Arts news July & August 2016


Toyah returns

After Toyah’s sell-out performance last year, the pop icon, TV presenter and actress is returning to the Engine Shop at Enginuity in Coalbrookdale on Friday 7 October. ‘Toyah: Acoustic, Up Close & Personal’ is a wonderful chance to experience the 1980s pop superstar in an intimate setting where music and stories take centre stage.

This lively, entertaining and revealing show sees Toyah performing an unplugged set of her much-loved hits and classic songs. Guitarists Chris Wong and Colin Hinds will accompany Toyah on meticulous and melodic acoustic versions of ‘It’s A Mystery’, ‘Thunder in the Mountains’, ‘I Want To Be Free’ and ‘Good Morning Universe’. Toyah will also be recalling stories from her colourful, 35 year career. Tickets for this event are likely to sell out very quickly, so early purchase is recommended – visit or call 01952 433424 for details. Tickets are priced at £20.

Heath House’s twiddlers!

​Heath House Studios near Bridgnorth welcomed Alveley Old Chapel Crafters for Dementia Awareness Week in May. The happy knitters had fun designing ‘twiddle mitts’ from materials donated by the studio. These colourful mitts are designed for people with dementia to wear on their wrist, giving restless fingers something stimulating to fiddle with. Each crafter created their own colourful mitt, finished over coffee and cakes at Alveley Old Chapel Tearoom. If you’d like to make your own mitt for a family member or friend, call Heath House on 01299 861287 for a free pattern.


Cound church presents show

St Peter’s Church in Cound is celebrating its 800th anniversary this year and a programme of events throughout the year is marking its milestone. Next on the calendar is Music Through the Ages, an evening of music at the church performed by the Shrewsbury Light Orchestra and conducted by Peter Road-Night. The concert is on Saturday 9 July at 7.30pm and tickets are £10 (includes a glass of Pimms) – call 01743 761657 for details.

South Shropshire blues club

On Saturday 30 July, the South Shropshire Blues Club present Farmhouse Blues, a spectacular summer bash with music from the Steve Nimmo Trio amongst others, which takes place at Wheat Hill Court Farm, Bridgnorth WV16 6QT.

SSBC’s Maurice Arnold says, “We’re bringing together the best local blues artists who will take to the stage between 2pm and 10pm. There’ll be a fully stocked bar serving the finest ales and tipples, guaranteed to make even the shyest among you get up and dance! Add delicious food, camping facilities and the idyllic Shropshire countryside, with views extending up to Clee Hill, and we think we’ve got the recipe for a perfect day!”

Tickets cost £20 for the day, including parking and camping, and funds are being raised for Cancer Research UK. Visit for details and tickets.

Broseley hazel crafts

A local couple have started offering their handmade products through their Facebook page, Nut Branch Creations. David and Cindy Pountney launched the business to coincide with last year’s Broseley Festival – and their timing helped transform their new venture into a decided success.
Cindy says, “David, who is sight impaired, has always been good at woodworking. I asked could he figure out a way to make a large planter out of branches for our new period cottage. It was trial and error… mostly error… and the first attempt took over a week. We now make planters, hanging baskets and window boxes from hazel, which also has the reputation of being able ward off evil spirits!”

Mixing it up

Two of Bridgnorth’s best-loved groups come together for an ‘evening of song’ on Saturday 9 July at 7pm. The youngsters of Guitar Cubed join Bridgnorth Choral Society for a summer concert which will include a mixture of modern and traditional music, along with soloist performances. The Choral Society’s Nerys Arch says, “It’s going to be a night with music to suit everyone’s tastes!”

The show takes place at the Baptist Church in Bridgnorth, and tickets priced at £6 are available from That’s Nice on Listley Street, as well as Arch Motor Services, or call 01746 767868 for details.

Alveley band concert

Mary Stevens Park in Stourbridge will be the venue for a musical extravaganza by the Alveley Village Band on Sunday 3 July starting at 2.30pm and ending at around 5pm. The repertoire will range from military marches to opera, film themes and pop ballads. Audience participation is strongly encouraged! The band’s Jenny Jarvis says, “We’ve played here successfully for the past four years, and have drawn quite a crowd – there’s no charge for the event. We’re a friendly band and are always on the look-out for new members!” If you’d like to find out more, call 07914 397477 or visit

Rocking the boat?

