Sussex never disappoints when it comes to culture but 2018 is already looking like a vintage year for entertainment. We round-up the best picks here

Best of Theatre

War Horse

Brighton Centre, January 25 to February 10

From its humble beginnings as a novella by Michael Morpurgo, War Horse has became a theatre phenomenon, one of the bestselling shows the UK has ever seen. While it’s been an unlikely rise, the play has all the ingredients to be a runaway success; a dramatic and heartwarming story, a young and dynamic cast, and, most impressively, a large-scale puppet horse, which is controlled by a team of three puppeteers.

Indeed it’s difficult to think of too many stories that revolve around an animal, but, according to reviews, Joey the mare is a magnetic central character. The popularity of the show can be judged by its run at Brighton Centre. It’s undoubtedly ambitious to host a two-week run at such a big venue but, judging by how quickly tickets are being snapped up, it was the right decision. War Horse shows no signs of slowing down and you’d be a mule to miss it when it comes to town next month.

The Snowman

Theatre Royal Brighton, Jan 24 to 28

One can only assume the theatre version of The Snowman – the classic children’s book by Raymond Briggs – is being staged at the end of January because that’s the time that snow is most likely to hit. Whether it does or not, we’re for a treat with this long-running production, which was created more than 20 years ago by Howard Blake, who also wrote the enchanting song Walking in the Air which featured in the television adaptation of The Snowman. While the actual plot of the play is undeniably thin, it more than makes up for it with a number of all-singing, all-dancing set pieces, evocative music and a clutch of new characters, including Jack Frost and the Ice Queen. In terms of family productions it doesn’t come much more heartwarming than this. A perfect way to banish the January blues.

Brighton Rock

Theatre Royal Brighton, March 6 to 10

This story needs no introduction, but it will be interesting to see how the play’s writer Bryony Lavery – known for her awardwinning production Frozen – tackles Graham Greene’s 1938 novel. Lavery is putting the show on with the assistance of director Esther Richardson and musician Hannah Peel, who has created a new score for the play. It’s the first time that a stage version of Brighton Rock has ever toured the UK, and Lavery is excited. She said: “Why adapt Brighton Rock for the stage? Because it is such a treasure chest of narrative delights. It’s a love story, a revenge tragedy and a small-town murder mystery. In the poisoned relationship between Pinkie and Rose, there is one of the best accounts ever of what it is like to be 16 and 17 year’s old in a terrible, violent, adolescence.”

The Turn of the Screw

Connaught Theatre, Worthing, April 18 to 21

Henry James’ novel The Turn of the Screw remains one of the most haunting works of fiction to date – and has provided the template for many ghost stories since it was published in 1898. The action takes place in an idyllic country house but, as you may have guessed, all is not what it seems. As the governess struggles to take care of the house’s two young children, the ghosts of its troubled past make the job even more difficult. This stylish story has the subtlety to go with the downright scary, and the production is sure to have you on the edge of your set – or watching from behind your fingers. There is a degree of moral ambiguity to it, too, as the directorial team leave the audience to decide who is to blame for the harrowing events that take place as the plot unfolds. Sure to be spine-tingling.


The Old Market, June 5 to 9

You might know Fleabag as an acclaimed TV show starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge, but chances are you’ll be less familiar with the theatre show that won an Oliver Award in 2014. Needless to say, the themes are very much the same in both versions; crippling social anxiety, disastrous job interviews and meaningless romantic encounters to name a few. While that might seem to add up to a fairly shallow story, Fleabag also possesses great empathy and understanding for its lead character; an aimless wanderer just trying to find what makes her happy and fulfilled. I’m sure we can all relate from time to time. As the makers of the play say, this is about a female “living her sort of life”. Another factor worth mentioning is the humour. It might be straight from the gallows but Fleabag always delivers in the comedy department. Sure to be popular, so book your tickets quickly.


Connaught Theatre, Worthing, February 6

Wayne McGregor, one of the most acclaimed dance choreographers around today, brings his vibrant new production to Worthing. Nine dancers perform in front of an astounding visual show and music from electronic producer Winged Victory for the Sullen. Atomos is based around the premise of atomosing bodies, movement, sound and light into “shards of intense sensation”. For a section of the performance, crowd members will wear 3D glasses to enjoy a film that accompanies the action.

Menopause: The Musical

Theatre Royal Brighton, February 14 

Never has a show about night sweats, hot flushes and memory less been so successful. Set to a soundtrack of pop classics from the 60s, 70s and 80s, Menopause: The Musical is a hysterical night based around “the change” that besets all women at some point in their lives. The production features song, dance and gags galore as four women meet in a department store by chance and bond over their menopauses.

The Kite Runner

Devonshire Park, Eastbourne, February 13 to 17

Recently seen at Theatre Royal Brighton, this adaptation of the wildly popular film (and, before that, book) tells a story of friendship which spans continents and revolves around one terrible moment. It is set in an Afghanistan, on the verge of war, and follows two young friends as they navigate the perils that face them. One to get the pulses racing and, ultimately, warm the heart.


Theatre Royal Brighton, March 26 to 31

This much-loved comedy is revived with a sterling cast of television actors: Paul Nicholas (EastEnders), Wendi Peters (Coronation Street), Sue Holderness (Only Fools and Horses) and Jeff Rawle (Drop the Dead Donkey). In the story, four ageing opera singers live together in a retirement home in Kent. Before long, old rivalries are stoked and chaos ensues.

