Arts news November & December 2015

Dame Judi in winter

When the option to stream a production by Kenneth Branagh’s new project arose, The Edge’s manager Paul Brothwood jumped at the chance. The team at Much Wenlock-based arts centre had already collated their winter programme, but, as Paul put it, “This opportunity was too good to miss! The first season of the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company promises a year of unmissable theatre; we have ‘The Winter’s Tale’ planned for November, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in July and ‘The Entertainer’ next November.”

‘The Winter’s Tale’ stars Dame Judi Dench (pictured) and also features Branagh himself in Shakespeare’s darkly comic tale of obsession, sexual jealousy and redemption. For one night only, on Thursday 26 November at 7pm, with tickets £11. To find out more, go to edgeartscentre.com or call 01952 728911.

Panto all for good cause

The Buildwas Players are busy rehearsing for their next pantomime, ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’, which is coming to Buildwas Village Hall from 4 to 6 February at, with tickets on sale from December – “they sell out quickly!” warns producer Nigel Bowen. The cast and crew are all local to the Buildwas area, and the Players aim to raise money for the upkeep of the village hall itself. The show will feature singalongs, zany jokes, a magical talking harp and the evil Goblin King, and tickets cost £6 for adults and £3 for children. Call 01952 432497 for details.

Crowdfunding for Kindness…

Local singer Beth Prior is utilising the modern means of crowdfunding to raise money to make her new album Little Acts of Kindness. Beth, who was born in Hereford but now lives in Shrewsbury, cites Nick Drake and John Martyn as influences, and performed her first show in as a youngster in Kington with primary school pal Ellie Goulding. She dabbled in samba and electro before finding her niche in her own style of heartfelt rhythm-driven guitar music. Beth’s Nomad EP was independently released in January 2014 and the title track appeared in the grand final of the UK Songwriting Contest 2013. Beth is performing at 8pm on November 1 at Shrewsbury’s Henry Tudor House, in a show that promises plenty of ‘goodies and giveaways’; tickets are priced at £9.50. Visit henrytudorhouse.com or call 01743 361666 for details of the gig, and bethprior.com to learn more about Beth’s crowdfunding project.

…and more Acts of Kindness

Australian-born artist Giselle Louise Ryan will be exhibiting works inspired by Beth’s album at a show in Shrewsbury. The show, named Little Acts of Kindness – Love Litter, will appear at The Hive in Belmont in Shrewsbury town centre from Thursday 19 November until January. A special opening night, from 6.30pm to 9.30pm “has some surprises in store”, says Giselle. Visit www.gisellelouiseryan.com or hiveonline.org.uk for details.

Birchmeadow’s tribute to local DJ

Broseley’s Birchmeadow is paying tribute to a local soul DJ by putting on a special soul and Motown disco on Saturday November 7 at 7.30pm. The event, which will feature a raffle in aid of the British Heart Foundation, is in memory of Dawley Bank soul DJ Rob Corbett, who passed away suddenly earlier this year. Tickets are £5 from Broseley’s Downes greengrocer or E Davis hardware, both on Broseley High Street. Visit birchmeadow.org.uk or call 07890 057832 for more information.

…and to youthful talent

On Friday December 4, the Birchmeadow will welcome five young singers and guitarists to the stage – with tickets priced at just £5. The Five for a Fiver evening features Jackfield acoustic guitarist Sam Cooper, Tris Walrond from Bridgnorth, fellow Bridgnorth residents Guitar Cubed – whose Louis Briggs and Tom Barras are pictured – and two Broseley natives: Rhi Moore and Jack Tench. The event is designed to showcase the talent in our local area, and tickets are £5 on the door or online at birchmeadow.org.uk. The show starts at 7.30pm.

