When Top Girls first exploded onto the stage of The Royal Court back in 1982 the country was confronted with a truly radical play which mingled fantasy and reality together to expose the huge issues for the working classes in Thatcherite Britain.
36 years later and what’s changed? Very little.
You’d like to hope that Churchill’s comments about class struggle and gender inequality would now be calcified but they are not. Prepare for a truly politicised theatre event lead by young actors in the Midlands using this classic of British theatre to highlight the double standards that still exist for many of us.
Now infamous for its stylistic innovations and non-linear narrative Top Girls follows the zeitgeist Marlene who has just been appointed Office Manager of a top London employment agency. Marlene hosts a surrealist dinner-party for disparate women from time who share perspectives on maternity and ambition.
In a time-warp these women double as her family members and colleagues and explore women’s position in society and the nature of what success is. Top Girls is presented by a company of Birmingham’s up-and-coming actors just over a week after the general election, providing a truly timely re-imagining of this classic of British theatre during a time of great change in our history.
The show has previously previewed around the West Midlands and for Birmingham School of Acting, but now comes to mac Birmingham for a night of the very best of theatre and biting political commentary.
Top Girls plays at mac Birmingham for one night only on Tuesday 19 May. Click here for more information and to book your tickets for this brilliant show, or, alternatively, call mac Birmingham's box office on 0121 446 3232.
It happened in Wicked, with Louise Dearman making history as the first actress to play both starring roles - Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, and Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West – now Jo Parsons is doing the same thing and swapping lead roles in the critically acclaimed, award-winning musical Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story, as it tours the UK for the very first time, visiting The Old Rep from 22 to 23 May.
Thrill Me, with book, music, and lyrics by Stephen Dolginoff, is based on the true story of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, the so-called “thrill killers” who murdered a young boy in 1924 in order to commit 'the perfect crime.' It was the final case for crusading defence and human rights lawyer Clarence Darrow, recently played by Kevin Spacey in an acclaimed one-man show at the Old Vic.
Jo Parsons will swap roles and now play Leopold, while Loeb will be played by Ben Woods. Ben takes over from Danny Colligan, who has just made his West End debut in The Book of Mormon.
Told in flashbacks, beginning with a 1958 parole hearing, Thrill Me examines the relationship between Leopold and Loeb – both wealthy, normal and intelligent Chicago students, about to start training to become lawyers. We are taken on a journey of two young men. One, Loeb, who believed he was above the law; obsessed and fuelled by the philosophy of Nietzsche to the point he believed he was a ‘superman’, beyond good and evil. The other – Leopold, a loner - became a willing accomplice, empowering Loeb in his crimes, in return for Richard’s time, attention and love. Together, they both believed they had perpetrated the perfect crime; or was one more certain than the other?
Director, Guy Retallack said:
"The key is in the casting. The two actors have to be convincing as friends, as well as capable of a monstrous crime. As I have kept working on this compelling piece that documents a descent from petty crime to abduction and murder, I am convinced that what makes this musical so compelling is not only the taughtness with which it’s constructed, but more importantly our belief and fascination in the humanity of their relationship, the more we will believe in them, and finally even care about them. I believe this original new departure for the show, the chemistry of Jo Parsons and Ben Woods, with a stunning live piano by Tom Turner, will bring this Faustian musical thriller to vibrant life."
Thrill Me has been captivating audiences since 2003. This production won a prestigious 2014 Bobby Award and the show has a string of awards and nominations to its name, including a nomination for the Whatsonstage.com Best Off-West End Production and 7 Off West End Awards (Offies) nominations for Climar Productions and Guy Retallack’s 2011 UK premiere.
Thrill Me will be playing at The Old Rep on 22 and 23 May. Tickets are just £15, with concessions available at £13. To book, please call the Box Office on 0121 359 9444, or visit www.oldreptheatre.co.uk (booking fees apply).
Here is our top 15 theatre picks for May (we couldn't narrow it down to 10!). From amateur to professional, get your diaries at the ready to pop some of the most important dates in...
