Arts news March & April 2017

Rabbit Theatre Homer's OdysseyHR

Greek adventures in Harley

From Rabbit Theatre, the makers of the hilarious adaptations of Great Expectations and Dracula, comes Homer’s Odyssey which is being staged by Arts Alive at Harley Village Hall. Complete with gods and monsters, join this epic journey to hell and back as the ‘one man genius’ David Mynne creates a ‘cast of thousands’ in this slightly bonkers adaptation of a mighty epic. Recommended for age 12+, Friday 24 March at 7.30pm. Please call 01952 510422 for tickets which are £10 – or visit rabbittheatre.com to find out more.

Paradise Lost …lies unopened

Arts Alive is staging this performance from Lost Dog Dance at Quatt Village Hall on Saturday 11 March. Combining theatre, comedy and movement – this is a journey through Milton’s ‘creation epic’ Paradise Lost condensed into 75 minutes and delivering highlights of this well-known but often forgotten story. One man plays all the characters, creates all the scenes and, despite his best efforts, falls a little short of perfection. A show for anyone who has created anything (child, garden, paper aeroplane) and then watched it spiral out of control.

The show starts at 7.30pm and tickets are £10. Call 01746 781759 or visit quatt.info or lostdogdance.co.uk to book.

The second best bed…

‘Lifting the lid on a Tudor can of worms’ is Avril Rowlands’ play which will be performed at The Edge Much Wenlock on Friday 24 March. When Shakespeare died, he famously left his wife Anne only one thing – ‘The Second Best Bed’. This superb one-woman play, full of humour and pathos, has received great critical acclaim. Liz Grand stars as Anne Hathaway on the night of Shakespeare’s funeral; the wake has finished and the mourners have all gone home leaving Anne to remember her life with the most talented playwright the world has ever seen. Or was he? Did he write the plays? His widow would know if anybody did. Wouldn’t she?

Tickets £12.50/£11 – visit edgeartscentre.com or call 0333 6663366 to book

Les Bordeliques blind date

Chelmarsh Parish Hall welcomes two Canadian performers, Les Bordeliques, on Friday 17 March. Both former Cirque du Soleil members, a musician and a dancer, they will enact a wacky and absurd series of blind dates! From stilts to high heels, classical violin to contemporary music, step dancing shoes to ballet slippers, six characters will act out an amusing dating game. Described as, ‘A funny and touching performance, where characters express themselves through dance and music in their search for love’ this will be enjoyed by those aged 11+. The show starts at 7.30pm and tickets, priced £12/£8 can be booked in advance by calling 01746 862850 or visit lesbordeliques.com to discover more.

Locals shine with West End stars

A number of lucky and talented youngsters had their dreams made into reality when they were selected to perform alongside West End performers as part of Key Theatre Academy’s ‘Musical Mixtape’ at Theatre Severn in February.

Among the stars were Carrie Hope Fletcher and Rob Houchen whose credits include Eponine and Marius in London’s ‘Les Misérables’, and founders of the academy Christopher and Lucy Key, whose West End performances include ‘Jerry Springer The Opera’, ‘The Beautiful Game’ and ‘West Side Story’.

Young performers said it was an incredible opportunity to sing alongside professionals who performed many musical classics as well as some lesser-known gems.

Brahms, Britten & beyond!

The Chamber Choir of Prestfelde School join Shropshire’s Phoenix Singers at St Chad’s Church Shrewsbury, on Saturday 25 March at 7.30pm for a gala concert entitled ‘Brahms, Britten and beyond!’ Works will include ‘Songs and Cries of London Town’ by the popular composer Bob Chilcott, and Brahms’ wonderful ‘Liebeslieder’ (love songs) and Britten’s ever-popular ‘Rejoice in the Lamb’.

The concert starts at 7.30pm and tickets, priced £10 (Under 18’s Free), are available from 01743 245950, 01743 240831 or on the door.

The Phoenix Singers will host a ‘Come and Sing’ of Mozart’s Requiem at Chirbury Church on Saturday 29 April. Please see phoenixsingersshrewsbury.co.uk for more information.

