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A new year full of fun, frolics and farce in am dram world

Alison Norton gives her guide to the busy world of amateur dramatics.

Startime Variety will be among the groups staging shows early this year with Hercules - The Pantomime Adventure
Startime Variety will be among the groups staging shows early this year with Hercules - The Pantomime Adventure

Happy New Year Am Dram Land! Let’s hope that 2022 sees more groups return to performing.

It is a slow and steady climb back to pre-Covid levels of shows, but I am sure we will get there in the end. Am Dram folks are tough and determined, aren’t we?

Pantomime continues to dominate performances at present, with several groups across the region offering traditional winter offerings, so get ready to boo, hiss and cheer.

From January 28 to 30 and February 4 to 6, The Belfrey Theatre in Wellington is presenting Robin Hood and The Babes in the Wood, offering two pantos for one.

Combining the traditional panto tale of The Babes in the Wood and the legend of Robin Hood, it is the perfect recipe for panto fun.

The Babes visit their uncle, the Sheriff of Nottingham, little suspecting that he is planning their demise. But never fear, help is at hand, in the shape of Robin and his Merry Men, plus Maid Marian, and Nanny Winnie Wide-Bottom.

The comedy comes thick and fast from Friar Tuck and Little Joan (yes, that’s Joan, not John!) and Robin’s motley crew of Men in Tights. For tickets, visit belfreytheatre.com or call 01952 222277.

The Little Theatre, Donnington is presenting another panto favourite, Jack and the Beanstalk, from January 22 to 29 at their own premises, at 7.30pm evenings and 2.30pm matinees. Foolish Jack swaps his mother’s cow for a bag of beans which grow into an enormous beanstalk, but what is at the top? Jack cannot resist climbing the gigantic plant to find out, but there is huge shock waiting for him.

Can Jack defeat the giant? Go along and see for yourself. For tickets visit thelittletheatredonnington.co.uk or call 01952 407959.

Not a fan of pantomime? Well, there are other productions taking place in January which just might pique your interest.

From January 18 to 22, Lichfield Players are presenting Mike Leigh’s classic comedy, Abigail’s Party at the Lichfield Garrick Theatre. Beverly and her husband Laurence host a drinks party for their neighbours in their suburban house. The guests, Angela, her husband Tony, and Sue, a divorcee whose daughter Abigail is having a rowdy party nearby, are subjected to Beverly’s desire to be an exemplary hostess. The tension escalates when the marital strain between Beverley and Laurence surfaces.

It’s traditional 1970s farce and Abigail’s Party is without doubt the best of its kind. For tickets visit lichfieldgarrick.com or call 01543 412121.

Finally, there is another farce on offer, this time by Alan Ayckbourn. From January 18 to 29, you can catch a production of How the Other Half Loves at Sutton Coldfield's Highbury Theatre Centre.

Described as Ackybourn’s funniest play, the storyline follows three couples, their social status, their affairs, and antics.

It is classic foolish farce and theatre-goers love it.

For tickets visit highburytheatre.co.uk or call 0121 373 2761.

Meanwhile, Startime Variety, a long-standing, popular group based in Halesowen, is presenting Hercules - The Pantomime Adventure, from January 27 to 30, at The Cornbow Centre in the town.

Beth Raithby as Persephone, Liz Bennett as Annie, Gemma Shaw as Demi, and Lewis Everall in the title role of Hercules

Written and directed by a member of the group, Holly Mills, who is paving the way for pantos of the future, and it is good to see something a little different.

Based on the story of Hercules of course, the show still retains all the traditional panto elements, including Dame, Phillipa Tetes, played by Taylor Asquith.

It promises to be great family fun and pure entertainment. People can visit seaty.co.uk/startime or call 07942 337496 to book tickets, priced at £14 for adults and £12 for concessions.

Aldridge Youth Theatre will present Aladdin, written for the group by Neville Ellis from January 14 to 15, January 20 to 22, and January 27 to 29. Packed with slapstick comedy, audience participation and fun for all age groups, Aladdin will take place at the group’s own premises in Noddy Park Road, Aldridge, at 7.30pm nightly and 2.30pm on matinee performances. The wicked Abanazer is seeking the magic lamp that contains the all-powerful Genie, so that he can rule the world, and is just steps away from succeeding. Is all hope lost?

No, help is at hand, as a family posse of wannabe heroes foil the villain’s evil scheme. For tickets, visit ticketsource.co.uk/aldridge-youth-theatre or call 01922 458615.

Another group performing Aladdin and also celebrating their 40th anniversary in 2022 is Brierley Hill Musical Theatre Company, who will perform the panto at Brierley Hill Civic Hall from January 22 to 23 and January 27 to 29.

Take a trip to Old Peking in this family pantomime full of surprises, fun and laughter. Expect popular songs, dance, special effects and comedy courtesy of children’s entertainer Krazy Krys with his Groovy UV Friends.

Becky Thorne takes the title role, with Jess Skidmore as Princess Jasmine, Chris Psaras as the incomparable Widow Twankey and Krystian Wharton as Wishee Washee.For tickets priced at £12 each, visit bhillcivic.co.uk/whats-on or check out the group’s Facebook page.

Cinderella is always a popular pantomime, and you can catch Cinders and her Ugly Sisters at the Oldbury Rep from January 14 to 22.

Forced by her wicked stepmother to undertake the chores at Hardup Hall, never mind attending to her two ugly stepsisters, Cinderella dreams of the day when her Prince Charming rescue her and they will live happily ever.

With magical intervention from her Fairy Godmother and with her lovable best friend Buttons by her side, will Cinderella make it to the royal ball?

Written by Tom Whalley, performances are at 7.30pm nightly and at 2.30pm on matinees. For tickets, contact oldburyrep.org or call 0121 552 2761.

That’s all for this week. Please Send all your news/photos to a.norton@expressandstar.co.uk, call me on 01902 319662 or follow me on Twitter @AlisonNorton.

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