Arts news September & October 2016


Young star returns to area

A local girl who has been studying in London is returning to the Midlands – having beaten off competition for a place at a top drama school. Bridgnorth’s Katrina Themans, 16, has won a place at the prestigious Birmingham Ormiston Academy for Creative Arts.

Katrina won a scholarship to London’s Barbara Speake School, where she studied under West End performers, and she’s now looking forward to linking up with former groups including Key Theatre Academy, Bridgnorth Stage Academy, Bridgnorth Musical Theatre Company and Severn Valley School of Dance. Katrina says of her time down south, “I was so unsure about taking up my place and leaving home – but I’m so glad I did! I’ve learnt so much about the industry – as well as becoming much more independent.”


A title to tangle with

The new show by Bridgnorth Musical Theatre Company doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue – but it looks to offer an evening of laughs and fun. ‘The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomens’ Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of ‘Macbeth’’ is the title of BMTC’s next play, which is set to be performed at Castle Hall, Bridgnorth at 7.30pm on Friday 9 and Saturday 10 September.

It’s a comedy of outrageous proportions, telling the story of a group of amateur thespians who have deluded aspirations that their ‘Macbeth’ can hold its own in the illustrious Welwyn Garden City Finals.
Tickets are £10 from Mike and Sarah’s Family Butchers, Whitburn Street. See for details.


Grand’s new look rejig

The fully refurbished Grand Theatre will reopen with a spectacular Gala Night on Saturday 10 September, with the City Concert Orchestra conducted by Adrian Jackson and presented by Angela Rippon.
The programme for the new Encore Lounge has also been announced. The Encore Lounge will become the Grand’s second performance space – a versatile, intimate area that will host specially selected performances during the autumn season.

The season starts with a series of free music and comedy performances, including the Brian Humpherson Trio, who will perform modern swing classics before and after the main shows on Thursday 29 September and Saturday 26 November; comedians Andy White and Abigoliah Schamaun from 10pm on Friday 30 September; and Damian Clark and Larry Dean from 10pm on Friday 28 October.
See for more information.


Rebel’s glass on show

A major new exhibition telling the untold story of one of the great female artists of the early 20th century comes to Shrewsbury this autumn. The stained glasswork of Margaret Rope will be exhibited at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery from 12 September until 15 January. The rebellious artist, known for smoking cigars, riding a motorbike and wearing her hair short, made her own way in her career despite not having a rich patron or backer. Though found in churches on three continents and highly collectible in the US, Rope’s glasswork is largely ignored in the UK – even in her home town of Shrewsbury.

This multidimensional show will screen giant images of her finest stained-glass windows, and complementary activities will run alongside the exhibition – from lectures, walks and concerts to the publications of new books about her life and times. Shropshire Council’s Stuart West says, “Margaret Rope’s works can be seen all over the world. Despite her obvious genius, her name is hardly remembered at all; and we hope this exhibition – the first dedicated solely to her work and times – will give her reputation the boost it deserves. Visit for details.


Summer’s end films

Attingham Park sees a double bill of breathtaking Oscar-winning films this September, both being screened against the dramatic backdrop of Attingham’s majestic mansion.
The Great Gatsby will be shown on Friday 9 September at 8pm and Les Miserables on Saturday 10 September; doors open at 6.30pm. Pack your picnic hamper and bring your friends along for an unforgettable evening under the stars. Tickets are £12 – call 01332 290606 for details.


Art in the Gorge

Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2017. To mark this milestone, the Trust is inviting locals to submit artwork inspired by the museums, which have long had a connection to the world of art and craft. The free-to-enter Community Art Competition is open to both amateur and professional artists aged from 12 to adult living in Telford and Shropshire. Submissions can be created in any medium, but they must reflect an aspect of the museums.

For more information email or visit
Next year also marks 300 years since the death of Abraham Darby I, widely recognised as the man who started the Industrial Revolution. In addition, it’s 300 years since the completion of Dale House, one of the former Quaker ironmaster’s homes at Coalbrookdale. As part of the anniversary celebrations, the Museum of Iron will be closing in autumn for a £1m+ refurbishment, with plans to reopen for Easter 2017.


