Tag Archive: Walsall


Due to a ridiculous schedule with my own production and other commitments these past few months, I’m way behind on publishing reviews, so sorry about that.

*****

Legally Blonde is one of the best musicals to appear in the 21st Century, popular with audiences and critics alike. However, it needs to be done well and fortunately for the people of Cannock, Brownhills Musical Theatre Company did exactly that.

This is a show I have seen a lot but also the smallest venue/stage I’ve witnessed it performed. I’m glad to say, nothing was lost. Much of that was due to the size of the cast. Many amateur societies struggle for members, so it was refreshing to see around forty on stage. The difference this makes to company numbers cannot be ignored. A huge wall of sound combined with great expression and interaction from all.

Legally Blonde tells the tale of Elle Woods (played superbly by Phillippa Mills) who goes to Harvard to pursue love, but instead finds herself, fresh love, and a new direction. It’s a great script by Heather Hack, alongside fantastic music and lyrics from Laurence O’Keefe and Neil Benjamin. And one of the main plusses is that Legally Blonde is filled with strong characters. In these, Adam Gregory excelled as Emmett while Charlotte Simcox shone in the role of Paulette. Her main number, Ireland, is such a good (tongue in cheek) number and always raises a laugh, as it did on this occasion.

Then we had the villain of the piece in Professor Callaghan with Chris Parry delivering a top-drawer performance in stage presence and during Blood on the Water. Also starring was Adam Merrall as Warner who cruelly dumps Elle at the beginning of the show during Serious. Then we had Stacey Ward (Vivienne), Charlottle Trigg (Brooke Wyndham) and Emma Wyatt (Enid Hoops). Supporting too, were Hattie Parry (Pilar), Louise Hewitt (Serena) and Claire Goodwin (Margot) – The Greek Chorus of Delta Nu. As I have said, it was a large cast, so I can’t name everyone. However, as I was needled the last time I reviewed this show for ignoring the dogs, on this occasion they were Humphrey and Stan. They behaved well.

Legally Blonde has terrific numbers: Positive, So Much Better, What You Want, Bend and Snap and the title song, Legally Blonde (of which there are two equally good versions). However, my favourite is still the glorious There! Right There!

All shows need a good production team and Legally Blonde had theirs with Kelly Tye and Richard Tye (Directors), Alex Priestly (Musical Director) and Alex Woolliscroft (Choreography).

The last couple of years have been hard on theatre and local amateur companies. It was, therefore, a joy to see the audience appreciate the challenging work of cast and crew and display as much enjoyment as those on stage.

Theatre is back.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

You are cordially invited to the Palace Ball in honour of Prince Charming (who has been ordered to find a wife by The King). Dressing up–optional. We want you to have the time of your life. Therefore, let the magic commence.

It’s pantomime time and Aldridge Musical Comedy Society (AMCS) are staging Cinderella at The Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock. AMCS have a reputation for great shows and Cinderella is no exception.

Cinderella lives at Hardup Hall with her sister Bonnie, and three attractive, but not nice stepsisters named, Chardonnay. Spumante and Prosecco. Also at the Hall are the cook and part-time witch, Madame Lidl, plus Buttons, who tries to hold everything together.

Prince Charming, along with his assistant Dandini, searches for the girl he danced with at the Ball, but who vanished leaving nothing but a shoe. To complicate matters, the land is in a crime wave. Not only are the villains Deichmann and Brantano about, but also the notorious Ninja Cat, who keeps beating them to the spoils.

Will Cinderella have her happy ending? Does the prince find his bride? And how can a size 5 shoe fit only one person? With outstanding songs and laughter, the truth will out.

21 to 23 October 2021 (1930) plus Saturday Matinee (1430).

To welcome you back to live theatre, AMCS are offering Cinderella at vastly discounted prices, an unbeatable offer for this classic tale audiences have enjoyed for years.

£10 Adults & £7 Under 16s

Tickets are available from the Box Office on 01543 578762 or online at https://boxoffice.wlct.org/event_description.aspx?eventid=1051

Cinderella is my latest work, combining once again my love of musical theatre and writing. It’s been a long hard road for theatre, and we would love to see audiences return. Plus, it hasn’t been easy rehearsing, with full removal of restrictions yet to happen. So, socially distanced groups of six it has been, then taking to the outdoors to learn the dances. Well, the show must go on.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

My latest short story (Spillage) is available now in the latest anthology from the wonderful Monnath Books, titled, Tabula Rasa.

