Am dram with Alison Norton

The BBC is marking the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death with a live programme from the RSC over the weekend of April 23 and 24.

Am dram with Alison Norton

From left, Shropshire Youth Theatre’s Sam Marcroft, Ruth Streetly and Annabel Love in Twelfth Night

Contributions include David Tennant, Judi Dench and Benedict Cumberbatch, to name but a few of the great actors lucky enough to have presented his works.

A fellow amateur actress once told me that she had had a conversation with someone who said, ‘Shakespeare is rubbish!’ She promptly replied: “In your opinion. His works have, however, lasted for more than 400 years and therefore to say he is rubbish is rather silly. You can say you don’t like Shakespeare, but you cannot in all honesty say it is rubbish, can you?”

Well said! I agree and so do many others, it would seem.

Amateur performers are also celebrating the Bard’s anniversary with a variety of different tributes.

On April 23 young singers from Elmfield School in Stourbridge, Old Swinford Hospital School and Summerhill Choral Society from Kingswinford will perform the Youth Showcase Concert at St James’s Church in Wollaston.

The choirs will perform several arrangements of Shakespeare’s songs which he wrote for inclusion in his plays, and the event is organised by Local and Live, a non-profit-making group based in Stourbridge, assisted by Irish composer Shaun Davey.

Spokesman Graham Smith said: “The concert will be a wonderful tribute to the world’s greatest playwright, born in nearby Stratford-Upon-Avon, and will be an entertaining evening for anyone who enjoys good choral singing.”

For tickets, priced at £9 each, contact 01384 377162. Under-18s are free.

Meanwhile, Shropshire Youth Theatre is presenting Twelfth Night at Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury, also in celebration of Shakespeare.

This is the tale of two siblings separated by a storm and washed ashore in Illyria surrounded by aristocrats, knights, fools and pirates.

A riotous farce with a host of unusual characters – including the tragic noblewoman, Lady Olivia, the drunken cavaliers, Sir Toby and Sir Andrew, Malvolio and his yellow stockings and the swashbuckling Antonia – Twelfth Night is a love story guaranteed to thrill and entertain.

Shropshire Youth Theatre is made up of budding young thespians and is run by its own student committee. The senior group of 13 to 25 year olds have been working hard on this production since last September and are now looking forward to performing the play on April 22 to 23.

For tickets priced at £14 and £10 each and for more information on the group call 01743 281281 or visit

Charlemont Dramatic Society will be performing their spring production, Deborah McAndrew’s comedy farce Flamingoland, at The Theatre, Gayton Road Community Centre in West Bromwich, from April 27 to 30, with curtain up at 7.30pm.

Control freak Mari wades through the clutter of her attic during a sort-out for what she refers to as The Big Move, only to find family photographs of trips to the Flamingoland theme park she and her sister Bridie visited as children.

Before long, however, bittersweet memories flood her mind, skeletons emerge from cupboards and tempers fray. To make matters worse, there are squirrels in the roof, slowly eating their way through her belongings.

Will Mari choose to leave the past alone, and what exactly is The Big Move? Go and see for yourself.

Directed by Anthony Hyde, in this production the role of Mari is taken by Sylvia Hill, with Stephanie Agger as Kathleen and Chris Bates as Dave. CADS is also pleased to welcome newcomers Angela Hayes, who will be playing Bridie, and Danielle Millard as Sadie.

For tickets call 0121 357 4169 or email

This award-winning group are nominated yet again for NODA’s Best Dramatic Production 2015 for their version of Ladies Day.

We will find out on Sunday if they have been successful yet again. Fingers crossed!

A popular show for a small cast is Godspell, which On the Floor Theatre Company will present at St Mary’s Church in Kidderminster from April 21 to 23. The group is performing to raise funds for the church roof which has been damaged by vandals. Well done, guys!

Based on a series of parables from the Gospel of Matthew, Godspell caused some controversy when it first emerged back in the early 1970s, but the score, which includes Day by Day, Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord, We Beseech Thee and Turn Back Oh Man, is catchy and entertaining and the script witty and thought-provoking. So to see a talented group in action and support the St Mary’s appeal call 07793 534560 or 07849 217478 for tickets, priced at £9 each.

Aldridge Youth Theatre, who perform at their own venue in Noddy Park Road, is presenting a new version of The Secret Garden, written by Jessica Swale, based on Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic tale.

Mary Lennox is suddenly orphaned and shipped from her home in India to live with her reclusive uncle in a manor house on the Yorkshire moors.

Rather a spoilt child, Mary meets her match when she makes friends with a local boy called Dicken and his sister Martha who is Mary’s maid. Together, the threesome explore the mysteries the manor house holds and find a secret garden in which their adventures unfold.

Running from April 21 to 23, with performances at 7.30pm nightly, you can buy tickets priced at £6 to £7 by calling 01922 458615. Bear in mind that the play is really aimed at children aged nine years and above.

Finally, a casting opportunity. Wombourne Players are seeking an actress with a playing age of 25 to 45 years to appear in their forthcoming production of Visiting Hour. There is just six weeks to go until opening night, so if you are up for a challenge and would like more information regarding this pivotal comedy role visit

Alison Norton
Alison Norton

Well, that’s all for this week. Please send all your news and good quality photographs to, call me on 01902 319662 or follow me on Twitter here.

By Alison Norton

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