Arts news November & December 2016


A timeless mystery

An identity in crisis; a country in revolution. Appearing at The Edge Arts Centre in Much Wenlock on Wednesday 2 November is ‘Anastasia’, a psychologically-charged ballet about one of the great historical mysteries of the 20th century… and one that’s only recently been solved. At the height of the Russian Revolution, the royal family were executed but a young woman later emerged – apparently a surviving princess, the Grand Duchess Anastasia. To music by Tchaikovsky and Martinů, the audience follows the events leading to the murder of a family, through Anna’s confused dreams – or are they memories?
The performance from the Royal Opera House starts at 7.15pm, with tickets priced at £10 and £11. Visit for more information.

Garage music!

A Bridgnorth garage will be filled with the sound of music as a county orchestra featuring 30 musicians performs a live concert in their workshop. The Bridgnorth Sinfonia will perform a free concert at David Dexters on November 20 at 7pm. The huge workshop at the independent garage provides the perfect setting for the Sinfonia to perform their annual concert, to be conducted by Dr James Ross, who has conducted over 850 works in 15 different countries. The Sinfonia’s Kate Bedford says, “We try to adapt some of the music to fit with an automotive theme. We played Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’ last year, which is very familiar to those who follow Formula One.”

Richard Whitney of David Dexters, says, “We’re proud to support such a talented group. The workshop is perfect for a musical event such as this as the large open space really carries the sound of the Sinfonia and it makes it a truly impressive night for our guests.”

Guests can arrive from 7pm and will be served bubbly and nibbles before the performance. Visit or or call 01746 764200 for details.


Clifton visits Place

Fairytale panto classic ‘Sleeping Beauty’ is coming to Oakengates Theatre @ The Place this season, with comedian, reality TV star and celebrity ostrich-handler Bernie Clifton starring as Muddles in the show by Shone Productions. Bernie has been to Telford before, as he recalls: “It was ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ and I played the beanstalk! They said they’d never seen such charisma!”

He adds, “This time, for ‘Sleeping Beauty’ I’m perfectly cast. I’ll be Muddles, the village loon. It’s a great cast; it’s great fun.”

James Shone, producer at Shone Productions, says, “We couldn’t be happier to be producing the year’s pantomime at Oakengates Theatre @ The Place. We’ve visited the theatre several times and it’s a lovely venue. We promise the biggest pantomime the theatre has ever seen, featuring a quality cast, fantastic scenery and costumes, an amazing live band and magical special effects!”

Sleeping Beauty will run at Oakengates Theatre @ The Place from Wednesday 7 December until Saturday 31 December 2016, with tickets priced between £10 and £18 – visit or call 01952 382382 for details.


Busy season for duo

Bridgnorth’s Tom Barras and Louis Briggs, better known as Guitar Cubed, brought a busy summer to an end by hosting their own youth festival Future Fest at the town’s Falcon Hotel. The September event brought together performers ranging in age from nine to 19, with a combined repertoire that went from jazz to heavy rock. Even Farmer Phil of the famous festival came down to support the lads on the day – the boys had opened the music on the Saturday of the popular event.

“We’ve had so much out of music and just love performing, we wanted to give other young musicians a chance to perform,” explains Tom.

“We had great support,” adds Louis. “We raised over £500, which will be split between Cameron’s Fund and Recharge Telford. We want to say a big thanks to the Falcon and all those who came and donated.”
In July, the boys will be taking part in International Busking Day following an invitation from London’s Mayor. The day will bring together street musicians from Rio, Paris, Barcelona and – thanks to Guitar Cubed – Bridgnorth!


Hound of the Severn

On Saturday 3 December, Rain or Shine Theatre Company will bring one of crime literature’s most enduring canines to the county. ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ features the world’s most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, as he is called upon to solve a seemingly unsolvable mystery. Visit Severn Valley Country Park’s Visitor Centre to be whisked away on an unforgettable evening of mystery and suspense, transporting you from 221B Baker Street to the wilds of Dartmoor in search of who – or what – dunnit! Call 01746 781192 for details; time and price to be confirmed.


