Your Midlands and Shropshire am dram guide

By Alison Norton | Theatre & Comedy | Published:

The quality of the performances of the youth theatre groups in our area is second to none.

James Bastable who is playing Sweeney Todd for Quarry Bank Musical Theatre Youth Section

They seem to tackle the most difficult of shows with all the enthusiasm and professionalism of much more experienced, adult amateur companies and never even blink an eye.

That said, the youth groups do have an amazing selection of shows to choose from, with the majority of the classic musical theatre productions now being available in junior versions.

Add to that the youngsters’ completely uninhibited approach and confidence beyond their years and you cannot fail.

Those of you who knew and loved Mitchell Bastable, the local amateur performer who sadly passed away in August 2018, will be delighted to know that his son, James is following in Dad’s footsteps, as he appears in Quarry Bank Musical Theatre Youth Section’s production of Sweeney Todd from September 18 to 21 at Stourbridge Town Hall.

James is playing the leading role of the demon barber alongside an excellent cast of young musical theatre stars including Darcie Edwards as Mrs Lovett, Alex Cook as Anthony and Alex Cooper at Johanna.

Sweeney Todd has become a worldwide success since being awarded eight Tony's, including Best Musical, for its Broadway premiere. Stephen Sondheim's and Hugh Wheeler's thrilling, theatrical treat has simultaneously shocked, awed and delighted audiences ever since.

Sweeney Todd, an unjustly exiled barber, returns to nineteenth century London, seeking vengeance against the lecherous judge who framed him and ravaged his young wife.

The road to revenge leads Todd to Mrs. Lovett, a resourceful proprietor of a failing pie shop, above which, he opens a new barber practice. Then Mrs. Lovett's luck sharply shifts when Todd's thirst for blood inspires the integration of a new ingredient into her meat pies! You can guess the rest!


Although not the nicest of tales, this show does have a wonderful score which includes Not While I’m Around, Johanna, No Place Like London, My Friends and A Little Priest.

Spokesperson, Sarah Coussens told me: “Our award-winning group won both the NODA District 8 Award for Best Youth Production and the Birmingham District Theatre Guild Challenge Cup for last year's Phantom of the Opera.

"Our Youth Section loves to push the boundaries of musical theatre and give our local talent the chance to perform some of these spectacular, well-known musicals.”

For tickets, visit or call 07704938454.


Over in the Shropshire area, another youth group, Telford Youth Theatre, is looking for new members.

If you are aged between nine and 21 years old and would like to take part, contact Sam on 07772389883 or email for more information.

Viva Musica Choir from Stourbridge is celebrating their 30th anniversary this year.

In September 1988, Dudley Arts Council asked Rosemary Phillips, Musical Director of Viva Musica, to direct a choir of singers from local operatic societies.

After a successful concert many of singers expressed their interest in being part of a permanent choir and so in January 1989 Viva Musica was born.

From the beginning the choir has enjoyed performing concerts throughout the year, singing to a high standard and supporting charities. It has a wide-ranging repertoire including operatic, classical, Broadway favourites and modern music.

The choir is also very proud of the friendships that are formed and the support that the members offer to each other.

This year the choir will be holding an open evening to invite budding singers to join them and to meet the members. This will be held on September 17 at 7.15pm at Ham Dingle Primary School, Stourbridge.

Their next concert, entitled Let the People Sing, is on October 19 at 7pm at St Mary’s Church, Oldswinford. This will be a fabulous evening with the choir performing favourite pieces from the last 30 years.

For further information about Viva Musica, their concerts and their open evenings please visit or see the choir’s Facebook page.

Another choir in action over the next couple of weeks is the Cradley Heath Male Voice Choir, who will be performing their concert, An Evening of Music for You, at Cradley Heath Salvation Army on Meredith Street on September 28 at 7pm.

Tickets are just £5 each from David Perry on 0752252654 or from the Cradley Heath Salvation Army office. All proceeds are in aid of Netherton District Rangers international trip to Hong Kong, China and Singapore in 2020.

In Kidderminster at The Rose Theatre, there is an evening of Music from the Movies on September 28 to 29.

You can look forward to songs from Oscar winners including Evergreen, Alfie, Chicago, How Do I live Without You? and I Will Always Love You, brought to you by a talented group of performers from the Midlands area, featuring a live band and a host of singers.

The event is produced by Greg Boughton to support The Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) and The Worcester Carers Association.

The MCF supports charities that help thousands of disadvantaged and vulnerable people to live happy, fulfilling lives. St Basil’s charity to aid young homeless, the NICE Centre for Movement disorders and Side by Side Theatre company have all been recipients of their funds.

For tickets visit or call 01562 743745.

Finally this week, you can catch a production of Absolute Hell, the hard-hitting drama by Rodney Ackland, presented by director Dexter Whitehead and his group at Sutton Arts Centre from September 12 to 21.

This play is an intoxicating look at post-war Soho, amid the bomb-blasted city. In a den of iniquity where members of a club drink long into the night, lying, fighting and seduction take place as these lost souls struggle from the rubble of war towards an unknown future.

At the time it was written, the play was considered to be both controversial and shocking, so it’s not one for the feint-hearted, but an excellent dramatic piece all the same.

For tickets, visit , call 0121 355 5355 or visit the group’s Facebook page.

That’s all for this week. Please send me all your news and good quality photos to, call me on 01902 319662 or follow me on Twitter @AlisonNorton

Break a leg!

Alison Norton

By Alison Norton

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


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