Tag Archive: Walsall


Okay, I can officially announce the release of my second book.

Ghost Stories: Tales From The Dead Of Night © Antony N Britt 2017

Ghost Stories: Tales From The Dead Of Night is a collection of 20 short stories which might have you afraid to turn out the light. But don’t take my word for it. Read the blurb.

Meet …

Mark, who loves Alison, but must first get past her dead father.

Jessie and Tommy. In fear of what’s in the attic.

Colin. As a medium, he’s used to ghosts. It’s the living he needs to be scared of.

Alec, haunted by a tragedy which took place forty years ago. Now the past has caught up.

Karen and Matthew, locked in a manor house with the spirit of its sadistic former owner.

Irene. All she wanted was attention; now she wishes it would go away.

And meet Cara. Disturbed by the presence in her bedsit, and a bloodstain which keeps returning.

You don’t need to sleep to have nightmares.

You can buy Ghost Stories in either digital or print from Amazon by following the link below.

Ghost Stories: Tales From The Dead Of Night by Antony N Britt.

Cheers

Antony N Britt

 

Advertisements

October 25 1980 was the day I purchased a vinyl LP. My 17th birthday with money to spend, I had already been captivated by Eighth Day, which then led to me seeing the film, Breaking Glass, and so, in turn, progressing onto getting the album, and I was hooked.

I’d seen Hazel O’Connor as recent as 2014 but when advertised she was touring in a set showcasing the three albums released at the peak of her career, I had to go.

Hazel O’Connor – Birmingham Town Hall – 2 December 2017 – © Antony N Britt

Hazel O’Connor had what would now be considered a short spell in the limelight during the early 1980s. However, although Breaking Glass and their follow-ups, Sons and Lovers and Cover Plus had great commercial success, life is short in the fast lane.

But not if you’re a fan.

Those three albums, incredibly, came out within the space of just over a year, but to me they’ve lasted 37 and are still going strong. Breaking Glass, as well as being one of my favourite films, is probably still in my top ten albums I love to listen to. And that’s out of a massive and varied collection of rock.

Opening with the awesome, D-Days, we were treated to hit after hit taking me back to that time when I first heard them.

Okay … maybe not every song was a hit in the commercial sense, but they were, and still are, to me: Runaway, Monsters in Disguise, Blackman, Writing on the Wall, If Only – to mention a few. But we also had the more personal where Hazel engaged with the audience (most of whom looked, ahem … about 50 to 55). Many songs were introduced with their backstory including the beautiful Calls the Tune, inspired by the murder of Blair Peach at the hands of the SPG. Also, the tale of not knowing who Nina Simone was which led to the inclusion of Do What You Gotta Do on Cover Plus. And some great memories Hazel shared relating to her mother.

A couple more of my favourites were Cover Plus (Track) and the classic Will You? One of the most wonderful songs ever written, Will You? is also memorable for its sax solo and this was delivered in brilliant fashion by Clare Hirst (Ex Belle Stars), who along with Sarah Fisher (Keys), have toured with Hazel for years. Also in the band on this tour was Hazel’s brother, Neil O’Connor (Guitars) who played on the original Sons and Lovers and Cover Plus albums. Cover Plus tells of growing up, and it also takes on an additional meaning now because we’ve all truly – grown up.

Hazel O’Connor – Birmingham Town Hall – 2 December 2017 – © Antony N Britt

Afterwards, it was a fanboy’s dream for me to meet Hazel in the foyer (Despite the efforts of the rude jobswoth venue employee who tried his hardest to get rid of the waiting crowd). Hazel was happy to talk to the fans, though, have photos and sign everything thrust at her. And for me, it was a dream to get that very same vinyl LP from 1980 inscribed.

Hazel O'Connor Breaking Glass © Antony N Britt

A great night. Thanks Hazel for taking me back and if only for a moment, making me seventeen again.

Hazel O’Connor – Birmingham Town Hall – 2 December 2017 – © Antony N Britt

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

The Tide is High. Forty years ago I discovered Blondie and since then they have been my number one when it comes to feelgood pop. Therefore, even with Debbie Harry now 72 (Really …? Wow!), I knew I was in for a great night out. And yes, much of the audience were, ahem … older than most, but that didn’t mean they had to behave and were on their feet most of the show.

Kicking off with One Way or Another, I was suddenly a teenager again and the goosebumps continued throughout. Some things seem timeless.

On the night there was a blend of old and new. Five songs from the current album, Pollination, included Long Time, Too Much and Fun. But then we had the classics. Hanging on the Telephone, Call Me, Atomic and Heart of Glass, the list goes on. Highlight for me was the inclusion of Fade Away and Radiate, one of my favourite album tracks. Okay, the set was only 90 minutes long, but so much energy was packed into it. Another feelgood moment was the occasions Harry waved at the audience and on several occasions, seemingly straight at me.

