Ahead of Solihull Theatre Company's production of Aida at The Core Theatre, Solihull from 9-13 May, we caught up with Director, Terry Wheddon.
So you're currently working on STC's Aida. For those who may be unfamiliar with the story, could you tell us a little bit more about the show?
Aida the Musical is based on Verdi’s opera, but his music and lyrics have been replaced by those from Elton John and Tim Rice. Set in ancient Egypt, it tells an epic tale of love, loyalty, and betrayal, chronicling the love triangle between Aida, an enslaved Nubian princess, Amneris, an Egyptian princess, and Radames, the soldier prince they both love. With fun, humour and emotion, the show features fantastic songs as you would expect from these Oscar-winning writers.
How are rehearsals going so far?
With such a talented cast, the principal rehearsals have been fantastic with each of them responding so positively to my often demanding requirements. The full cast rehearsals have been very busy, but always great fun. With some minor tidying up to do, the show is more than ready for performance.
How do you approach directing a show of this scale?
Firstly, I need to get totally familiar with the show and what challenges it presents. I then need to liaise closely with the Musical Director and Choreographer to determine exactly how we’re going to put it on. The next stage is to sell the show to the cast so that they become as enthused as I was. Then it’s a question of breaking the show down into scenes/sub-scenes/chorus numbers so that a rehearsal schedule can be produced to which we religiously adhere to.
Are there any challenges you have encountered during the rehearsal process?
The biggest challenge was to find a cast of principals who could meet the demanding challenges that each part required. To the society’s credit there was such talent within, that casting became quite straightforward. This is a new show which very few people knew about. Consequently every scene had to be explained to the cast so that they were aware of how it fitted in to the whole story. The good news was that the cast therefore didn’t come to rehearsals with any pre-conceived notions. We were working figuratively on a blank sheet of paper.
What can the audience expect from the show?
Something fresh and new with a great story, exhilarating scenes and a terrific musical score.
If you're not in rehearsals, where can people find you?
Rehearsals are merely the end product of tons of preparation at home. I’m retired so this is not a problem, but I’m also fully active as Treasurer of various bodies, particularly my cricket club - DorridgeCC. I’m a big sports fan, more these days as a spectator than a participant, although I play bridge fairly regularly
Is there a particular show on your wish list that you'd love to direct?
I’ve directed most of the musicals available to amateur companies, mostly for STC but for a number of other local societies too. I’ve always wanted to direct My Fair Lady which I’ve appeared in twice.
Is there anything else in the pipeline after Aida?
STC are performing Half a Sixpence next year, and I’ve been asked to direct this. This is a show I’ve not directed before, nor performed in, so I’m looking forward to the challenge.
And, finally, what would you say to someone who hasn't yet booked to see Aida?
Waste no more time! Come and see a brand new terrific show performed by one of the best societies in the Midlands.
On 26 July, Love Midlands Theatre reviewer, Annette Nuttall, headed to the Belgrade Theatre's Season Launch. Take a look at the upcoming gems in their new season...
The Belgrade has launched its autumn season at a 1950’s themed evening at Rialto Reborn for press and Belgrade Theatre supporters.
There is something for everyone with the theatre offering a wide and varying range of productions. Audiences will be treated to musicals, comedians, opera, ballet, Shakespeare plays, new works, classic works, tribute acts and of course pantomime. With Peppa Pig and Santa and the Polka Dot Pirate for young children and Midday Variety shows, all ages are all catered for.
Roll Over Beethoven is the opening production in September running for two weeks. This is written and directed by Bob Eaton who had a smash hit at the Belgrade previously with the 2-Tone musical Three Minute Heroes. Set in the 1950’s, this original show with new songs, tells the story of how a dreary post-war England was transformed forever by American Rock ‘n’ Roll.
On the B2 stage from 10 September is the stage production of Ostrich Boys. This adaptation by Carl Miller is based on the book of the same name by Keith Grey. Its a teenage coming of age story which follows a group of friends on a mission to honour their friends life which was touched with tragedy. It promises to be a touching, emotional and comic play with the four actors playing multiple roles.
