Top of the bill at Gala Theatre Durham

OPERA TREATS: English Touring Opera present Mozart's Cosi fan Tutte and Verdi's Simon Boccanegra at the Gala Theatre.
OPERA TREATS: English Touring Opera present Mozart's Cosi fan Tutte and Verdi's Simon Boccanegra at the Gala Theatre.
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LIVE broadcasts from the National Theatre, an evening with the West End’s leading lady and the return of a comedy classic headline Gala Theatre’s spring season.

The Durham city theatre is one of the biggest in the region to be taking part in the NT Live project, which sees theatres and cinemas around the world broadcasting National productions in real-time.

NT Live launched last week with Oscar-nominee and Tony Award-winner John Lithgow, taking the title role in Arthur Wing Pinero’s Victorian farce The Magistrate.

Alan Bennett’s new play People, the sixth of the legendary playwright’s works to be premiered at the National Theatre, follows in March, with James Graham’s This House completing the trio of NT Live productions in May.

An Intimate Evening with Ruthie Henshall on Saturday, February 16, finds one of musical theatre’s most respected performers taking audiences on a journey through her extraordinary career, from starring in Les Misérables to receiving an Olivier award.

The show is a chance to hear Ruthie’s story in her own words and enjoy some of the defining songs of her career performed to bespoke arrangements.

In April, Gala welcomes classic sit-com Yes, Prime Minister. Created by the show’s original writers, this anniversary production finds PM Jim Hacker and Cabinet Secretary Sir Humphrey Appleby battling austerity measures in a world of 24-hour news, Blackberrys and “sexed-up” dossiers.

With the country on the brink of financial meltdown, the PM is staring disaster in the face and his only apparent salvation is a morally-dubious overseas deal.

Following a third run in the West End, the show is now taking a national tour, with a one-week residency at Gala offering audiences the only chance to see the production in the North East.

Younger audiences are well catered for with Mavis Sparkle, the first in a series of children’s productions aimed at increasing theatre attendance among young people across the region, a cause being championed by the North East Children’s Theatre Consortium.

Accompanied by a cheeky cuckoo clock and a mischievous mop bucket, Mavis is on a journey to see nature’s biggest light show in a play that promises magic, animation and lots of laughter.

This season also sees a large and varied choice of live music, ranging from opera through country and bluegrass to gospel.

February kicks-off with the London Community Gospel Choir, who return to Gala for their 30th anniversary tour.

The sounds of the fiddle, mandolin, banjo, acoustic guitar and doghouse bass combine at Gala with the arrival of The Coal Porters.

Formed in the 1990s by ex-Long Ryder Sid Griffin, the now acoustic group offer up the best in bluegrass and country tunes.

Clare Teal returns to Gala in March, after a phenomenally-successful year that has seen her performing at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the BBC Proms, supporting Liza Minnelli and picking up a coveted BASCA Gold Badge song-writing award.

This tour, suitably entitled Purveyor of Sunshine, features a mix of standards, originals and contemporary covers.

Opera fans are in for a real treat in April, when English Touring Opera offers up a double bill of Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte and Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra.

A high-energy, laugh-a-minute comedy about love and innocence, Cosi fan Tutte is one of Mozart’s most famous operas, while Simon Boccanegra is less well known due to its large orchestra and chorus.

Set in the Italian port of Genoa, it tells the story of a former pirate who returns to the city to become its leader.

This spring, Gala will showcase the latest in contemporary dance courtesy of Appetite Dance Productions.

Choreographer and artistic director Apple Yang combines Chinese dance, martial arts and calligraphy in two new pieces presented in one evening.

Letter to My Father is shaped by Apple’s experiences as a Chinese woman living in contemporary Britain, while Crush explores the forbidden fruit of infidelity.

* For more information or to book tickets, visit the box office, Tel. 332 4041 or go online at www.galadurham.co.uk