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Your Midlands and Shropshire am dram guide

By Alison Norton | Theatre & Comedy | Published:

So many of the youth theatre companies across our region have outstanding reputations and are never afraid to tackle shows with hard-hitting, adult themes.

Jesus Christ Superstar

Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts, or BITA as it is affectionately known, is bringing their very own, unique production of Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice’s rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar to the Old Rep Theatre in the city from October 30 to November 2.

The diverse cast of 12-to-19-year olds have a highly skilled production team behind them, including Chris Passey their Musical Director, choreographer, Attiya Partridge who is being joined by Hamilton star, Cleve September and the award-winning designer Andrew Exeter, who has recently been the lighting designer for BTA’s season at Southwark Playhouse, his associate Sam Oates, and sound engineer Dan Dean.

A lot of companies who perform JCS do tend to costume it themselves, but BITA have costume designer Shan Nolan on hand to ensure the look is as professional as possible.

Cleve September said: “I think JCS is an extraordinary show, so it’s fitting that we have given it to an extraordinary group of kids! They put their heart and soul into everything they do.

“They meet once a week and produce a level of work so high that’s always inspiring.

"They commit themselves fully to the choreography, vocals and storytelling of the piece and I am so excited to see the final piece come to life. Working with them has been a lot of fun, and I am so proud of all their achievements.”

The score of JCS includes Heaven on Their Minds, Hosanna, I Don’t Know How to Love Him and of course the title song. It’s thought-provoking theatre and in its time was considered to be both controversial and contentious.

For tickets visit www.bitamt.org.uk , www.oldreptheatre.co.uk or visit the group’s Facebook page.

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Over in Shropshire, Mad Cow Productions is presenting one of Agatha Christie’s best-loved thrillers, Murder on the Nile, from October 16 to 19 in the Walker Theatre within Theatre Severn.

This atmospheric piece sees Kay Ridgeway, a woman blessed with both beauty and money and her new husband embark on their honeymoon on a voyage down the Nile, but when Kay is brutally murdered, it is up to the infamous Hercule Poirot to find the killer.

A whole host of passengers from an assortment of backgrounds, all with a reason to kill are under scrutiny, but who did it?

For tickets priced at £16.50 and £18 visit www.theatresevern.co.uk or call 01743 281281.

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Meanwhile, if you are a fan of music from the 1950’s and 1960’s, why not pop along to The Rose Theatre in Kidderminster for Carpet Trades Musical Theatre Company’s Production of Return to the Forbidden Planet from October 14 to 19?

Loosely based on Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest and the 1956 sci-fi classic film Forbidden Planet, Return to the Forbidden Planet finds a spaceship, helmed by Captain Tempest, making an emergency landing on the uncharted planet of D ’Illyria.

This show is Shakespeare’s unwritten rock ‘n’ roll masterpiece featuring hits including Great Balls of Fire, The Monster Mash, Good Vibrations and Wipeout to name but a few.

Throw in a roller-skating robot, unrequited love, and a scary space monster, and you’ve got one crazy show.

To book, visit www.rosetheatre.co.uk or call 01562 743745.

The Wind in the Willows remains as popular with children as it was when it was first published way back in 1908.

The author Kenneth Grahame retired from this city job as secretary at The Bank of England and spent his time literally to quote the book, “messing around in boats” on the banks of the River Thames, which lead of course to the creation of his characters, Mr Toad, Ratty, Mr Badger, Mole and their arch enemies, the infamous weasels, stoats and ferrets.

The stage adaptation of this classic tale is just as beguiling as the original book and Hall Green Little Theatre will present The Wind in the Willows from October 11 to 19 in their own performance space at Pemberley Rd, Birmingham.

Join the characters for an exciting adventure along the riverbank and see if they can stop the Wicked Weasel and his gang from taking over Toad Hall.

For tickets priced at £8 each, call 03336663366 or visit www.hglt.co.uk.

On a much more serious note, Wombourne Players will present a play by Emlyn Williams called Night Must Fall on October 16-19 at Wombourne Community Centre, with performances at 7.30pm nightly.

The play, which was written and first performed in 1935, is a psychological drama set in the 1930's.

The action takes place in Mrs Bramson's remote bungalow on the edge of a forest. She lives there, together with her niece Olivia, her cook and her maid. The maid is having an affair with Dan, a porter at a nearby hotel where a woman has mysteriously vanished and the police are investigating her disappearance.

The film version of Night Must Fall, based on the play, was made in 1937 and starred Robert Montgomery as Dan, Rosalind Russell as Olivia Grayne and Dame May Whitty as Mrs Bramson.

In this production, Lynda Dunn plays Mrs Bramson, with Sarah Aldridge a Olivia and Chris Clarke as Dan.

This talented group who produce two plays a year, usually during May and October, meet on Monday nights in the Community Room at 8pm and would welcome anyone who is interested in joining them, either on stage or off.

For tickets and more information on Wombourne Players, call Sarah 01902 324686 or visit http://www.wombourneplayers.org.uk

Finally this week, a huge shout out for Jets and Sharks to join Black Country based youth group The Young Ones for their forthcoming production of West Side Story.

They are seeking boys and girls aged 10 to 22 to appear as the two New York gangs in this classic Bernstein musical.

They rehearse at Birch Coppice Chapel on Monday and Tuesday evenings and the show will be from February 12 to 15 at Netherton Arts Centre.

For more information contact Chris Dodwell on 01384 78290 or Chris Sykes on 01384 895266, or you can visit the group’s Facebook page.

That’s all for this week. Please send me all your news and good quality colour photos to accompany your articles 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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