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HEAD EAST – Behind the Scenes, Stephen Crocker About On Before

I am Stephen Crocker, Chief Executive and creative director of Norwich theatre. I’ve had this joy and privilege since 2017, having previously worked in Greater Manchester and been deputy CEO of the Lowry in Salford


I started my career as a performer and then was lucky enough to have a portfolio career of performing and working in the cultural sector away from the stage, but eventually settled on supporting leadership within arts and cultural organisations.

The magic of theatre is built on shared experiences; moments that connect us with an endless array of stories and awe-inspiring creativity.




This season of work is all about the magic of those shared moments, with epic musicals including Les Misérables and Mamma Mia; Norfolk drama with our first ever regional tour of James McDermott’s Cromer set play, Time and Tide; acclaimed opera, comedy, and a show we are particularly excited about, the return of legendary Cuban dancer, Carlos Acosta and his production of On Before.

First conceived in 2010, On Before is an intensely personal evening of dance created, directed and performed by the legendary Cuban dancer. The performance sees him dance a full-length show which pays homage to his late mother and the most personal work he has ever created.

On Before is a powerful story of a doomed relationship between a man and a woman. Set to a diverse musical repertoire ranging from Handel to contemporary Cuban composer Omar Puente and culminating in a moving finale featuring a live local choir performing Morten Lauridsen’s O Magnum Mysterium.

It is always joyous and inspirational to work with Carlos. He is someone whose passion and commitment are just infectious, and I love working with someone who is so driven by creativity and vision.


This project is very special to us not only because of the show itself but also because of the spirit of bravery, diversity, determination, and commitment to dance that has brought us together with Carlos again. I will never forget Carlos calling me in January 2021 to suggest that we remounted and toured On Before as theatres were re-opening – a seemingly impossible task that only his passion can make happen. We pulled it off with huge success and it set in chain a brilliant new chapter for us at Norwich Theatre showing that a silver lining can emerge from a cloud.

Last year On Before was our first-ever touring production. This was a bold statement of intent from us as Norwich highlighting our ambitions not just to present but also to originate and produce small and large-scale work itself. It also further put Norfolk and East Anglia on the map as a place where international creativity and art are formed.

Now we are reaching another milestone with this amazing show as we take the show on a European tour. This will be a special moment for me and our whole team.

This is a rare opportunity for people to see a legendary performer who rarely performs on stage in East Anglia. The show is highly sophisticated but hugely accessible for those who might be new to dance, taking you on a beautiful journey and when Carlos dances, he is absolutely mesmerising.

To find out more and to book tickets click here
Norwich Theatre Royal, Norwich (Runs 29 till 30 July)



We are also excited for our first ever Family Festival! From craftivism to digital art making, silly storytelling to family sing-alongs, please come along to experience the magic of creativity. Then beyond July we have a host of other brilliant shows including the smash-hit musical Waitress, coming to Norwich for the first time, Norfolk’s favourite comedy duo The Nimmo Twins playing almost three weeks at Playhouse and culminating with one night at Theatre Royal and, of course, Les Misérables at last returns to Norwich having had its intended run abruptly cut short in March 2020. That will be an emotional moment!

To find out more and to book tickets click here
Norwich Theatre Playhouse / Norwich Theatre Stage Two (Runs from 26 till 29 July)



Norfolk is a place with an amazing natural landscape. It’s glorious to get up on Saturday morning and within half an hour be at the beach or on the Broads. It is one of the most beautiful natural landscapes I’ve had the pleasure to live in and even after nearly six years of living here, we are still discovering it.

Norwich is also a very cool city and a place that I find easy to live in and to simply ‘be’. I travel a lot as part of my various roles and visit a lot of places but always look forward to coming back and feel very lucky to live here.

To find out more about Norwich Theatres and their Summer/Autumn programme, click here


This is a Behind the Scenes profile for HEAD EAST



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