Fundraising Cadence

Broseley based mixed harmony singers Cadence raised nearly £500 for Cancer Research singing at various events over the festive period at a variety of venues in Shropshire; including Bridgnorth, Newport, Wellington, and Oakengates. The Cancer Research charity was chosen by Cadence members following the sad loss of a founder member of the choir, Jane Anson, during the year. With a shared love of singing and music-making in all its shapes and forms – from Bach to the Beatles – Cadence aim to take music into the community and to raise funds for charities. More information about the group can be found on their Facebook page ‘Cadence Singers’ or on the website cadencesingers.co.uk

50 years of The Three Degrees

Celebrating five decades in the music industry The Three Degrees are bringing their dance routines and flawless vocal harmonies to The Place, Oakengates on Friday 31 March as part of their UK tour. Since forming in 1963 in Philadelphia the trio found worldwide fame, achieved platinum album sales and released timeless singles that have spanned the decades. Arguably best known for their hit ‘When Will I See You Again’ which topped the charts, they have notched up 11 top 40 UK singles including the top 3 smash ‘Woman in Love’. After half a century, The Three Degrees are in The Guinness Book of World Records, as the ‘Longest Running Female Vocal Trio in history’, and they show no signs of slowing down.

For tickets call 01952 382382 or visit theplacetelford.com

‘Inspired by Beethoven’

In 2017 the charismatic Carducci String Quartet celebrate their 20th anniversary with a series of concerts in Shropshire that will include three of Beethoven’s string quartet masterpieces. The first concert takes place at the Maidment Hall, Shrewsbury School at 3pm on Sunday 26 March as part of the Shropshire Music Trust’s 2017 season. There they will be joined by pianist Simon Callaghan on a musical journey from Beethoven’s stormy ‘Serioso’ quartet and Shostakovich’s cryptic 11th quartet, to Brahms’ epic piano quintet masterpiece. The Carducci will also be working in primary schools, and running a workshop for advanced players.

Tickets can be purchased online ticketsource.co.uk/smt or from visiting or calling Windband, 9 Greyfriars Road, Shrewsbury tel 01743 367482.

Marcel Lucont’s ‘Whine List’

The comedian Alexis Dubus, aka Marcel Lucont, will be appearing at Wolverhampton’s Slade Rooms on Thursday 6 April. As seen on BBC1’s The John Bishop Show and Russell Howard’s Good News, Lucont “pulls clever punchlines out of every interaction with his audience…”(The Scotsman) and is described by the Guardian as, “Fresh, accessible and hilarious”. Tickets, £14 are available from Midland Box Office 0870 320 7000 or online at wolvescivic.co.uk

On tour in Shropshire

Bridgnorth artist Vicki Norman has a number of accompanied painting holidays in the pipeline for 2017 – but numbers are filling up so quickly that Vicki has decided to offer a ‘closer to home’ option. ‘5 Days Painting on Location in Shropshire’ will run from 4 – 8 September and can accommodate a group of up to 10 people. “The more I travel, the more I appreciate coming home to lovely Shropshire. So this year, I’ve decided to stay at home, and share some of the secrets of this ‘forgotten county’” says Vicki, “Shropshire’s rolling hills, deep river valleys and medieval market towns will be the location for our five days of painting on location, and we’ll be using Westhope College as our base.”

To book call 07761 017468 or visit vickinormanstudio.com

Comedy at The Edge

Comedians Tom Allen and Suzi Ruffell ‘Hit The Road’ at The Edge Arts Centre at Much Wenlock on Friday 17 March. Tom, fresh from supporting Sarah Millican on her UK tour, brings his hilarious slightly acerbic and always unique point of view to the show. Tom has appeared on 8 Out of 10 Cats, Just a Minute and The John Bishop Show. Alongside him is Suzi Ruffell, tour support for Alan Carr and Josh Widdicombe, presenting her third full length show, ‘Common’. Suzi’s innovative style capitivates audiences with her engrossing tales of social ineptitude, overbearing parents and stories of desperately trying to fit in. Another chance to watch up and coming comedians right here in the heart of Shropshire. The show starts at 8pm and tickets are £12. Visit edgeartscentre.com or call 0333 6663366 to book

‘Marilyn’ at Theatre on the Steps

Fans will love the exciting new play based on the true story of Marilyn Munroe which will be performed at the Theatre on the Steps in Bridgnorth on Friday 3 March. The solo show portrays the most celebrated and controversial female icon of the 20th Century; laying bare her struggle to be taken seriously as an actress and to be understood as a woman, despite all obstacles that were part of her early life. Her shining talent in all the film roles that she played, her compassion, her generosity for others less well-off and her true grit in a male dominated world. Starring Nicola Burgess, the show was written by award-winning writer Gwynne Edwards and directed by Jo Lloyd-Welcome. Tickets £12/£10 available from 01746 766477 or visit theatreonthesteps.co.uk

Private Lives in Broseley

Broseley’s BroADs group will be staging possibly Noel Coward’s most popular play, ‘Private Lives’ on Thursday 30, Friday 31 March and Saturday 1 April at the Birchmeadow Centre. The play is a witty examination of the tempestuous

relationship between Amanda and Elyot and is set in the art deco 1930’s. The comedy starts with a disastrous honeymoon and then becomes even more complicated….. Curtain up at 7.30pm and tickets £8/£7 from Downes Greengrocer, High Street, Broseley.

