Tag Archive: Walsall


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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First time seeing Sutton Coldfield Theatre Company and a first watching All Shook Up.

All Shook Up is loosely based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and supported with music by various songwriters, made famous by Elvis Presley. A simple plot by Joe DiPietro is funny and well-written, but it’s the familiar tunes which get the audience going.

Launching full company with the massive Jailhouse Rock, we were treated to excellent voice and dance, full of energy. And then the hits kept coming: Heartbreak Hotel, One Night with You, Teddy Bear/Hound Dog, Blue Suede Shoes, Don’t Be Cruel, A Little Less Conversation, Fools Fall in Love and of course, All Shook Up. I normally only list half a dozen in my reviews but this show is an exception. And that’s before I reach my own personal favourite – Can’t Help Falling in Love which I like for my own reasons. Another good number was Let Yourself Go which included a great scene in the museum where the statues come to life. The show ends with Burning Love where the cast have their moment and are allowed, quite rightly, to go wild. And much deserved an ovation they got.

Leading the line with a strong voice was Adam Gregory, playing Chad, while opposite we had Lucy Surtees, also in great form in the role of Natalie/Ed. Supporting well in their principal roles were Tony Orbell (Dennis), Kerrie Davies (Sylvia), Ben Green (Jim), Chloe Child – who had one of the loveliest smiles I’ve ever seen (Lorraine), Ed Mears (Dean), Louise Grifferty (Matilda), Vanessa Morgan (Sandra) and Ben Adams (Earl).

All Shook Up was directed by Elisa Millward with musical direction from Sheila Pearson and choreography, Maggie Jackson.

This show is a period piece with a modern feel and the traditions of an old-time farce. Something for everybody, even if you’re not an Elvis fan. And then you have the wonderful job Sutton Coldfield Musical Theatre Company did in bringing it to an audience. I always say I enjoy watching an amateur company as much as professional productions, but there was nothing amateur about this. Right up with the best. All Shook Up is a show which must be real fun to perform, and this transfers well onto the audience.

Great theatre company, great show.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

My only other encounter with Lollipop Theatre Arts was earlier this year when I attended their presentation of Me and My Girl.  But what could I expect this time? The Addams Family was a single performance resulting from a summer school. I learned afterwards, the kids had begun from reading initial scripts, auditions, then rehearsals to a full show in just nine days. I mean, come on, they were brilliant last time, but can you really pull off a show in nine days?

The Addams Family - Great Wyrley High School Theatre - August 17 2018. (Photo used with kind permission from Lollipop Theatre Arts)

The opener, When You’re an Addams, was outstanding. One of the best-delivered first numbers I’ve ever seen. And it was then I knew I was in for a treat.

Stand outs for me were Wednesday’s Growing Up, Just Around the Corner, Crazier Than You, What If? Live Before We Die and the exceptional The Moon and Me. Top track on the night, though, was Pulled, sung by the excellent Abbey Laycock (Wednesday Addams).

Of course, that’s not to say there weren’t other top performances. In fact, I couldn’t see a weak-link. Youth can be misinterpreted as inexperienced at times, but there was nothing of the kind here. Any of these artistes would be welcome in mine or any other company treading the boards.

Of the other principles, Thomas Gould played Gomez with a stage presence to be proud of. Supporting as his other half, Morticia, was Katie Hayes, who I can also not praise enough. And then we had Tom Horton as Fester. This kid will go far if he wants to. A natural entertainer. Other excellent showings came from Sasha Donoghue (Pugsley), Millie Cooper (Grandma), Emily Smith (Mal), Amy Horton (Alice) and Alex Jeffreys (Lucas). A special mention must also go to Florie Miles (Lurch) who apart from creating a great character, had the difficult task of keeping a straight face throughout.

Supporting well were a troop of dancers and ensemble who looked as if they were having a great time (Loved the corpse bride outfit).

The Addams Family was directed by Lucy-Ellen Parker with choreography from Helen Stone and musical direction of a good orchestra by Matthew Davis.