5 to 9 May
The Arcadians at Crescent Theatre
I Love You Because
Starbuck Theatre Company at Ruddock Performing Arts Centre, Birmingham
12 to 16 May
Trinity Players at Sutton Coldfield Town Hall
12 to 16 May
Mellow Dramatics at The Brewhouse Arts Centre
12 to 16 May
Kiss Me, Kate
Bournville Musical Theatre Company at Crescent Theatre
12 to 16 May
The Witches Of Eastwick
Solihull Theatre Company at Solihull Arts Complex
13 to 16 May
Ghost The Musical
WBOS at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre
15 to 30 May
The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice
Birmingham Repertory Theatre
21 to 23 May
Coventry Musical Theatre Society at Belgrade Theatre, Coventry
21 to 23 May
Judy - The Songbook Of Judy Garland
New Alexandra Theatre
22 to 23 May
Old Rep Theatre
26 May to 6 June
The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time
27 to 30 May
SSA Drama at The Edge
27 to 30 May
SSC Performing Arts at Lichfield Garrick
28 to 30 May
Into The Woods
Backstreet Theatre Company at Prince of Wales Centre, Cannock
After their award-winning production of Anything Goes in 2014, for which they received B.F.A.M.E’s NODA cup for Outstanding Achievement, Bournville Musical Theatre Company are delighted to present Kiss Me, Kate at the Crescent Theatre from the 12 to 16 May.
Based in 1940s USA, this classic Cole Porter musical follows the antics of a travelling troupe of players as they debut their musical version of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew in a Baltimore theatre.
The musical is complex, a ‘show within a show’, combining Shakespearean dialogue and medieval-based melodies with the more up-to-date language and musical numbers that are indicative of the post-war era. Adding to the complexities of staging a show are two love stories; that of the divorced leading couple, Fred and Lilli, and the far-from-smooth love affair between the supporting leads, Lois and Bill. Much hilarity ensues as the wrangling of the leading pair spills into the ‘real-life’ show, while Bill attempts to win over his love, Lois, once and for all.
Bournville Musical Theatre Company have been performing now for over 80 years in the Birmingham area. The Company was originally linked to Cadbury’s Chocolate Factory where they used to perform in the Cadbury Theatre yearly. Although the close relationship with the Bournville based company no longer exists, BMTC continue to rehearse in Cotteridge and have close ties to the Bournville area.
For more information and to book tickets for Kiss Me, Kate, which runs from 12 to 16 May, click here or call the Crescent Theatre box office on 0121 643 5858.
A first-of-its-kind production is heading to Birmingham this festive season, as the magical swashbuckling tale of Treasure Island takes to the stage at The Old Rep Theatre.
Opening on 20 November and running until 3 January 2016, The Old Rep Theatre will be battening down the hatches as the classic tale of Long John Silver and Jim Hawkins commandeers the stage for over six weeks. Featuring tales of buccaneers and buried gold, this thrilling voyage will include matinee and evening performances for visitors of all ages.
The production is brought to the stage by Scott Ritchie and Birmingham Ormiston Academy (BOA). A seasoned performer and director, Scott trained at the Italia Conti Academy and Bird College. Alongside Treasure Island, he will also be directing Peter Pan this Christmas at the Festival Theatre Malvern. In addition to his directing roles, Scott currently mentors aspiring performing arts students at the prestigious Sylvia Young Theatre School in London.
Scott, director and producer of Treasure Island, said:
“I’m really excited to be bringing Treasure Island to life with the support of BOA; it’s a great opportunity. Having directed many other productions across the UK, I’m really looking forward to bringing a brand new adaptation of Treasure Island to Birmingham this Christmas. I will be working with a very talented team of creative professionals throughout the year to develop this classic tale.”
Gaynor Cheshire, CEO of The Old Rep, added:
“This original adaptation will be brought to life at The Old Rep in a home-grown production suitable for all the family. You can expect peg-legged pirates and talking parrots on this exciting adventure on board the good ship Hispaniola. We can’t wait to welcome our young audiences in the Midlands to join in the pirate fun!”
Featuring tunes such as Fifteen Men on the Dead Man’s Chest, Yo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle of Rum, magical sets and costumes, tickets for Treasure Island are on sale now. To book, please call the Box Office on 0121 359 9444, or click here.
Selly Oak based group, The Arcadians, will be presenting the Birmingham Amateur Premiere of Sister Act in May at the Crescent Theatre. Based on the smash hit movie of the same name, the show is a family-friendly, feel-good musical, with songs that promise to raise the theatre roof.
Sister Act tells the hilarious story of disco diva Deloris Van Cartier (played by Nicole Appleby) who unintentionally witnesses a crime and has to be placed in protective custody. Much to the dismay of the Mother Superior (played by Sarah Evans), the police hide her where they're sure she won't be found - a dilapidated convent.
