Packed programme for Belfast


THE Belfast Grand Opera House has announced a programme which bounces merrily along from Christmas pantomime to mid summer family musical and, in the process, looks set to pull off the tricky task of keeping audiences and accountants happy. Since becoming a wholly commercial enterprise - where formerly, it was run by the Northern Ireland Arts Council - the Opera House, under its director, Derek Nicholls, has staged an eclectic mix of popular shows, one off musical evenings and high quality dance, opera and theatre, a recipe designed both to make money and satisfy high and low brows alike. The new season thus takes on a familiar look. There is opera - from Northern Ireland's brave little Castleward company, coming into the Opera House for the first time and from Opera Northern Ireland, who will present Madama Butterfly as its short spring season in March. There is drama - in the form of Sir Peter Hall's celebrated An Ideal Husband and the West End production of A Passionate Woman starring Stephanie Cole. There is ballet - the Moscow City Ballet with Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker. And there are musicals galore - The Blues Brothers, Blood Brothers, Showboat, Elvis - the Musical, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Singing in the Rain ... And there are names familiar in every household - Frank Carson, Dominic Kirwan, Charlie Landsborough, Paul Daniels... even the Duchess of York, whose Budgie the Little Helicopter opens, for some strange reason, on April 1st. Programme and bookings from the Opera House Ticket Shop in Great Victoria Street, Belfast. Tel 241919.