Asking about the summer school (I still couldn’t quite get into my head – nine days), I was told the cast are there every day, then return home to cram-up. And it showed. This did not have the look of a holiday project, more a polished production which had been months in the making. Perhaps there is something to be said for this type of method. With the intenseness of the shorter period, there is less chance of forgetting what you have learnt than with a weekly schedule spanning months. You’d have expected rawness, and mistakes, but none were obvious to me. And for the rest of the audience, it was pure faultless entertainment.

So twice now I’ve seen Lollipop who really deserve a bigger audience. And I’m sad I was on my own this time as I want to share them with my friends. Spread the message, folks. This is a great company.

The Addams Family – Great Wyrley High School Theatre – August 17 2018

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

I’m a great fan of theatre, be it professional, amateur or youth. And to be honest, some of my best experiences come from the latter two. Therefore, it was pleasing I saw a mixture of both in Around the World in Amazing Musicals, presented by Comic Theatre Company.

Around the World in Amazing Musicals – Sunfield Community Theatre, Clent – July 6 2018

Interspersed between amusing sections of dialogue from Phillies Indiana Fogg (John Underwood) were song after song from a variety of musicals which indeed, covered all areas of the globe.

Kicking off with Hello and You and Me from Book of Mormon, we then journeyed to Chicago where I particularly enjoyed We Both Reached for the Gun. This was sung well by Justin Randle with a superb ventriloquist performance, if a little creepy (But we like creepy) from Natalie Buzzard. Afterward, Natalie showed her singing skills in Roxie with great support from Peter Holmes and Ian Underwood.

We then went on a sea trip with songs from Anything Goes, a show I’ve enjoyed in the past and it was great to see an exuberant cast giving it all for Bon Voyage. So much so, I then wanted to see the whole of Anything Goes. Of course, I didn’t, apart from further offerings of I Get a Kick Out of You (Denise Jefferson) and You’re the Top (Jan Brennan and Peter Holmes).

Further numbers on our trek came from Sweeny Todd, Oliver! and Mamma Mia. Who doesn’t like a bit of Abba.

Into Act Two and three from Matilda. This is a show I’ve not seen and is currently on at the Birmingham Hippodrome near me. After seeing Comic’s interpretations, I may just check the whole show out.

I’ve said in the past how much I adore youth theatre, seeing the genesis of careers and the potential. Well I did on this occasion as one of my two favourite numbers of the evening came with Holly Nelder’s rendition of Naughty. And it wasn’t just the powerful voice, also the performance which captured the attention. Owning the stage.

The other highlight of a great evening was Movie in My Mind from Miss Saigon. An incredible duet by Chloe Turner and Jess Billingham. Then, to round off the night we had a bit of fun with When You’re an Addams from The Addams Family.

Direction and Choreography was by Chloe Turner with musical direction from Edward Harrison.

An excellent evening supplied by an excellent company. And to top it off, we won a very nice picnic basket in the raffle. Okay, this now means I have to go on a picnic, but who’s complaining.

Around the World in Amazing Musicals – Sunfield Community Theatre, Clent – July 6 2018

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

“How did the Foo Fighters get this fucking big?” That was the question asked by Dave Grohl to 80,000 fans who packed the London Stadium. And do you know, I truly believe he’s as mystified as he made out.

Foo Fighters – London Stadium – June 22 2018 © Antony N Britt 2018

Well, I’ll tell you the answer. By having nine albums of the highest calibre in 24 years and transferring that standard onto the live arena, making the Foo Fighters currently the biggest rock band on the planet.

Quite a statement, and when I consider how many bands I’ve followed over the years, with many still going, it’s a massive accolade.

This was the fourth time I have seen the Foo Fighters and easily the best. Perhaps longevity is the reason. By continuing to produce music of such a high standard, the quality increases with each new release.

Launching the set with All My Life, the hits followed one after another: Learning to Fly, The Pretender and My Hero. However, we also had the new in The Sky is a Neighborhood, Dirty Water and Run. Then the classics again: Monkey Wrench, Best of You, Breakout, Times Like These and finally, the marvellous Everlong.