No Christmas is complete without a pantomime, once again the Belgrade will deliver a traditional family pantomime, Dick Whittington. With all new sets and costumes the show will look as stunning as ever. Combine this with a strong story and characters (including a Queen Rat) and the traditional pantomime elements of slap stick and audience participation and you have a great family night out. There will be an assistant to the Dame chosen from the men in the audience at each performance, contact the Belgrade for more information.
For the younger children there is Santa’s Polka Dot Pirate, a production specifically created for 2-6 year olds. Santa and his friends help the Polka Dot Pirate find his way home in this interactive adventure. After the show all the children can meet Santa and get a gift.
This season looks to be very entertaining and exciting with everything that is going on at the theatre and out in the community.
For details of the whole season go to the Belgrade Theatre website http://www.belgrade.co.uk
In the lead up to Solihull Theatre Company's South Pacific, we caught up with director Andrew Johnson.
Andrew, tell us a little bit about yourself...
Well, I’m 35 and a Music Teacher from Solihull. I’ve been involved in Musical Theatre since the age of 9 and have been lucky enough to be MD or Director for a number of great shows over the years.
If you're not in rehearsals, where would people find you?
Work keeps me very busy! I am currently working as Head of Music at Light Hall School in Solihull so can often be found there staying late to help kids with their coursework or rehearsing for the next concert. I can also often be found in the pub with friends!
Speaking of rehearsals, how is everything going with South Pacific?
They are going really well – I can’t believe how fast show week is coming round. Rehearsals with STC are always great fun with lots of energy and lots of laughter – which is what it’s all about, having fun.
How do you approach directing such a classic show?
Most of the shows I have directed so far have been fairly modern shows so I was a bit concerned about how I would get on with such a traditional and well-known musical. So I decided to do something a bit different with it.
It is still a fairly traditional version of the show in terms of the content but the setting will look very different. Instead of the traditional cloths and scenery, we are going for a minimalist staging with video and imagery on TV screens to set the scenes and to enhance the action on the stage. It should have a very different feel and allows us to use real life war footage from the Second World War to really place the show in its true context.
Are there any challenges you have encountered during the rehearsal process?
Rehearsing a show is always challenging! We have had a number of people had to drop out of various roles within the company due to all sorts of reasons so we have had to overcome those problems.
South Pacific is actually a deceptively difficult show to put together because it is so fast moving with scene after scene requiring different groups of the cast to be involved – it is rare to have the male and female chorus on at the same time in this show.
But, all in all, it’s been great fun and the STC “family” has overcome any problems we have faced!
What can the audience expect from the show?
A new take on a classic show – all the wonderful songs are still there but a fresh new look will hopefully give a new lease of life to this traditional musical.
Is there a particular show that you would relish directing?
There are so many I would love to work on but I’m not fussy- if anyone gives me work, I’ll take it. I’d love a blast at a comedy soon!
Is there anything else in the pipeline after South Pacific?
I have directed STC for two years now and I think they want a rest from me! So I am moving over to Knowle Musical Society to direct their production of Chess which will be performed at The Core Theatre, Solihull next March so I am really looking forward to my next challenge.
And, finally, what would you say to someone who hasn't yet booked to see South Pacific?
We have an amazing line up of principals, a brilliant chorus and a new-look South Pacific so come along and see for yourself and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!
South Pacific plays at The Core Theatre, Solihull from 10 - 14 May. For more information and to book tickets visit the website here.
Ahead of Studley Operatic bringing Annie to the stage from 19 - 23 April, we caught up with Mike Bentley, who is taking on the role of Miss Hannigan.
So, Mike, tell us a little bit about yourself...
Well I am married to my husband Colin and we have two wonderful pets, Destiny my 16 year old black cat and Rory our adorable 6 month old cockapoo. I have a diverse life, my main job is as a dental coach and presenter, which I have been doing for the last 4 years. My job is fantastic as I get to travel to many destinations in the UK and Europe.