The hugely anticipated West End production of ‘Guys and Dolls’ visits Wolverhampton’s Grand Theatre from 19 to 23 July. The show will be the final performance at the Grand before renovations take place over summer. In the role of witty, gritty gambler Sky Masterson will be Richard Fleeshman of Coronation Street and Call the Midwife, while Maxwell Caulfield of Dynasty plays Nathan Detriot. West End star Louise Dearman will play the role of Miss Adelaide. Ticket prices start from £26.50 – visit for details.

Go wild in Wolves

Stunning images showcasing astonishing sights from the natural world go on show at Wolverhampton Art Gallery, courtesy of London’s Natural History Museum. The gallery is hosting the prestigious 51st Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition featuring 100 awe-inspiring images capturing fascinating animal behaviour and breathtaking landscapes. It opens on Saturday July 23 and runs until September 18. It’s the first time the Lichfield Street gallery has hosted the exhibition and visitors will be able to view images displayed in an ultra-modern lightbox format.
Mark Blackstock, head of visitor economy, says, “We’re delighted to welcome this blockbuster show to Wolverhampton for the first time. I have no doubt it will attract many visitors and I’d urge people to make sure they book tickets so as not to miss out.”

Tickets are £4 for adults and £2 for children. Visit for details.

Desert music comes to Shrewsbury

Tinariwen are poet-guitarists from the southern Sahara desert whose music expresses the aspirations of their people, the Kel Tamashek or Touareg. The band formed in 1979 in Algeria, returning to their home in Mali after a ceasefire in the 1990s, and they’re visiting Theatre Severn on Tuesday 19 July.

Since 2001, Tinariwen have toured regularly around the world, appearing at Glastonbury, Coachella and WOMAD. Their 2004 and 2007 albums gained the notice of celebrity fans including Carlos Santana, Robert Plant, Bono and Thom Yorke. In 2005, Tinariwen received a BBC Award for World Music. Tickets are £24 – see for details.

In-tents theatre!

Gather under the branches of the ancient trees of Carding Mill Valley near Church Stretton for the biggest day in the woodland calendar, Drop Day. Arnold the acorn is about to drop from his tree and begin his amazing adventure in search of somewhere to put down his roots. Taking place in a special bell tent, ‘Arnold’s Big Adventure’ is a performance that features beautiful shadow puppetry, wonderful original music and plenty of thrilling surprises along the way. The, put on by Arts Alive, show takes place on 30 July at 11am, 1pm and 3pm, with tickets priced at £6-8. Call 01694 725000 or visit for details.

Omid visits Telford

He doesn’t arrive until January 2017, but tickets for Omid Djalili’s Telford show are already selling fast. Oakengates Theatre @ The Place hosts the award-winning actor and comedian on Wednesday 18 January, with tickets priced at £25.

Omid is best known for his legendary stand-up performances as well as appearances in TV’s Dickensian and the films Gladiator and The Mummy, and he is back on a nationwide tour with his latest material in ‘Schmuck For A Night’. Intelligent, sometimes provocative and always entertaining, Omid’s stand-up is a hugely energetic and captivating comedy masterclass.
Visit or call 01952 382382 for more information.

MBE winner’s charity raises funds

Renowned Australian poet Ross Donlon will be the headline reader at a poetry night on Friday 8 July at Much Wenlock’s Priory Hall to raise money for the Friends of Conakry Refugee School.. Ross’s poems have been widely published in Australia and Ireland, and appeared at last year’s Wenlock Poetry Festival. There will be an optional two-course supper before the poetry readings and African jewellery will be on sale. Tickets are £8 or £14 to include supper, which starts at 6pm with the poetry starting at 7.30pm. For tickets, call 01694 771686 or email

The charity’s founder, 73-year-old Ruth Walmsley of Little Wenlock, was made an MBE in this year’s honours list to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday. Rolf Levesley, chair of FCRS, says, “Ruth is a human dynamo with endless enthusiasm and energy – truly someone who lives life to the full. She has truly changed the lives of hundreds of young people in Guinea.”

