Tale of a twilight kiss
A KISS in a summer fling 25 years ago is the common ground for Molly (Jayne Lunn) and Ray (Mark Nattrass) in Dusk Rings A Bell when their lives cross again where it all happened on the Atlantic coast of America.
Molly is now a successful PR executive while Ray is a caretaker with a murky past. Neither have lives that turned out the way they expected.
Writer Stephen Belber, who incidentally was a staff writer for Law & Order: Special Victim’s Unit in 2002/3, uses the pair to explore human relationships, hopes, missed opportunities and hate crime in this, his latest play, first seen in New York in 2010.
Debut Director Faye Hath said “I believe that Stephen Belber has created beautifully examined characters in Ray and Molly which will draw audiences in and have them examine how they would have acted in similar circumstances.”
The play runs from Tuesday 13th May – Saturday 18th May at 7.30pm, Highbury Theatre Centre, Sheffield Road, B73 5HD.
Twitter @highburytc www.youtube.com/user/highburyplayers
Learning to say yes, Prime Minister
ALTHOUGH many people find real-life politics a bit of a turn off these days, the updated humour-packed stage version of Yes, Prime Minister is rated as perhaps the most successful play for a decade.
Now on a UK anniversary tour, the Jonathan Lynn and Anthony Jay comedy arrives at Wolverhampton's Grand Theatre next month after enjoying many full houses.
And in one of the lead roles is a man who never had any intention of becoming an actor in his school days, but is loving every minute of playing the manipulative civil servant, Sir Humphrey Appleby, the Prime Minister's Cabinet Secretary.
Crispin Redman, 53, told me: "My mother, Joyce Redman, was an actress, and the last thing I wanted was a career in acting. She was working so hard, often away from home, so I didn't want that.
"But at school in Kent I was badgered to be in school plays because my mother was on the stage, and suddenly I felt it was something I had to do. I went to university for a year to study law, but 'ran away' to RADA, and my parents were very forgiving about that.
"Fortunately I have the world's most patient and wonderful wife (Kendall) who works in the NHS and looks after our two children, Louis (12) and Maisy (9) in Brighton, and I go home every Sunday.
"The first time the children saw me on stage, other than on TV, was when Yes, Prime Minister was at Brighton's Theatre Royal in March."
In the play Redman - best known for playing Judge Rory Richards in TV's Law and Order; UK - teams up with Michael Fenton Stevens (beleaguered Prime Minister Jim Hacker) and he recalls: "We just hit it off straight away, and people have commented on how well the two of us work together. We have an excellent cast of nine, seven in major parts.
"Playing Sir Humphrey is right up at the top of my favourite roles, the writing is so sublime, and we have been playing to houses that just love it. There have been some changes since the original tour, with references to the Euro crisis and Blackberrys. And we have updates occasionally with current issues such as the new Pope and the horse meat scandal, but we were steering clear of references to the death of Margaret Thatcher. I was of the opinion that was probably best left alone.
"We have made reference to things like the BBC's move to Salford and how 'dreadful' Newsnight is."
The play has hapless Prime Minister Hacker as being grammar school educated and Sir Humphrey, with a public school background, in a fascinating satirical battle for power in Whitehall.
With the country on the brink of financial meltdown, the PM is staring disaster in the face, with his only salvation a morally dubious deal with the Foreign Minister of Kumranistan. A great chance to laugh at this theatrical view of our leaders.
Michael Fenton Stevens (the PM) is well know for his role as Sir Henry in the long-running TV drama, Benidorm.
Yes, Prime Minister, is at the Grand Theatre from Tuesday May 7 to May 11.
Award winners staging award winner
After winning two major awards in the past couple of years, the talented Brownhills Musical Theatre Company are now looking for more!
And in the hunt for further trophies they are staging Lionel Bart’s smash hit musical, Oliver, at Lichfield Garrick from May 14-18 with a cast of 40 adults and 23 children.
In April last year the BMTC received the NODA District 11 Best Musical Award for the production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, in competition with amateur companies from Walsall, Cannock, Lichfield, Tamworth and surrounding areas.
This year they have been presented with the Friends of the Garrick Award for the best amateur show at the Garrick, for their staging of The Producers last May, beating 12 other amateur companies who performed at the theatre.