I have combined my 18 years of knowledge in dentistry with my love of theatre to deliver dental training courses in an entertaining way. My main passion includes performing, theatre is my favourite, but to be honest anything with a live audience is when I am at my happiest. Recently I have taken up ballroom dancing and can often be found on a tennis court or reading as I am in a bookclub. My family and friends are very important to me so I enjoy spending time with them, laughing as much as possible; it's good for the soul.
Who inspired you to take up acting?
No doubt my first inspiration was Bonnie Langford, and to this day that remains the same. I have always adored Bonnie’s all round ability, stamina, work ethic and sheer talent. I have had the opportunity to see her perform in many guises over the last 30 years and admire her ability to charm audiences with her performances. Closer to home, my inspiration was the late Chris Macrow who sadly passed away 2 years ago. My first show was with Solihull Theatre Company in Guys and Dolls at the tender age of 16. Chris was a constant rock in my early days of treading the boards and his kindness will always stay in my heart.
You're currently in rehearsals for Annie with Studley Operatic - how's it all going?
It is going brilliantly and the kids and the big kids are definitely ready for audiences. As an adult performer, it has been inspiring to work with and watch the two teams of kids grow with confidence, week on week, with clever and supportive direction from our directors, Kevin and Alison Hirons. Our two Annie’s, Caitlin and Millie are just lovely girls, they both bring something very different to the role of Annie but are very supportive of each other at the same time, which is lovely to see. I have not performed so closely with a group of kids before and I can honestly say it has been a pleasure to get to know them all and have lots of fun at the same time. I have to mention how accepting they have been of me playing Miss Hannigan, which could have been a strange concept, but they have not batted an eyelid. The rest of the cast are super and there are some fabulous performances from a great set of principle leads.
Is it possible that you are part of the first am dram group to cast a male in the role of Miss Hannigan? How does it feel?
I think I might be, how fantastic is that!!!
It feels utterly brilliant, she is a wonderful character and I have enjoyed exploring the different layers of her character under superb direction. It has been interesting playing a female who likes a few to drink, completely different from anything I have ever done before, but I must say I do like a wearing a heel. As an actor you want to push yourself, to make youself feel uncomfortable, that way you have to work hard to achieve your character. I have come a long way from my audition that's for sure.
The musical director Norma Kift and I spent a lot of time on Hannigan’s main song Little Girls, ultimately the key has been changed from the original, which doesn't normally happen in amateur shows, but I am so glad that we have as it packs a punch and I am excited to bring our version to the table. The transformation to turn me into Hannigan has been meticulously planned, it is not me in drag, so we have been choosey on the wig, costume and makeup and hopefully the audiences will love our combined creation and portrayal of this iconic women.
What can the audience expect from the show?
Annie is a very well known show, and is one of the musicals that is very much about bringing together a family audience. I think the music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin are infectious. I recently listened to Charles sing the songs from Annie with just a piano live and it gave me such a personal insight into the real heart of how he wrote the melodies of the shows top songs. The show is much darker than people realise, which I particularly like. The script by Thomas MeehanI is clear at depicting the darkness of the orphanage, but all the way through you have Annie’s story of hope and optimism as she searches for her real parents.
Tomorrow is a real anthem and a number most people know and love. The audience can expect plenty of laughs with high energy numbers being performed from our ensemble. It is a busy show for the ensemble, taking many different roles on throughout, which I know they have enjoyed. If you pushed me a little, then my favourite songs are Never Fully Dressed, Easy Street and Hard Knock Life, but really every song is a winner and it's a lovely show for an audience to watch.
You've played many roles over the years, are there any particular favourites?
A tricky question, especially as I have performed in shows for over twenty years! I must say that Carmen Ghia from The Producers is up there for me, alongside Angel from Rent and Jeff from Title of Show. I have had the opportunity to be in 3 workshop musicals and even recorded two soundtrack albums with Stuart Jones, so those shows are personal highlights for me for so many reasons.
Have you got a dream role you'd like to play and if so what is it?
