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THEATRE: Les Misérables, the Milton Keynes Theatre, 26 April – 21 May

Do you hear the people sing? Maybe not yet, but the streets will definitely be echoing when the Milton Keynes Theatre plays host to Les Misérables from 26 April. Warning you now: it’s impossible to watch this musical without getting all the songs stuck in your head. That’s entirely not a bad thing. Returning triumphantly due to the sheer scale of popular demand, this production features gorgeous sets and raise-the-roof ensemble action.


Makeover alert! The Discover Bucks Museum in Aylesbury has been a busy bee of late, transforming its central spaces into five brand new galleries that explore 200 million years of Bucks history. They unveil on 2 April, so head on over for a dazzling, brand-spanking-new array of objects, costumes, and art tracing from 200 million years ago to the present day.

Over at the Bodleian Library, we’re going mad for manuscripts thanks to the current (entirely free!) exhibition on North Sea Crossings, which continues until 18 April. Via a collection of beautiful medieval books and letters, this tells the story of Anglo-Dutch exchanges between 1066 and 1688, and how these shaped literature and institutions with long-lasting implications.

Up at the MK Gallery, this month sees a new exhibition entitled Moments of Integrity (above), running from 1-30 April. Showcasing the work of four emerging visual artists and photographers from Milton Keynes, it explores everyday instances of integrity, authenticity and originality.

Also worth catching at the MK Gallery is Exhibition On Screen: Easter in Art 2022 on 5 April, a stunningly produced film looking at Western art’s obsession with the resurrection of Christ for the past 2000 years. Perfectly themed for this month.

Want something a little more interactive? Over at the Chiltern Open Air Museum, there’s a Living History Festival on 9-10 April. Created in partnership with YouTube and TikTok sensation Living History UK, this will tell the story of 200 years of British soldiers, with plenty to immerse yourself in. It’s ideal for kids, history geeks (guilty!), and culture-seekers alike.

Moving into the second half of the month, the Bodleian Library has an exhibition on Tutankhamun: Excavating the Archive from 13 April. This marks 100 years since the discovery of the Egyptian’s tomb, bringing to life the 1922 discovery and excavation through the library’s extensive archive. Possibly this is a childhood obsession with Ancient Egyptians speaking, but we think it sounds fascinating. And it’s free!

If you’re itching for a further history fixing, Blenheim Palace has a new exhibition entitled Battlefields and Baroque, from 15 April-June, which tells the story of the 1st Duke of Marlborough. A courageous leader in battle, briefly imprisoned in the Tower of London, the Duke was gifted Blenheim Palace by the Queen and married his wife purely for love. (HBO adaptation, when?) We’re already sold, but if you need further arm-bending, the exhibition will also include costumes from the film The Favourite, which starred the brilliant Olivia Coleman.

Bletchley Park has a new permanent exhibition, The Intelligence Factory, opening from 28 April in a restored block. Focusing on the second half of WW2, when Bletchley had to rapidly expand its workforce to keep up with operational demands, it will be the largest exhibition space on site. A prime excuse to visit the Park if ever we heard one.

Then, it’s also worth noting that the Modern Art Oxford is still running its solo exhibition on artist Jesse Darling: No Medals No Ribbons, until 1 May. This explores the fundamental vulnerabilities and contradictions of the social and constructed body — be it human or governmental — and is a glorious day out.


Onto the theatre! Why not appreciate something up-and-coming: on 9 April, The North Wall in Oxford has its annual festival Alchymy, which shines a light on new, cutting-edge works. Catch this season’s showcase of hand-picked, new writer play extracts on 8 April, or peruse the festival’s full schedule here.

Can’t be bothered to leave your snug sofa? Hey, we know the feeling, and we have just the thing. On 9 April, the Creation Theatre have an at-home digital play, Friar Lawrence’s Confessional. A black comedy, this follows one frazzled friar as he tries to deal with some of Shakespeare’s best known characters and their awful confessions.

After something a little more… tragic? You’ll want some opera, darling. And lucky you, there’s plenty to go around. On 11 April, the Opera International award-winning Ellen Kent Production will be performing Puccini’s Madama Butterfly at the Wycombe Swan.

Then, on 15 and 16 April, the same production is moving onto the New Theatre Oxford, to perform Puccini’s Tosca followed by Bizet’s Carmen. Hit after hit!

Not heading to Oxford anytime soon? You can also catch the same production of Tosca at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre on 26 April.

No, don’t tell us: you’re more of a musical theatre kind of reader? There’s something for you, too. And, this month, the likelihood is that it’s at the Milton Keynes Theatre. As well as our Les Mis pick, on 11-16 April you can catch Singin’ In The Rain — an all-singing, all-dancing celebration of 20s Hollywood glamour. Or, from 19-23 April, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (pictured) is the funny, fabulous tale of a 16-year-old boy from Sheffield who overcomes prejudice to become a drag queen.

Then, from 25-30 April, over at the Oxford New Theatre, you’ll want a slice of smash hit musical Waitress, Sara Bareilles’ beautifully-scored comedy that swept Broadway and the West End. A guaranteed good time.


Want more singing, less drama? You won’t want to miss master of the hit Jake Bugg at the O2 Academy Oxford on 3 April.

Or, if you’re feeling jazzy: on 10 April, The National Youth Jazz Orchestra is Celebrating Amy Winehouse at The Stables in Milton Keynes. Honouring the fact that the singer sang with the Orchestra when she was just 16, it should be a lovely evening of Winehouse classics.

Elsewhere, on 13 April, you can catch indie rock staples The Vaccines when they play at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. Bet they’re chuffed their name is suddenly so relevant, eh?