A pleasing note for singers
THE Phoenix Singers of Birmingham are inviting singers of all abilities, and those who have always wanted to find their voice, to join a choral workshop.
It will be held at St John's Church, Longbridge, on Saturday March 23 from 10am to 3pm.
A spokesman for the choir said it was a community project led by their musical director, Matt Beckingham, who will be working on Karl Jenkins' stirring 2012 composition, The Peacemaker.
Weekly rehearsals will follow the workshop for those wishing to continue, held at Rowheath Pavilion, Bourneville, culminating in a concert on Sunday June 30 at Birmingham Town Hall.
It will be the first time in the city for a community project of Karl Jenkins' new work and he has been invited as a special guest for the occasion.
The big concert will involve over 200 singers from local community choirs and other guest choirs, comprising adults and young people, and supported by a Christian youth orchestra from the region.
For further information or to register interest contact Sue at 0121-475-4005, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Charity concert for outdoor centre
THE Rotary Club of Walsall's past president, Bill Stephens, has organised a special concert to raise funds for the town's educational outdoor centre at Bryntysilio, near Llangollen. It will be staged at the Central Hall, Walsall, on Friday March 15 (7.45pm) featuring Jeff Hooper and the Midland Youth Jazz Orchestra. The centre, for the benefit of Walsall children, many of whom need financial assistance to attend, has to generate its own income, helped by charitable contributions.
Tickets for the concert are £12.50 and can be booked on 01922-627686.
The Wizard is waiting
CLASS ACT DRAMA is looking for young actors for its production of The Wizard of Oz.
All roles, including those of the Lion, Tin Man, Scarecrow and Witches, will be played by young people. The show will be directed by professional actors and directors. It will be staged later this year with professional training offered to all suitable candidates and rehearsals taking place on Saturdays.
Informal trials will take place on Saturday March 2,
from 2.15-3.45 pm in the main hall at The Dovehouse Theatre,
Directors will be looking for youngsters aged between seven and 17 years. Trials consist of informal fun group drama workshops and are simply an opportunity for directors to meet enthusiastic and committed young people.
Complete beginners and more advanced performers are welcome. No preparation is necessary. For further information is available at 0121-244-3214 and www.classactdramacentre.co.uk or by email at email@example.com.
Sex, drugs and . . . hglt
AFTER February's ghostly tale Darker Shores set in the Victorian age, Hall Green Little Theatre's next play takes us in another direction, back to the 1950s when rock’n’roll was young.
Mojo by Jez Butterworth is a brutally funny journey through the backrooms of the British Rock & Roll business. The plot sees two seedy club owners fighting for control of Johnny Silver, the latest young music sensation. Prepare to sit back and be transported to back in time to 1958 as interesting developments take place at the Atlantic club…
The play first appeared in 1995 on the London stage, and was subsequently made into a film. This production is directed by Jean Wilde.
Audiences should be aware that the play contains some strong language.
Tickets for studio productions are priced at ￡8, and drinks are available in the bar before and after the show. Hot beverages are available during the interval. Please note that the studio is on the first floor and unfortunately we do not have a lift.Tickets are available in advance on 0121 707 1874 or online at www.hglt.co.uk
Staging a killing in Kidderminster
IRA Levin’s Deathrap holds the record for the longest running comedy thriller on Broadway, from February 1978 to January 1982 – The Nonentities can only manage a week when it opens at The Rose on Monday, 24 February.
The format is a play within a play with playwright Sidney Bruhl on not so much a roll as a plunge after the opening of his latest play which has become the latest in his growing collection of Broadway flops.
He returns to his opulent Long Island home and his sympathetic but sick wife, Myra and although the wolf is not waiting at the door, the end of his wife’s fortune is in sight in the distance.
To add to his problems he has writer’s block so when Clifford Anderson, one of his students from a workshop, sends in a manuscript he sees as near perfect a plan starts to form.
Simple really, nick the script and to avoid any awkward questions of a copyright nature, write the student author out of life’s script.
Myra tries to get Sydney to collaborate with Clifford, for the sake of her ailing heart if nothing else, but Sydney wants a hit and he wants it to be his hit . . . even if it isn’t.
