A new musical drama based around The Enemy’s number one debut album will have its world premiere at Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre this autumn, spearheading a season full of stories from the city.

As Coventry prepares for its year as City of Culture in 2021, the Belgrade is showcasing voices from the city, with Geoff Thompson’s We’ll Live & Die in These Towns and Debbie Isitt’s Nativity! The Musical following on from an ambitious, site-specific work at the former Coventry Evening Telegraph Building.

Running 29 September – 20 October, We’ll Live and Die in These Towns sees Tom Clarke, former frontman of Coventry band The Enemy, make his first foray into theatre as Musical Director. Penned by acclaimed local playwright Geoff Thompson (Fragile 2012), the show follows a young musician who suffers a crisis of confidence just hours before a huge homecoming gig that could make or break his career.

This world premiere follows the Belgrade’s first in-house production of 2018: an immersive performance takeover of the nearby Coventry Evening Telegraph Building. In Read All About It!, professional company Mercurial Dance join nine groups led by the Belgrade’s pioneering Community and Education team to retell real-life stories from the city, sourced both from the newspaper and the community it serves.

From dingy basements to glamorous boardrooms, Read All About It! will reanimate the site with snapshots of local history, underpinned by the story of how journalism changes in a constantly shifting media landscape. Running 10-14 July, it offers audiences one last chance to explore this architectural gem before its transformation into a boutique hotel at the end of the summer.

The show forms part of the Coventry City of Culture Trust’s Great Place scheme, funded by Arts Council England, Heritage Lottery, Coventry BID, University of Warwick and Coventry University.

Then from 23-28 October, Nativity! The Musical returns to its home city before embarking on a second UK tour. Co-produced by the Belgrade with Jamie Wilson, Entertainment One and Ramin Sabi, this family favourite sees Coventry writer and director Debbie Isitt bring the magic of her festive film franchise to the stage, complete with a whole new cast of Midlands children.

Other forthcoming productions include Meet Me in the Ruins, a multi-strand story by five Coventry writers performed in the city’s famous Cathedral ruins; Hymns for Robots, a new work about electronic music innovator Delia Derbyshire created by Belgrade Springboard Company, Noctium Theatre; and Strictly Arts’ Freeman, which returns to the Belgrade following a run at the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe.

The season culminates in the ever-popular Christmas pantomime, with writer, director and Dame Iain Lauchlan presenting his 24th Belgrade Theatre panto, Sleeping Beauty. Designing the set will be Terry Parsons, who returns to the Belgrade during its 60th anniversary year, 50 years after designing his very first panto there in 1968. The show will run alongside Nick Walker’s “alternative panto” Over The Top – an original production inspired by the story of Sleeping Beauty and aimed at an adult audience.

Tickets and further information about all of these shows and more are available at www.belgrade.co.uk, or by calling the box office on 024 7655 3055.