At the other end of the music spectrum, on 22-24 April it’s time to don your kilts and kick up your heels for Oxford‘s Folk Weekend. Expect a packed schedule of ceilidhs, workshops, folk music, and dance. Check out the programme of events here.

Or, hold back that river until 29 April, when you can catch the BRIT-Award-winning James Bay at the O2 Academy Oxford instead.

Oxford May Music, a four-day music, science and arts festival in Oxford, makes the cut by starting a little earlier than implied (29 April – 2 May). Highlights include a concert of Mozart’s most technically challenging sonata (Sonata in F Major, if you were wondering) and a lecture on the hefty cosmic influence of black holes. See the full schedule here.


Right, time for a laugh! There’s a lot happening at the Wycombe Swan this month. First up is comedy superstar John Bishop, who is bringing his Right Here, Right Now tour there on 4 April. A bit later on in the month, you can catch Just A Minute and Have I Got News For You staple Paul Merton delighting crowds with improv on 22 April. Then, previous Bake Off host and all-round national treasure Sandi Toksvig explores reasons to be cheerful on 26 April.

Over in Oxford, Irish comedian, writer, and actor Catherine Bohart is performing her set of horrendous life advice and cheery nihilism at The Old Fire Station on 14 April. Then, panel show star and podcast sensation Ed Gamble is on at the Oxford Playhouse on 23 April. Over at Blackwell’s Bookshop, you can see the Harry Potter comedy improv show The Show That Must Not Be Named on 29 April, courtesy of Jericho Comedy.


Spring has sprung! Look closely and you’ll see the stunning sight of local heritage sites stretching as they emerge from hibernation. Near Banbury, Broughton Castle‘s Open Days start again this month. A moated and fortified manor house with tearoom, it’s one of our favourite local castles: small enough to get around without boring young children, and boasting a lovely garden for them to bomb about in.

Also reopening this month is Buscot Park near Faringdon, so head on over to make the most of its lovely landscaped gardens and extensive art collection.

At Stowe House, Buckingham, the famous rooftop tours are back on select days throughout the month: 1 April, 3 April, 9 April, 10 April, 15 April. Weather dependent, you get to climb the cantilevered stone staircase to the top of the house and soak up views of the National Trust site’s gorgeous grounds. We can think of worse ways to spend an early evening.


Don’t pick up the glowsticks just yet — the festivals on this month are rather more high-brow. Better be quick for this first one: you can still catch the end of this year’s Oxford Literary Festival until 3 April. National treasures Joanna Lumley and Jaqueline Wilson are both speaking on 2 April, or check the full line-up here.

Then, from 2-9 April, Oxford Brookes is running Think Human Festival 2022, meaning a whole host of free events to catch. We’re interested in the launch of Oxymoron, a new creative cooperative for Oxford, on 5 April. There’s also an interesting talk on the novelist Iris Murdoch and her emphasis on altruism on 9 April which has our name all over it. Catch both at the Old Fire Station, Oxford.

Books featured at The Chipping Norton Literary Festival

Towards the end of the month, The Chipping Norton Literary Festival is running 21-24 April, so you can expect a whole host of brilliantly bookish events. This includes Ned Palmer (author of A Cheesemonger’s History of The British Isles), 22 April, whose page features the magic words “ticket price includes cheese samples”. Reader, we are there. Another one not to miss is ‘A Write Laugh‘, also 22 April, a conversation between Nina Stibbe (author of Love, Nina) and Georgia Pritchett (who has written for Veep, The Thick of It, and Succession).


The Secret Supper Society

Keep an eye out for supper clubs on this month (see our list of the nine hottest ones in our ‘hood). The Secret Supper Society in Somerton has one on 14 April that promises top-quality ingredients eaten in beautifully-styled surroundings. Or, host your own for the fundraising campaign #CookForUkraine and donate the proceeds to Unicef’s Ukrainian aid.

Still hungry? The Great Missenden Food Festival is running 15-18 April, and boasts a hefty host of free masterclasses, tasting sessions, and workshops. Cheese and wine tasting – we are there! The festival includes tonnes of stuff for kids, too.


Calling all budding photographers! There’s an open call for Milton Keynes kids (aged 4-19) to submit a photo at the MK Gallery, from 1 April – 17 June, for the chance to feature in its Young Photographer 2022 exhibition in July.

Feel like they’re on enough screens already, thank you very much? Never fear: from 8 April, the MK Gallery is also offering ‘Bramble Ramble’ kits, which you pick up from the gallery to enjoy in Campbell Park. The answer to your anxiety over not providing Enid Blyton style childhoods, they’re full of sweet ways to get stuck into nature and the outdoors. And entirely free!

Things are getting into the Easter swing, but honestly chicken and chocolate eggs are such old news. Head to the Oxford Castle and Prison and adopt a dragon egg instead from 9 April. Now that’s an egg! If you’re wondering, the adoption process involves decorating it, crafting a lair, and taking a soft dragon home with you. Sure beats a C-section.

Want more Easter action? Check our in-depth Easter guide here for the full 57 fabulous things to do in the hols.

For something that will keep them engaged in the long-run, the Creation Theatre’s Spring Term Creation Home Delivery (online kids’ drama club) starts starts 25 April, and lasts until 23 July with a half-term on the w/c 30 May. Grab them a place now.

And for the end of the month: Squire, ready my horse! Blenheim Palace has a jousting tournament from 30 April – 2 May, so we can live our A Knight’s Tale fantasy* and the kids can gawp at all the high speed charging. (*Heath Ledger not included).


Avoid any mud on your face by booking now to see We Will Rock You at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre from 2-7 May. It ain’t a smash-hit musical phenomenon for nothing…

The post It’s April! So what’s on in Bucks and Oxon this month? appeared first on Bucks & Oxon.

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