Deathtrap runs from 25 Feb to 2 Mar at The Rose Theatre, Kidderminster, Box Office .01562 743 745 or book on line on www.rosetheatre.co.uk.
Jane gets an airing in Dudley
THE romantic tale of Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester is embedded in our literary heritage and their love story is brought to life next month by Dudley Little Theatre at Netherton Arts Centre.
The adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s novel by Willis Hall, the long-time collaborator of the late Keith Waterhouse, is a big production with 37 named characters, and follows our heroine through the trials and tribulations of her life from her difficult childhood, to Governess at Thornfield Hall where she falls for the Master, Edward Rochester.
The happy ending is delayed somewhat when, set to be married, she discovers Rochester is not only already married but his wife is as mad as a hatter. So off she goes to plight her wounded troth elsewhere . . . until the dramatic climax when fire engulfs Thornfield changing the lives of everyone forever. Exciting or what?
Jane Eyre, directed by Andrew Rock, runs from
Wednesday, 6 March to Saturday, 9 March at 7.30pm at Netherton Arts
Centre, Northfield Rd, Netherton, DY2 9RE
Electrifying call to arms
A TALENTED amateur musical theatre company is desperately trying to recruit wannabe stars of the future for their big show which is due to be held at The Old Rep in May.
Youth Onstage, celebrating its 10th birthday this year, had to cancel their annual December pantomime through a drop in membership, but they have secured a licence to stage the hit musical Grease from May 10 to 12.
Deb Brook, chair and director of the company, which aims to deliver shows of a professional standard, said: "We are desperate to recruit young people for this show. We need lots of new members who will hopefully then stay with us for future shows.
"We are looking for youngsters who can sing, dance and act, although training is obviously given in all three areas during rehearsals.”
The group rehearse on Sunday and Wednesday evenings at the Ladywood Health and Community Centre, St Vincent Street West, Ladywood, Birmingham.
"There is a single subscription per show of approximately £80, and no further fees. But we ask members to sell at least 20 tickets per show, normally priced at £11-£13."
Youth Onstage need members aged between 9-25 and the next round of auditions for newcomers start on Sunday January 6 at Cotteridge Infant and Junior School, Breedon Road, Cotteridge, Birmingham, at 11am.
An anxious Deb added: "I would be heartbroken if the company had to close after a successful 10-year run".
Bless all who sit in her . . .
AND with that Sir Derek Jacobi wielded the scissors to cut the ribbon to officially open Hall Green Little Theatre's newly refurbished auditorium in his role as president.
Included in the refurbishment was new life for the auditoriums seats - which have lost a row to improve leg room.
The seats were second-hand when they were installed in 1950, and have been reupholstered and re-covered at a cost of some £22,000. Further contributions will be greatly appreciated.
Sir Derek Jacobi, scissors in hand officially opens the refurbished auditorium with, in the background, Hall Green chairman, Alex Bradshaw and Hall Green Theatre Council member Louise Price
The official opening also included a showing the film Greasepaint and Girders, the story of the building of the theatre in 1951 by members who, with no formal construction training, got stuck in and created a theatre to be proud of.
Introducing Sir Derek, Hall Green Chairman Alex Bradshaw revealed that he and Sir Derek had a lot in common: they had been born on the same day (22 October 1938 for those interested) although he was momentarily lost for words when Sir Derek asked innocently: "I was a mistake, were you?"
Sir Derek was impressed with the new-look auditorium. He said: "I think it is great. I love the colour they have chosen. The seats are very comfortable and it is beautifully raked so that everyone has a very good view, which is very important - and the front of house is beautiful too.
"It is a big stage and I looked backstage at
the dressing rooms and wardrobe and it is a wonderful setting. They can
fly things too and some professional theatres can't fly stuff, I spent
the summer down in Chichester at the Festival Theatre and they can't fly
Festive Phoenix rises for charity
THE Phoenix Singers of Birmingham are staging a traditional festive concert to raise funds for charity at the Adrian Boult Hall, Paradise Circus, on Saturday December 8.