Ceiledh at Willey

The Inflammable Band will be leading a Ceilidh at Willey Village Hall on Saturday 25 March. The Caller, Martin Wood, is the Shrewsbury Town Crier who stands 7ft 2” in his socks – he must be the tallest town crier in England, if not in the world! Dancing to live music this promises to be a fun night for all ages. The doors will open at 7.30pm – please bring own nibbles and drinks. Call in at Downes in Broseley or telephone Sheila Shaw on 01952 882324 to book your places. The cost for adults is £5 and £3 for under 16’s.

Craft at Bridgnorth library

A number of arts and crafts events will be staged at Bridgnorth Library; for those who knit, sew or do any other portable handcraft – whether just starting or have dabbled for years – bring along what you do for 2 hours of knitting, craft and chatter on the following Fridays: 10 March, 24 March and 7 April. 10am to 12 noon, suitable for adults and free – just drop-in!

There will be a drop-in Easter ceramic painting workshop on Tuesday 11 April 10am-1pm suitable for all the family. Prices start from £3 per item and include all materials, glazing and firing and can be collected from Christmas Presence in Central Court.

“I’ve no talent for life”

As part of this year’s National Theatre season, there will be a live streaming of Ibsen’s masterpiece ‘Hedda Gabler’ streamed directly into the Majestic cinema in Bridgnorth and Much Wenlock’s Edge Arts Centre on Thursday 9 March. Just married. Bored already. Hedda longs to be free…Hedda and Tesman have just returned from their honeymoon and the relationship is already in trouble. Trapped but determined, Hedda tries to control those around her, only to see her own world unravel. Ruth Wilson (Luther, The Affair, Jane Eyre) plays the troubled heroine.

Stand up for Poetry

Bridgnorth Library plays host to monthly poetry sessions on Tuesday 7 March and Tuesday 4 April, 2.30pm to 3.30pm. Listen to poetry read by others or bring along a favourite, or even your own composition, to read.

And for the younger members the library will have its popular ‘Bookstart Rhyme Time’ on Monday 6 March and Monday 10 April, 10.30am-11am. Suitable for babies and toddlers and featuring rhymes, songs and stories for under-fives.

Music Hall at Blists Hill

Step back in time and find yourself in the world of nostalgic music hall at Blists Hill Victorian Town on Friday 24 March. The museum’s resident performers will regale the crowd with a host of Victorian classic songs such as the ‘Man on the Flying Trapeze’, ‘When Father Papered the Parlour’, and the ever-popular ‘Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside’ and ‘Dilly-Dally on the Way’.

Everyone is invited to dress in Victorian costume for the evening, which includes a two-course meal as well as the opportunity to watch and join in the entertainment live from the piano. Tickets £25 per adult must be pre-booked by calling 01785 252247 or email nikkib@jenkinsonscaterers.co.uk.

Betsy sell out

The Twenty Twenty Gallery in Much Wenlock welcomed artist Betsy Smith to the gallery in February for a hugely successful retrospective show celebrating her career. Well-known in Shropshire, Betsy lived in Broseley for almost 30 years before moving to France and her watercolour landscape paintings are inspired by both Shropshire and rural France. Her work, which is renowned for her bold use of colour and dramatic composition, is so sought after that a huge number of painting were sold in advance of the opening.

Blues, folk, swing & jazz

Musician Chris Quinn will bring his acoustic sound – a unique blend of British folk and American roots music with bluegrass, delta blues and swing jazz thrown in – to the Theatre on The Steps on Saturday 1 April. The Shrewsbury based singer songwriter has been receiving glowing reviews in the mainstream UK music press for his debut solo release ‘Across The Divide’ and has spent over a decade touring worldwide at venues like BB Kings New York, the Cambridge Folk Festival and London’s Royal Albert Hall. Chris had a stint as the opening act for the Jools Holland Orchestra and has been invited to open shows for some of the biggest names in music; artists like Katie Melua, The Levellers and Bellowhead. Tickets £10/£9 available from 01746 766477 or visit theatreonthesteps.co.uk

For the love of Judi

Impressionist and star of The Only Way Is Downton, Luke Kempner, can’t wait to marry Dame Judi Dench. But she doesn’t seem to share his enthusiasm. In ‘Judi Dench Broke My Heart’ our hero is joined by a stellar cast of celebrities on a quest in the name of love at The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton on Thursday 20 April. “Luke Kempner is a blummin’ genius” (Dawn French). See more on Luke’s website lukekempner.com. Tickets £13.50 from 0870 320 7000 or online wolvescivic.co.uk

A song in my heart….

