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Your Midlands and Shropshire am dram round-up

By Alison Norton | Entertainment | Published:

In addition to the numerous groups aimed at young performers within our area, many of the adult societies now have a youth group too, which not only helps the company from a financial point of view, but also trains up youngsters to take on leading roles within the main group at a later date, not to mention the fun element.

It is always sensible to have performers ‘waiting in the wings’ if you will excuse the pun, so that the talent pool within your company never runs dry. I certainly intend to set up a youth group at my home company, South Staffs MTC at some point in the future, but for now, we will continue to simply perform shows which include children, which is exactly what the resident group at Forest Arts Centre in Walsall is doing when they present Whistle Down the Wind from February 20-24.

Based on the novel by Mary Hayley Bell, Whistle Down the Wind is set in a small, deeply religious town in Louisiana during the 1950’s and tells the tale of Boone, the father of a poor farming family who are struggling to cope following the death of their mother.

When a stranger appears, and sets up home in their barn however, things begin to change and it isn’t long before Boone’s daughter Swallow begins to believe that the man is in fact Jesus.

It is a sad, but heart-warming tale with a wonderful score which includes No Matter What, of Boyzone fame, a wonderfully rousing ensemble opening called The Vaults of Heaven, Long Overdue for a Miracle and the title song, all of which you will just adore.

Spokesperson for the group Simon Pugh says: “The cast of the show comprises of both the youth senior and youth junior companies, as well as members of the Forest Arts Theatre Company as well.”

He continues: “It’s the first time we have staged a full musical.”

Local hero, firefighter Lyndon Flavell from Penn in Wolverhampton is playing the role of The Man. Lyndon recently saved a toddler who fell over the balcony in his parent’s flat, by climbing many stories in the air balancing on a ladder. Lyndon is a brave man for sure and now here he is surrounded by children again, this time on stage as well has having no less than three daughters of his own at home.

Sixteen-year-old Isabella Gorgio-Jones plays Swallow, while Francesca Riley takes the role of Brat and Simon’s own son, Charlie Pugh and Jake McGauley share the role of Poor Baby.

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Whistle Down the Wind is a pure delight with every aspect of emotion. Be prepared to laugh, cry, be shocked and saddened but one thing is for sure, you will want to watch it over and over again.

l For tickets priced at £12 and £10 visit www.forestartscentre.co.uk or call 01922 654555.

From children to adults now, as the Circle Players present Iron by Rona Munro at Aldridge Theatre from February 14-17.

This is an exquisitely written prison drama, which looks closely at the relationship between a mother, inmate Fay and her daughter Josie who is visiting her mother for the first time in 15 years.

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Josie has never been into a prison in her life and before long, they are both uncovering memories far more dangerous than either could have imagined.

It’s dark and thought-provoking and full of shocking facts. For instance, did you know there are more than 4,000 women in prison in England today?

l For tickets visit the groups Facebook page or www.thecircleplayers.co.uk

Are you a Gilbert and Sullivan fan? If so, Erdington Operatic Society is seeking swashbucklers galore for their forthcoming production of The Pirates of Penzance, which will run during November at Sutton Coldfield Town Hall, but the group are keen to get rehearsals and casting underway.

This was the very first show the group performed many years ago and is widely regarded as the most popular of the G&S operettas, simply oozing with some of their best-loved songs, including Poor Wandering One, A Policeman’s Lot is Not a Happy One, Climbing Over Rocky Mountain and the unforgettable solo, I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General.

From sopranos to basses, you are all welcome to join the group, who meet at Blackwood Road Methodist Church in Streetly on Wednesday evenings.

l For more information, call 0121 355 2542, visit www.erdington-operatic.co.uk, or simply turn up on a Wednesday night.

Noel Coward’s plays continue to be a popular choice for am dram companies and the Stafford Players are no exception, as they will present Hay Fever in the Malcom Edwards Theatre within the Stafford Gatehouse from February 13-17.

Set during the mid-1920s and exploring the bizarre antics of the middle-class, Hay Fever is a light comedy which follows the exploits of the ultra-Bohemian Bliss family.

Judith, a retired actress, to whom the whole world is literally a stage, invites four house guests for a summer weekend, not really realising the dramatic affect her rather unusual family will have on them.

In this production, Denise Arthur and Geoffrey Dobbs play Judith and her husband David.

The play is directed by Keith Minshull, who although has appeared on stage for many years with the Stafford Players, is now making his debut behind the scenes.

l For tickets and more information on the group, visit their Facebook page or www.staffordplayers.co.uk

Finally, members of Pink Productions, who perform at the Dormston Theatre in Sedgley, is holding open auditions on February 25 for anyone who would like to take part in their forthcoming show, Musical Madness.

Principal Jodie Richards says: “We are looking for dancers and singers to take part in our main production in June.

“Experience is not necessary, but performers must be aged between four and 49 years old!”

That’s me out then!

l But seriously, if you would like to go along and audition, contact Jodie at jodie@jodierichards.co.uk or visit www.jodierichards.co.uk to be part of this exciting show.

l That’s all for this week. Please keep your news and good quality colour photos coming to a.norton@expressandstar.co.uk, call me on 01902 319662 or follow me on Twitter @AlisonNorton

Alison Norton

By Alison Norton
@AlisonNorton

Theatre critic and unofficial 'am dram queen' for the Express & Star and Shropshire Star

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