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Your Midlands and Shropshire am dram guide

By Alison Norton | Theatre & Comedy | Published:

Why not take a trip along The Yellow Brick road to the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre this week, as West Bromwich Operatic Society presents the children’s classic tale, The Wizard of Oz.

The Wizard of Oz

Based on L. Frank Baum’s unique novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, written in 1900, this is the stage adaptation of the 1939 musical fantasy film which starred Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr and Jack Haley.

A Christmas time, Easter Sunday and Bank Holiday favourite, The Wizard of Oz has been enjoyed by countless families across the world and in my opinion, is one the most entertaining and pleasurable of all children’s stories.

But it is also a very intelligent tale, peppered with social and political references if you dig a little deeper. For instance, did you know that it is believed that the tornado which takes Dorothy to Oz was a common symbol in the 1890s for political upheaval and revolutionary change? Or that Wicked Witch of the East, who was squashed and killed by Dorothy’s house represents the evil bankers and the wealthy eastern establishment?

Or that the Emerald City represents money, the Yellow Brick Road represents gold and the Tin Man represents industrialism and factory workers? The list is endless, but the point is that L. Frank Baum was certainly not just a children’s author depicting a fairy story.

The stage version of Oz is filled with instantly recognisable songs including Ding Dong the Witch is Dead, The Merry Old Land of Oz, Follow the Yellow Brick Road, We’re Off to See the Wizard and of course the unforgettable Over the Rainbow.

In this production, Jessica Harrison takes the enviable role of Dorothy, with Alex Woolliscroft as the Scarecrow, Elliott Mann as the Tin Man and Andy Foggin as the Cowardly Lion.

Of course, no production of The Wizard of Oz would be complete without the witches and so Emma Wetherall will take the role of Glinda the Good and Sarah Moors will be painting her face green to play the Wicked Witch of the West. Finally, Tim Jones will play the title role.

So, if you fancy a trip over the rainbow with your little ones, call 01902 429212 or visit www.grandtheatre.co.uk for tickets.

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Meanwhile, Aldridge Youth Theatre has welcomed a new director for their forthcoming production of Amanda Whittington’s comedy, Be My Baby, which the group will perform from September 19 to 21.

Jonathan Backrath has performed with this group many times on stage and is now all set to tackle issues which are just as prevalent today as when the play is set, in the 1960’s.

Mary Adams is 19 years old, unmarried and pregnant and sent in secrecy to a mother-and-baby home, run by a formidable matron, with a view to adoption of the child. While dealing with serious dilemmas, the play is touching and funny. The girls’ effervescence breaks through and depicts their spirit, as they sing along to girl-group songs of the period.

This is a senior youth production and so the recommended age limit to see the show is 12 years old plus, so bear that in mind when booking tickets.

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For more information and to book, visit www.aldridgeyouththeatre.co.uk or call 01922 458615.

Codsall Dramatic Society will present Richard Everett’s play, Entertaining Angels from September 25 to 27 at Codsall Village Hall.

First produced at the Chichester Festival Theatre in 2009, starring in incomparable Penelope Keith in the principal role, Entertaining Angels introduces us to Grace, a clergy wife, who has spent a lifetime on her best behaviour.

Now, following the death of her husband Bardolph, she can enjoy the new-found freedom to do and say exactly as she pleases. But the return of her eccentric missionary sister, Ruth, together with some disturbing revelations, forces Grace to confront the truth of her marriage.

For tickets, drop into Ian Rigby Jewellers at Birches Bridge or Village Crafts on The Square in Codsall, visit www.codsalldramaticsociety.co.uk or call 01902 267322.

Over in Shropshire, the Horsehay Amateur Dramatic Society near Telford is presenting The Flint Street Nativity, a hilarious festive comedy by Tim Firth.

Miss Horrock’s class of seven-year-olds is about perform their nativity play at Flint Street Junior School for the proud mums and dads and the occasional social worker.

Squabbles arise when Gabriel wants to play Mary, the Star grumbles he’s not a proper star like they have at NASA, Herod won’t stop waving to his mum and dad and the subversive Innkeeper is determined to liven up the traditional script. And then the stick insect escapes.

Sounds crazy? It is, but very funny as all the children are played by adults. Then, the children's characters evolve into mirror images of their parents, when the actors all appear as their parents at the post-show gathering.

For tickets, visit www.hads.me or emailjencedwards@icloud.com.

One of Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s best compositions in my opinion is Sunset Boulevard.

This stunning show boasts a score which includes As If We Never Said Goodbye, With One Look, The Perfect Year and of course the title song and that’s just for starters. There are also a whole host of roles for all age groups in addition to the leading man and lady, Joe and Norma.

Trinity Players who are based in Sutton Coldfield are seeking principals for their forthcoming version of Sunset Boulevard and will be holding auditions shortly.

For more information, visit the group’s Facebook page or email info@trinityplayers.com.

The launch night for the show is in December.

Finally this week, another concert in aid of a good cause is taking place on September 28 at The Friary School in Lichfield.

Local performer, Jamie Norgrove and some of his friends are staging an evening of songs from the stage and screen entitled A Concert for Carter, in aid of Carter, an outgoing little boy who receives treatment at Birmingham Children’s Hospital for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

Jamie said, “Every penny from this concert will go to these wonderful charities to help sick children and their families through the toughest times in their lives.”

For tickets visit Carter the Brave’s Facebook Page or book online at www.trybooking.co.uk/KDL

That’s all for this week. Send me all your news and good quality photos to a.norton@expressandstar.co.uk, 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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