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Your Midlands and Shropshire am dram

By Alison Norton | Entertainment | Published:

The down-to-Earth, bittersweet compositions of playwright Willy Russell never fail to tug at the heart strings, arouse feelings you didn’t know you had and yet still amuse. Whether musical theatre or drama, his scripts are pure poetry and he has the exceptional ability to completely hit the nail on the head and capture true life.

Blood Brothers

One of his most popular offerings is of course Blood Brothers; the tale of twins parted at birth when their struggling single mother is unable to keep both of them and so gives one away to a wealthy family in the hope that he will have a better life.

Little does she realise that twins will always find each other and as the years go on, their lives become intertwined through happy times and sad, but with fatal consequences in the end.

At Dudley Little Theatre from September 20-23, the group is celebrating its 70th anniversary with the play adaptation of Blood Brothers. Regular theatre goers and members of the company itself were asked to identify their favourite plays from the 350 or more productions the company has presented since it began at Netherton Arts Centre in 1947. The top four plays will be performed over the coming season.

The group previously performed Blood Brothers back in 2009 and remember it playing to packed houses, such is the appeal.

In this new production, the leading roles of Mickey and Eddie are played by Ray Curran from Sedgley and Ellis Daker from Coseley respectively. Ray is also the musical director for Dudley Little Theatre and he has arranged the incidental music for this production too. Ellis is at university and has been with the group for three years. The coveted role of Mrs Johnstone is played by Rebecca Clee who is reprising this role, as she also played it in the 2009 production.

Directed by Lyndsey Ann Parker it promises to be the perfect opening to an exciting new season.

For tickets for Blood Brothers, call 01384 872583 or 07582318017 or visit www.dudleylittletheatre.org

In complete and utter contrast, Limelight, a charity based Kidderminster group who specialise in showcasing the talents of young performers, is presenting Footloose the musical from September 11-15 at the Civic Hall in Stourport.

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Probably best remembered for the 1984 movie version starring Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer, Footloose is the story of Ren McCormack, a young guy who has to move from Chicago to the small mid-west town of Bomont, only to find that the town he now calls home has made dancing and rock music illegal.

As he struggles to fit in, Ren faces an uphill battle to change things. With the help of his new friend, Willard Hewitt and the defiant teenage rebel and love interest Ariel Moore, he is determined to loosen things up, but Ariel’s influential father, Reverend Shaw Moore is standing in his way.

The score of the show is a total 1980s hit fest and includes Let’s Hear It for The Boy, Holding Out for a Hero, Mama Says and, of course, the title song.

It’s fun, feisty and flirty and though not the most intellectual tale, Footloose the musical is the perfect vehicle for young performers to show off their high-energy dancing skills, perform some pure pop music and generally have a ball.

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For tickets go to www.ticketsource.co.uk/limelight or call 01562 67705.

From September 21-23 at the Little Theatre in Donnington, Shropshire, you can catch a production of Edith in the Dark, the gothic thriller by Philip Meeks. It is an eerie tale to ease us into the darkening autumn evenings.

Based on the ghostly tales of Edith Nesbit, author of The Railway Children, Edith in the Dark is a haunting glimpse into the nightmarish inner world of the writer, whose reputation for cosy childhood innocence is only half the story. As midnight swiftly approaches, Edith reads one of her stories, but this time, not one of her cherished children’s tales, but one of her terrifying early horror stories. As the stories unfold it becomes clear all is not what it seems. Someone in the attic is hiding a deadly secret. Spooky and spine-chilling and unmissable.

For tickets visit www.littletheatredonnington.co.uk or call 01952 407959.

At Oldbury Rep, you can catch a production of Ronald Harwood’s comical play, Equally Divided from September 9-16.

The action takes place shortly after the funeral of Edith and Renata’s mother. Edith has devoted her life to taking care of the bedridden old lady, but it has left her embittered by her sacrifice and has robbed her of the opportunity to marry, while Renata is the glamorous lady-about-town with a string of husbands behind her and has spent her life doing just as she pleases.

No wonder when the contents of their mother’s will are made known, childhood rivalries re-emerge and the sisters are locked in a battle of comical exchanges.

It’s fun, but also a thought-provoking, morale tale too.

For tickets, visit www.oldburyrep.org or call 0121 552 2761.

Finally this week, Viva Música Choir from Stourbridge is looking out for new members.

For almost 30 years, this experienced choir has been performing a wide range of music from their vast repertoire, entertaining local audiences and raising money for charities including The Alzheimer’s Society and Mary Stevens Hospice.

With more than 70 mixed voices the choir has also earned an enviable reputation for performing with celebrity guests too, including Alfie Boe.

They met and rehearse on Tuesday evenings during term-time at Ham Dingle Primary School in Pedmore and on September 12 they are holding an open evening for anyone who might be interested in joining.

Just pop along to the school at 7.30pm or alternatively visit www.viva-musica.co.uk

Keep those emails and photos coming to a.norton @expressandstar.co.uk or call me on 01902 319662.

Alison Norton

By Alison Norton
@AlisonNorton

Theatre critic and unofficial 'am dram queen' for the Express & Star and Shropshire Star

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