Les Mis – the school version

After their sell-out performance of ‘Les Miserables’ in 2014, Get Your Wigle On’s teen musical theatre group returns to Theatre Severn with a new cast to perform this epic story of the struggle against adversity in 19th century France.

The heart-wrenching tale follows thief Jean Valjean on a journey towards ultimate redemption despite the relentless pursuit of the dogged Inspector Javert. The performance runs from 14 July until 17 July, with tickets priced at £16. Visit or call 01743 281281 for details.

Bottom’s up!

The Shakespeare play that’s perfect for sunny outdoor settings, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, is visiting two local venues this summer. This new show by dynamic theatre company Rain or Shine is packed with magical mayhem and comical confusion, and features colourful characters Bottom, Puck, Titania and Oberon.

The production revels in its Elizabethan origins with lashings of carnival atmosphere and plenty of laughs and slapstick. It’s appearing at Severn Valley Country Park on Friday 12 July – call 01746 781192 – and Much Wenlock Priory on August 26 – call 03306 600541. Visit for more details.

Digital camera talk

In May this year, Bridgnorth and District Camera Club completed its 64th successful year. Members enjoyed a variety of speakers and competitions, and the new season starts on September 22 with guest speaker Carl Wright LRPS, aimed at both those new to photography and the more advanced, with his talk ‘How to get the best from your digital camera’. The group meets at 7pm every Thursday at the Community Hall in Severn Street, Low Town.

General secretary Terry Hawkins explains, “Each year we enter competitions against other clubs both local and further afield, and we’ve been very successful with some excellent work entered from our members. We also organize trips; last year we went to Birmingham Jewellery Museum, Banks’ Brewery and the Stourbridge Glass Blowing Museum.”
Visit for details.

It’s Justin time!

Anyone with a child under seven will know the name Justin Fletcher, perhaps the biggest thing in children’s television since Bernard Cribbins and Floella Benjamin. Also known as Mr Tumble, Justin stars in the CBeebies smash hit shows Gigglebiz, Something Special and Higgledy House.

The Grand Theatre are thrilled to be hosting Justin’s self-penned show Justin Live! for one of only three UK dates this year. There will be two performances at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre on Sunday 25 September at 10.45am and 1.45pm and tickets are priced from £12.50. Tickets are now on sale – visit for details.

Local artists at Big Arts Show

Two local artists are getting ready for the Big Arts Show, the biggest art event of its kind in the West Midlands. Broseley painter Maggie Humphry and Much Wenlock painter and sculptor Jenny Tyler are preparing their wares for the show which takes place at the Greenhous West Mid Showground in Shrewsbury from 1 to 3 July. Maggie says, “I’ve never done the Big Arts Show before but I’m really looking forward to it. It sounds as though there’s going to be a real party atmosphere, so we’re going to make the most of it!”

The two-day event provides a showcase for a wide diversity of creations including paintings, sculpture, jewellery, glass, ceramics, furniture, photography and performance art. The family-friendly event will include over 150 exhibitors, workshops and talks given by the artists, a real ale bar, food, poetry and live music. Tickets are £7.50 – visit to purchase.

Buildwas seeks actors

The Buildwas Players’ 2016 panto ‘Jack and The Beanstalk’ was warmly received by local residents and families. The show raised £800 for local charities and some of the cast were able to present a cheque for £200 to Midlands Air Ambulance, one of their chosen charities this year.
Producer Nigel Bowen says, “Next year’s panto has a Star Wars/sci-fi theme and will be called ‘Space Wars – The Panto Fights Back!’ including the evil Garth Varder, robots, strange aliens, and great music. It promises to be an out-of-this-world panto!”

Rehearsals are on Tuesday nights in Buildwas Village Hall starting in September and new members are always welcome. Call 01952 432497 to find out more.

Picnics at the ready!

