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Your Midlands and Shropshire am dram guide

By Alison Norton | Features | Published:

A work colleague asked me the other day for some information about the Arena Theatre in Wolverhampton. He had walked past it by chance and noticed it for the very first time and was keen to find out more.

Young performers from the Grand Arena Youth Theatre

This little gem is hidden away on Wulfruna Street, just behind the Art Gallery and is part of the University of Wolverhampton, although it is also available for hire.

Meanwhile, the Arena Theatre has joined forces with the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre on a project aimed at our younger readers.

The Grand Arena Youth Theatre has been in collaboration with the Arena Theatre for two years now and has been a huge success.

Young performers who are members of the group currently enjoy learning new drama techniques from professional practitioners, with everything from improvisation to physical theatre.

With plenty of musical theatre and dance opportunities available locally to young people, Grand Arena Youth Theatre offers a rare opportunity for young actors to devise their own dramatic pieces instead.

Since the group started the members have performed five shows. The most recent show was George Orwell’s Animal Farm, which was performed by the senior members who are aged between 14 to 18 on the Grand Theatre stage back in May.

Junior members between the ages of 8 to 12 years are also welcome to join, so there are plenty of opportunities whatever the age group.

The new term is about to start on September 16, with classes for juniors held at 6pm-7.30pm and seniors from 8pm to 9.30pm every Monday evening at the Arena Theatre.

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For details of prices and for more information on the Grand Arena Youth Group, call 01902 429212 or visit https://www.grandtheatre.co.uk/grand-arena-youth-theatre/ or email lizzies@grandtheatre.co.uk.

I know I always say this, but theatre really is for everyone, both able-bodied and disabled.

With this in mind, if you are hard of hearing or completely deaf but love to sing, Integreat Theatre is the perfect group for you.

After a short break, the group has reformed and is holding a taster session for both hearing and deaf singers at The Custard Factory in Birmingham on September 15 at 2pm to 4pm.

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No experience is necessary. The aim of the group is simply to integrate deaf and hearing communities through drama and performance.

For more information, contact Angela Twigg at angela@integreattheatre.org.uk or call 0795716634. They have a Facebook page too.

Also for our young readers, The Danielle Myers Academy of Performing Arts opens its doors again on September 22 at Christ Church, Church Road, Tettenhall Wood.

If you would like to learn to sing, act and dance this may be the class for you. It caters for 3 to 9-year olds and then 10 to 16-year olds each Saturday morning.

For more information, look the class up on Facebook or simply drop in between 9am and 12 noon each Saturday.

The Pantomime season is looming large believe it or not.

I have already interviewed Su Pollard and Jeffrey Holland, two stars of the Wolverhampton Grand pantomime, Dick Whittington over the last couple of weeks and the amateur groups out there are also beginning to launch their festive favourites.

Cannock Chase Drama Society is presenting Sleeping Beauty from January 23 to 26 and have their launch night on September 12 at Longford Social Club at 8pm.

There will be a group singing workshop, a movement and dance class and a chance to meet the production team and existing members of the group.

Are you a dame, a prince or a good fairy? Or maybe, like me, you would prefer to play the wicked witch? Either way, pop along and join them, or visit the group’s Facebook page for more information.

On a more serious note, you can catch a production of Nell Gwynn by Jessica Swale at the Crescent Theatre in Birmingham from September 14 to 21.

Charles II’s restoration to the monarchy in 1660 was to breathe new life into London theatre. In her bawdy, joyful and irreverent account of the rise to fame of the most unlikely heroine, Nell Gwynn – from the humblest of backgrounds to London’s most successful actress and favourite mistress of the King – Swale captures beautifully the spirit of the age, giving us an affectionate, highly entertaining celebration of theatrical life itself.

The recommended age for this show is 14 years and over, so be mindful when booking tickets.

Visit www.crescent-theatre.co.uk for more information.

There is an evening of musical theatre treats in store on September 28, with Manor Musical Theatre Company Does Musicals, a one-night concert featuring a host of musical theatre favourites, including Sunset Boulevard, Dear Evan Hansen, Rent, Oliver and Mary Poppins to name but a few.

There are two performances at two different venues on the day; 2.30pm at St. Michael’s Church in Boldmere and then 7.30pm at Banners Gate Community Church.

Tickets are £10 each, with a £1 discount for orders of ten or more and they can purchased on line at Ticket Source or call 07742 046039.

Finally this week, from September 18 to 21, Kidderminster Operatic and Dramatic Society is presenting A Bunch of Amateurs at the Rose Theatre.

This witty play by Nick Newman and Ian Hislop, sees a fading Hollywood action hero land in England, supposedly to play King Lear at Stratford.

What he has actually got himself involved in is an amateur performance of The Bard’s play and he is surrounded by very enthusiastic am dram thespians! Move over Kenneth Branagh and Dame Judi Dench.

Coral Dickinson, Director, said: “I feel privileged to be working with such a talented cast and can’t wait to get them in front of an audience.

“Not a rehearsal has gone by where we haven’t laughed until we cried! From witty one-liners to a simple facial reaction, this script is funny on its own, but to see it performed is truly hilarious, yet heartfelt and uplifting."

For tickets visit http://www.rosetheatre.co.uk/ or call 01562 743745.

That’s all for this week. Please send me all your news to a.norton@expressandstar.co.uk and remember to include good quality colour photos too. Alternatively, you can call me on 01902 319662 or follow me on Twitter @AlisonNorton

Break a leg!

Alison Norton

By Alison Norton
@AlisonNorton

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

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