A chance to see one of the UK’s top performers right here in Shropshire; Maria Kesselman is a celebrated West End leading lady and international concert performer and she’s performing at Bridgnorth’s Theatre on the Steps accompanied by James Church on Saturday 8 April. ‘With A Song in My Heart’ is a wonderful cavalcade of songs, anecdotes and memories spanning the musical stage and even a touch of opera, with favourites from Gershwin, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Sondheim, Bernstein and Lloyd Webber. Maria has starred in many leading roles in London’s West End with credits including ‘West Side Story’, ‘My Fair Lady’ and ‘The Sound of Music’. She also appeared as Christine in ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ opposite Michael Crawford with whom she was recently reunited at the 30th Anniversary Concert.

Tickets £12 available from 01746 766477 or visit theatreonthesteps.co.uk

Wolverhampton hosts LEGO® show

Well, when did LEGO® start appearing in the WW! arts pages? When a major exhibition comes to Wolverhampton Art Gallery with three galleries filled with Warren Elsmore’s amazing ‘Brick Wonders’. The show, which opens on Friday 7 April,

has 70 awe-inspiring models using thousands and thousands of pieces of the much-loved plastic bricks. The master LEGO artist and author has re-created some of the wonders of the world from the Great Wall of China, Niagra Falls and the Great Pyramid of Giza to a modern surgical operating theatre, incredible container ships and a hi-tech airport.

Royal Ballet Jewels

Streaming live from the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden straight into the Majestic Cinema in Bridgnorth and The Edge Arts Centre in Much Wenlock on Tuesday 11 April will be George Balanchine’s evocation of the sparkle of emeralds, rubies and diamonds in the ballet classic ‘Jewels’. The French Romantic music of Fauré provides the impetus for the subtlety and lyricism of ‘Emeralds’, while the fire of ‘Rubies’ comes from Stravinsky and the jazz-age energy of New York. Grandeur and elegance complete the ballet with the splendour of Imperial Russia and the peerless music of Tchaikovsk yin ‘Diamonds’. A chance to see classical ballet performed by The Royal Ballet. Curtain up at 7.15pm and booking in advance recommended.

Madama Butterfly

On Thursday 30 March fans of opera in Much Wenlock and Bridgnorth are able to see a live streaming of ‘Madama Butterfly’ directly from the Royal Opera House. Puccini’s Madama Butterfly is one of the most popular of all operas, with ravishing music and a heartbreaking story of a loving geisha deserted by a callous American husband. Soprano Ermonela Jaho sings the title role for the first time at Covent Garden, in a stunningly beautiful production. Curtain up at 7.15pm.

Easter choral concert

Bridgnorth Choral Society will be performing an Easter concert on Saturday 8 April at Bridgnorth Baptist Church which will feature a performance of Gounod’s beautiful St Cecilia Mass. Celebrated Tenor Andrew Lockwood returns to Bridgnorth for the performance as soloist for the mass and he will be joined by solosits Jayne Davies and Ron Vaughan for ‘The Heavens Are Telling’ from Haydn’s Creation and Steiner’s ‘God So Loved the World’.

Woodstock revisited with X-factor finalist

It will be peace and love at Bridgnorth’s Theatre on the Steps when X-Factor finalist Melanie Masson stars in ‘Janis Joplin & Friends In The Woodstock Experience’ on Saturday 15 April. Relive the ‘summer of love’ in a celebration of music from the pivotal concert that changed the world. Featuring classics from the original Woodstock line up including songs from Joe Cocker, Crosby, Stills & Nash, The Who, Santana, The Band, Sly & the Family Stone, Airplane, Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix and of course, Janis Joplin, and performed by singers and musicians straight from London’s West End. Even if you can’t remember the 60’s you’ll LOVE the Woodstock Experience! Tickets £20 from 01746 766477 or visit theatreonthesteps.co.uk. Get your hippy on at 8 pm.

Political epic in Shropshire

Shakespeare fans have the chance to see a live RSC streaming of ‘Julius Caesar’ on Wednesday 26 April at The Edge Arts Centre in Much Wenlock and Bridgnorth’s Majestic Cinema. Angus Jackson directs Shakespeare’s epic political tragedy, as the race to claim the empire spirals out of control; Caesar returns from war, all-conquering, but mutiny is rumbling through the corridors of power….with spin and betrayal turning to violence. As relevant today as then. The show starts at 7pm and pre-booking is recommended.

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