Critically acclaimed South Staffordshire College Performing Arts Department return to the Lichfield Garrick to close their Performance Season 2014/15 with the smash hit Sondheim musical comedy Merrily We Roll Along.
Turning the traditional showbiz musical on its head is this thrilling and compelling Broadway fable about friendship, compromise and the high price of success. Merrily We Roll Along begins in the present and moves backwards, tracing the lives of wealthy, jaded composer Franklin Shepard and his two estranged friends through each milestone of their personal and professional lives (good and bad).
The show ends with a touch of rueful irony, as the three best friends at the start of their careers face a bright future: young, talented and enthusiastic about the worlds waiting to be conquered.
Featuring the hit songs Not a Day Goes By, Good Thing Going, Old Friends and Our Time. Don't miss this fantastic show from SSC Performing Arts.
Merrily We Roll Along plays at Lichfield Garrick, on the main stage, on 23 and 24 June. All seats are £12 and performances start at 7.30pm. For more information and to book tickets click here or call the Garrick's box office on 01543 412121.
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Take a look here at our last review for SSC Performing Arts production of tick, tick, BOOM!
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.
West Midlands actor and star of the hit sitcom Hi-de-Hi, Jeffrey Holland will be returning to his theatrical roots in a new production of Arnold Ridley’s classic comedy thriller, The Ghost Train touring to the Belgrade Theatre from 12 to 16 May.
On a dark and stormy night a number of passengers find themselves thrown together in the waiting room of a rural train station. A pair of newlyweds, an estranged couple, a self-indulgent young dandy and an elderly spinster are treated to the stationmaster’s unique hospitality, which includes an eerie tale of a ghostly locomotive that supposedly haunts the line.
Can the story be true and should they be alarmed by his grim warning of death to anyone who sets eyes on the infamous Ghost Train?
Arnold Ridley was inspired to write The Ghost Train after becoming stranded overnight at Mangotsfield station near Bristol. Ridley was perhaps best known for playing Private Godfrey in the classic BBC comedy Dad’s Army.
Completing the cast of The Ghost Train are Tom Butcher (The Bill, Doctors), Sophie Powles (Emmerdale), Judy Buxton (General Hospital, On the Up) and David Janson (Get Some In!, ‘Allo ‘Allo!, Keeping Up Appearances).
Tickets for The Ghost Train can be booked by visiting Belgrade Theatre's website here or calling the Box Office team on 024 7655 3055.
Are you a potential Oliver, an Artful Dodger, or could you just 'pick a pocket or two'?
Walsall Operatic Society is looking for boys aged between 8 and 16 for their next main production, Oliver! which will be performed at the Lichfield Garrick Theatre from 8 to 12 March 2016. We require two teams, each one consisting of Oliver, Artful Dodger and 13 boys.
Auditions will be held on Sunday 14 June 2015 at Darwin Hall, Lichfield (see map below).
If you would like to register your child for an audition, please fill in your contact details at the form here, along with a brief explanation of any musical or performing experience they have. A pack of audition materials is also available for download from here.
For further information visit Walsall Operatic Society's website.
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From 9 – 13 June 2015, Wolverhampton Grand Theatre is to play host to the world premiere tour of The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, which opened at the Chichester Festival Theatre earlier this year.
The deeply moving and thought-provoking production is based on the best-selling novel by John Boyne. Set during World War II, the story is seen through the innocent eyes of Bruno, the eight year old son of the commandant at a concentration camp, whose forbidden friendship with a Jewish boy on the other side of the camp fence has startling and devastating consequences.
Various scenes in this production require the creation of the sense of a crowd – whether this be in Berlin, in the home of the Commandant and his wife or in the camp. Adult supernumerary actors are required to work alongside the show’s ensemble cast in order to help the production achieve such crowd scenes. The production also requires two child supernumeraries to work alongside the child actors in the show to help convey a poignant moment at the beginning of the play.
Wolverhampton Grand Theatre will be holding open auditions for these roles on Friday 22 May at the theatre. Audition times are 3.45pm for children and 4.30pm for adults.
The requirements for adult actors are:
3 men, white (Section 5(2)(a) of the Race Relations Act 1976 applies), very short hair (shaved for preference), thin/slim, 5'7"-6'3", 30-55. Must be confident movers. The men will appear as people of Berlin (opening sequence and two scene changes), completing the suggestion of street life - party guests - applauding Grandmother and greeting Father - servants (costume budget permitting) - "line of thin servants" in The New House - camp inhabitants - rounded up and marched. Please note: this is the most that will be asked of the adult supernumeraries. One of these scenes may not take place.