Kevin and Karen

Brighton Dome, June 7

Strictly Come Dancing stars Kevin and Karen Clifton present a night of waltz, cha cha, foxtrot, tango and salsa.

Best of Music 


Brighton Centre, March 3

The former Smiths icon is still pumping out the albums and, for better or worse, ruffling feathers. His most recent record, Low in High School, was released a few months ago to mixed reviews, and some of Morrissey’s comments of late have rubbed people up the wrong way – such as his bizarre allegation during a BBC session that the Ukip leadership contest was rigged. One suspects that Moz just enjoys winding people up, however, and he’s always been one to kick against what he perceives to be the dominant trends in society.

At any rate, the back catalogue he has at his disposal is only rivalled by a handful of musicians, from the Smiths classics he wrote with Johnny Marr (think How Soon is Now, What Difference Does It Make? etc) through to his storming solo tracks; First of the Gang to Die and You Have Killed Me spring to mind. Whether Morrissey will please his loyal fans with a career-spanning set remains to be seen, but one thing’s for sure – it won’t be boring.

Steflon Don

Concorde 2, Brighton, March 7

Hurtin’ Me, which went to number seven in the UK charts, and Ding-A-Ling, which she worked on with Skepta. Allen, of Jamaican descent, worked as a hairdresser and a cake decorator before pursuing a career in music. She was named on the BBC’s Sound of 2017 longlist and has been described as the UK’s answer to Nicki Minaj. Her lyrics feature themes of female empowerment and urban life, and her music is peppered with the essence of Jamaican dancehall. Her single Real Ting celebrates her “belly fat” and “being bad”, to give you a brief glimpse into her candid worldplay.

Paloma Faith

Brighton Centre, March 12

Faith was celebrating over Christmas after her recent album The Architect hit number one. It was the first time she has topped the charts, having been unlucky with two second spot finishes for previous records. A panoramic sweep of an album, The Architect dissect Brexit, the environment and parenthood – last year also saw Faith become a mother. The singer has long had a place in the public consciousness. She won a BRIT Award in 2015 and her stint on The Voice a year later only furthered her popularity. Tickets are already flying for her Brighton Centre show so be sure to get in there fast. Speaking about The Architect, Faith said: “On previous albums I’ve been more concerned with the past, but now I’m looking forward because of motherhood and wanting to change things for a better future. It’s a marriage of old and new.”

Tokio Myers

Brighton Dome, April 23

The pianist won the nation’s hearts on Britain’s Got Talent earlier this year with his marvellous musical mash-ups. How many people would even try to merge Debussy’s Claire de Lune with Ed Sheeran’s Bloodstream, for instance, or Hans Zimmer’s interstellar theme with Rag ’n’ Bone Man’s Human? He released his debut album Our Generation a few months ago, which charted at number four, as well as playing on the single for the Grenfell charity, Bridge Over Troubled Water. Audiences might think they know what to expect from Myers’ show having watched him on TV, but the man himself is intent upon subverting expectations, as he said recently. “The more you put me in a place I’m not supposed to be, it excites me more. I get a kick out of it because I know I can educate people.” An enticing night with an exciting new talent.

Noel Gallagher

Brighton Centre, April 22

Just four months after his younger brother played the same venue, Gallagher Sr returns to Brighton with his band High Flying Birds. His latest record, Who Built The Moon, sees Gallagher at his most adventurous, incorporating electronic and psychedelic elements into the rock sound that Oasis fans know and love. It’s to Gallagher’s credit that he has kept trying to push his music forward to new places – such is the adulation towards his former band that he could easily just bash out a “best of Oasis” set every year and his shows would still sell-out. That’s not to say his Brighton gig will be exclusively new music, though; you can guarantee Gallagher will play many of the songs that he wrote back in his 90s heyday including Don’t Look Back in Anger, Roll With It and Champagne Supernova. A terrific night of nostalgia and new tunes.

GoGo Penguin

Concorde 2, Brighton, February 7

The Manchester-based trio were nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2014 and with good reason; their flexible, jazz-inspired sound has changed perceptions of what a rock song can be in recent years. They’ve also worked on video game and film soundtracks.

Franz Ferdinand

Brighton Dome, February 25

The Scottish group, fronted by Alex Kapranos, are best known for their early hits Matinee, Jacqueline and especially Take Me Out. Since then, they have explored numerous styles while retaining their musical identity and lyrical wit. New album Always Ascending is out in February and has been described by Kapranos as “simultaneously futuristic and naturalistic”.

Jake Bugg

Brighton Dome, March 13

It’s been a pretty remarkable rise for Bugg since his breakthrough with his instantly recognisable song Lightning Bolt. The Nottingham lad has gone from promising acoustic guitar player to working in Malibu with legendary producer Rick Rubin and jamming with bluesmen in the deep south of America.

Jason Derulo

Brighton Centre, March 18

One of the world’s biggest pop stars is coming to town. This year’s Swalla, featuring Nicki Minaj, has already passed 383 million plays on Spotify alone. Other number one hits include In My Head, Don’t Wanna Go Home and Talk Dirty. Derulo has written songs for Lil Wayne, Pitbull, and P Diddy among others.


Concorde 2, Brighton, April 29

Akala, real name Kingslee James Daley, is just as well known for his political activism as his music these days but there’s no doubt he’s one of the most respected rappers on the scene. In 2006, he was voted the best hip-hop act at the MOBO Awards.

The Vamps

Brighton Centre, April 29

The boyband are so popular they’ve got a fanbase with their own name; Vampettes. The group have released three number one albums and their biggest single, All Night, has had 300 million streams worldwide.