Antony N Britt - Spillage - Tabula Rasa

Tabula Rasa is the theory that humans are born without preconceived notions or built-in mental content. In a more philosophical sense, it represents a clean slate. Within this anthology, we have twenty-one diverse stories from authors exploring this concept. These stories depict new beginnings, new relationships, and even new worlds. Join us in exploring frightening interactions with strangers, metaphysical body swaps, future technology, and strange occurrences.

Edited by Natalie Rix and Lozzi Counsell, Tabula Rasa is the latest in an excellent line of anthologies from Monnath Books.

You can purchase Tabula Rasa HERE!

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

Antony N Britt is delighted to announce the release of his latest novel – Finding Jessica.

Buy now by clicking here.

Jessica, Jessica, who were you? And what brought you to that bar last night?

Rob Devlin. Former TV investigative reporter, former alcoholic, formerly alive. The experience in an afterlife of near-death ends when Rob’s soul returns to the body. The wrong body.

Jessica Davies was the stranger Rob died trying to save; the reward is to live her life. But was it more than chance they met? Rob needs answers and unable to resume his old life, one option remains. She must become Jessica. First, Rob needs to know who Jessica was and in order to put things right, Rob must set about finding Jessica.

From the author of Dead Girl Stalking and Ghost Stories: Tales from the Dead of Night, Finding Jessica is available on Amazon.

“I believe horror is not zombies and vampires. Horror is us.” ~ Antony N Britt.

Finding Jessica is available here.

Cheers

Antony N Britt

Coming Soon!!!

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

Just who the hell is Alan Menken? Let Aldridge Musical Comedy Society (AMCS) enlighten you.

The Little Mermaid, Hercules, Beauty and the Beast, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Aladdin, Little Shop of Horrors and Pocahontas are just some of the shows by this wonderful songwriter and composer. Tunes from these and many more, including AMCS’s 2020 production of Sister Act will be featured in a showcase concert at The Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock at the end of November.

AMCS have been producing quality shows for over 50 years and Magic of Menken will be no exception. With a talented cast, AMCS also benefit from having Mark Bayliss as Musical Director (Directing/Producing this time around too) and Sarah Beckett in charge of choreography. These are two people most companies can only dream of having so expect great vocals and harmony combined with excellent dance: Be Our Guest, Zero to Hero, I See the Light and Topsy Turvy, to name but a few.

One thing is sure, an AMCS audience always goes home happy and with mainstream theatre so expensive, this is a great alternative.

Magic of Menken is on 28 to 30 November 2019 (1930 start) at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock. Prices are £14/Adult with Concessions and Under 16s/£12.

Tickets are available by calling 07588 141841 or the Box Office on 01543 578762. Alternatively, you purchase online.

BUY TICKETS ONLINE HERE

Cheers.

Antony N Britt.

Great Wyrley was the setting for Keeling School of Dance’s showcase of talent. Titled, Dancing Through the Decades, the show was exactly that.

Keeling School of Dance was established in 1934 by Beatrice Keeling at the age of 14, operating from her parents’ house before continuing in the area, finally moving to Aldridge in 1976. Sadly, Miss Keeling passed away in 2014, having taught until 2012. It is great, though, that the school has continued, run by former pupils: Sarah Beckett, Elaine Wigfield, Clare Cooksey and Jane Eardley (whose daughter, Fran Eardley, is also a teacher at the school). Classes begin from age 2 up to advanced level and adult beginners. Now, I’ve a huge fondness for this dance school on two counts. One, it’s where I rehearse every week in my attempts at musical theatre. Two, Keeling is where my mom and dad attended during the 60s and 70s and were rather more proficient at dance than I’ll ever be.

I have a passion for musical theatre and dance features heavily in that. There is also nothing better than seeing youth with its potential for the future. And what talent we saw. Dance is a fantastic medium to develop confidence and skills, all within a friendly environment.

The audience were dazzled by groups of various ages and it was fascinating to witness the skills within each age band. It’s obvious to see, children currently seven and under will in a short time progress to where those eleven and beyond are now. Numbers from The Greatest Showman, Oliver and High School Musical were among nearly fifty performed with excellent choreography and well-chosen music which blended seamlessly.