Camera club season starts

Bridgnorth snappers are preparing to start another season at Bridgnorth Camera Club, with meeting taking place at Low Town Community Centre. There’s a welcome for new members presented by chair Tony Moore on Thursday 29 September, while Thursday October 20 sees an evening with expert photographer John Holt. On October 13, the annual ‘battle with Stourport’ takes place – to find out more about this and other BCC events, see the website at


Wedding woes

After a sell-out tour in 2014, a collaboration between Kali Theatre/Black Country Touring and Arts Alive returns to Quatt Village Hall for a triumphant second outing. ‘My Big Fat Cowpat Wedding’ joins the friends and family at Clare and Arjun’s wedding reception – on such a special day, what could possibly go wrong?
Based on real-life experiences of mixed marriages or rural weddings attended by city dwellers out of their comfort zone, it’s a fast-moving comedy drama full of mishaps and misunderstandings, with plenty of twists and a disco/ Bhangra dance with which everyone can join in at the end. The performance is on Friday 30 September at 7.30pm, and tickets are £10/£6; call 01746 781759 / 781214.


Magical musicals

‘Beyond the Barricade’ has delighted audiences throughout the UK and Europe for more than a decade with its exciting concert portrayal of the greatest songs in musical theatre – and it’s coming to Oakengates Theatre @ The Place this October. Recreating original West End and Broadway musical hit songs with amazing authenticity, this cast of past principle performers from ‘Les Miserables’ present a blockbusting two-hour show including rousing numbers from ‘Phantom of the Opera’, ‘Jesus Chris Superstar’, ‘The Lion King’, ‘Blood Brothers’ and more.

Beyond the Barricade comes to Oakengates Theatre @ The Place on Saturday 22 October. Tickets cost £23/22 each – book online at or call 01952 382382. A pre-show meal is also available at the theatre prior to the show. Enjoy two lovely courses at 6pm for just £9.75 per person.


Local choir on song for charity

A Bridgnorth ladies’ choir raised over £500 in July at a concert at Morville Village Hall. Concordia put on the show in aid of the A-T Society, a charity that helps at least one Bridgnorth family; the town’s branch of Marks & Spencer has also adopted the A-T Society as their ‘charity of the year’.

Concordia have specific reasons for choosing the Society as their fundraising charity; a member of the choir, Joy Ferguson, has two children with the condition, Rachael and James, so the charity is very important to the group. Concordia rehearse weekly at the Low Town Community Hall on a Friday evening and are always willing to consider performing for fundraising events – call 07733 316992 for details.


Knightley returns to Broseley

The affable Steve Knightley, perhaps best known as a songwriter and singer with the massively successful folk /roots duo Show of Hands, will be returning to Broseley’s Birchmeadow in September, presented by Broseley Youth Theatre. Steve’s current tour ‘All at Sea’ sees all his gigs taking place near on or by water – that’s the Severn in the case of Broseley – so expect plenty of maritime and water-themed songs.
Tickets cost £16 from Downes’ greengrocers in Broseley or call 01952 882684 – book early to avoid disappointment.


Where there’s a Will…

A new production by Nicholas Collett marks the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare. ‘Your Bard’ asks – was he the greatest playwright the world has ever seen? Or just a front man? A player – a poet – or a fraud? Now’s your chance to meet Will in person. In the pub. You can find out about his childhood, his adventures at the Globe and what it’s like on tour. And whether he wrote all those plays…
The show appears at Harley Village Hall, SY5 6LP (near Much Wenlock) at 7.30pm on Saturday 24 September. Tickets are £10 – call 01952 510422 or visit for details.


Children’s concert delights

Music teachers Stella Disney (brass), Bev Wightman (singing), Sally Barras (woodwind and piano) finished off their term in July with the usual exams – followed by a more upbeat Joint Pupil Concert at Morville Village Hall.