Another tricky question as I really never know what I am going to do next. I enjoy variety and I let destiny take me to my next performing adventure. There is one character that I would adore, if the chance ever arose, and that would be Alban from La Cage, but who knows if that will ever actually happen!
And finally, for the people who haven't yet booked to see Annie, what would you say?
If, through this interview, I have whet your appetite to see Annie then buy a ticket, you won't be disappointed! You will go way with a happy heart that's for sure.
Dirty Pakistani Lingerie plays at The Old Rep today, so Love Midlands Theatre caught up with the show’s director, Erica Gould…
Erica, tell us a little about yourself...
I am a NYC-based director and dance and fight choreographer. I direct a lot of Shakespeare and classical plays, and music-theatre, and am also very interested in developing new work. I’m drawn to material that occupies a large theatrical canvas.
How did the concept of the show, 'Dirty Pakistani Lingerie', come about?
Aizzah and I are both very interested in giving voice to people whose stories are not always represented in a three-dimensional way in mainstream theatre and media. I think this can be a powerful enterprise both for people who see their own cultural background explored with honesty and integrity, and for those for whom such stories might seem to be far from themselves. I think that when people from other cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds find their own experiences reflected in the stories of people they might have otherwise assumed were profoundly different from them--that can be an incredibly powerful and profound experience.
I think humour can break down barriers and disarm—it is such an automatic, visceral, almost biological response, really--wired into us-- a truly universal language that overcomes barriers.
Do you find that the show has evolved since embarking on tour?
The show has certainly evolved since we first developed and performed it back in 2011. We have both grown as artists over that time, I think, and the piece has also changed in various ways in response to changes in the political climate. I think one of the elements that has been significant in the positive response to the piece is its universality. I don't think this is something Aizzah and I originally anticipated.
I think we have both been deeply affected by the response the work has received from audiences of such wide-ranging cultural, religious, and ethnic backgrounds. I do believe that art can illuminate the universal through an honest exploration of the specific. And I think one of the primary universalities that the piece taps into is that of the American experience of "hyphenated" identity, the commonality of the immigrant journey, which is whether one's family has been here for five months or five generations. The piece explores the inherent tension between what has been left behind and what we take with us, between the impulse to assimilate, and the desire to maintain our identity, between what we hold onto and what we fear we may have forgotten. And more and more, I think this story is resonating deeply in Europe and the UK as well, as immigration here becomes increasingly more prominent in the cultural and political conversation.
What can the audience expect from the show?
To be entertained.
How would you describe the show in three words?
Funny, moving, thought-provoking.
Patrick Jervis has been busy strutting his stuff on the Lichfield Garrick stage in The Full Monty, however he will be back on stage in just over two weeks in a rather different role with Sutton Coldfield Musical Theatre Company. We caught up with him, before he takes to the skies in Peter Pan.
Tell us a little bit about yourself...
I’m 28 years old and have lived in Lichfield all my life. I currently work as a Town and Country Planner and have been doing this since graduating from university. In my spare time I have two great passions; firstly and fairly obviously is amateur dramatics, I take part in as many shows as I can, from Shakespeare, through plays to musicals. I often perform in 5-6 productions a year. My second passion is football, although I’m significantly better at watching than playing. In fact I gave up Sunday League as a teenager to join the Lichfield Garrick Youth Theatre. In all honesty I think my team mates were quite pleased as I wasn’t much use!
How long have you been involved in the amateur theatre circuit?
I’ve been involved with amateur theatre since year 7 at Nether Stowe High School, where I took part in Oliver! in March 1999 - so around about 16 years. I joined the Lichfield Garrick Youth Theatre in 2000 and took part in every production until I left in 2005 to go to university, with my final show being Little Shop of Horrors where I was fortunate enough to play the Dentist in my first named role on the Garrick stage.
After a brief ‘retirement’ while at university I quickly re-joined a number of local societies once I had graduated, and my first production was a nice light one – Macbeth with Shakespeare in the Park. Since then I’ve joined a number of Societies including Sutton Coldfield Musical Theatre Company (SCMTC) who I joined in 2010 for their production of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and I’ve been an active Member ever since!