Bookfest Remembers… with Kate Adie

Veteran news broadcaster Kate Adie is set to visit Shrewsbury on Thursday 19 November to give a talk about the role of women during the Second World War. Shrewsbury Children’s Bookfest presents ‘Fighting on the Home Front’, which explores the lasting changes that took place in the lives of British women as men were conscripted into the war effort – suddenly, women were needed to do jobs that had once been the sole preserve of men, and as a result, things would never be the same again.

The talk is just one of a number of events taking place as part of Bookfest Remembers, which also includes a concert by a consortium of children’s choirs, plus the Band and Bugles of the Shropshire Army Cadet Force and Shawbury Military Wives Choir, on Saturday 21 November; and a storytelling event on Sunday 22 November featuring Megan Rix, author of The Runaways, which tells the tale of circus animals caught up in the turmoil of war. For details of other events and ticket prices, visit shrewsburybookfest.co.uk.

Industry-inspired art

In this part of the country, we need no reminder about the impact of the Industrial Revolution – and industry and the changes it wreaks upon the landscape continue to inspire the artists of today as much as it did those working two centuries ago. The legacy of these changes is the subject of a new, free exhibition entitled Landscape with Machines, appearing at the Coalbrookdale Gallery from 9 October to 18 December. The show, held with the support of Arts Council England, is particularly poignant because of its location at the very epicentre of the Industrial Revolution, and it brings together the work of a wide range of contemporary artists. Renowned sculptor Tony Cragg (pictured) will exhibit his striking stacks of circular machine parts, which suggest a view of mountain peaks, spires or chimneys, while other highlights include a copper and bronze sculpture by Alison Wilding, Her Furnace, in which the Lancashire-born artist connects the intimacy of the body with the solid physicality of the industrial world. Works by Richard Long, Michael Landy, Jeremy Deller, Clare Mitten, Stuart Whipps and others will also be available to view. Visit ironbridge.org.uk and click on the ‘plan your visit’ and ‘events’ links to find out more.

Singing in the season

The annual Severn Singers Christmas Concert in aid of Save the Children, entitled ‘The Call of Christmas’, is set to take place on Saturday 19 December at 7.30pm at Bridgnorth Endowed School Old Hall. Tickets, including light refreshments, are priced at £7.50 and are available from That’s Nice, 4 Listley Street, Bridgnorth , or call 01746 768372 or 01746 761940.

Snapping Shropshire’s autumn hues

Local photographers are invited to enter a competition to win a Lumix DMC-TZ70 camera in an autumn photography competition run by the National Trust (NT). Images entered should illustrate the theme of an ‘autumn glow’, but whether it’s a fiery sunset, golden trees, russet landscapes, colourful flowers, gleaming copper pans, or simply faces beaming with delight is entirely up to the individual. Photographs must be taken at one of the region’s NT locations, whether it’s Carding Mill Valley, Dudmaston, Sunnycroft, Attingham Park, Wightwick Manor, Moseley Old Hall or one of the charity’s other properties, and you can post your pic to facebook.com/NTMidlands or Tweet or Instagram it using #NTMidsglow, or email it to midlandsautumnglow@nationaltrust.org.uk. Entries are limited to one per person and the closing date is 9 November 2015. Full terms and conditions can be found at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/midsautumnglow.

Sinfonia’s take on ‘garage music’

In a departure from tradition, Bridgnorth Sinfonia will be performing in a very unusual location on November 8 at 7pm: David Dexter’s auto workshop in Bridgnorth’s Stanley Lane. The free performance is open to all, with no tickets required, and there will also be light refreshments. The music will consist of short excerpts from the group’s repertoire for the year, plus some ‘relevant surprises’!

Festival to delight indie fans

The Kill Your Television Festival is all set to bring back some of the biggest indie bands of the 80s and 90s to their spiritual home at Wolverhampton’s Civic Hall. The super-gig features Ned’s Atomic Dustbin (or ‘Neds’ to their fans) as headliners, along with the Primitives, who topped the singles charts with ‘Crash’, John Peel favourites the Wedding Present, and Eat, who had joined Neds on a memorable 1989 tour supporting fellow Midlanders the Wonderstuff. Tickets are priced at £27.50 and are available from Midland Box Office on 0870 320 7000 or online at wolvescivic.co.uk. The concert will be followed by a Christmas party thrown by Blast Off, the legendary indie club night, at both Civic and Wulfrun Halls before the two venues close for refurbishment – tickets for each event must be bought separately.