Okay … I can dream.

Making a stand about saving the planet, in particular, the dwindling bee population, Harry appeared wearing a bee head-dress and cape which said, Stop fucking the planet. It was a message repeated throughout the night and one which hit home.

One thing I always have to shout, Blondie are a group and not just Debbie Harry. Integral to things are original members, Chris Stein and Clem Burke, supported by Leigh Foxx, Tommy Kessler and Matt Katz-Bohen. Without these, the music wouldn’t be the same.

I’m fortunate that many of my favourite bands just seem to go on and on. I know nothing lasts forever, so I enjoy these shows while I can. This was so good, though, I can only hope for more to come.

Cheers.

 

Antony N Britt

This was my second experience of Trinity Musical Theatre Company, having seen their offering of The Witches of Eastwick twelve months ago. So, would this year’s production also deliver satisfaction?

Return to the Forbidden Planet – Dormiston Mill Theatre – 4 November 2017

The first thing to note is the cast are already on stage as the audience enter the auditorium. A good effect which grabs your attention as soon as you hit the seats. An impressive set with costumes reminiscent of Sci-Fi films, one of which Forbidden Planet is famous. In particular, the clone-like appearance of the females which had me thinking of Gerry Anderson’s UFO series of the 1970s.

The show has a low-key opening with flight attendants giving a demonstration of safety precautions. Different, but amusing. Then we have countdown and blast off to the sound of Wipe Out. What caught me straight away was how full the stage was. This was much down to members of the Linzi G School of Dance. A great collaboration which not only sees additional energy and interaction on stage, it also gives pupils experience to add to the CV.

Any fan of rock and roll will love Forbidden Planet; the hits come one after another. Great Balls of Fire, Good Vibrations and Young Girl, to name a few. And a good way to end the show with a medley of tunes, culminating with the comic, Monster Mash.

This is a strange show for me because there is so much I don’t like to begin with. I’m not a fan of the clunky Shakespearian dialogue, neither do I like the cop-out reprise at the start of Act Two where you have a different conclusion to the previous scene, but that’s just the writer in me. The fact I have niggles with the original Bob Carlton script goes to show how good a job the cast and crew have done to get me still raving positive about what was before me.

On the night there were excellent performances from Mitch Bastable as Tempest, Beth Berwick-Lowe (Miranda) and Pat Lewis (Prospero). Also supporting well were Naomi-Leeanne Millard (Gloria), Steve Taylor (Ariel), Abigail James (Bosun) and Mark Moran (Cookie). Okay, Cookie was a trifle older than expected, but this was dealt with in a tongue-in-cheek way at the end of Teenager in Love.

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable night out. The biggest compliment I can give, though is that on the way to the theatre, I had the London Cast Recording CD on in the car. Trinity’s performance was better. Production for the show was in the experienced hands of Andy Poulton with choreography by Lindsey Grant (of Linzi G fame) and musical direction from Dan Tomkinson.

Return to the Forbidden Planet – Dormiston Mill Theatre – 4 November 2017

Next year, Trinity turn their hands to The Wizard of Oz and on current evidence, it will be another great show.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

Apart from recognising a couple of numbers, I knew little about this show prior to arrival at the Birmingham Hippodrome. I’d hurriedly purchased the Broadway Cast soundtrack but in two hearings, very little had sunk in. So, would seeing it live change that?

Crazy for You – Birmingham Hippodrome – 25 October 2017

 

Crazy for You tells the story of Bobby Child who is sent by his banking mother to foreclose a loan in the backwater town of Deadrock, Nevada. Based on the 1930 Ira/George Gershwin show, Girl Crazy, the story was reworked with a book by Ken Ludwig in 1992 and incorporates songs from several other Gershwin productions.

The first thing of note was the doubling up of band/cast with most instruments played on stage. It’s a method I’ve seen a lot recently and works well, although this time at the loss of huge dance routines. We had a decent opening which continued in an inoffensive manner throughout. Songs like Someone to Watch Over Me, Things are Looking Up and But Not For Me were well delivered but it’s the chorus numbers which make the show. I’ve Got Rhythm is no doubt the best known but equally, Stiff Upper Lip and The Real American Folk Song is a Rag were also enjoyable.

Taking the lead in Crazy for You was Tom Chambers as Bobby with Caroline Flack (Irene), Charlotte Wakefield (Polly) and Neil Ditt (Bela Zangler). My only real criticism would be that the supporting characters lacked depth, making them more forgettable, which is a shame for the actors who did a good job. The script was decent, if a little predictable, but there were several funny moments. My favourite had to be the drunk double scene which (I’m not sure if intentional or not) paid homage to the Marx Brothers mirror scene from Duck Soup.