What has been your favourite role to play to date?
I probably have two favourite roles, the first would be Richard Hannay in The 39 Steps, which I was lucky enough to play in 2012 with Different Animal Theatre Company in the studio at the Lichfield Garrick. My other role would be Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors which was with SCTMC back in 2011. It was always my favourite show as a kid so actually getting to play the role with such a great company was a real privilege.
If you had to pick one role you would love to play what would it be and why?
Such a difficult one! I think it would have to be ‘Phantom' - no chance of that ever happening but I just adore the music and think he’d be an incredibly complex and interesting character to try and get in to. I’m a big Lloyd-Webber fan, but for me the music in Phantom is just him at his absolute best. So if I ever got the chance to sing some of those songs and play with the character of the ‘Phantom’ it would be unbelievable.
How does it feel to be taking on the title role in Peter Pan?
In one word, amazing! I’ve been a fan of Stiles and Drewe for a long time, I adore there music and Peter Pan has been one of my favourite scores I’ve ever listened to, so as soon as the company announced they were taking on the show I knew I had to try and get the part!
The cast for this production is just unreal, so to be playing the title role alongside some incredible performers is just an honour. I’ve always loved being on stage with SCMTC in whatever part, so to actually be the title role is something I’m relishing. Also my second cousin is 7 and is really into musicals, she’s been able to see me in the Sound of Music and Annie, but this will be the biggest part she’s seen me perform yet. She’s really excited so I can’t wait to perform for her at the Matinee!
So you've just played a rather different role, only a couple of weeks before Peter Pan opens. How do you manage what must be a very busy schedule?
I have, I just played Malcolm in the Full Monty, so a slightly different show! It is very busy but I love rehearsals so I can’t say it’s been too difficult! I just make sure I have plenty of quick meals ready at home so that I can get to all my rehearsals on time! I loved every minute…although I am going to do just one show at a time for the next year or so!!
What can the audience expect from SCMTC's Peter Pan?
The whole family can be expected to be entertained from start to finish! SCMTC are well known for their brilliant, high energy productions and this will be no different!
It’s a magical show, with flying, pirates, mermaids, lost boys and Indian Braves – there really is still something for everyone. It’s a very funny, poignant show which will have you laughing and crying (we hope)!
The production team have ensured that everything is slick and high standard, they’ve left no stone unturned to make sure that this is yet another spectacular SCMTC production.
What would you say to someone who hasn't booked a ticket yet?
What better than a trip to Neverland for the whole family this half term? This really is an exciting and beautiful production which is a faithful re-telling of the classic Peter Pan Story, which so many people love!
SCMTC's Peter Pan runs at Lichfield Garrick from 27 to 31 October. For more information and to book tickets click here or call 01543 412121.
Ahead of Battle of the Exes opening at The Dovehouse Theatre tonight, we caught up with Kathryn Bakewell, the playwright behind this brand new show.
So tell us a little bit about yourself...
I grew up an aspiring musician with a passion for theatre, touring the country with various bands and worked a handful of roles within several Midland theatre companies, from actor to music director.
Over time I expanded my writing initiatives, and my music composing slowly transitioned into script writing. As any artist does, I want to tell stories through my work and entertain an audience, whether that be through music, film or stage. I now consider myself an aspiring playwright, screenwriter, and composer.
I gained a BA(Hons) degree in music composition at Coventry University, and now run my own theatre and production companies, touring theatres across the Midlands and creating original films. It's a tough, hugely competitive industry, and my aim is to support new writers and artists like myself.
When did you first discover your love for play writing?
I took a screenwriting course in university and wrote my first feature at the age of 19. But with my passion for theatre I wanted to exhibit my work live, and created my first theatrical production "The Girl with the Crystal Heart" (a fairytale musical) back in 2010.
How do you aim to make your pieces stand out from other work?
By collaborating all my passions at once. When I write a play, I don't just envision a 2 hour performance! I want to create an experience that expands into short films with original musical content. The 4 month or so build up can be just as gripping as the live production, for the artists as well as the audience. If I write a thriller, I produce a horror movie as a promotional aid. If I write a comedy, I create a live sitcom episode with it's own theme and accompanying advertisements.