Royal Ballet’s enchanting Nutcracker

For many, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a visit to the theatre to enjoy a performance of Tchaikovsky’s ‘The Nutcracker’, which tells the story of Clare and her magical journey to the Land of Snow and the Kingdom of Sweets. The Edge Arts Centre is streaming the captivating ballet live on Wednesday 16 December at 7.15pm, and this lavish production features a magically growing Christmas tree and a rousing battle between the villainous Mouse King and an army of toy soldiers, and revisits some of the original choreography from the Ivanov version of the ballet, including the beautiful pas de deux for the Sugar Plum Fairy. Tickets are priced at £10 and £11. Go online to edgeartscentre.com or call 01952 728911 for more details.

Panto is truly local affair

Theatre Severn’s 2015 pantomime is ‘Dick Whittington’, and this extravagant, fun-packed version is written by Telford-born Paul Hendy and produced by Evolution, the same team behind last year’s spectacular ‘Peter Pan’. What’s more, Brad Fitt, recognised as one of the funniest Dames in the country, returns to direct and star in the show as Dame Dolly the Cook.

“Theatre Severn and the people of Shropshire hold a special place in my heart,” says Brad. “It means a lot to walk out onto that stage, give a shout of ‘Hello Shrewsbury!’ and know I’m among friends.”

Brad will team up again with BBC Radio Shropshire’s Eric Smith, who will be performing in his 14th Shrewsbury pantomime. Josh James returns to the venue as the hero Dick Whittington, while Darren Tough provides a villainous foil as the dastardly King Rat. The show runs from Wednesday 2 December to Sunday 10 January and tickets are priced from £11.50 to £23. Call the box office on 01743 281281 or visit theatresevern.co.uk.

Little performers shine

Members of Bridgnorth Stage Academy and Jukebox Theatre Company are joining forces to showcase a range of numbers at a one-off concert, appropriately named ‘Christmas Bits and Bobs’. The show will feature songs from ‘Shrek The Musical’ and ‘Bugsy Malone’ as well as a few Beatles songs and a cheerful sprinkling of festive tunes and some dancing. The concert will take place at Castle Hall in West Castle Street, Bridgnorth on Sunday 6 December and tickets, £5 to £8, can be obtained from BSA rehearsals or by email at bridgnorthstageacademy@yahoo.co.uk, or you can buy them on the door. The performance will start at 2.30pm.

Impossible Things at Quatt

In ‘Six Impossible Things’, two performers of great skill and charm present a highly varied and compelling show featuring a revolving stage, conjuring, acrobatics, live music, sound effects, animatronics, sophisticated lighting – and a most memorable and spectacular finale. The show is visiting Quatt Village Hall on Sunday 22 November, and tells the story of the Three Grimshaws, a variety act at the top of their game, just after a disastrous show in Grimsby. Whatever happened to Maureen Grimshaw and whichever version you choose to believe, the act was never the same again… The show, which is suitable for ages eight and up, starts at 7.30pm and tickets cost £8 or £6. Visit artsalive.co.uk or 01746 781759 for details.