I can’t praise enough the standards on view from all. I had also a great amount of pride watching the musical theatre group, many of whom did such a fantastic job for me in my 2018 pantomime, Sleeping Beauty, at the same theatre. And it was also particular pleasing to see the innagural star pupil award go to Rosie Harris, who was a pleasure to work with in that same panto of mine. Well done. It’s too long to list everyone on stage, so I’ll settle for a page of the programme.

I can’t recommend Keeling School of Dance enough. Dancing Through the Decades was a fabulous afternoon, and it was the commitment and spectacular performances from all which made this a truly remarkable event.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

My second helping of Sister Act in just over a year, primarily as a research trip as I may be doing it in 2020. However, Sister Act is also a fabulous show and I looked forward to seeing Willenhall Musical Theatre Company’s production.

Sister Act – The Dormiston Sports and Arts Centre – 11 April 2019 Photo © Antony N Britt

Sister Act is the story of Deloris Van Cartier, on the run from her crime boss boyfriend after she witnesses a murder. Having to give evidence against him, Deloris seeks sanctuary in a convent, disguised as a nun with Mother Superior the only member of the order who knows her identity. With music from Alan Menken and lyrics by Glenn Slater, plus book courtesy of Cheri and Bill Steinkellner, this is a fast-paced comedy which ticks the right boxes in terms of music, laughs and all-round entertainment.

In the lead role of Deloris was Laura Autumn Rai who gave the perfect performance in this iconic role. With powerful voice and great timing, she owned this part. Then we had Juliet O’Brien, again giving all you’d expect and more as Mother Superior. Playing Mary Robert was Abbie Rai whose character grows in confidence during the show. Nothing confidence-growing about Abbie’s performance though as hers was stand-out all through the night. In the part of Eddie, we had Daniel Haddon. Daniel, as on two previous occasions I have seen him on stage, showed what a fantastic character actor he is. All three have been so diverse you only have the credits to tell you it was the same person. Also getting their characters spot-on were Rachel Chadwick (Sister Mary Patrick) and Nikki Rai (Sister Mary Lazarus). The talent runs deep at Willenhall.

Now, memory had the part of Monsignor O’Hara as being rather dull. However, Roger Stokes brought it to life, raising the comic aspect and thus making Monsignor a great deal more fun to watch. Adrian Smith was excellent as Curtis Jackson. Good voice and marvellous stage presence. And then the henchmen: Will Phipps (Joey), James Totney (TJ) and Dom Napier (Pablo). These three had my number of the night with Lady in the Long Black Dress.

Supporting well among a talented and enthusiastic cast we also saw Abbie Sellick (Tina), Megan Rai (Michelle), Jennie Rullan (Mary Theresa), Simon Williams (Ernie), Alex Jeffreys (Copper) and Carol Ann Burgess (Sister Mary Martin).

Further songs I enjoyed were Take Me to Heaven, When I Find My Baby, I Could Be That Guy, The Life I Never Led, Sister Act, Spread the Love Around and Raise Your Voice. And then there was It’s Good to Be a Nun. I’ll never understand why How I Got the Calling was dropped in favour of Good to Be a Nun, but Nun does the same thing and is still fun.

Directing Sister Act for Willenhall was Alf Rai who can be proud of his cast. Equally, Gladstone Wilson brought forth a wonderful wall of sound in terms of vocals and band. Finally, choreography was at the top of the league in the hands of Lindsey Grant.

At the end of the performance, a packed audience (not bad for a Thursday) rose to their feet for an ovation, which was good, because Willenhall Musical Theatre Company had earned it.

Sister Act – The Dormiston Sports and Arts Centre – 11 April 2019

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

It’s always a privilege to witness youth productions so I was delighted to attend this showcase from Walsall College’s Supported Learning Performing Arts Students.

A Showcase of Performance Work – Walsall College – !4 February 2019

With my background in autism, I’m all for inclusion, and my recent 2018 Sleeping Beauty Pantomime highlighted this with two of the cast members taking part. Performing Arts is for everyone, and a way people can express themselves.

On the night we were treated to music, dance, sketches and monologues, plus other spoken word. And what a joy it was to see the diversity of talent.

