THERE are plenty of treats to come for Worcestershire theatre fans in the New Year with the Festival Theatre at Malvern leading the way.

Among the highlights of early 2019 there’s the new comedy written by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman, Trial by Laughter, which opens for a week from Monday, January 21, Rain Man, featuring Paul Nicholls and Chris Fountain, arrives on Tuesday, February 5 and also in the same month there’s the Tony Award winning musical - American Idiot.

This will be on stage a week later.

February also includes the chilling thriller The House on Cold Hill, a Peter James written supernatural tale which features Joe McFadden and Rita Simons.

Rounding off February and running into March is Art which boasts a strong cast including Stephen Tomkinson, Denis Lawson and Nigel Havers.

Meanwhile March offers Tom Stoppard’s comedy, Rough Crossing, The Worst Witch, The Lady Vanishes - which again boasts quite a cast including Juliet Mills, and then Simon Callow and Jane Asher star in Noel Coward’s bitter-sweet comedy, A Song at Twilight.

There’s plenty of other treats as the year moves right through to June with Sherlock Holmes: The Sign of Four, Madagascar: The Musical, also the hip-hop musical of The Wind in the Willows - In the Willows, and still on a musical theme is Thriller Live, featuring the songs of Michael Jackson and The Jackson Five.

But one of the big musical offerings of the season is Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers, from Tuesday, January 29 to Saturday, February 2.

Few musicals have received quite such acclaim as this multi-award winning show with Bill Kenwright’s production surpassing 10,000 performances in London’s West End, one of only three musicals ever to achieve that milestone.

It has been affectionately christened the ‘Standing Ovation Musical’, as inevitably - it brings the audience cheering to its feet and roaring its approval.

It will star Olivier Award nominated British actress Linzi Hateley in the seminal role of Mrs Johnstone.

She has performed in countless West End productions including Mamma Mia, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Les Misérables, Chicago, Grease and Mary Poppins!

Blood Brothers, as its legion of fans will tell you, is about the captivating and moving story of twins who, separated at birth, grow up on opposite sides of the tracks, only to meet again with fateful consequences.

The memorable score includes A Bright New Day, Marilyn Monroe and the emotionally charged hit Tell Me It’s Not True.