Chuckles and Nasty Nick at Grand

This year’s extravaganza at Wolverhampton’s Grand Theatre brings together a pair of comedy heroes and one of television’s most despised villains in the pantomime ‘Peter Pan’. The Chuckle Brothers, otherwise known as Paul and Barry Elliot, play Starkey and Smee, while John Altman, or Nasty Nick Cotton from BBC TV’s Eastenders, plays Pan’s arch-enemy, the cruel Captain Hook. This is the first time in 22 years the Chuckle Brothers have appeared at the Grand in panto. By contrast, Pan himself is played by youngster Ross Carpenter, aged only 22 and a recent graduate from stage school. Four youngsters from the region also take starring roles as Wendy’s brothers: Archie Turner, 8, from Rowley Regis, will play Michael alongside James Shaw, 11, from Bishopswood, as John. On alternate dates, George Passalacqua, 8, from Bromsgrove, will play Michael alongside Liam Hewitt, 10, from Kingswinford, as John. The show will feature an abundance of comedy, fabulous costumes and spectacular special effects. ‘Peter Pan’ opens on Saturday 12 December 2015 and runs until Sunday 24 January 2016. To book tickets, call 01902 429212 or go to grandtheatre.co.uk.
There will be a relaxed performance of the pantomime for those on the autistic spectrum and/or with additional needs, at 11am on Thursday 21 January 2016. At this performance, sound and lighting levels are adjusted to make the environment less stressful. To book for this special show, email janine@grandtheatre.co.uk or call 01902 573320.

Sixties stalwarts visit Steps

In a treat for fans of music from the 60s and 70s, Bridgnorth’s Theatre on the Steps is bringing together two original acts for a very special double bill. Edison Lighthouse (pictured) are best known for their international hit ‘Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Grows)’, and they are joined by Vanity Fair, whose ‘Early in the Morning’ and ‘Hitchin’ a Ride’ were huge hits in the USA as well as in the UK. You can catch both bands on Saturday 21 November, with the show starting at 8pm. Tickets are £20 and you can call 01746 764949 or visit theatreonthesteps.co.uk for more information.

Soap stars join cast at Oakengates

Jeremy Edwards from Holby City, Hollyoaks and CBBC’s Millie Inbetween stars in this year’s fun-packed pantomime at The Place in Oakengates. ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarves’ also features Emmerdale’s Nicole Faraday as the evil Queen Grizelda, while sweet-natured Snow White is played by Amy Reader. The story contains all the key features of a classic tale – a battle between good and evil with a healthy dose of thwarted love thrown in for good measure. It’s not all doom and gloom, though – this production promises jokes, slapstick, dancing and songs to get the audience in a festive mood. The show runs from 8 December to 3 January and ticket prices start from just £9.50; you can book online at theplacetelford.com or by calling 01952 382382.

Seasonal creativity at Wenlock gallery

At Twenty Twenty Gallery in Much Wenlock, Sue Campion’s delicate pastels are being exhibited until 21 November, along with ceramics by Akiko Hirai and wire birds by Celia Smith. As the cold begins to bite, the gallery will be indulging in a celebration of Winter Curiosities, which brings together artists and craftspeople working in a variety of media, along with a ‘show in a show’, Medals of the Moment, a selection of work by contemporary British medallists.

Absurdist fable comes to All Stretton

In a show from contemporary company Clod Ensemble in association with Fuel Theatre, viewers are taken on a surreal journey to visit a man who can’t stop eating, a woman doomed to cook his meals, and their ‘inveesible’ daughter. ‘The Red Chair’ is somewhere between a Grimm’s fairytale and a parents’ guide on how not to bring up children, told in a rich Scots dialect with a dram of whisky to ease the way (nb: whisky not included in ticket price). Go and enjoy the ride at All Stretton Village Hall at 7.30pm on Friday 20 November. Tickets are £5 or £8, with a family ticket priced at £28 – the play is suitable for children aged 14 and over. Visit artsalive.co.uk or call 01694 723378 for more details.

Tea with tunes

Enjoy an afternoon of pieces by ‘Haydn and Friends’ performed by Ian Clarke on the Father Willis Organ on Sunday 1 November. The show will take place at St Mary Magdalene Church, Bridgnorth, and tickets are £10 per person, to include tea and cakes. The event is sponsored by the Hayden Festival Trust. Tickets will be available on the door, or email lindy@englishhaydn.com.

