It's a musical New Year at the theatre!

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Hayley Westenra will star at The Alhambra Hayley Westenra will star at The Alhambra

Smash hit musicals Chicago, Evita and Cabaret, singer Hayley Westenra, pop opera stars Blake and comics Al Murray and Rob Brydon will be sharing the spotlight in Bradford next year.

The focus for 2009 is musicals, with shows at the Alhambra ranging from Fame to Scooby Doo and the Pirate Ghost.

The new season starts in February with the St Petersburg Ballet performing La Bayadere (The Temple Dancer) and Swan Lake then the Blonde Bombshells of 1943 swing into town. The heart-warming show, about a glamorous wartime all-girl band, is packed with big band favourites from the likes of Glenn Miller and the Andrews Sisters.

Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s masterpiece Evita stars West End performer Rachael Wooding as Eva Peron and features some of the world’s best-known stage music, including Don’t Cry for Me Argentina and Another Suitcase in Another Hall.

“Murder, greed, corruption, exploitation, adultery and treachery…all those things we hold near and dear to our hearts.” So begins hit musical Chicago, a new production of which premieres at the Alhambra next March, featuring dazzling Bob Fosse choreography and a sassy score including All That Jazz.

And it’s Wilkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome…to Cabaret, starring Wayne Sleep as notorious Emcee. Other musicals include Seven Brides for Seven Brothers starring Susan McFadden, winner of ITV’s Grease is the Word; Fame the Musical starring former X Factor finalist Beverley Trotman, and Singin’ In The Rain.

For younger theatre-goers, there’s the Birmingham Stage Company’s Why the Whales Came and Cinderalla on Ice, with the Alhambra stage transformed into an ice rink. Le Grand Cirque, Fantazie, features world-class artistes performing white-knuckle stunts. There’s a treat for dance fans with Matthew Bourne’s Dorian Gray, a darkly seductive theatrical re-working of Oscar Wilde’s gothic fable, set in the image-obsessed world of contemporary art and politics.

Over at St George’s Hall, the new season kicks off with Live from Vegas, re-creating the heady days of the Rat Pack. There’ll be laughs a-plenty from Pub Landlord Al Murray, Gavin and Stacey star Rob Brydon, Irish comic Ed Byrne and Jim Davidson. This is Soul brings together soul giants Geno Washington, Jimmy James and PP Arnold, and there’s more music from New Zealand singer Hayley Westenra, Joe Longthorne, Blake and the London Community Gospel Choir, performing songs from the Sister Act movies with Rowetta.

The Chinese State Circus returns, following a performance at this year’s Olympic Games, with warriors from the Shaolin Temple.

Strap on your safety goggles for Brainiac, the show that laughs in the face of science, marvel at the splendour of Egypt in Aida, and get spooked out with medium Derek Akorah. The spirit of Mamma Mia continues with Abba tribute masters Bjorn Again, and Sing-a-long-a Hairspray features on-screen lyrics for audience fun.

There are high jinks of the middle-aged variety in Hot Flush! starring Lesley Joseph, while Irish dance spectacular Lord of the Dance will get toes tapping.

For youngsters, there’s Horrible Histories: Frightful First World War and Woeful Second World War, featuring 3D special effects, and Breakin’ Convention - An International Festival of Hip Hop stars acts such as Ken Swift & VII Gems.

Tickets for all shows are available on (01274) 432000.

e-mail: emma.clayton @telegraphandargus.co.uk

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