The requirements for child actors are:
2 boys, white (Section 5(2)(a) of the Race Relations Act 1976 applies) 9-12 years, approx. 4’4”/4’5” in height. Playful, confident, good physicality. They are Bruno's best friends; to play a choreographed game in the opening sequence and will be featured in the first 15 minutes of the show only. Local Chaperones will be appointed to accompany the children at all times.
Please note: These roles are open to non-professional actors only and are voluntary positions within the show for members of the local community. These are non-speaking roles but are a fantastic opportunity for aspiring performers to appear in a professional production.
Adult supernumeraries will be required on stage at various points throughout the whole performance. Child supernumeraries are only required for the first scene and therefore must be collected from the Stage Door from a parent or guardian once their appearance is over, 15 minutes after the beginning of the show.
None of the supernumeraries are required to stay for the curtain call.
All performers will be required from 2pm on Tue 9 June. They will have rehearsals, costume fittings and a dinner break before the first show at 7.15pm.
The performance schedule is as follows:
Tue 9 at 7.15pm, Wed 10 at 1.45pm, Thu 11 at 10am & 1.45pm, Fri 12 at 7.15pm, Sat 13 at 2.30pm & 7.15pm.
Children are required from 1 hour before each show but are free to leave 15 minutes after curtain up. They are required to be collected from stage door at this time. Or, at the latest, they can be collected at the interval. The adults are required from the half hour call (35 mins before curtain up) and are required for the duration of the show which is 2 hours, including an interval.
Each successful supernumerary performer in the show will be provided with a pair of complimentary tickets for a performance of their choice for friends or family members to see the production.
Please submit a brief letter of application via email (noting any stage experience where applicable) along with a recent photograph. Please submit all applications to Claudia Gilmour (Creative Learning Manager – Maternity Cover) to the following address firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the child applications, we will need the following information:
Full name, date of birth, height, full names of Parents/Guardians, address, school name and address, contact phone number, contact email, local council.
Adults need only provide full name, address, contact phone number, contact email.
Closing date for applications: Monday 18 May at 5pm.
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).
Stafford Gatehouse Youth Theatre (SGYT) have an exciting opportunity for 14-16 year olds to participate in theatrical workshops lead by a professional West End actress. There will be a total of four workshops on Monday evenings at 5.30 – 7.30pm throughout June as taster sessions for new members to try SGYT ahead of the new Autumn term. Each two hour workshop will feature songs, scenes and dance routines from four different West End musicals:
1 June: Wicked
8 June: We Will Rock You
15 June: Legally Blonde
22 June: Sweeney Todd
The workshops will be lead by Katie Kerr, whose professional debut was as Chiffon in the award winning production of Little Shop Of Horrors at the Menier Chocolate Factory alongside Sheridan Smith, later transferring to the West End. She then went on to star in Fat Pig, as Helen, directed by Neil La Bute also in the West End and has subsequently gone on to perform in several other plays and musicals such as A Chorus of Disapproval (UK Tour), Stepping Out (UK Tour), TABOO (Brixton
Clubhouse) and Wicked (UK Tour).
Katie most recently has been seen performing alongside Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel in the English National Opera's production of Sweeney Todd at London's Coliseum. She also appeared in BBC 1 drama What Remains.
Each session is £6 and pre-booking is essential as places are limited. Places can be pre-booked at the box office from Tuesday 6 May, where a membership form will be given. Any members who do not return the membership form will not be able to join. Places must be booked by Friday 30 May.
Any further information can be obtained by calling the administration team on 01785 619080.
Two University of Warwick graduates turned professional directors are on a mission: to bring opera to Coventry. Working in association with the Belgrade Theatre, their first production, Hansel and Gretel, will run from 7 - 9 May 2015.
Felicity Green and Benjamin Hamilton first met in 2009 and have been working together ever since. Both developed a passion for opera working with the university’s opera society, Opera Warwick, and the pair directed three sell-out productions at the Warwick Arts Centre. Since then, both have worked with companies across the country, but felt something was missing: Coventry did not have a professional opera company to call its own. By securing the support of Arts Council England to absolve this absence, HighTime was born.
Stage Director, Felicity Green says:
"We want to shatter the myth that opera is elitist, and that you need a vast concert hall and millions of pounds to create amazing productions. HighTime translates work into English and produces fun, modern music-theatre of the highest standard that everyone can enjoy. We want to give people a really enjoyable, magical evening out, and we think that by updating this classic fairy tale, we will do just that."