Fugitives find haven in Chetton

A Canadian band who have played Glastonbury and supported Buffy Sainte-Marie are due to play at Chetton Village Hall on Sunday November 15 at 7.30pm. The Fugitives are a funny and uplifting group who play beautifully crafted songs featuring complex vocal harmonies, and, according to Sian from Arts Alive, provide “a nice line in banter”. Their new album, ‘Everything Will Happen’ has been nominated for the 2014 Roots Album of the Year (Western Canadian Music Awards) and Vocal Group of the year (Canadian Folk Music Awards). Tickets are £10 and include refreshments. Call 01746 768822 or 789257 or go online to artsalive.co.uk for more information.

Fundraiser featuring local talent

On Saturday 28 November, ‘An Evening for Zoe’ comes to The Edge Arts Centre in Much Wenlock, bringing together the Key Change Choir and a variety of other local performers in a charity fundraiser. The event, which is raising money for Meningitis Now, will start at 8pm and tickets are £12 for adults and £9 for under 18s. Visit edgeartscentre.co.uk for more details.

Alveley Band perform at church

Alveley Village Band will be performing as part of a series arranged by Andrew Crabtree in the atmospheric St Mary’s Church in Alveley. The band will play a yuletide mix of traditional songs, film themes, marches and some contemporary pieces by local composer Nick Jones, and the audience will be able to sing along with some carols. Tickets on the door are £7.50 for adults and £5 for children – this includes a drink and mince pie. Call 07825 046928 or 07914 397477 for details – or if you’d like to join, as the band is on the lookout for new members, especially a drummer…

Roving players present Encounters

Bridgnorth Players are gearing up for their next production, ’Encounters’, an evening of one-act plays with musical interludes by the JRV Trio. The three one-act plays exploring our perceptions about meetings with others, ‘The Kindness of Strangers’, ‘Peas’ and ‘Carrots’ are being performed on Friday 6 November at Alveley Village Hall and Saturday 7 November at the Community Hall in Low Town, Bridgnorth. All performances start at 7.30 pm and tickets cost £8 (£6.50 for students, unwaged or the over 60s). Tickets are available from director Dorothy Leiper on 01746 764514 or email bridgnorthplayers@yahoo.co.uk.

An alternative fairytale

A panto penned by a student of Pauline Quirk Academy in Bridgnorth is appearing at The Edge Arts Centre. ‘Fairy Jail’ features a host of fairytale characters in a world where all magic has disappeared, and will visit the venue on Saturday December 5. For more details, call 07838 115152 or email bridgnorth@pqacademy.com.

Ballet picks set to thrill

Enjoy four short ballets in one evening with a quadruple programme from the Royal Ballet. Carlos Acosta focuses on the dramatic essentials of love, jealousy and revenge in his new production of Carmen, and the programme also features Viscera, Afternoon of a Faun and Pas de Deux, which uses a fragment of music from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lane in tandem with an eight-minute display of ballet bravura and technique. The quartet of pieces will be streamed live on Thursday 12 November at 7.15pm, with tickets priced at £10 and £11. Visit edgeartscentre.co.uk for more details.

NT Live at Edge

A much-loved tale of a woman who defied the conventions of the time, ‘Jane Eyre’ returns in a fresh retelling by director Sally Cookson. This bold production uncovers one woman’s fight for freedom and fulfilment, and is relayed live on screen at Much Wenlock’s Edge on Tuesday 8 December. The show starts at 7pm and tickets are £11 and £10. Go to edgeartscentre.com or call 01952 728911 for more details.

Weaving their magic…

Brining together comedy, audience participation and a huge range of popular folk tunes, the Houghton Weavers are a band who have been performing for 40 years, and they’re celebrating four decades together with a landmark tour of the country. The musicians – who have also starred on BBC TV and radio – are visiting Much Wenlock’s The Edge Arts Centre for a family-friendly show on Friday 13 November at 8pm, with tickets priced at £12.50. Visit edgeartscentre.com or call 01952 728911 for more details.

 

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