AUDIENCES at the Octagon are set for a season of magic, murder and music.

The 2011-2012 season, revealed last night, will feature three world premieres along with classics by Edward Albee, Alan Bennett and Shakespeare.

The season will open with Bang Bang Bang, a new piece of theatre written by Stella Feehilly and directed by Max Stafford-Clark, followed by the great American drama, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf ?

The third show in the new season will be the first work by Alan Bennett to be staged at the theatre in 15 years, Habeus Corpus, followed by the festive production, a new adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Bill Naughton’s Alfie and the Shakespearean tragedy Macbeth will start the new year, followed by another world premiere, Ron Rose’s The Queen of the North, a play about the life of Pat Phoenix, better known as Coronation Street’s Elsie Tanner.

Terence Rattigan’s The Winslow Boy will open in March, before the season closes — as has become traditional — with a musical, Farnworth playwright Jim Cartwright’s The Rise and Fall of Little Voice.

David Thacker, who took over as artistic director of the Octagon in 2009, said he was particularly excited to have acquired the rights to Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf ?

and Habeus Corpus, as both Albee and Bennett were very strict about which theatres were allowed to produce their work.

He said that Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf ? followed in the tradition of great American plays such as Arthur Miller’s All My Sons and Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, which he has previously directed at the Octagon.

“It has a very grabby, compelling narrative, the story is very powerful and — more so than the other American plays we have done — it’s very funny,”

he said.

The festive production of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz will be another groundbreaking show, with writers from the theatre’s Incubate programme working collectively to create a brand new family play.

Mr Thacker said: “I think that will be a very innovative project in which we will create a new version of the story just for the people of Bolton.”

He added that many of the plays are rooted in the culture of Bolton, such as the works by local writers Bill Naughton and Jim Cartwright, and the new play The Queen of the North.

The Octagon’s current production, Secret Thoughts, runs until June 4. The current season will close with the musical Sweeney Todd, which will run from June 9 to July 2.