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The Curtain Goes Up On Dementia Friendly Theatre Norwich

With Norwich Theatre Royal set to host its first dementia friendly concert later this month, followed by a season of work on the issue of dementia in its new Stage Two building next spring, Emma Outten looks at how the city’s theatres are forging ahead with their pledges on dementia 

Taking an elderly parent with dementia to the theatre has just got a whole lot friendlier, thanks to the commitment shown by both the Theatre Royal and Norwich Playhouse. 

Both are members of Norwich City Dementia Action Alliance, a group of organisations who are passionate about making Norwich a more inclusive and friendly city for those people living with dementia and their families. 

And, as well as continuing to train their staff and volunteers to ensure they can meet the needs of patrons living with dementia, they are both about to put on dementia friendly shows. 

Gilbert & Sulliven – Dementia Friendly sing-a-long

First up, on September 15, Norwich Theatre Royal will host its first dementia friendly concert, where people living with dementia, their family and carers will be able to enjoy an afternoon concert packed with memorable melodies and classic sing-a-long favourites. 

The Theatre Royal has been working with The National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company to prepare a programme which includes a host of well-known songs from the music hall era including Come to the Ball, Honeysuckle and the Bee, You Made Me Love You, My Old Man and Let’s All Go to the Music Hall. 

The show will also feature a number of Gilbert and Sullivan songs in the mix, including The Policeman’s Song from Pirates of Penzance, and both The Sun Whose Rays and Tit Willow from The Mikado.  

Everyone will be encouraged to sing along with the cast and the 15-strong orchestra who will perform specially arranged versions of many of the songs. 

The concert itself will be hosted by company member and Norwich Theatre Royal stalwart Richard Gauntlett, who is well known as the writer, director and Dame of the venue’s annual pantomime – and the price of the ticket will also include tea and cake after the concert. 

Creative Matters

The special concert fits in with an ongoing programme of dementia friendly work at both the Theatre Royal and Norwich Playhouse.  

For example, the Theatre Royal’s new Stage Two learning and participation centre is set to host a season, called Creative Matters, focusing on issues around dementia, next spring. 

Finding Joy

Meanwhile, Norwich Playhouse is currently working with leading full mask company, Vamos Theatre, on a two year project aimed specifically to reach out to carers in the local community. For example, it is planning to hold a workshop called Listening With Your Eyes, which will be all about non-verbal communication, and particularly suited to healthcare professionals. 

Assistant Theatre Manager, Andrew Ramsbottom, explains: ‘We hope to encourage and inspire healthcare professionals and people caring for loved ones at home to engage with their local theatre.’  

And on Tuesday September 26, Norwich Playhouse will be hosting Finding Joy – a show based on the true-life story of Danny, an 18-year-old boy, who looked after his grandmother, Joy, as she made her way through middle and late stage dementia.  

Andrew says: ‘We’ve scheduled the show at a time we hope carers might find more accessible and are offering discounted tickets to carers and dementia friends. We are also inviting people to stay after the show to chat informally about the issues raised – just £2 for tea and cake to ticket holders!’  

Before and after the performance, Age UK Norwich will have a stall where people can find out about the services they provide for people living with dementia and their carers, as will local arts organisation Eyebrow Arts, which devises and delivers creative opportunities for people living with dementia. 

Andrew says: ‘We hope the show’s themes will resonate with carers looking after loved ones at home and that, if anyone has not visited us before, will enjoy the warm welcome we at the Playhouse pride ourselves on.’ 

  • The Gilbert and Sullivan Dementia Friendly Concert takes place at Norwich Theatre Royal, on Friday September 15 at 2pm. Tickets cost £17 (or £8.50 for carers). The concert will be captioned. Call 01603 630000 or visit 
  • Finding Joy takes place at Norwich Playhouse on Tuesday September 26 at 3pm. Tickets cost £10 (or £6 for carers/Dementia Friends). Call 01603 598598 or visit

For more information on things to do with your elderly parents and keeping them active visit our Health & Wellbeing section.

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