Kicking the evening off were the Level 1 Diploma Group dancing to Hairspray’s You Can’t Stop the Beat. A nostalgic trip for me, having danced this in panto (In full Captain Hook costume) a couple of years back. Further dances came with Stray Cat Strut although my favourite was a medley of Smooth Criminal, Don’t Stop Me Now and Mr Blue Sky. Come on, you can’t beat a bit of Elo and Queen. Also by the Diploma Group was a poignant tribute to fallen heroes with music and spoken word. This included The Sounds of War written and delivered by Mikail Ali. As both a writer and performer, I know first-hand how much harder it is with your own work as opposed to someone else’s. And we also had Alisha Clarke, reading from her novel, The Black Rose. Talent indeed.

The second of three learning groups were the Level 1 Certificate Group whose Latino Jazz Vibes was clever and entertaining. This group also rounded off the wonderful evening with When I Kissed the Teacher (No better way to end the show than Abba). However, they were also responsible for many monologues and sketches, the highlight of which for me was a wonderfully delivered piece by Imogen Williams titled, Sorry I’m Late.

The longest section of the show was an adapted version of The Wizard of Oz from the Entry Group 3 students. A delight from start to finish made more so by the wonderful performance of Abdul Raheem as the warlock whose wicked laugh had the audience in stitches. Following this the group then entertained with a mime to the vocals of Gemma Wyke with Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

Credit goes to all students, though. Namely: Tom Andrews, Ayrshire Grant-Cable, Chris Cribb, Kane Hedley, Adil Hussain, Leighton Lewis, Sean Rogan, Devonite Smith, Olivia Tolley, Shantae Watson, Imogen Williams, Mikail Ali, Alishia Clarke, Symone Cunningham, Simranjit Dhillon, Dean Fields, Stuart Foster, Katie Henworth, Eleanor Peat, Brandon Pope, Jessica Matthews, Lauren Robbins, Matthew Britt, Ainsley Edwards, Stephen Miller, Abdul Raheem, Kirsty Startup, Jordan Titley, Ben Twells and Gemma Wyke.

The show was directed and choreographed by Thomas Armstrong, Katie Fieldhouse, Tanya Lewis and Emma Speake.

It’s all very well learning, but this must be fun, and there was evidence in abundance these gifted students were having just that – a great time. In fact, these young people are more than capable of progressing and would be welcome additions to many a dance and theatre company.


A Showcase of Performance Work – Walsall College – !4 February 2019

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

It’s pantomime time and Aldridge Musical Comedy Society (AMCS) are staging Sleeping Beauty at Great Wyrley. AMCS have a reputation for great shows and Sleeping Beauty is no exception. Fantastic voices and dance, plus an original script by local writer Antony N Britt (Yes … me). Being an author and loving amateur dramatics, it was only a matter of time before the two worlds collided. And this is it!

Sleeping Beauty - The Pantomime  (Coming to Great Wyrley – 22 to 24 November 2018)

The show is full of great numbers which will have you clapping and tapping your feet until the end. Songs include: Tragedy, Colour My World, These Boots Are Made for Walking, Dear Future Husband, Electricity, Walking on Sunshine, Once Upon a Dream, Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Hot Stuff, Electricity and … the list goes on.

AMCS have produced exceptional pantomimes in the past and I’m overjoyed at the opportunity to continue that tradition. Writing Sleeping Beauty took five months. One to concoct a matter of fact plot, then four more to complete the script. It’s a mammoth workload, also being in the show, but the temptation was too hard to resist. And what a joy to be not only directing but appearing alongside my fellow members whom I’m proud of every single one.

Assisting me with direction is Julie Lamb while I’m also thankful to be working alongside the exceptional Sarah Beckett (Choreography) and Mark Bayliss (Musical Direction)

The show is at Great Wyrley High School Theatre from 22 to 24 November (1930 evenings with an additional 1420 matinee on Saturday 24 November).

Tickets are available by phoning 0798446400. Alternatively, you can go online to Stagestubs at this link.

Prices are £13/Adult, £10/Concessions and £7/Under 16s. We also offer a family ticket (2 adults/2 children) for £35.

Great entertainment for all the family.

 Sleeping Beauty - The Pantomime  (Coming to Great Wyrley – 22 to 24 November 2018)

Cheers.

 

Antony N Britt

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