West Midlands and Shropshire am dram guide: Something old and new for drama fans

It’s a mixture of old and new this week across am dram land, with groups offering their audiences the usual wide variety of drama and musicals – we aim to please!

The extremely talented Bilston Youth Theatre has taken on one of the longest-running, best-loved dramatic musicals of all time – the schools’ version of Les Miserables – which they will perform from April 19 to 23 at the Mill Theatre in Sedgley.

An especially adapted version of the musical to meet the needs of young performers, the show runs for just over two hours. Even though it has been abridged, the epic story and wonderful score remain largely intact, recounting the struggle of a petty thief called Jean Valjean, who stole a loaf of bread to save his sister’s child.

Now a reformed, honest man and respected pillar of society, he still spends his life on the run from the relentless Inspector Javert, determined to expose him for his desperate actions.

The score is just incredible and includes One Day More, Castle On A Cloud, On My Own and Do You Hear The People Sing, all of which are guaranteed to produce goose-bumps.

In this production, 18-year-old Thomas Telford student Olly Derham takes the role of Jean Valjean, with Highfield School pupils, in 15-year-old Jacob Kohli as Javert and 16-year-old Jess Oldford as Fantine.

For tickets. priced at £15 each, email bilstonoperatic@hotmail.co.uk or visit the company’s Facebook page.

It is a very brave company indeed that takes on Monty Python’s infamous musical, Spamalot, but as their name suggests – Mad Cow Productions, who perform at Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury – have done just that!

From April 28 to 30 you can catch the antics of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table as well as killer rabbits, witch burnings, the whole French nation and the Knights that say ‘ni’.

Written by John Du Prez and Eric Idle, Spamalot is surely one of the best Broadway musicals of the modern age. It’s completely camp and utterly crazy!

The score simply oozes madcap tunes including The Fisch Schlapping Dance, I’m Not Dead Yet, All For One and, of course, the hilarious duet between King Arthur and the Lady of the Lake called The Song That Goes Like This; a parody of everything musical theatre.

For laughs-a-plenty, a little bit of shock value and an evening of sheer madness, call the Theatre Severn box office on 01743 281281 or visit www.madcowproductions.co.uk

Calamity Jane remains a firm favourite for amateur performance and the latest group to present this thigh-slapping, rootin’ tootin’ high energy musical is Stafford and District Operatic Society from April 19 to 23 at the Stafford Gatehouse Theatre.

The beautiful Doris Day immortalised the role of Calamity on the big screen, forever creating the image of the tomboy fast shooter. In order to save the neck of local saloon owner, Henry Miller, Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickock set out to bring the glamorous Chicago-based actress Adelaide Adams to Deadwood City.

The problem is that when Calamity hits the Windy City, Adelaide’s maid, Katie Brown, poses as her employer and returns to Deadwood in her place. It isn’t long until Katie wins the heart of every male in town, including Calamity’s love hope, Lt Danny Gilmartin. Can Calamity win him back?

For tickets priced at £10 to £15, visit www.staffordoperaticsociety.co.uk

Brierley Hill Musical Theatre Company is helping to raise funds for local charities, including Action Heart, Leukaemia Appeal and the RNLI, by presenting a concert on April 16 at Brierley Hill Civic Hall.

Featuring popular tunes and West End hits from such shows as Annie, Me and My Girl, The Phantom of the Opera and Jesus Christ Superstar, it promises to be a great evening’s entertainment with more than 50 of the group’s members taking part. For tickets priced at just £10 each, call 01384 292233 or 07727 134358.

On April 10 at the Arena Theatre in Wolverhampton, auditions are taking place for two male leading roles, Eric and Edmond, to appear in the suspense filled musical thriller Flames, which AJM Theatrical Productions will present on July 29 to 30.

For more information on the audition email ajmtheatricalproductions@gmail.com or visit www.arena.wlv.ac

Finally this week, Lichfield Players are presenting Marc Camoletti’s hilarious farce Don’t Dress For Dinner from April 19 to 23.

While his wife is away, naughty Bernard plans a romantic weekend with his mistress at his country house on the outskirts of Paris. As an alibi, Bernard also invites his best friend, Robert, to join them – but Bernard is unaware Robert is also his wife Jacqueline’s fancy man. When Jacqueline cancels her plans and heads for the same location, it’s chaos and mayhem galore.

Show director Jim Worrallo said: “One of the great aspects of the Lichfield Players is the opportunities for people new to the society, as well as our well-known local actors and actresses.” For tickets, visit www.lichfieldplayers.org

By Alison Norton

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