Disguised as a nun, she immediately clashes with the Mother Superior who has problems of her own trying to keep the convent running. When Deloris turns the choir into the hottest act in the neighbourhood, the fame comes at a price. Funds are raised, but her cover is blown. With a dangerous gang giving chase, led by Curtiss (played by Jonathan Blake), time is running out for Deloris. But will her new found swinging sisters come to the rescue?
Head along to the Crescent Theatre, for a show that is not to be missed. Running from 5 to 9 May, tickets are between £15 and £18. Click here to book, or call the Crescent Theatre box office on 0121 643 5858.
Find The Arcadians on Twitter here.
Find The Arcadians on Facebook here.
Here is our top 10 theatre picks for April. From amateur to professional, get your diaries at the ready to pop some of the most important dates in...
31 March to 26 April
Shrek The Musical
1 to 3 April
South Staffs Musical Theatre Company at Wolverhampton Grammar School
7 to 11 April
Tamworth Arts Club at Landau Forte Sixth Form Centre
8 to 11 April
A View From The Bridge
Belgrade Theatre, Coventry
14 to 18 April
Peterbrook Players at Solihull Arts Complex
21 April to 2 May
21 to 25 April
Studley Operatic Society at Redditch Palace Theatre
23 to 25 April
A Man For All Seasons
Union Theatre at St Edburgha’s Church, Yardley
27 April to 2 May
Birmingham Repertory Theatre
28 April to 2 May
Solihull On Stage at Solihull Arts Complex
Birmingham Savoyards’ production of The Mikado opens at the Old Rep Theatre on 24 March.
Written in 1885 and set in an imaginary Japanese village, The Mikado is one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s most popular operettas. Many of the songs are well known classics and audiences still roll with laughter at Gilbert’s wonderful ability to poke fun at British morals, sensibilities and institutions of the day through his imaginary 'Japanese' characters.
The town of Titipu hasn’t had an execution for a while and the Lord High Executioner (KoKo) is informed that his own head may soon be for the chop if the situation isn’t remedied. This poses a double dilemma as KoKo (who can’t even bring himself to kill a fly) either needs to find a suitable volunteer to be beheaded, or face being beheaded himself. And how can an Executioner execute himself?
Birmingham Savoyards present The Mikado from 24 to 28 March at the Old Rep Theatre. Click here to book tickets, or call the Old Rep Theatre box office on 0121 359 9444.
Find Birmingham Savoyards on Facebook here.
Find Birmingham Savoyards on Twitter here.
Aldridge Does Variety is a talent competition held at Aldridge Youth Theatre, Aldridge, Walsall, Birmingham and is open to talented individuals aged 12-21 years old. First place prize is £100 in Amazon vouchers, along with prizes for second and third.
This will be the third and final year that the competition takes place, and there is only 9 days remaining until the application deadline.
Luke Forbes, Director of Aldridge Does Variety says:
"I urge anyone with a talent of any kind to apply for this show, as you never know who will be watching in the audience or even watching our live streaming link online. We have confirmed our first judge for the final as Apprentice 2014 star Jemma Bird, and we’re also hoping for more well-known and well-loved people to join her on the panel for the final too."
Aldridge Does Variety 2014 winner, Amie Faulkner (aged 21), has gone on to professionally record her winning single after being spotted by a recording artist in the audience the night of the final and is now gigging around the West Midlands.
If you are interested in auditioning, applicants must email email@example.com as soon possible to receive an application form.
Auditions will be taking place on Saturday 11 April with the final being held on Saturday 25 April, both at Aldridge Youth Theatre.
Find Aldridge Does Variety on Twitter here.
Find Aldridge Does Variety on Facebook here.
Could you be the next Ann or Kipps?
Cloc Musical Theatre Company present Half A Sixpence this Autumn, at The Old Rep in Birmingham, and they are on the lookout for the next Ann or Kipps.
Following the story of Arthur Kipps, Half A Sixpence is a musical comedy brimming with recognisable songs, including the title number Half A Sixpence and Flash, Bang, Whallop. One day, Arthur is told he is destined to inherit a fortune and his life gradually unravels around him. Losing his one true love, Ann, in the attempt to join the upper class, will he eventually realise the love he has lost?
Auditions for Half A Sixpence will be taking place on Sunday 26 April, but in the meantime you are more than welcome to pop along to one of their rehearsals. Cloc Musical Theatre Company meet every Monday evening at Maryvale Community Centre in Great Barr (see map below) at 7.30pm.
For more information please contact CLOC's Membership Secretary, Stacey, on 07990 727355 or come along and join a rehearsal.
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