Supported by Sennet Brass, they will be singing in aid of The Foundation for Conductive Education which is based in Moseley, helping people with movement disabilities to develop self esteem through learning and activity so that they lead more independent and fulfilled lives.
The Foundation assists children with conditions such as cerebral palsy from birth and adults with Parkinsons, strokes or MS.
The concert starts at 3pm and admission is £12 adults, £8 children and £30 for a family ticket (2 adults and 2 children). Tickets can also be booked on 01527-831610.
Narnia comes to Netherton
AUDIENCES at Netherton Arts Centre for Dudley Little Theatre's production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe are in for a treat.
The adaptation by Glynn Robbins of CS Lewis's
much-loved tales of Narnia, aims to enchant all ages as they are taken
on a magical mystery tour of the land of Narnia with four children,
Peter, Susan, Edward and Lucy, who stumble into this strange land
through the wardrobe.
They encounter the Wicked White Witch, the embodiment of all that is evil, along with her enforcer Maugrin and helpers. Aslan the lion, King of the Beasts, representing all that is good and right, is also on hand with his animal supporters.
Even Father Christmas puts in an appearance in a
play perfectly in keeping with the run-up to Christmas.
With a strong cast of adults and children there is
no shortage of action and drama. The production is directed by Rebecca
Clee, fresh from her training and performances with the Royal
Shakespeare Company at Stratford.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by CS Lewis, adapted for stage by Glynn Robbins, is at Netherton Arts Centre, Northfield Road DY2 9ER from December 5-8 at 7.30 pm nightly, with a special Saturday matinee performance at 2.30 pm.
Tickets are available from Chris Ridgeway on 01384 872583 and 07582 318017, and Garry Flavel Butchers Ltd Netherton. Any remaining tickets will be available at the box office on performance nights.
Golden treasury of song
MEMBERS of Shelfield Male Voice Choir will present a cheque for £2,000 to Prostate Cancer Support at their annual carol concert in December.
The charity group is based at Good Hope Hospital, Sutton Coldfield, and the choir have already handed over a cheque for £500 to the Heart Link Children's Charity.
Next year the choir will be raising funds for the Walsall Self Help Breast Cancer Group.This year's carol concert, at Shelfield Methodist Church, Walsall, will be staged on two nights - Monday December 17 and Wednesday December 19, starting at 7.30pm, and admission is £6. Tickets can be booked in advance on 01922-682070, or through members of the choir.
Look out! Drake’s
Patrons at Highbury Little Theatre, Sutton Coldfield,
were treated to a second helping of the legendary Inspector Drake and
his unassuming sidekick, Sergeant Plod.
Inspector Drake 2, The Seagull – which, they
were rapidly assured, should really be The Sequel, tickled many a
ribcage, despite its theme being a gruesome murder in a hat shop.
Creator David Tristram has conjured a film comedy
that is full of fun, both verbal and visual. It is tighter, more closely
edited, than its predecessor, Inspector Drake – The Movie – and
it provided a Saturday-night delight.
It is a romp that rolls unmercifully and I hope we
shall hear more of it – starting with the Cannes Film Festival, perhaps.
Many a movie, less deserving, has been there – so why not?
Mr Tristram – writer, director, producer – deserves no less.
Nicky’s tricky trekking
LAPWORTH PLAYERS’ Nicky Watt has raised £3,244 for
Childreach International by trekking to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro –
and reports that seeing what the money can do for schools in the region
made it all worthwhile.
“I saw just a small part of what the money can do
for the local schools and it definitely made it all worthwhile.
“The trek was an experience I know I will not forget
easily. It pushed me up and beyond my limits, physically and mentally,
but on reaching the top I forgot it all – though I think it is probably
safe to say that it shall remain as a once-in-a-lifetime experience:
Nicky’s report in the Players’ newsletter is
accompanied by pictures showing “the iconic pose at the top.”
It followed nine months of fundraising, 24 hours of travel and five days’ trekking.
Inspector Drake returns
MEMBERS of Sutton Coldfield’s Highbury
Little Theatre have joined forces with playwright David Tristram again –
to make a second movie featuring the hapless Inspector Drake and his
unwaveringly unreliable assistant, PC Plod.