Awards for youngsters

Bridgnorth Stage Academy’s 11th summer production, ‘Robin and the Sherwood Hoodies’ was presented at the Bridgnorth Endowed Leisure Centre to a rapturous reception. Following the performance, the Academy presented their annual awards. The first, the Norma Sandy Memorial Award, was presented to Harry Lewis as Most Promising Performer. This award is an engraved silver salver presented to the Academy by Paul Sandy in memory of his mother Norma, who served as part of the Musical Theatre’s front of house team for over 35 years. The silver trophy for Most Improved Performer went to Miles Humphries, aged 12, and the award for Outstanding Contribution went to Molly Parker, aged 14.


Raising money for refugees

Friends of Conakry Refugee School have two events this winter to raise funds for orphans at the facility in Guinea. First is a lively family ceilidh at Much Wenlock’s Priory Hall on Friday 4 November at 7.15pm. The dance features Oddsocks ceilidh band – a light supper is included in the price and there’s a bar. Tickets are £10 for adults; £5 for ages 12 to 18; under 12s are free – call 01952 677436 or 433594, or email or

Then a poetry evening at Wenlock Pottery on Friday 11 November will welcome three Shropshire poets: Bethany Rivers, Ruth Cameron and Kate Howe. The poets have generously offered to perform their piece, Weaving the Elements, free of charge. Kate Howe says, “It’s a collaborative performance piece which enthrals and illuminates, creating a seamless tapestry of emotive stories rooted in the earth and ablaze with elemental imagination.”

The first half of the evening will be an open mic, and the event starts at 7.30pm. Tickets are £8 each, available on or phone 01746 712375, visit Wenlock Books, or pay on the door.


Boyz on the Severn

The all-male ballet company, BalletBoyz, return to Shrewsbury to perform ‘Life’, which features two works by internationally acclaimed choreographers: Rabbit by Pontus Lidberg and Fiction by Javier de Frutos. Following its triumphant premiere in London this spring, Life is performed by an all-male company of 10 amazing dancers and takes an elegant, powerful and provocative look at life and death. presented in the inimitable BalletBoyz style.

The Guardians said, ‘The fur flies – and hops, skips and pirouettes – in an inspired and funny programme… Compelling.’

The show takes place on Wednesday 16 November at 7.3pm, with tickets priced between £13 and £18 – visit for details.


Golden oldies hit town

On Saturday 26 November at 8pm, Bridgnorth will be rocking to the sounds of some of the biggest hits from the 50s and 60s. Lipstick On Your Collar, an exciting show specialising in bringing to life the classic pop hits from the golden era of music, brings its soaring vocals, tight harmonies and infectious sense of fun to the Theatre on the Steps for one night only. The show features a six-piece band and fantastic lead and harmony vocals together with multi-media projection and is perfect for those who want to revisit their youth – as well as the younger generation who favour the classics.
Tickets are £18 – visit or call 01746 766477.


BMTC welcomes new president

On 1 September, Freda Spickernell, Bridgnorth Musical Theatre Company’s President, stood aside from her position. In her place, her friend and vice president Muriel Ellis took over the responsibilities of this ‘principle role’. Muriel is celebrating 55 years’ membership of the Bridgnorth Musical Theatre Company (formerly Bridgnorth Amateur Operatic Society), having joined with her husband John in 1961. Muriel assisted John in his role of patrons’ secretary and house manager until his death in 1969, ably replacing him as patrons’ secretary for 35 years as well as carrying out front-of-house duties. Muriel says, “I’ve never missed a show in 55 years and I’ve loved every minute! I’m immensely proud to become the fifth president of BMTC.”
Meanwhile, Freda is to remain in the wings as honorary president in recognition of her commitment and hard work over 64 years; she even performed in the Company’s very first production ‘Goodnight Vienna’ at the Castle Hall in 1953.


Glories at the Hive

As part of the ongoing Uptown Folk series at the Hive, Canada’s Small Glories are appearing on Sunday 20 November. This folk/Americana powerhouse pair, Cara Luft and JD Edwards, are a dynamic duo from Winnipeg in the Canadian prairies. Cara is already a well-known name in folk circles as a founding member of the Wailin’ Jennies, while JD is a versatile singer and guitarist. The gig starts at 7.45pm with doors opening at 7pm and tickets are priced at £14. Other artists visiting during November and December include Chris Wood and Luke Jackson – visit for details.


Isle be there

A ladies’ night with a difference is coming to Oakengates Theatre @ The Place this November as Isle of Woman takes to the stage. Isle of Woman are three powerful individuals who use stunning rich beautiful harmonies to sing about real life and its trials and tribulations – think Joan Rivers meets the Andrews Sisters or Fascinating Aida with a hint of 40s-style close harmony. Whether musing about breastfeeding, the fate of pubic hair, Page 3, raising a disabled child or the phenomenon that is Boris Johnson, they’ll have you laughing one moment and crying the next. The show is a mix of raucous, sharp and witty comedy anthems, heartfelt song and relaxed, honest chat expressing life for women of a certain age.

Isle of Woman visit Oakengates Theatre @ The Place on Wednesday 2 November at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £17 each or £16 concessions. Visit or call 01952 382382 for details.


Rhapsody in blue

When she was three years old, Annie’s life was skewed off-course. On her 18th birthday, it threatens to happen again – will she be Lost in Blue once more? This bravura one-person performance by Debs Newbold is a funny, uplifting, poignant and at times bizarre show featuring powerful storytelling and innovative sound technology.
Lawrence Heath of Guildford’s Music Institute said of the piece, “Debs took storytelling into another dimension this evening. All life (and near death) is there and there are sounds that I will not now be able to hear without either welling up or the hairs on the back of my neck standing up on end.”
Lost in Blue visits Quatt Village Hall on Saturday 3 December at 7.30pm, with tickets priced at £6 and £10 – visit for details or call 01746 781759/781214.


Gorgeous gifts

One of the highlights of the arts and crafts calendar takes place in November as the Gorgeous Christmas Craft Fair again visits Enginuity in Coalbrookdale. The show this year runs on the weekend of 19 and 20 November, with well-known local artists Jane Murphy and Maggie Humphry just two of those exhibiting their works.
Hosted in conjunction with the Shropshire Guild of Contemporary Craft, the event will see skilled craftspeople and artisans from across the region showcasing a huge variety of handmade designs and individual artworks, from furniture to glassware, from textiles to ceramics. There will be a wealth of Christmas gift ideas to suit all pockets, from magnificent one-off statement pieces to pretty trinkets, and there will also be workshops featuring the exhibitors.

Gorgeous is open from 10am to 5pm on Saturday and 10am to 4.30pm on Sunday, with entry priced at £2.50 (under 5s and Ironbridge Passport Holders free), including admission into Enginuity. Visit for details.


Noah ready to Rock

Young local actor Noah Key is celebrating scoring a role in the London production of ‘School of Rock’. Noah will play drummer Freddie in the show, which opens at the New London Theatre on 14 November, with bookings running until February. Noah, the son of Key Theatre Academy founder Lucy Key, has appeared in a range of productions in the past including as Kurt in ‘The Sound of Music’ and Michael in ‘Elf’. Comedy star David Fynn (The Inbetweeners; Sherlock) will star as slacker-turned music teacher Dewey Finn in the role made famous in the film by Jack Black.

Noah is thrilled at the casting, saying, “I was inspired to start learning the drums after watching the film. After several auditions in London I was offered the role. It’s such fun and I can’t wait to start performing!”


Seasonal singing

On Saturday 26 November at Cleobury North Village Hall, Song Shops presents Singing by Candlelight, a singing workshop of sacred and seasonal songs in rounds and harmony, from Taizé, the Iona community and elsewhere. Leader Jane Reads says, “We start in the light and then, after sharing food, we sing by candlelight. Everyone is very welcome, no singing experience is needed and all songs will be taught by ear.”The workshop runs from 3.30pm until 7.30pm and costs £13 if paid by 19 November or £15 on the door. Call 01584 891656 or email


Miller’s ‘Sons’

With a run from Wednesday 9 to Saturday 12 November, Shropshire Drama Company bring the acclaimed Arthur Miller play ‘All My Sons’ to Theatre Severn. The scene is set in the immediate post WW2 period, in the back yard of the Kellers’ home in small-town America. After the tumultuous events of the war years, life has settled back into a normal pattern until one particular August weekend when the world of these ‘ordinary folks’ is turned upside down. An overnight storm seems to set off a chain of events which raise questions about moral conscience during wartime. The shows start at 7.30pm, with tickets priced at £14 to £16. Visit


Madeley welcomes orchestra

Telford Orchestra will be performing an evening of classical music at St Michael’s Church in Madeley on 7.30pm on Saturday 26 November. Expect wonderful melodies and harmonies in this programme of 19th century orchestral works featuring pieces by Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Schumann.
Tickets are £8, while the event is free for students. Pay on the door or call 01952 884416 in advance. Visit for more details.


Somme memories

On Sunday 13 November, a performance of ‘Flo of the Somme’ pays tribute to the thousands of animals who played a crucial role during the Great War. The original book is illustrated by Martin Impey and written in rhyme by Hilary Robinson in tribute to the war poets. The reading starts at 2.30pm and runs for an hour, with refreshments available. It’s a touching and gentle introduction to the truth about war for young children. Tickets are priced at £6.

The show, at Rowley’s House in Barker Street, is part of the Shrewsbury Bookfest Remembers series, which also features a range of literature-based events for adults. Visit for details.


Going strong together

Annie Ovenden and Graham Arnold were both founder members of the Brotherhood of Ruralists in the 1970s. The group consisted of eight artists, including Peter Blake and David Inshaw, who were inspired by painting, music and poetry. The Ruralists were the last major art movement in the UK that focused on painting. The movement only lasted a few years, when all the artists went their separate ways. This winter, Annie Ovenden and Graham Arnold celebrate ‘Forty Years of Exhibiting Together’ at Much Wenlock’s Twenty Twenty Gallery until 25 November – visit for details.


Jar Family sell-out

After a riotous, foot-stomping visit earlier in the year, ‘punkfolk’ ensemble the Jar Family are returning to Broseley by popular demand – and the event has already sold out, in a Glastonbury-like coup for the town’s Birchmeadow Centre. The band, a group of songwriters and musicians from Hartlepool who pooled their talent to try and get more exposure, play a mixture of blues and roots; their name comes from the jar they used to pass around after gigs.

Organiser Caroline Bagnall says, “Within half an hour of announcing it, I’d already sold 30 tickets. The only other time we’ve sold out was for Fairport Convention!”
To see other gigs coming up at the Birchmeadow, visit


Cox in space

Coming to a dimension near you this November is the hotly anticipated tour by acclaimed physicist Professor Brian Cox, OBE. The show takes audiences on a dazzling journey through space and time, delving into ‘high science’ and freewheeling on the edges of the known cosmos. Whether you’re an avid science reader or a total novice, Professor Brian Cox Live will test the limits of your knowledge and make highly complex ideas accessible to all. Always captivating, continually surprising and forever pushing the boundaries, Brian Cox takes science to a new dimension in this show, and you can get up close and personal with the man himself with an interview hosted by his ‘Infinite Monkey Cage’ co-host Robin Ince.
The show arrives at the Civic Hall in Wolverhampton on Thursday 25 November at 7.30pm – tickets are priced from £33 to £44; call 0870 320 7000 or visit


Tarts arrive in Broseley

The intriguingly named Flaky Tarts are arriving in Broseley for a one-off show at the town’s Birchmeadow Centre. The acoustic trio play various guitars and sing in harmony, performing a range of self-penned and well-known tunes from folk through blues and country to rock.

The band’s bass guitarist and singer Glen Buglass says, “We’re influenced by Christy Moore, Alan Taylor, Johnny Cash, Nanci Griffith, Leadbelly and the Rolling Stones – amongst others. We set out to enjoy ourselves and we often have the audience in fits of giggles, gales of laughter, hoots of hilarity…!”
The Tarts visit on Saturday 26 November, with doors opening at 7.30pm; tickets are priced at £8 from Downes’ in Broseley High Street. Call 07966 549155 or visit for more information.


Haydn and Mozart at the Lion

Shrewsbury’s Lion Hotel is the venue on Sunday 27 November for a concert by Florilegium, a period instrument ensemble featuring a flautist, violinists, a cellist, and a viola player. They will be performing music by Haydn and Mozart at the 3pm concert, which is preceded by a pre-concert talk at 2.15pm. Their programme will consist of Haydn’s Symphony No 94 ‘The Surprise’; and his Symphony No 101 ‘The Clock’ with Mozart’s Flute Quartet in D Major, and his Flute Quartet in C Major.

Shropshire Music Trust’s Kate Hogwood says, “Established in 1991, Florilegium is one of the finest period instrument ensembles around today, performing intimate chamber works to large-scale orchestral and choral works.”
Visit for tickets or call 01952 510375 for more information.


Chelmarsh prepares for panto

Following the sell out performance of Robin Hood in January this year, Gerry Graham Touring Pantos will be returning to Chelmarsh Parish Hall with an up-to-date production of ‘Cinderella’ on Sunday 8 January, with the curtain rising at 2.30pm. This is a traditional, family-friendly version of the well-loved rags-to-riches tale, with plenty of comedy, pathos, music and audience participation.
Tickets cost £8 for adults and £4 for children 10 years and under; booking ahead is essential as tickets sell out quickly – call 01746 861167.


Severn Singers’ concert

The annual Severn Singers Christmas Concert in aid of Save the Children will take place on Saturday 17 December at 7.30pm at Bridgnorth Endowed School Old Hall. Tickets are priced at £7.50, including light refreshments, with children half price. Pick up tickets from That’s Nice, 4 Listley Street, Bridgnorth or call 01746 768372/762979.


Kids’ club hits right notes

A new club was launched at the beginning of September which offers five to eight year olds in the Wenlock area the chance to sing together. Trinity Trebles, led by Elisa Henson, covers a range of music based around a theme, and the weekly hour-long sessions see youngsters engage in fun warm-ups, learn new songs and play musical games together – rounding off with a well-earned drink and a biscuit. With Remembrance Day coming up, the children are learning two special songs – ‘I Will Pray’ and ‘We Will Remember’ – which they will perform in Wenlock church during November’s Family Service. If your child would like to join Trinity Trebles, come along to the church on Tuesdays at 6pm or visit the website at

Odds on

Remember The Odd Couple – Neil Simon’s brilliant comedy about two ill-matched flatmates whose marriages have failed? The film memorably starred Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in career-defining performances. Broads will be performing his equally hilarious sequel called ‘The Odd Couple – Female Version’ in November. The set-up is the same; the one-liners still crackle, but the two main characters this time are Olive and Florence. Their friends try to help, and the gorgeous Spanish brothers from the flat above add spice, but in the end, it’s a clash of opposites.

The comedy will be performed at Broseley’s Birchmeadow from November 10 to 12 at 7.30pm with tickets priced at £7/8, available from Downes’ in the High Street – call 01952 884842 for details.


College students shine

Art students from Shrewsbury College will again see their work on display at a top Shropshire art gallery. Their forthcoming exhibition at Ironbridge Fine Arts Gallery is a collection of work based upon the theme ‘Aide-mémoire’, requiring the artists to draw on collective or personal memories to create artworks that serve as an aid to the memory. The free exhibition will be on display until 25 November.

Art and Design tutor Ed Catley says, “The diverse work on show references memories that are personal or collective, showing how they can be recorded or fictionalised through aesthetic creation. The students are very pleased to be exhibiting again in the community, providing accomplished and considered work for everyone to see.”




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