some of it blown up to enormous scale using digital technology, other works in an immersive room that recreates the space in which Blake first showed his art in 1809.
Elsewhere Into the Night: Cabarets & Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican (4 Oct – 19 Jan) is probably the nearest I’ll get to clubbing this autumn. It’s such a cool concept – a history of cabarets, clubs, dancefloors and party spaces that inspired artists from the 1880s to the 1960s, including the Berlin cabaret scene in Weimar Germany and Harlem’s jazz clubs and lifesize recreations of some of the hotspots.
Then there’s a major retrospective of 88-year-old Bridget Riley‘s life’s work at the Hayward Gallery (23 Oct – 26 Jan), taking in her famous monochrome, makes-your-eyes-go-funny Op Art paintings from the 1960s among its 70 year career span.
And finally, playing “spot the Angel Of The North” as we drive up the A1 to Newcastle is a family ritual in our house (Geordie in-laws, you see), so I’ve got a soft spot for Antony Gormley’s striking sculpture. His new show at the Royal Academy (until 3 Dec) is billed as his most ambitious in a decade and involves six tonnes of steel mesh, eight km of coiled tubing and a gallery flooded with clay and sea water.