The ending is a little low key but I still came out of the theatre with the feelgood factor. And next day, I listened to the CD for a third time and on this occasion, found myself reminiscing the show with more familiarity concerning the numbers. Therefore, for me, the show had done its job.

Crazy for You was directed by Paul Hart with musical supervision from Catherine Jayes and choreography, Nathan M Wright.

Crazy for You – Birmingham Hippodrome – 25 October 2017

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

Another show off my tick list this week as Hairspray was in town. Always a fan of the story as far back as the John Waters film starring Ricki Lake, I recently also saw the musical movie plus the Hairspray TV Live last year. And the soundtrack gets played a fair bit too.

Hairspray – Birmingham Hippodrome – 11 October 2017

Hairspray is a story of the fight for racial integration in the early 1960s. It seems abhorrent now, the views of that time, but that’s how life was.

So how was the show? From the opening beats of Good Morning Baltimore, goosebumps rose and I knew I was in for a treat as one great number followed another. Nicest Kids in Town, Mama I’m a Big Girl Now and I Can Hear the Bells.

In the lead role was Rebecca Mendoza, giving a great acting performance while excelling in both song and dance. The perfect Tracy Turnblad. There were also good comic moments, (and some of them I’m not sure scripted) between Matt Rixon as Edna and Norman Pace (Wilbur). One that also shone for me was Annalise Liard-Bailey, blossoming from wallflower to summer rose in the role of Penny. Showing vibrant energy we had Layton Williams playing Seaweed. Also onstage were Brenda Edwards (Motormouth Maybelle), Gina Murray (Velma Von Tussle), Jon Tsouras (Corney Collins), Edward Chitticks (Link Larkin), Aimee Moore (Amber). Monifa James (Little Inez), Graham McDuff (Male Authority), Tracey Penn (Female Authority) and a full ensemble.

Hairspray boasts music and lyrics by Marc Shaiman with additional lyrics from Scott Whittman. The book is by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan. Production credits for the show include Paul Kerryson (Director), Drew McOnie (Choreography) with musical direction from Ben Atkinson.

I don’t know how long it actually was, but Act Two rattled by. A good testament to the production in not giving the audience chance to catch breath. More good numbers including, You’re Timeless to Me, Without Love and The Big Dollhouse. Of course, the number I had waited for came at the end with You Can’t Stop the Beat and I was taken back twelve months when I performed that myself as part of a pantomime. Great fun. Great show.

Hairspray – Birmingham Hippodrome – 11 October 2017

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

Do you fancy a night of rock and roll?

This November, not only are Aldridge Musical Theatre Company (AMCS) back, they’re on home ground. Smokey Joe’s Café is being staged at the Aldridge Youth Theatre, Wednesday 8 to Saturday 11 November (1930 Start).

Smokey Joe’s Café – Aldridge Youth Theatre – 8 to 11 November 2017

After the success of their anniversary show, Fabulous at 50, AMCS are embarking on a different type of review show showcasing the works of legendary duo, Lieber and Stoller. Famous for hits by artists including, Elvis, The Coasters, The Drifters and Ben E King, Lieber and Stoller’s music epitomise all that is fifties.

In the Neighbourhood, Poison Ivy, On Broadway, Saved, Baby This is Rock and Roll, Yakety Yak, Hound Dog, Kansas City, I Who Have Nothing and Stand By Me. These are just a handful of tunes to expect in a vibrant show with great voices and dance.

Direction for Smokey Joe’s is in the safe hands of Julie Lamb with choreography by Sarah Hemming and musical direction from Mark Bayliss.

AMCS currently has a core of 30 members and are always on the lookout for more of all ages. Rehearsing in Aldridge every Wednesday, the society, in addition to two shows a year, also perform for charity functions and care homes.

Smokey Joe’s Café – Aldridge Youth Theatre – 8 to 11 November 2017

Tickets available from AMCS on 01543 480626.

Adults £12. Concession £10 and Under 16s £8.

Cheers.

 

Antony N Britt.

Very honoured to have two of my poems in a new anthology compiled by chairman of the Walsall Poetry Society, Richard Archer.

Diverse Verse 2 is a collection of poetry from around the world with proceeds going to Cancer Research UK.

From the passionate to the philosophical, flippant to the fantastic, and everything in between.

Diverse Verse 2

Buy this fantastic collection now.

Find out more about the Walsall Poetry Society.

 

Cheers. 