And this is no ordinary Hansel and Gretel. Sung in a new English translation produced with Kit Hesketh Harvey (Kit and the Widow, BBC Comedy Proms), Hansel and Gretel live on the outskirts of society, hungry and poor, when their mother sends them to forage for food on the mean city streets. News soon arrives that the circus has come to town, led by a very sinister Ringmaster, renowned for luring children away from their homes with the intoxicating smell of frying hot dogs…
Musical Director, Benjamin Hamilton says:
"We have founded HighTime with the aim of bringing excellent opera to Coventry. Having lived here for most of my life, I feel really passionately about this. We’re absolutely thrilled to be working with the Belgrade Theatre and hope to become a company the city can be truly proud of."
Keen to instil a love of the arts in the younger generation, the company are also giving 60 children from schools across Coventry their first taste of opera, with the chance to perform in the chorus of the production. The young people will appear alongside internationally-acclaimed professional singers, whose credits include the Royal Opera House, English National Opera and the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition.
Hansel and Gretel runs from 7 - 9 May 2015 at the Belgrade Theatre B2. Tickets are available by clicking here or by calling the box office on 024 7655 3055.
Last month, Central Youth Theatre (CYT) unveiled the latest big name to join its fundraising line up for the 2015 Hilarity Charity Gala on Monday 8 June at the Grand Theatre. Greg Davies star of The Inbetweeners, Cuckoo and Man Down will be this year’s headline comedian.
The event takes place at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre on Monday 8 June and is organised by former youth theatre member Tom Parry, one third of comedy sketch group Pappy’s (BBC3 Badults). The event follows on from last year, which saw Josh Widdicombe and Jon Richardson help to pull in an audience of over 900 people to help raise funds for Central Youth Theatre in the wake of losing its council grant support.
“We are really grateful to Greg Davies for joining our line up. He hasn’t appeared on stage for 18 months, so we are sure there are plenty of comedy fans out there who will be overjoyed to get the opportunity to see him perform live”. He goes on to say: “Also new to this year’s bill is one of the comedy circuit’s biggest breakthrough acts of the last year - Canadian comedian Katherine Ryan who has starred on Live at the Apollo and Mock the Week”.
“It’s also exciting that another former member of the Youth Theatre, Celeste Dring, is joining the line up as one half of the comedy sketch group Lazy Susan. They were nominated for best newcomer award at the 2014 Edinburgh Festival and are rising stars on the comedy circuit having just got back from performing at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. This will be the first time that Celeste will be bringing her act to Wolverhampton to perform in front of a home audience”.
The Gala welcomes back last year’s host – the legendary Perrier Winner Daniel Kitson alongside returning stars - Welsh Comedian Elis James (Star of Crime, 8 Out Of Ten Cats) and Pappys (Badults). Unbelievably there are also even more names still to be announced.
Tom Parry says: “During the ten years I spent with CYT I had many amazing opportunities to travel abroad and to perform in so many different types of productions. Although I currently live and work mainly in London, my heart still lies with the youth theatre and I really believe that it can go on changing young people’s lives for many more years to come”.
Tickets are £21/£16 concessions and you can book by clicking here or call the Grand Theatre box office on 01902 429212.
The organisers of Stafford Festival Shakespeare have revealed that this year’s production of Much Ado About Nothing will be set in Stafford, at the close of World War 1.
Director, Peter Rowe, says:
“The show will open in 1918 as Leonato welcomes the troops back home from the Great War for music, dancing and romance. As war gives way to peace and Edwardian propriety unbuttons into the Jazz Age, Shakespeare’s much loved comedy will weave its magic in the dusk.”
Production Design will be by Dawn Allsopp, who is new to the Stafford Festival Shakespeare creative team. Dawn is a set and costume designer with impressive experience of over 23 years working in venues throughout the country.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Dawn to the Stafford Festival Shakespeare team this year” commented Producer Derrick Gask. “She is exceptionally talented and has some wonderful ideas for this year’s show. As it’s our big 25th anniversary I can’t think of a more appropriate setting than Stafford”.
Stafford Festival Shakespeare organisers recently announced that this year’s catering partnership will be with Sugnall Walled Gardens offering range of options to satisfy all appetites, from restaurant dining to take away snacks.
Much Ado About Nothing is the twenty fifth production staged as part of the annual Stafford Festival Shakespeare at Stafford Castle produced by Stafford Gatehouse Theatre in conjunction with Stafford Borough Council Leisure and Culture. The casting is due to be announced this month.
Tickets for Much Ado About Nothing are on sale now and start from as little as £12. To book tickets click here or call the box office on 01785 619080. The show opens at Stafford Castle on Thursday 25 June and runs until Saturday 11 July 2015.
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