Inspector Drake 2 – The Seagull was shot at
Chillington Hall, a Grade I listed 18th-Century country house
near Brewood, Staffordshire, four miles north-west of Wolverhampton, as
well as at Blists Hill at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum.
It finds the indomitable Drake trying to solve a hat-trick of murders in a hat shop – and will be shown at Highbury Little Theatre on Saturday, October 13 after its world premiere at the Lighthouse Cinema, Wolverhampton on Oct 12.
Rugby goes recruiting
RUGBY THEATRE makes
no bones about it. “We always need new members”, it says in the leaflet
containing its programme up to March next year.
And underneath, just in case someone can’t believe
that there can possibly be that much to running a theatre, it
proffers a line-up of what’s involved:
Lighting; sound; set design and construction;
costumes; make-up and wigs; props; actors, singers and dancers;
choreography; stagecraft, voice training and coaching; plumbing,
electrical, mechanical and building maintenance; direction and
production; bar staff and catering; special effects; box office;
promotions, graphics and print design; administration; music and
orchestra; stage management and scene shifting; marketing; Rugby Theatre
Singers; press and PR; ushers and front-of-house management; first aid;
That should be sufficient to give even the most
hardened patrons cause to think.
If it also prompts them to offer to help, membership
secretary Val Buckley stands by on 01788 574871.
They could be just in time to see the cast of Calendar Girls, who opened the season’s excellent programme from on September 22 an continue to September 29.
The brochure goes on to list A Tomb with a View, by Norman Robbins (October 20-27); J B Priestley’s Dangerous Corner November (17-24); Rugby Theatre Singers’ Jubilation (November 27); The CATS Kidz with Imaginarium (December 6-8); Christmas Showtime (December 9); Cinderella (January 11-20); and Moonlight and Magnolias (February 9-16), which is Ron Hutchinson’s comedy about film mogul David O Selznick sacking the director of Gone with the Wind and demanding a rewrite in five days – and locking two other men in his office with him until he has a new script.
Rugby Operatic Society will take The Yeoman of the Guard to the theatre from February 19-23, with Bilton Silver Band following on February 24 with A European Journey.
The Taming of the Shrew follows from March 16-23, with The Best of the Musicals following on March 24.
Remembering the heroes
The Accrington Pals, Peter Whelan’s lyrical
and absorbing play, directed by Pete Bagley, opens at the Criterion
Theatre, Coventry, on Saturday, September 8.
It is set in Accrington during 1914-16. The "Pals"
are the men from the local volunteer battalion who march high-spiritedly
off to the Great War, and the play shows their experiences in the
trenches and those of the women left behind, adapting to new patterns of
life and drawing together in the face of deprivation.
The play paints a moving and powerful picture of the
changes in civilian life during wartime. It runs to September 15.
There will be strobe lighting during the performances.
The next feat of
IN 1983, John Clay, together with his three
children – Caroline, Samantha and James – appeared in Bournville Musical
Society's production of Fiddler on the Roof .
Fast forward 29 years to 2012 and John has been invited to appear as the Prime Minister in Tinkers Farm's next production, A Night in Venice.
He was asked by director Janet Phillips if he knew of any children who would like to be in the show as street urchins, and he immediately suggested Caroline's three children, Jenna, Cameron and Anna.
Following in Grandad’s footsteps: Jenna,(left)
John, Cameron and Anna.
Following in Grandad’s footsteps: Jenna,(left) John, Cameron and Anna.
John, who has sung with many professional and amateur companies, is delighted that his grandchildren are following in his footsteps, as all three of them have previously appeared in other shows and concerts, and both Jenna and Cameron are members of the BMOS Youth Section.
In addition, John's wife Christine, herself an ex-competition dancer, is assisting with some of the choreography.
More nights – and directors? – at the Grange
WALSALL’S Grange Players never have a problem in securing a full house in their homely headquarters – and their chances of maintaining the tradition next season are clearly as bright as ever.
Indeed, they are so confident that they intend to start their productions on a Wednesday instead of a Thursday, for 10-night runs instead of nine.
They kick off on September 12 in the blithest of modes with John Dighton’s The Happiest Days of Your Life. This is followed on November 14 with Strictly Murder, the Brian Clemens thriller.