Was there a particular theatrical experience that made you realise this was a career you would like to pursue?
Not as such. I could list a million experiences that have influenced my career path. My theatrical experiences date back to my early youth. Alongside my song writing and short plays I wrote for school productions, all I've ever wanted to do is write.
If you could pick one theatre show, what would it be and why?
"Five Women Wearing The Same Dress" by Alan Ball for 3 reasons:
What can people expect from Battle of the Exes?
The experience of a comfy night in front of the TV, whilst out at the theatre.
What would you say to someone who hasn't booked a ticket?
Art is subjective. Guess you can't win them all.
Appearing at The Dovehouse Theatre from 1 to 3 October, tickets for Battle of the Exes are £8 - £10 and can be bought by clicking here or they are available on the door.
We caught up with Maison Kelley, ahead of his New Chapter fundraising concert on Saturday 29 August at Dudley Evolve Theatre.
Maison, tell us a little bit about yourself…
I’ve been involved in amateur theatre around the Midlands for 8 years now, performing with companies including West Brom Youth and Adults, MYK, Bilston and Impulse Productions. I am now off to pursue my training in Musical Theatre on the 3 year BA Hons Degree at Arts Educational Schools.
When did you first realise you wanted to pursue a career in acting?
I first realised from a young age. I got the chance to play Dodger in Oliver with WBOS Adults at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre. That was a pinnacle moment for me, it was when I realised I belonged on stage and that one day I would hopefully pursue a career in Musical Theatre. Now here I am, off to London, about to begin my 3 years training.
We've seen you around and about on the Midlands acting circuit, what has been one of your acting highlights so far?
I’ve been lucky enough to already perform some of my dream roles with amateur companies, but hopefully will have the opportunity to perform them on the West End stage. My favourite role so far has to be Clyde in Bonnie and Clyde The Musical with MYK back in 2014.
A close second must be Eddie Birdlace in Dogfight. I fell in love with the show when I saw it at Southwark Playhouse Theatre and was so excited MYK secured the rights for the first amateur performance. I was thrilled to receive the leading role as marine Eddie Birdlace, so that show will always have a special place.
Peter in Peter Pan with Bilston was also a amazing part to play. To stand on the stage of the Wolverhampton Grand with a standing ovation as the leading role will be something I will never forget! And I also got the chance to fly on stage, that was pretty cool!
This fundraising concert is obviously very close to your heart, what can the audience expect from it?
It's been the most exciting project to be heading up, as I’ve been able to not only handpick some of the best talent around the Midlands, they are also all my very nearest and dearest friends.
The support from cast, friends and family has been huge. Its going to be a very special performance. In Act One, I’ve chosen songs from some of the favourite musicals I have performed in, so for friends and family it will be a nice blast from the past. Act Two is all about the musicals I would love to perform in one day, so you will see extracts from Book Of Mormon, Jersey Boys and many more. The audience will love the array of talent and range of some well-loved musical songs.
If you could pick one show that you would love to perform in, what would it be and why?
Ghost is my favourite musical and I would hope one day to get the chance to play Sam Wheat.
I was lucky enough to play Subway Ghost in Ghost The Musical with WBOS at the Wolverhampton Grand, but I hope one day I could play the leading man.
For more information about
Based on the hugely successful children's book by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort, Aliens Love Underpants comes to Wolverhampton Grand Theatre from 22 – 24 July.
Alex James Ellison plays Timmy, a seven year old boy, an aspiring astronaut who is stolen by mischievous aliens.
Alex, from Brighton trained at the BRIT school of Performing Arts and Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts. He recently appeared in Whistle Down The Wind at the Union Theatre, One Of Those Days at the Lost Theatre and Best Of Friends at the Landor Theatre. Alex is also a singer/songwriter and has been touring his own music promoting his latest single Chocolate Bar which is available on iTunes.