“For the last three years, we’ve got together to share a concert showcasing students of all abilities – we have to limit the number otherwise the concert would be too long!” says Sally. This time, pupils from age 8 upwards joined in singing and playing trumpet/cornet, French horn, trombone, flute, recorder, saxophone and piano. Louis Meehan, 12, blew everyone away when he improvised to Charlie Parker on alto sax and then swapped to tenor to join the sax quartet to finish the concert. Bev adds, “Three of my students have won music scholarships – special congratulations to Hope Brown, Grace Downing and Annabel Rockett.”


Branagh entertains…

Another of Kenneth Branagh Theatre’s stunning productions visits Much Wenlock’s The Edge on Thursday 27 October. Set against the backdrop of post-war Britain, ‘The Entertainer’ by John Osborneʼs conjures the seedy glamour of the old music halls for an explosive examination of public masks and private torment. Rob Ashford directs Kenneth Branagh as determined theatrical performer Archie Rice, once famously played by Laurence Olivier, with John Hurt as Billy Rice. The performance starts at 7pm and tickets are £10-11 – visit for details.


Hive is buzzing

The Hive, a registered charity and creative centre in Shrewsbury, is celebrating its success in securing £92,185 from Arts Council England after applying for their new Catalyst Evolve funding programme. Catalyst Evolve is a new initiative that aims to support arts and creative organisations with a limited track record in fundraising to attract more private giving.

The Hive’s CEO Sally Virman says, “We’re over the moon after hearing the news. This fund will give us a great opportunity to develop our charity so that we can do more great work with children and young people to improve their life chances, as well as ensure that people in Shropshire and beyond can access great art and culture in the future.”

The Hive plays host to a four-day workshop entitled ‘In the Shadows Dark and Grimm’ by Shropshire Youth Theatre culminating on Friday 2 September – see for details.


Rock bands united!

The sounds of Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple are set to reverberate around Oakengates Theatre @ The Place on Friday 9 September as Purple Zeppelin belt out the biggest and best hits of these two legendary rock bands. Purple Zeppelin take the crowd back to the magic, excitement and sheer raw energy generated by these unique bands, both of whom helped define rock music.

The band, made up of four seasoned and versatile rockers, will perform more than 30 classic tracks – with costume changes to match each band. The show starts at 7.30pm and tickets are £18.50 – visit or call 01952 382382.


Local focus for writer

A Shropshire writer from the Wrekin Writers group has found success with books about Ludlow, Newport and Kidderminster. Julie Phillips, a freelance writer based in Telford, says, “I started out writing the books two years ago when two of my writing group friends had secured contracts with Pen and Sword Books to write about local towns for the Your Towns and Cities in the Great War series.”

I chose Ludlow because I’d lived there for a year when I worked as a nanny back in the late 80s. I chose Newport I’d travelled through it many times but never actually been there and I thought a good way of getting to know the area was to research its past. I chose Kidderminster because it had a different angle to it – rather than agriculturally based, this book would focus much more on industry, particularly the carpet industry. During WW1, many of the carpet factories diversified to make blankets for the soldiers and ammunition too.”


Dive in – and stay dry!

Shrewsbury audiences will be able to immerse themselves in the wonders of the ocean without getting their feet wet, as the Ocean Film Festival World Tour returns to town this autumn after last year’s highly acclaimed tour. Originating in Australia, the programme will feature a brand new selection of the world’s most enthralling ocean-themed short films, showing in 30 towns and cities across the UK. Highlights this year include Kayaking the Aleutians, a portrayal of an unforgiving expedition by sea kayak through the Aleutian chain of islands in Alaska; and The Accord, which follows Heiðar Logi Elíasson, Iceland’s only professional surfer, on his journey through Iceland’s magnificent terrain. The tour visit Theatre Severn on Tuesday 18 October – visit for details.


A ‘Dolly’ good show

Following their hugely successful production of ‘White Christmas’, South Staffs Musical Theatre Company return to Wolverhampton Grand Theatre to present their new production of ‘9 to 5 – The Musical’ from Tuesday 11 to Saturday 15 October. Outrageous, thought-provoking and with a dash of romance, the show is based on the hit 1980 movie that centres on three office workers who turn the tables on their sexist boss – and it includes belting songs by Dolly Parton.

