Detectives, dance and dreams
Wolverhampton Grand Theatre / Jan 16
Acclaimed actor Jonathan Goodwin will star in a one-man homage to the world’s greatest detective. The show features the incomparable Holmes recounting highlights of his crime-busting career. It also includes autobiographical snippets concerning his life and times, the adversaries he has faced and mysteries he has solved. Birmingham-based Goodwin launched his macabre Victoriana theatre company Don’t Go Into the Cellar! in 2010. Since then he has created productions based on Sherlock Holmes, Oscar Wilde, detective Sexton Blake and the writings of MR James and Edgar Allen Poe.
He has been fascinated by classic literature from an early age. “The first book I read, when I was five or six, was the Hound of the Baskervilles,” he said “I’ve always loved Victorian ghost stories, Sherlock Holmes, the old black and white horror films with Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. There’s no one quite like me in the family. Little did I realise that when I grew up I’d be touring the country doing this.
“I used to be an events manager at the Custard Factory in Birmingham.” Redundancy encouraged him to spread his wings.
“I had a bit of redundancy money and didn’t want to get back on to that particular treadmill, so I set up the company with Gary Archer, the technical director, and actress Rachel Green. I’ve written 25 scripts since then and it’s been a case of learning as we go. I’ve had no drama training. My training, I suppose, is watching old horror films from the age of four. I always think how would my favourite actor Peter Cushing have played this? I used to go to acting auditions; I had a London agent but found myself being sent for jobs I didn’t actually want, like ads for toilet rolls. The types of jobs I wanted didn’t exist so it was a simple case of thinking, ‘If they’re not there I’m going to write them’.”
Fame The Musical
Shrewsbury Theatre Severn / Jan 28 – Feb 2
The definitive 30th anniversary tour of Fame The Musical will pull into Shrewsbury’s Theatre Severn on January 28. It will star Keith Jack (Any Dream Will Do, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat), soul star Mica Paris (Love Me Tender, Chicago, Mama I Want To Sing) and reality star and model Jorgie Porter (Hollyoaks, Dancing On Ice).
Based on the 1980 phenomenal pop culture film, Fame The Musical is the international smash hit sensation following the lives of students at New York’s High School For The Performing Arts as they navigate their way through the highs and lows, the romances and the heartbreaks and the ultimate elation of life. The bittersweet but uplifting show explores the issues that confront many young people today: prejudice, identity, pride, literacy, sexuality, substance abuse and perseverance.
Fame The Musical has seen seven West End runs since opening on Broadway in 1988 and continues to be one of the best loved musicals across the world. Featuring the Oscar-winning title song and a cast of outstanding dancers, singers, musicians and actors as they transform from star struck pupils to superstars, Fame The Musical has stood the test of time.
Jorgie Porter plays Iris and says it’s a fun show. “It wasn’t really my era, it was more the music,” she said. “When you’re in dance school and do a show, music from Grease and other films are always used, as was music from Fame. I remember opening a show with a kick *demonstrates* to a Fame track. Obviously I’ve seen every show and production of it now.”
Birmingham Hippodrome / Until Jan 27
He might not be the biggest name on the poster, but there’s only one star in Peter Pan – and that’s panto veteran Matt Slack. The veteran of six pantos and almost 500 shows, Slack is the man who makes the Hippodrome machine tick over.
He’s joined this year by the classy and evergreen Jimmy Osmond, Wolverhampton-born newbie Meera Syal and the brilliant vocalist and boy band star Jaymi Hensley. Britain’s Got Talent entertainer Sascha Williams and The Timbuktu Tumblers are joined by a full cast of dancers, singers and kids to complete the line-up. The panto is the biggest in the UK and with a huge budget promises all manner of stunts and special effects.
Producer Michael Harrison says fans are in for a treat. “We’re delighted to once again have assembled such a stellar line-up for this year’s production of Peter Pan, the first time the title has been staged there for 13 years,” he said. “We’re extremely excited to be presenting a production that will be packed full of brilliant song and dance, hilarious comedy and dazzling special effects.”
Anton and Erin – Dance Those Magical Musicals
Birmingham Symphony Hall / Jan 26
Strictly fans can join the nation’s favourite ballroom couple in their new, show-stopping dance production. They will be supported by TV favourite Lance Ellington and joined by the London Concert Orchestra, conducted by Richard Balcombe.
The world of ballroom will meet musical theatre with stunning costumes and breath-taking choreography set to iconic theatrical favourites: The Phantom of the Opera, Mary Poppins, 42nd Street, Hairspray, Cabaret, Wicked, Top Hat, Jersey Boys and many more.
Anton said: “We’ll be bringing the West End to the dancefloor and Erin and I simply can’t wait. You can expect fabulous dancing, music and song as well as wonderful costumes too. Erin and I are particularly excited about this tour as it brings together a collection of the most iconic numbers from some of our most favourite musicals – it really is going to be a very special production indeed.
“Joining us will be the London Concert Orchestra with conductor Richard Balcombe, a sensational West End dance ensemble and the brilliant star vocalist, mellifluous Lance Ellington. We’ll of course include the very popular ‘Q & A’ section where we answer questions live on stage.”
The show will be directed and choreographed by Nicky Woollaston.
Anton added: “Nicky is wonderful. She choreographs and directs our show and this time we’ve got these wonderful new dancers joining us too. I tried to choreograph the show the first year Erin and I went on tour and thought it was ridiculous trying to perform part of the show and choreograph it.
“I don’t like choreographing for myself any more. I’ve done everything I can think of so it’s nice to dance to someone else’s ideas.
“When you are doing stuff for yourself you can get a bit comfortable. If I am doing a new show such as Dance Those Magical Musicals for example, I want new – and I want to be pushed.”
Birmingham REP / Jan 16-26
One winter morning a little boy named James wakes up to find that everything outside has turned snow-white. Overjoyed, James rushes downstairs and into the garden, where he begins to build a snowman. He opens the back door…he can’t believe his eyes…the snowman has come to life.
James finds himself face to face with a smiling snowman, who, with a polite doff of his hat, introduces himself and marks the beginning of a magical friendship and marvellous adventure.
So it goes with The Snowman, a magical production that opened 24 years ago at Birmingham Repertory Theatre. Since then, it has been produced all over the world, been seen by over a million people and become the West End’s longest running Christmas show.