One thing I admire about the Foo Fighters is they’re more than just Dave Grohl. The magic is the fact that they are a band. And it’s nice to see not only Taylor Hawkins having the usual solo, but also Chris Shiflett with a cover of Alice Cooper’s Under My Wheels.

Okay, one niggle. Not fond of instrumental solos, especially drum which go on for ages. Maybe it’s just me but I’d rather have more songs.

So, we had the old, the new, and the downright bizarre. Only the Foo Fighters could do a mash up of John Lennon’s Imagine backing with the vocals of Van Halen’s Jump.

These days, the question isn’t what they played, more, what did they leave out.

As I have said, each gig I’ve been to from this band has been bigger than the last. And add to that, the ever-increasing pool of songs. How the hell will they top 80,000 at London Stadium? We await the answer with the next album and future tour.

I’m sure it will be magnificent.

Foo Fighters – London Stadium – June 22 2018

Cheers.

 

Antony N Britt

A month ago I saw Legally Blonde at The Crescent Theatre, performed by the brilliant Bournville Musical Theatre Company. As I enjoyed that so much, I thought I’d take the opportunity of seeing the touring production at the New Alexander Theatre.

Legally Blonde – The New Alexander Theatre, Birmingham – 23 May 2018

Unlike last month, the opening was low-key, and the show took time to build the energy, perhaps needing some of that Red Bull Elle drinks in the show. I guess some of the atmosphere came from the fact this was a matinee with the auditorium barely a third full, which was a pity as it was a great show.

Legally Blonde is fast climbing the list of my top shows and this performance did nothing to harm that. In the role of Elle we had Rebecca Stenhouse, standing in due to the illness of Lucie Jones. Well, I never watch X-Factor or Eurovision, so had no knowledge of Lucie, and could therefore appreciate the characterisation with an open mind. And what a good portrayal she gave. Suited the role perfectly, giving a faultless showing with strong voice and acting.

Playing Paulette, the top billing went to former EastEnders actress. Rita Simons, who captured the role well, making Ireland one of the best numbers. I did think Paulette’s outfits weren’t oddball enough, but this did not detract from Rita’s performance. Also from the world of soaps we had Bill Ward, last seen plunging from a bridge in Emmerdale. He made the perfect Callaghan.

I have said the atmosphere grew throughout and the culmination of this was an energetic finale, complete with pink ticker-tape, much of which I found on me hours later. Best number of the day for me was Legally Blonde itself. However, Gay or European did not live up to my previous experiences. A slight downside also was that dialogue seemed a little rushed on occasions. Still, a show full of memorable numbers: Bend and Snap, What You Want, Positive, So Much Better and Take it Like a Man were all highlights of an enjoyable afternoon.

Also appearing were David Barrett (Emmett), Liam Doyle (Warner), Laura Harrison (Vivienne), Helen Petrova (Whitney/Brooke Wyndham), Ben Harlow (Kyle), Mark Peachey (Winthrop/Dewey), Alexandra Wright (Margot), Rachel Grundy (Serena), Delycia Belgrave (Pilar), Nancy Hill (Enid Hoops), Rosie Needham (Kate/Chutney), Michael Hamway (Aaron Shultz), Felipe Bejarano (Sundeep/Nikos), Lucyelle Cliffe (Judge/Pforzheiner/Store Manager), Sally Frith (Gaelen), Brett Shields (Grand Master Chad), Craig Tyler (Carlos) and Laura Mullowney (Swing).

Legally Blonde was directed and choreographed by Anthony Williams with co-choreography from Dean Street. The musical director was James McCullagh.

The second production of Legally Blonde I have experienced within a few weeks, and I would see a third if the chance came. A great show that I’d highly recommend if it comes your way.

Legally Blonde – The New Alexander Theatre, Birmingham – 23 May 2018

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

The Jets are gonna have their day – tonight. The Sharks are gonna have their way – tonight.