The stage production of Aliens Love Underpants brings to life the popular children’s book, “what’s great about the stage play,” said Alex, “is that the details of the book have translated really well, mostly the book is a poem but the director Adam Bampton-Smith has furthered the story for the show.”
“When I looked through the book, at the illustrations I realised that there is so much detail in it. All of the costumes, the props and the set are inspired by the original artwork.”
“It’s set in an ordinary town, you see the children at school and Timmy talks about wanting to be an astronaut, you see his bedroom and then ultimately he ends up going into space – which is really cool!”
The production relies on the use of theatrical techniques to help the story leap from the page and create a show that is just as entertaining for children as the much loved storybook. “For the children, the magic of theatre is at its best when the underpants get stolen. There’s a lot of illusion and tricks to show the underpants going, Timmy gets quite excited by the fact the aliens have landed in his bedroom and ends up getting sucked up onto the spaceship!”
The magic and mischief is largely thanks to a group of aliens that are skilfully brought to life. “There are five aliens that you get to meet, the three main ones and then two other cheeky ones – they’re all from the book so if you’re familiar with it you’ll be able to see your favourite one. I like Coops, she’s young and naive and extra cheeky – Coops and Dex are always getting told off by the other aliens!”
“There’s singing in the show, but in terms of my own music and my songwriting there’s not a lot of that in there. However, the shows are all in the daytime so it’s a great opportunity to tour the country and do some of my own gigs in venues all over – but the show’s got plenty of singing and dancing in to keep us more than busy.”
“We’re aiming to entertain everyone but those aged 3 to about 10 probably get the most out of it. It’s fun for families and we do get a lot of children younger than three enjoy it because the babies and toddlers love all the colours and sounds, it’s well adapted to appeal to all ages.”
First published in 2007, the storybook Aliens Love Underpants has sold more than three million copies around the world and it has become a firm family favourite. It was listed as the most borrowed children's book from UK libraries in 2013, and it has been translated into 46 languages.
And a final reminder, when you put your pants on, freshly washed and nice and clean, just check in case an alien still lurks inside unseen!
For more information and to book tickets visit grandtheatre.co.uk or call the Grand's box office on 01902 429 212.
Alex was speaking to Jason Forrest.
On Wednesday 19 and Thursday 20 August, Pongo’s Party comes to The Old Rep, Birmingham and Love Midlands Theatre are offering you the chance to win tickets to the show.
Today is the day that Pongo has been waiting for – it's his birthday! He's been dropping hints to his friends all year, so is looking forward to a fantastic party... but the trouble is, nobody seems to remember.
Molly-Moo the Cow is making a mess baking, Sheena the Sheep is rehearsing with her band, Sally the Scarecrow is in the middle of decorating and even Marty MacDonald is tied up with his parcels.
Come and help make Pongo's Party a day to remember, by joining in a show full of fun, songs and laughter - take part in the town’s biggest ever game of pass the parcel and join the largest children's band!
Pongo's Party is fully interactive and set in a vibrant, colourful & imaginative farmyard with loveable puppet characters. It is particularly suitable for ages 3-7 and combines some of the country’s best talent in children’s entertainment. The show also uses Makaton™ (signing with singing) so everyone can join in.
Created and presented by Martin Parsons (Playdays Live, Sooty’s Magic Castle) and Kate Ashmead (Tweenies, Thomas & Friends Live!) the show is directed by Playschool presenter and BBC Tweenies’ creator, Iain Lauchlan. Alongside CBeebies’ Justin Fletcher aka Mr Tumble (Justin’s House, Something Special, Gigglebiz) as the Voice of Pongo the Pig is Nicole Davis (Topsy & Tim, School of Silence) who voices Molly-Moo the Cow (please note that Justin & Nicole do not appear in person).
To be entered into the prize draw with the chance of winning a family ticket to the performance of your choice, just answer the following question:
Justin Fletcher recorded the voice for which puppet character?
a: Porky the Pig
b: Peppa Pig
c: Pongo the Pig
Please send your name, contact number and answer to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday 10 August, 5pm.