Boss Franklin Hart is played by Simon McGee who meets his match with Doralee, played by Lexie Bennett, Judy, played by Abbie Rai and Violet, played by Maria Shee, who is also the choreographer for the production. You can buy tickets by calling 01902 42 92 12 or online at


Dancing success for Galaxy

Bridgnorth’s Galaxy Dance have had a wonderful summer. The dance group, which meets on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the Castle Hall, held a spectacular annual show case performance at Oakengates Theatre in June, featuring dancers aged from ages two to adult. Later in the month, seven of the troupe’s dancers travelled to Leicester to compete against other dance schools from across the country at the Dance Caper Festival. The group came second in the ‘theme’ category with their dance to ‘Move’ by Little Mix and won the prize for overall best costume – not bad for their first ever competition…
To find out more about Galaxy Dance, call 07525 757635.


Ready for Roxy?

Fans of Bryan Ferry and his entourage will love a band who are coming to Bridgnorth’s Theatre on the Steps for two nights in October. Roxy Magic showcase the songs of Ferry and Roxy Music in the UK’s longest running tribute to the art-house pop band. The group reproduces the diverse music and imagery of Roxy Music, with hits such as ‘Love is the Drug’ and ‘Dance Away’ as well as more recent solo material by Bryan Ferry – played in Roxy Magic by Kevin Hackett. Tickets are £12 in advance or £14 on the door; Friday 7 and Saturday 9 October. Visit for details.


Lives in the landscape

An exhibition at Much Wenlock’s Twenty Twenty Gallery until 21 September explores the space in which we have always lived and which provides us with materials which sustain us: the landscape. Landscape: Green Lanes and Old Ways reflects the diverse responses of contemporary artists to the landscape; its physical presence and mythologies; its colour and substance. Using a range of media encompassing sculpture, ceramics, paint and print, artists and artisans including Peter Tarrant, Tamsin Abbott and Elspeth Soper surprise and inspire with their unique and fresh interpretations of the world about us.
Visit for details.


Wellington ‘does’ October

Wellington will serve up a feast of cultural events over the month of October, with a huge range of shows, groups and workshops helping make up the Wellington Festival. The extravaganza will be launched on Friday 7 October by Eddie ‘the Eagle’ Edwards, who will be talking about his escapades as he became the first competitor to represent Great Britain in Olympic ski jumping in 1988. Other events include a performance on 10 October by the Nailmaker’s Daughters, three poets from the Black Country, a children’s writing group on 15 October, and a Poems and Pints session at the Cock Hotel on 18 October.
Head to the festival website at to find out more.


Children up in lights?

Children in Bridgnorth and the surrounding area are again being invited to design a special festive light for the town’s big switch-on, which this year takes place on Friday 18 November. Children aged between five and 12 can design their own artwork and the winning entry will be made into a rope light and displayed in Bridgnorth over the festive season. Last year’s winner, Evie Wilson, was one of the guests at the 2015 ceremony. To find out more, call 01746 762231 or email


Prints charming

Mono printing is often the first technique tried by those new to printmaking; it’s exciting, spontaneous and offers artists a printmaking mark with a painterly feel. A workshop with Sue Brown in Much Wenlock on Saturday 24 September will explore this method and its striking results. Suitable for artists at all levels of experience and an exciting place to start printmaking, the workshop costs £85 (including lunch) and runs from 10am until 4pm. Visit for more information.


Secrets of the Severn

Over 20 local artists will be displaying their artwork during the Secret Severn art trail weekend from Friday 9 to Sunday 11 September. The events is spread over a number of venues in the Gorge, including Maws Craft Centre and the Greenwood centre, and features artists working in print, paint and glass, as well as jewellery and ceramics. Artists taking part include Jenny Tyler, Elspeth Soper and Amanda Hillier.
Visit the Facebook page or go to to find out more.


Change of date for Festival

The Shrewsbury Fields Forever festival will now take place on the weekend of September 17. The change was due to ‘unforeseen circumstances’ and there will be some line-up changes. For full details, visit


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