But which gang will triumph? Well, you can find out when the wonderful Aldridge Musical Comedy Society (AMCS) return to The Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock with the legendary musical, West Side Story.

West Side Story – Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock – 16 to 19 May 2018 Aldridge Musical Comedy Society AMCS

Set in the Upper West Side of New York in the 1950s, the two warring gangs are thrown into turmoil when former Jet leader, Tony, falls in love with Maria, sister of Bernardo, leader of the Sharks. Inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Arthur Laurents book brings an urban touch to the story. With music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics from Stephen Sondheim, it’s no wonder West Side is as popular today as in 1957 when first on Broadway.

Instantly recognisable are the songs: Somewhere, Tonight, I Feel Pretty, America and Maria. Add to that spectacular dance routines and you have a show the audience will be talking about for a long time.

Now beyond their 50th year, AMCS are known for delivering quality and professional shows which go beyond the remit of amateur dramatics. At the directorial helm is Sarah Beckett, doubling up with her usual role of choreographer while as musical director, Mark Bayliss leads a 19-piece orchestra.

West Side Story – Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock – 16 to 19 May 2018 Aldridge Musical Comedy Society AMCS

The show is going to be massive. Tickets are selling fast but you can still get some by calling the ticket secretary on 07984 465400 or the box office (01543 578762). Alternatively, tickets can be purchased via StageStubs at this link.

West Side Story is on 16 to 19 May (1930 start). Prices are £15/Adult, £12/Concession and £10/under 16s.

Tonight, tonight, won’t be just any night …

Don’t miss out.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt.

Two years ago, I witnessed one of the best shows I’ve ever seen in The Witches of Eastwick. It came courtesy of Birmingham Ormiston Academy (BOA), therefore, browsing the What’s On pages, I had no hesitation in giving them a second run with Sister Act. Still, we had different Year 13s, and I wondered if it would it live up to expectations.Sister Act – The Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham – 24 March 2018 Birmingham Ormiston Academy. BOA

I have to say, I had never seen Sister Act and only knew one number (which isn’t in the show these days), so you can say I went in blind.

Sister Act tells the story of Dolores Van Cartier, on the run from her crime boss boyfriend. About to give evidence against him, Dolores is given sanctuary in a convent.

A blast of an opener in Take Me to Heaven had everything from great vocals to fabulous dance, all performed with skill and energy. Other numbers I enjoyed were Good to Be a Nun, I Could Be That Guy and Raise Your Voice before a powerful reprise of Take Me to Heaven. Act Two was equally blessed (sorry for the nun pun) with Sunday Morning Fever, Here Within These Walls, The Life I Never Led, Sister Act and a rousing finale in Spread the Love Around.

As for performances, I must pay a huge tribute to the wonderful Grace Mikhael in the lead role of Dolores. On the night, Grace gave everything I love in a character. Excellent throughout, fantastic voice and acting with attitude. Body language was superb, mannerisms perfect. She owned the stage.

Not alone, there was magnificent support from other principles, namely Beth Tyrrell (Mother Superior), Hana Copestake (Sister Mary Robert), Callum Maine (Monsignor O’Hara), Mariah Loizou (Sister Mary Lazarus), Tom Cowan (Curtis Jackson), Meg Aucott (Sister Mary Partick), Jack Christou (Eddie Souther), Frazer Howes (TJ), Nathan King (Joey), Harry Singh (Pablo) and Keith Barratt (Ernie).

Sister Act was produced and directed by Dan Branch with choreography from Lee Crowley and Musical direction, Daniel Summers.

Two years after my first experience of BOA, I was once again left breathless and am already looking out for future productions. This was better than many professional shows; my partner even commenting that it outshone a touring Sister Act some years back at the Birmingham Hippodrome.

There’s little more I can say but as a school/academy offering, I have no hesitation in giving Sister Act full marks.

Sister Act – The Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham – 24 March 2018 Birmingham Ormiston Academy. BOA

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

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

 

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

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