Antony N Britt

When deciding to review this show, I was dreading what I might have to write. You see, never have I attended a show with so much favourable feedback as in the case of Billy Elliot. My God, everybody loved it, giving rave reviews. But what if it was another dud for me? That certainly happened with the Commitments.

No such fears. From the opening segment with The Stars Look Down, I was drawn into the stage. And this was no mean feat as I wasn’t in the best position to appreciate the view and acoustics back in Row T of the stalls.

With a book and lyrics by Lee Hall, plus music from Elton John, the show is based on the 2000 film of the same name. Billy Elliot tells of a 12-year-old boy set against the backdrop of the 1984 miners’ strike. Rather than attending boxing lessons, Billy stumbles into a ballet class and finds he has a love of the dance.

Now the writer in me first looks to the script, and this one was epic. Clever, natural dialogue which slaps you in the face when you least expect. Best line of the show. “Susan Parks, you look like a spastic starfish.” Oh yes, how I love blatant political incorrectness. And the music and dance was … fantastic. This is a show which truly ticked all the boxes.

Of the musical numbers, Shine stood out immediately. Then we had the spectacular of Solidarity with Billy and the Ballet girls amidst the conflict between miners and police. One, however, which really entertained was Expressing Yourself with the dancing dresses. At the start to Act Two, I can’t emphasise how much I loved Merry Christmas, Maggie Thatcher. Thatcher masks, puppets, and finally, a giant ogress nemesis of the 1980s miners. And my favourite song lyric. “Oh, my darling, oh, my darling, oh, my darling Heseltine. You’re a tosser, and a wanker, and you’re just a Tory swine.” Sung by children. Brilliant.

On the dance front, we were treated to an amazing segment of Swan Lake in which Billy dances with his older self. Electricity was as it says in the name – electric. Towards the end, we had the poignant farewells as the miners return to work and Billy says his goodbyes. Many a tear in the house. Then the finale topped off a great evening of spectacular choreography, voice and performance.

On the night, Billy was played by Haydn May with Amy Rhiannon Worth as Mrs Wilkinson. Dad was Martin Walsh, Tony (Scott Garnham), Grandma (Andrea Miller), Mr Braithwaite (Daniel Page), Michael (Elliot Stiff) and Debbie (Lilly Cadwallender).

Billy Elliot was directed by Stephen Daldry with choreography, Peter Darling and musical supervision from Martin Koch . The producer was Sally Green.

So, everybody else loved it, and as much as I enjoy being the dissenting voice, I can’t on this occasion. Billy Elliot was out of this world.

 

Cheers.

 

Antony N Britt

 

 

 

Antony N Britt

This May, Aldridge Musical Comedy Society (AMCS) make a welcome return to the Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock for a magnificent celebration of fifty years as a society. The show is Fabulous at 50 and never has a title been so apt. Last year, AMCS put on two well-received productions of the highest standard in Thoroughly Modern Millie and Once Upon a Time. You can expect Fabulous at 50 to be no different.

Aldridge Musical Comedy Society (AMCS) Fabulous at 50 – Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock – 18 to 20 May 2017

Great voices, breathtaking dance and good humour, Fabulous at 50 features numbers from Les Misérables, Oklahoma, All Shook Up, Oliver, Rent and many more. Direction for Fabulous at 50 is in the safe hands of Julie Lamb with choreography by Sarah Hemming and musical direction – Mark Bayliss. Julie, who is also chairperson of the society, spoke about the show, “I’m so proud to be celebrating the 50th anniversary of AMCS and feel very honoured to be directing such a talented group of people on this special occasion.”

Making a return to the stage is society president, Paula Garratt, who appeared in AMCS’ first ever production – Calamity Jane. “When I started with AMCS 50 years ago,” Paula said, “I never thought I would be lucky enough to join this great company on stage in celebration of those 50 years. I am very proud of everyone associated with the society.”

AMCS currently has a core of 30 members and are always on the lookout for more of all ages. Rehearsing in Aldridge every Wednesday, the society, in addition to two shows a year, also perform for charity functions and care homes.

Aldridge Musical Comedy Society (AMCS) Fabulous at 50 – Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock – 18 to 20 May 2017 © Antony N Britt 2017

And the shows continue. With Smokey Joe’s Café (Nov 2017) and West Side Story (May 2018) already confirmed, the next fifty years is underway. But not until this current celebration is complete and from experience, AMCS guarantee the 50th anniversary show will be nothing less than Fabulous.

Fabulous at 50 is on 18 to 20 May 2017 (1930 start). Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock.

Tickets available from AMCS (01543 480626) or Box Office (01543 578762).

Adults £12. Concession £10 and Under 16s £8.

Aldridge Musical Comedy Society (AMCS) Fabulous at 50 – Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock – 18 to 20 May 2017

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

%d bloggers like this: