Arts news January & February 2017


Folk five set to thrill

Best Live Act 2013 and Best Folk Band 2012 at the Scots Trad Music Awards and twice nominated Best Band at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, Scottish five-piece Breabach deliver a thrilling brand of contemporary folk music that has earned them international recognition on the world and roots music scene as one of the UK’s most dynamic and exciting bands. When they visit Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury, you can expect to hear pipes, whistles and bouzouki – and enjoy a little stepdance from fiddler and vocalist Megan Henderson. The band arrive on Friday 17 February, with the show starting at 8pm – go to for full details.

Exhibition legacy lives on

If you’ve ever wanted to experience the grandeur and innovation of the famous Great Exhibition of 1851, Coalbrookdale Gallery in the grounds of Enginuity and the Museum of London is the place to go. Until 24 February, Design and Desire brings the excitement and intrigue of the Exhibition to life using objects and images, including prints and paintings from the Elton Collection. This exhibition tells the story of how the event at the Crystal Palace became one of the most influential and renowned happenings of the 19th century, breaking class boundaries and laying the foundations for a century of invention and modernity.
For details call 01952 433424 or visit

Local author celebrates debut novel

Local author Jo Jackson is celebrating the publication of her debut novel, Too Loud a Silence. Jo, from Much Wenlock, released the contemporary novel at a dedicated launch on Wednesday 30 November in the town’s Priory Hall.

Set in Egypt in the grip of the Arab Spring, the book tells the story of Maha, a young journalist living in Cairo. Drawn into the mayhem as a country deposes its president and a struggle for power begins, she tries to make sense of the political and religious situation – and of her own life, and the challenges faced and choices made by her mother.

Jo and her family were living in Egypt at the time of the Arab Spring, and she visited a local orphanage and became close to some of the children there… and their stories inspired her to write her novel.
“It was a brilliant opportunity for all of us, to live and experience a culture so different from our own,” recalls Jo. To find out more, call 01952 510589 or email

No business like snore business

Following the success of performing a month-long run to packed audiences at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, award winning writer, performer and comedian Rob Auton embarks on a new UK tour. Having explored the colour yellow in 2012’s The Yellow Show, the sky in 2013’s The Sky Show, faces in 2014’s The Face Show and water in 2015’s The Water Show, Rob has now turned his attention to… sleep!
York-born Rob has built an audience through having ideas, writing them down and standing up and saying things at comedy, poetry and theatre nights since 2008. He was 2014’s Glastonbury Festival’s official Poet in Residence, has had two collections of writing and illustrations published by Burning Eye books, had his poetry turned into short films which were shown on Channel 4 and starred in and co-wrote the short film The Peamaster which was nominated for Best Short Film at the 2012 Milan Film Festival.
Rob’s Sleep Show is at Theatre Severn on Friday 3 February – visit for full details.

‘Orphan’ visits town

Bridgnorth Musical Theatre Company’s 65th annual production ‘Annie’ is to be performed 21 to 25 February at the Bridgnorth Endowed Leisure Centre. Set in 1930s New York during the Great Depression, this much-loved story is based upon the book by Thomas Meehan. It tells the tale of a young girl forced into a life of misery and torment in a municipal orphanage managed by the infamous matron, Miss Hannigan (Saskia Fuchs). Annie (played by Kate Woodman and Mabel Edwards) is a determined young lady whose only dream is to be reunited with her real family. Managing to escape, she finds a new friend in the form of a shaggy dog she names ‘Sandy’. Miss Hannigan tracks down her runaway charge and has an eye on cashing in on her unexpected change in fortunes – can Annie escape her clutches and find happiness?
Tickets are priced at £14/£16 and performances start at 7.30pm, with matinees at 2.30pm on the Wednesday and Saturday. Email, call 01746 761541 or visit for more information.

Skidoo it right

Bringing back to life the era of the speakeasy, Prohibition, Vaudeville, Tin Pan Alley, New York rent parties, Harlem stride piano and hot jazz, the smooth and suave Skidoo boys deliver a fun-filled mix of vintage music, stories, comedy and raucous nonsense, all skillfully woven into a loose and tenuous plot in true Skidoo style, with comedy props and gadgets thrown in.

The boys bring ‘The Joint is Jumping’ to a cabaret-style show at Little Wenlock Village Hall on Sunday 12 February at 7pm. Tickets are £10; bring your own drinks – call 01952 505888 or visit

Club welcomes all

Bridgnorth and District Camera Club meets every Thursday evening at 7.30pm at Low Town Community Hall, Severn Street, Bridgnorth. As well as regular independently-judged competitions for members, the club offers a friendly atmosphere and an interesting programme of events for photographers of all ability. Non-members and interested visitors are always welcome – visit the club’s website at for details. On 26 January, there will be a display of images from around the UK, while 2 February will see Dave Millard present a talk entitled ‘What? No filters??!!’.

Hills alive with art

Do you need more exposure for your art? Do you want to open your studio or join a group show in a respected and well-publicised event? Shropshire Hills Art Week is looking for artists to sign up, join in and get involved in their 2017 event. The team is especially keen to recruit artists who are inspired by landscape and wildlife. Director Jules McRobbie says, “The Shropshire Hills Art Week brings valuable visitors into the area, not only to view art, but also to have pub lunches, visit coffee shops and cafes, stay in local accommodation, and use other local shops and amenities.”
The event will run from 3 to 11 June – call 0773 638 1287 or visit to find out more.

‘Change’ is on its way

‘Menopause the Musical’, the all-singing, all-dancing comedy, will be paying a visit to Wolverhampton Grand Theatre for one night only on Thursday 9 March at 7.30pm. Cheryl Fergison (EastEnders )and Maureen Nolan are joined by Rebecca Wheatley (Casualty) and Ruth Berkeley (Penny Dreadful) in a hysterical show packed full of one-liners about night sweats, hot flushes and memory loss, and backed by a soundtrack of innuendo-laden versions of 60s, 70s and 80s pop classics. It tells the story of four women with seemingly nothing in common, meet by chance and make fun of their woeful lives experiencing ‘the change’.
Tickets are priced from £21 and are available now; call 01902 42 92 12 or visit

Shazia’s on the Steps

Following numerous sell-out runs in London and throughout the country, award-winning comedian Shazia Mirza (Have I Got News for You, Richard and Judy) continues her critically acclaimed nationwide tour of ‘The Kardashians Made Me Do It’, a searing and urgent exploration of life, love and jihadi brides, heading to Bridgnorth’s Theatre on the Steps on Saturday 4 February.

Inspired by three girls who left Bethnal Green to join Isis and an unrelated radio piece Shazia contributed to the BBC, which subsequently received a record number of complaints, the show looks into the nature of offence. Shazia looks at the dangers of politically correct liberalism versus the sinister and terrifying intrusion of Isis into the lives of young British Asian women. Tickets are priced at £12/14 and are available online from

The dark side of panto…

A panto with a difference is arriving in Buildwas this winter. ‘Space Wars – The Panto Fights Back!’ is the seventh annual pantomime performed by the Buildwas Players, who are raising money for Telford Guide Dogs for the Blind this time round. The audience will meet the evil Garth Varder, robots and strange aliens, and this fun-filled family show also boasts a range of lively musical numbers.

The cast includes Lorraine Pratt, Rob Deavall, Sharon Deavall, Juliet Bowen, Nigel Bowen and Georgia Whitehead, and the run is at Buildwas Village Hall at 7.30pm from Thursday 9 to Saturday 11 February, with a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.Tickets are priced at £6/3. Call 01952 432497 or find Buildwas Players on Facebook for more details.

Shropshire designer on track

A Shropshire graphic designer has been selected to produce the logo for the 150th anniversary of one of London’s best-loved destinations: St Pancras Station. Isobel Bushell of Much Wenlock has created the branding for this important milestone, and her design, officially launched at the station recently, will be featured on a range of branded products and used by the station itself.

The commission is one of the most significant in the career of Isobel, who, with husband John has run the Aardvark Design & Illustration agency for over 25 years and has been a graphic designer since graduating from Wolverhampton School of Art over 30 years ago – with the drawings featured in the ‘Peggy the Olympic Pig’ books perhaps coming a close second.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to be working on this amazing project,” says Isobel, who was chosen for the work due to links with her London agent. “St Pancras Station, one of the wonders of Victorian engineering, is a masterpiece of Gothic Revival architecture and one of the most elegant stations in the world.”

Choir raise funds for Africa

Bridgnorth Africa project, which has been supporting people in Sikonge, Tanzania, East Africa for 20 years, received a financial boost after Concordia performed a concert in November last year. The sum of £285 was raised during the evening at Bridgnorth’s Cartway Church and will go towards the extension to a school. The project has been supporting the school and teaching staff since it was built in 2004 and makes a huge difference to children in Sikonge, who previously had no local school to go to.

Concordia are a group of enthusiastic female singers who, along with their musical director Bev Wightman, meet weekly on Friday evenings in the Community Hall. To find out more about them, call 07733 316992 or visit their Facebook page – Concordia.

Living Dolls

Folk duo Worry Dolls are bringing their spiky lyrics and divine harmonies to The Edge in Much Wenlock on Thursday 9 February. The band have been making waves across the British Isles from Glastonbury Festival to Derry, collecting praise and accolades as they go.

They recently supported Joan Armatrading on tour, and their songs have enjoyed play on Six Music and Radio 2.

‘The brilliantly quirky duo Worry Dolls – a super-shiny beacon of joy in a dreamland far, far away from the persistently ‘regular’ sound of folk that’s flooding the charts right now’ – Huffington Post.
The show starts at 8pm and tickets are £8/10 – visit to find out more.

Players welcome new blood

Bridgnorth Players are the local amateur drama group who put on performances at least twice a year and meet monthly to enjoy play readings, theatre trips and social events. The group will be holding an open meeting on Wednesday 1 February to which everyone is invited. If you’d like to find out more, pop into Peepo’s upstairs room from 7.30pm on that date to enjoy some fun readings and free pizza – there’s no charge but you are asked to buy your own drinks.

The group’s next production will be ‘Quartet’ by Ronald Harwood. This touching play is set in a retirement home for musicians and features four aging opera singers coming to terms with all the problems and opportunities of becoming older. It will be directed by David Bowgett and at the time of going to press has yet to be cast…Visit the website at to find out more and to buy tickets online.

Call to enter Live Arts

The Live Arts Festival is the first event in the 131st Wenlock Olympian Games 2017 calendar, consisting of several events which are open to young people aged 18 and under on 31 August 2017. There are entry classes for both primary and secondary pupils in speech and drama (including creative writing); music and dance from 11 to 19 March at The Edge Arts Centre in Much Wenlock. There are gold, silver and bronze medals to be won as well as a series of special awards, and all participants receive a certificate. The deadline for entries in all competitions in all disciplines is Sunday 15 January. Visit and click on ‘live arts to download schedules and entry forms.

Literary WOLF

Wolverhampton is hosting its first ever literary festival, with a host of celebrated home-grown literary and musical talent set to appear between 27 and 29 January. The Wolverhampton Original Literature Festival (WOLF) will see acclaimed authors, musicians, workshops, art and children’s events taking place at Wolverhampton Art Gallery, The Slade Rooms, Bantock House, Central Library, The Arena Theatre, The University of Wolverhampton and Newhampton Arts Centre. You can meet award-winning author and journalist Sathnam Sanghera, a former Wolverhampton Grammar School student, who is in conversation at Wolverhampton Art Gallery on January 27. Sathnam’s first book, The Boy with the Topknot: A Memoir of Love, Secrets and Lies in Wolverhampton, was shortlisted for the 2008 Costa Biography Award, the 2009 PEN/Ackerley Prize and named 2009 Mind Book of the Year. It is currently being adapted for TV by Kudos and Parti Productions to air on the BBC in the autumn of 2017. You can also catch former Ned’s Atomic Dustbin and Wonder Stuff frontmen Jonn Penney and Miles Hunt, as well as children’s author Narinder Dhami.

Hair today…

The ever-popular BroADS panto returns to the Broseley Birchmeadow this winter, with the hair-raising tale of ‘Rapunzel’ appearing from 26 January to 4 February. The show is directed by Gill Kelly and features old hands and first-timers including teenage performers and cast members as young as eight.
Gill Kelly says, “It’s a very modern panto – it was only written last year so it includes some very up-to-the-minute songs and jokes!”
Tickets are on sale from Downes in Broseley High Street – visit Broads’ Facebook page to see how rehearsals are going!

In living colour

An exhibition by painter Vicki Norman will allow colour-blind people to experience the full spectrum of colour for what may be the first time. The show at Ludlow Assembly Rooms runs until Saturday 28 January and includes paintings of Shropshire, Italy and India. Vicki explains, “This exhibition is in association with EnChroma glasses for colour-blind people. There will be an opportunity to view the artworks through very special lenses which allow four out of five people with red/green colour blindness to see something closer to the full spectrum of colour.” Vicki is also running a portraiture weekend workshop on 15 and 16 January at Westhope College, when you can learn more about capturing likenesses; basic drawing skills are required.
To find out more about the exhibition or the workshop, visit

Quest moves on

Haberdashery Quilters Quest has built up a huge following with sewers, knitters and crafters over the past 25 years, but proprietor Jane Rawlings is now retiring and the shop is closing. However, the classes run in connection with the shop are set to continue at Morville Village Hall, with the first series of workshops beginning the week of 23 January. You can join the Monday Girls, a group who stitch together on alternate Mondays – cost £10, or try machine embroidery with Alison Parkes on Mondays 30 January and 13 February – the cost is £25 per day. Other workshops include patchwork and quilting and hand embroidery. For full details, call 01746 762849 or email

A touch of Frost

Oakengates Theatre @ The Place is set to welcome a chilly production this February. ‘Jack Frost’ is a magical wintry production by Moon on a Stick, brought to life through puppetry, live music and enchanting storytelling. Frosty loner Jack has no idea that his ability to freeze everything he touches is spreading havoc wherever he goes. One day a small girl reaches out to him despite his icy hands and realises what it must be like for him to never have felt the warmth of another’s touch.

Meet the mysterious sprite as he takes the audience on a snowy adventure in this reinterpretation of a well-loved Nordic legend.

The show is at 3pm on Saturday 25 February, with tickets costing £10/8 or £32 for a family of four. Visit or call 01952 382382. The show is suitable for children age three and up, and there is also a relaxed performance earlier the same day.

‘Young Musician’ at St Marys

St Mary’s Concert Committee in Bridgnorth have secured the services of a finalist from the BBC’s Jazz Young Musician of the Year broadcast in 2016. Solihull-born Elliott Sansom will be performing at 7pm on Saturday 14 January at the Bridgnorth church. Elliott will be joined by Ben Muirhead on the double bass and Nathan England Joneson on the drums.

Elliott says, “I’ve been writing original music inspired my some of his favourite composers such as John Taylor, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis and Paul Bley, as well as experimenting with ta some of my favourite classical pieces such as Mompou’s ‘Musica Callda’; playing and improvising with them in a jazz context.”
Tickets are £15 including interval light refreshment and wine. For tickets and more information, call 01746-716282 or

Goodbye Guitar Cubed

Bridgnorth’s unofficial record-breakers are calling it a day. Tom Barras and Louis Briggs, aka Guitar Cubed, have announced they’ve cease d playing as a duo. The lads became a regular sight around Bridgnorth and for last three years have supported many of the town’s events, as well as earning slots at Farmer Phil’s Festival, the Acoustic Festival of Britain and a worldwide busking event.

The boys will probably be best remembered for their 25-hour marathon busk for the charity Shrewsbury Ark.

Remembering their feat, Louis says, “The 25 hour busk was the best thing I did with Guitar Cubed. The amount of money we raised was astonishing! I will always remember the young girl who saw us on the news and made her Dad bring her down late at night to give us one of her Easter eggs to keep us going!”
Tom says, “I want to say a huge ‘thank you’ to anyone who’s seen us live, supported us on social media, or been there for us musically and mentally. I’ve always said that the best thing about what we have done is the people I’ve met, the lives we’ve changed and the people who have changed us. I have loved every moment of it and would never change a thing!”

Louis intends to concentrate on his school work and other commitments while Tom is keen to keep on playing – so watch this space!

Concerts continue

Shrewsbury’s St Chad’s Church presents a series of lunch-hour concerts starting in February and continuing until Christmas. Concerts will take place at 12.40pm every Friday and the first Tuesday of each month. They last just 40 minutes, and concert-goers can park from noon to 2pm free of charge, with lunch also available on Fridays.

Director Richard Walker says, “Our audiences are enthusiastic and many regard Friday at St Chad’s as the most enjoyable part of their week. The organ and the piano at St Chad’s are the best church instruments for miles around, and excellent performers are constantly asking us to give them a platform. Where else can you find a regular concert series with free parking, no tickets required and lunch on site afterwards!”
For full listings, visit

Cigar boxing clever

Made by stringing empty wooden cigar boxes to make a primitive instrument, cigar box guitars first became popular in the cash-strapped times of the Great Depression and have enjoyed resurgence in recent years.
The UK Cigar Box Guitar Festival – or Boxstock – is bringing these unique instruments and their devotees to Wolverhampton on Saturday 25 February. Headlining will be Hollowbelly, also known as Jon Farr, along with Chickenbone Blues, featuring the amazing Dave Smith on harmonica, gritty old-time bluesman Vincent Slegers, and newcomers the Dusk Brothers duo.

The extravaganza takes place at the Slade Rooms in Wolverhampton, with tickets priced at £13.50, and there is also a daytime trade fair for cigar box guitars enthusiasts, including ‘make and play’ workshops. Visit for more details or call 0870 320 7000.

Burns night ceilidh

A ceilidh is being held at Little Wenlock Village Hall to celebrate the great Scots poet ‘Rabbie’ Burns. You can enjoy haggis, neeps and tatties along with a wee dram and homemade puddings, and there will be a ceilidh band with a caller who’ll explain the dances. Of course, the famous ‘Address to a Haggis’ will be part of the festivities. There will also be a cash bar. Doors open at 7.3pm on Saturday 28 January and the event is ‘ticket only’ – call 01952 501342 to find out full details.



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