EDEN Court’s new season includes spectacular dinosaurs, a UK hip hop legend, five comedy big-hitters, new Highland dramas, experimental theatre disguised as a sinister modern art show (with nothing to see) – plus some former West End Phantoms and legendary Bay City Roller Les McKeown.
When better to announce the booking of hilarious spoof 51 Shades Of Maggie (Oct 27-29) than the week that kinky romance 50 Shades Of Grey earned writer EL James £65 million and the year’s highest-paid writer title?
In the show, Leah MacRae from BBC comedy Gary Tank Commander takes her 16-plus crowd on a naughty journey of strong language, adult themes and girls’ night out fun.
Theatre director Colin Marr said: "The show started off doing a couple of nights in Glasgow, but I’ve lost count of how many it has done now – probably about 20 – and it just keeps going!"
His own personal highlight from the new season is the show featuring the man behind Breakin’ Convention, the international festival of hip hop dance theatre that came to Eden Court last year, Jonzi D (Lyrikal Fearta: The Letter & Broken Lineage, Nov 20).
Colin said: "He is often thought of as one of the guiding lights of UK hip hop – and the man behind Breakin’ Convention which is coming back this year for two days when we are the only Scottish venue.
"But this is a solo show about Jonzi being offered an MBE and his response to that.
"What you see in the show is that dilemma between people going ‘You’ve got to take it, it’s a reward for hip hop’ and other people going ‘It’s a complete betrayal of your culture, hip hop should never be mainstream in this way – don’t do it!’.
"Jonzi does it as a solo show with lots of choreo-poetry – a mixture between dance and poetry."
Popular new shows are likely to include the spectacular Dinosaur Zoo (Sept 30 to Oct 1) which takes three and overs back in time to get up close and personal with dinosaurs big and small – they’re doing a meet and greet.
Three Phantoms (Oct 22 and 23) features three former leads in Phantom Of The Opera, though nine "world-class" performers altogether will present a night of music from shows such as Les Miserables, Chigaco, West Wide Story and Wicked.
The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy stage show will feature Lord Of The Rings star Billy Boyd as The Voice Of The Book (Nov 10).
And comedy fans have five different big names on offer – Jack Dee (Oct 9), Paul Merton with an improvisation show also starring Mike McShane and Richard Vranch of Whose Line Is It Anyway? fame (Oct 26). Ardal O’Hanlon returns (Nov 14)) as does Ed Byrne (Sep 29) and rising star Daniel Sloss (Nov 15).
Among the music on offer, there’s the chance to hear the Bay City Rollers' Story with original member Les McKeown (Oct 4), the 10th anniversary show of returning favourite, Vampires Rock (Nov 22), the New Orleans sound of Davina & The Vagabonds (Sep 13)) and – as part of the film festival – local fiddler and composer Duncan Chisholm’s hit show Kin (Nov 9).
Classical fans will get the Tale Of Two Seasons of Vivaldi with the return of specialists La Serenissima, contrasting the composer’s work from 1717 and 1733 (Oct 13). There’s the regular candlelit concert from Scottish Ensemble, – this year focusing on Nordic composers (Dec 7), though first they bring the Russians (Sep 29) in From Russia With Love.
Scottish Opera's new production Don Giovanni is at the theatre (Nov 7 and 9), following Handel's Rodelinda (Oct 10), which comes with harpsichord, violin and cello accompaniment.
Scottish Ballet bring their new show Hansel & Gretel (Jan 22 to 25), Rapunzel (Oct 11 and 12) will include locals as ballet LORENT retell the story with a little help from some other big talents - including poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, Doctor Who composer Murray Gold and Game Of Thrones costume designer Michele Clapton (see trailer below).
Back in Scotland after a sell-out German tour, The David Hughes Dance Company bring a mixed programme that includes the UK's best-known choreographer Matthew Bourne's first-ever hit piece from 1988, Spitfire: An advertisement divertissement. Bourne - whose Highland Fling was performed by Scottish Ballet back in May - shifted a classic four-ballerina "diva-off" into the world of men's underwear advertising.
An exciting new development for the theatre sees a new accent on creating their own productions – and supporting new work on tour in the Highlands.
The theatre is showing Highland Dogstar Theatre Company’s new production The Baroness: Karen Blixen’s Final Affair (Sep 20 and 21), starring Eastenders and The Bill star Roberta Taylor, the return of the company’s award-winning The Tailor Of Inverness (Oct 30) and Elgin actor and writer Sandy Nelson’s Bite The Bullet about an old band suddenly big in Japan (Sep 8 and 9).
But it has also put together a Highland tour for Dundee Rep’s new show, Promises Promises, starring Inverness actress Anne Louise Ross (Nov 11 and 12).
Colin Marr explained: "Yes, we’d love to get into developing our own productions.
"But not in a massive hurry.
"It’s a huge commitment and it often involves very big risk or a lot of funding.
"When we did Para Handy – the biggest production we had ever done – we were taking an enormous risk taking it all over Scotland. There was quite a lot of funding in that and about two thirds of it was our risk and the budget was upwards of £300,000. But we felt reasonably safe with that because it was with Open Book Productions and John Cairns, with actor Jimmy Chisholm and director John Bett, so we felt that was OK.
"The strange thing is that much smaller productions don’t come with much smaller budgets!
"So I guess there is always going to be a fear of that risk.
"But on the other hand there is a feeling, I suppose, that the Highlands can produce work that should be seen more nationally.
"The Tailor of Inverness is a wonderful exception, but there are very few productions from Inverness where the rest of Scotland has noticed.
"We think that should change and we think there is more talent in the Highlands than that result would show.
"So Creative Scotland has said to us ‘Here is a small amount of money, see what you can do’.
"We are not by any means talking about an amount of money that will go on paying for a production, but what it will do is pay for John Cairns – who did Para Handy with us – to be here a day and a half a week for a period of time and he is looking at a number of different ideas."
For full details of Eden Court shows, go to www.eden-court.co.uk