Broseley’s BroADS are presenting a play with a difference on July 7 and 8. Their indoor picnic at the town’s Birchmeadow Centre features sketches and a one-act play ‘In the Blinking of an Eye’, and the audience is encouraged to bring their own picnic to enjoy during the performance – with a prize awarded for the best-dressed table.

Doors open at 7.30pm, with tickets priced at £7, available from Downes’ greengrocer in Broseley High Street. Call 01952 882684 for details.

Broseley’s French Connection

Wild Willy Barrett’s French Connection will be dropping into Broseley’s Birchmeadow Centre on July 16 at 7.30pm. Barrett, a multi-instrumentalist best known for his work with John Otway, has developed a band with a unique sound. When asked what an audience can expect, Barrett says, “A truly original performance full of fun, dry humour and the unexpected, with full-on fiddle, banjo and Irish pipes interspersed with haunting vocals, cello and guitar. All overlaid with that ‘je ne sais quoi’ and a touch of Edith Piaf!”

Tickets are £10 from Downes’s or E Davies in Broseley High Street or you can visit or call 07890 057832 to find out more.

Key diary date

Key Theatre Academy has a show coming up in July which features intermediate students from both Much Wenlock and Shrewsbury faculties. ‘The Jungle Book’ takes place at The Edge Arts Centre in Much Wenlock on July 16-17 at 7.30pm, with tickets priced at £8-10

Directed by West End professionals Lucy and Chris Key, Key Theatre Academy offers invaluable training and mentoring for students with a passion for theatre and the arts. Lucy and Chris use their extensive experience to nurture confidence in students and to develop technique and ability in the core disciplines of voice, dance and acting. Tickets for ‘The Jungle Book’ are available at

Fiennes set to electrify

The Almeida Theatre makes its live screening debut at The Edge in Much Wenlock on Thursday 21 July with an explosive new adaptation of ‘Richard III’, directed by Rupert Goold with Ralph Fiennes as Shakespeare’s most notorious villain and Vanessa Redgrave as Queen Margaret. The tale unfolds as war-torn England is reeling after years of bitter conflict. King Edward is ailing, and as political unrest begins to stir once more, Edward’s brother Richard – vicious in war, despised in peacetime – awaits the opportunity to seize his brother’s crown. The play opens with some of Shakespeare’s most memorable lines and Fiennes is remarkable in this searing new production, which focuses on the mythology surrounding a king whose machinations are inextricably woven into the fabric of British history. The screening starts at 7pm and tickets are priced at £10-11 – visit for details.

Sands of time

A stunning new free photographic exhibition is appearing in the Footprint Gallery at Jackfield Tile Museum until 21 September. Empires of Emptiness – Fortresses of the Sahara and the Steppe, in the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site, considers how empires expand into deserts and explores these vast spaces of wind, sand and stars. The exhibition concentrates on two colonial conquests in arid environments – the Russian fortifications in the Central Asian Steppe and the vast network of French forts that were built in an attempt to control the Sahara desert, revealing the fascinating untold story of desert conquests.

The project’s principal investigator Berny Sèbe observes, “The combination of high-impact visual and historical material offers a unique insight into one of the least-known areas on Earth, the environment and complex civilisations of the Sahara desert the Central Asian steppe. The exhibition’s remit is to open up a whole new world to visitors.”

For more information about the project visit The exhibition is open every day between 10am and 5pm and admission is free of charge.

Fringe keeps growing…

Ludlow’s ever-expanding fringe festival continues until 3 July, with a performance of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ by The Lord Chamberlain’s Men taking place on Friday 1 July at 7.30pm. The story follows Don Pedro and his men as they return from a triumph in Messina. Governor Leonato toasts their success by throwing a masquerade ball, where well-intentioned plots and evil schemes abound as enemies deceive lovers and friends trick friends in this lively summer comedy.

Bring a chair and a picnic to the Millennium Green and spend a summer’s evening watching this funny, moving and fast-paced production of one of Shakespeare’s best-loved comedies. Performed in the open air by an all-male cast with Elizabethan costume, music and dance, this may be one of the hottest tickets of the summer. Tickets are £10-15 and are available online at


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