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Am-Dram: Murder, Messina and macabre musical mayhem

Classic dramatic plays are a must for amateur performers. A well written script will not only test the performers’ abilities and thus help them to improve their skills, but will also show off their talents in the best light.

The all-star line-up for the 1993 film adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing
The all-star line-up for the 1993 film adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing

With this in mind, am dram groups often choose well-established plays and Attfield Theatre, based in Oswestry is no exception.

From May 16-21, this talented group will perform Harold Brighouse’s unforgettable Hobson’s Choice at their venue at Guildhall.

Henry Hobson is the overbearing owner of a shoe shop. His three daughters, Alice, Vicky and Maggie work for him, but are very eager to spread their wings. When the headstrong Maggie announces she intends to marry Henry's employee Will Mossop, father and daughter engage in an intense showdown. As Maggie works on launching a competing business, she also helps her sisters free themselves of their domineering father.

The 1954 film version of this comedy drama starred Charles Laughton – one of this country’s most prolific actors of that era – in the title role, with a young John Mills as Will Mossop, Brenda de Banzie as Maggie and Prunella Scales as Vicky.

The stage version is equally as beguiling and is perfect British comedy at its absolute best.

For tickets, visit attfieldtheatre.co.uk or call 07544113511.

Shakespearian productions are of course the pinnacle of British drama and Wombourne Players are brave enough to present one of The Bard’s very best, Much Ado About Nothing, from May 18-21 at Wombourne Community Centre.

This group is celebrating their 75th anniversary this year and what better way than raising their game to present such an iconic piece.

The comedy, which is thought to have been written in 1598, is set in Messina and revolves around two romantic pairings that emerge when a group of soldiers arrive in the town.

For tickets visit the group’s Facebook page or call 01384 820360.

You cannot beat an Agatha Christie and the resident group at The Rose Theatre in Kidderminster are in agreement.

They have chosen And Then There Were None as their latest offering, running from May 16-21 with performances at 7.30pm nightly.

Ten strangers are summoned to a remote island. All that the guests have in common is that they have a wicked past and a secret they are unwilling to reveal.

As the weather turns and they become cut off from the mainland, one by one they are brutally murdered in accordance with the lines from a sinister nursery rhyme, but who is the killer?

As a novel And Then There Were None is certainly a page-turner. As a play it is terrifying and will have you on the edge of your seat until the very last scene!

For tickets visit rosetheatre.co.uk or call 01562 743745.

The Shropshire Drama Company is auditioning for their latest production, Art, which they will perform later in the year.

Set in Paris, Art is the tale of three friends, Serge, Marc and Yvan, who find their previously solid 15-year friendship on shaky ground when Serge buys an expensive painting.

Previous British versions of the play have starred Nigel Havers and Dennis Lawson and have enjoyed several UK tours over the years. It is definitely one for the gentlemen.

The auditions take place on May 19 at Severn Hospice in Bicton at 7.30pm. For more information, email shropsdramaco@gmail.com

If you are more of a musical theatre devotee, there are some excellent amateur performances coming up over the next few weeks.

Sutton Coldfield Musical Youth Theatre will present Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s macabre rock comedy, Little Shop of Horrors from May 31-June 4, at Sutton Coldfield Town Hall.

Seymour is a hapless florist who accidentally raises a plant that he soon finds out thrives on human blood!

The score of this delightful, if a little madcap, show includes Suddenly Seymour, Feed Me, Somewhere That’s Green and of course the title song which is a best-loved number for amateur performers.

For tickets, visit suttoncoldfieldtownhall.com or call 0121 296 9543.

Walsall Operatic Society is presenting the Pulitzer and Tony Award winning smash hit musical, Rent, from May 25-28 at The Lamp Arts Centre in Brownhills.

Based on Puccini’s opera, La Boehme, Rent is the story of a group of bohemians, each facing their own personal struggles in New York’s East Village.

A completely unique, moving and thought-provoking piece, it features timeless musical theatre songs by Jonathan Larson including the beloved ‘Seasons of Love’, ‘La Vie Boehme’, ‘Take Me or Leave Me’, ‘One Song Glory’, and of course the title song.

I have to admit this is a firm favourite of mine and a show which brings back very personal and proud memories for me, as it was the first show my son Alastair directed at the age of 17.

For tickets, visit walsalloperatic.com

Finally this week, Shrewsbury Musical Theatre Company is searching for performers for their forthcoming production of Ghost the Musical.

The role of Willy Lopez is an interesting one for a male actor who can portray a lowlife with no morals, and is described as “someone you would avoid on a dark night.”

Then the role of the crooked medium Oda Mae Brown is one made famous by the incomparable Whoopie Goldberg in the movie version of Ghost, and is a larger-than-life character, with a heart of gold. She needs to be a mezzo soprano with a playing age of between 30 to 65.

Oda Mae has two assistants, Clara and Louise. Age is not an issue here, but they need to be loud, proud and shameless! Strong singers are preferred, but comedy actresses are a must too.

Get the picture? Fit the bill? Email jaynegarner@icloud.com for further details.

Well, that’s all for this week. Email me at alison.norton@expressandstar.co.uk, call me on 01902 319662 or follow me on Twitter @AlisonNorton or on Facebook with all your news and remember to include good quality colour photos too.

Break a leg!

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