And it is pleasing to see that Don’t Dress for Dinner, the splendid farce by Marc Camoletti, fills the third spot as the Players’ first production of the New Year, opening on January 9 – pleasing, indeed, that groups are demonstrably alert to its guarantee of overworked chuckle muscles, as it was only in April that Kidderminster’s Nonentities treated their patrons to their version
The Grange follows with two comedy-dramas – Richard Everett’s Entertaining Angels, opening on March 13, and Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers (May 15).
Graham Green’s The End of the Affair brings the end of the season with a run from July 10-20.
It is a promising menu – and it is accompanied by an invitation to prospective directors to offer themselves for consideration for future seasons by contacting Dexter Whitehead at firstname.lastname@example.org or by text to 079 8865 8825.
They would start as a producer – and there are plays in the current listing that still require one.
mac hits its fifty
THERE is half a century to be celebrated at mac Birmingham – and the fun begins on July 7 with The Playmakers, an exhibition drawing on mac’s history as an arts and sports centre and a national centre for experimental puppetry.
It even features life-size puppets of John English and his wife Mollie – real name, Alicia, but not many people know that – who were responsible for creating the UK’s first arts centre for children and young people.
The Playmakers runs until September 9. It will be staged in the first floor gallery and will be followed by other projects and programmes in the next 12 months.
Find a fiver for the Swan
Its case is presented by Worcester Live, which runs the Swan and reports that both it and Huntingdon Hall, its fellow venue and concert hall, are under great financial pressure – particularly as Worcester Live is a charitable organisation, depending on donations, sponsorship and funding from local authorities and trusts. Life is becoming increasingly difficult in the current economic climate.
So it has launched an appeal that proclaims, Everyone can make a difference, and it is asking supporters to spare £5 by means of a cheque made out to Worcester Live and sent to Huntingdon Hall, Crown Gate, Worcester WR1 3LD – preferably gift-aided, which will increase that £5 to £6.25.
Rob Phillips (Warnie) (right) clearly has problems of his own – and only young Douglas (Eliot Silver) is taking any notice. Denise Phillips (Joy Gresham) and Tony Mackey (C S Lewis) have thoughts that are elsewhere in a scene from Highbury's award winning Shadowlands
HIGHBURY THEATRE CENTRE is celebrating winning seven
awards for its actors, directors and technical staff at the BFAME
Peripatetic Festival, in which entrants are judged during the run
of the production.
The Philip Rodway Memorial Trophy (Full Length
Drama), Shadowlands, by William Nicholson"; The Brodribb
Cup for Direction, Richard Tye for The 39 Steps, by Patrick
Barlow; The L Boughton Chatwin Memorial Trophy for Most Outstanding
Male Performance, Tony Mackey in Shadowlands; The Roy and
Betty Gaunt Cup for Best Supporting Cast, Six Acts of Love by
Ioanna Anderson; The Stanwin Cup for Outstanding Achievement,
The 39 Steps ; The Arcadian Trophy for Technical Achievement,
Sandy Haynes, arts director, said, ”Everyone is absolutely delighted with the awards. They were wonderful justification for all the very hard work and dedication given by the whole Highbury team to present these shows and congratulations were due to everyone involved.”
Hall Green finding the bottom line
Patrons given a chance to sit pretty again!
WHEN it is a matter of enjoying a good night at the theatre, the seating is the bottom line. Unfortunately, Hall Green Little Theatre says it’s loved its seats to bits – literally.
What’s happened is that its audiences have spent years loving them from the hearts of their bottoms – and now there are 200 seats not looking nearly as good as they once did.
That’s why the group does not want its 60th birthday to go by without doing something about them, and why it is inviting its supporters to give some solid support to its effort to refurbish the seating in its main auditorium.
Sitting comfortable all comes at a price eventually!!!
Sitting comfortable all comes at a price eventually!!!
The cost of refurbishing the arms of any seat will be £25. To restore its arms and its back is £50. And to do arms, back and the actual sitting section is £100 – which makes the auditorium a £20,000 job.
Audience members who are willing to help with the funding are being invited to put names and contact details in a box on the cloakroom counter in the foyer – or simply put in cash or cheques to speed up the process.