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Spotlights from Tamworth Pantomime

TAMWORTH’S pantomime has been the talk of the town – oh yes it has!

The spotlights shooting from the giant Big Top on Tamworth Castle Grounds really intrigued me, so I was excited to watch the show when I took my seats for Cinderella. I’m pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed.

It’s a magical rollercoaster ride of love and comedy which has the audience booing and laughing in equal measure. Cinderella herself is played beautifully by Bethany Wright, with a lovely singing voice and a fantastic innocence that has the audience on her side all the way through the show. Her best friend Buttons (Thomas Priestley) hits the right note as the devoted best friend, making everybody smile and keeping the story flowing nicely.

The laugh-out-loud moments come from the Ugly Sisters (Alex Farrell and Terry Batham) whose outrageous costumes include a Hot Dog and Burger, a cupcake and cocktail and even Bill and Ben. One particular scene involving a rubber hammer had the person next to me doubled up in pain they were laughing that much!

One of the stars of the show for me is Elliot Scott-Lolley who plays Prince Charming. His suave demeanour and singing makes you forget that these performers are actually volunteers!

The Baroness (Monique Hopkin) was a tour de force, terrifying some of the children and keeping the boos and hisses going throughout.

This show also features a bit of star quality – former ITV newsreader Llewela Bailey who plays Queen Atherstonia with aplomb.

Other notable performances come from community champion Lee Bates who plays the wise-cracking and unusually camp Baron, a funny, thigh-slapping Dandini, the magical Fairy Godmother who glides magically around the stage, a helpless helper called Helpa and a Bit Part who’s always building his role.

All in all the show was a resounding success, with a fantastic ensemble that kept the pace flowing and jokes aplenty. Things went wrong, and that only added to the piece, with plenty of local references to keep a Tamworth audience entertained. There are only a few performances left, so get your tickets while you can – on the door or by calling 01827 709618.

 

Author Phil Shanahan will be signing copies of the new 75th anniversary edition of his book The Real Enigma Heroes in Tamworth’s Heritage Hub in Middle Entry on December 22 from 10am -3pm.

The updated print version marks 75 years since Tamworth man Colin Grazier gave his life on a secret mission which helped shorten the Second World War.

Colin (22), from Two Gates, and First Lieutenant Tony Fasson (29), from Scotland, drowned on October 30, 1942 seizing vital Enigma codebooks from a sinking German U-boat.

Author, Phil Shanahan

Author, Phil Shanahan

The men served on HMS Petard, a Royal Navy destroyer which had attacked the U-559. They boarded the stricken submarine after its desperate crew surrendered. Both men perished when the U-boat went down, but not before passing the codebooks to NAAFI canteen assistant Tommy Brown (16) who had also boarded the vessel. He survived, but died two years later in a house fire.

The captured material enabled Bletchley Park codebreakers to crack the German naval Enigma cipher, allowing essential supply ships to avoid U-boat attacks. Historians say the action shortened WW2 by at least a year.

Phil first became involved in the Enigma story in 1998 when he led a campaign to bring the men to public attention. His book captures one of the most extraordinary stories ever to come out of the war and is packed with eyewitness accounts.

It also charts the fight to honour the heroes, which saw Phil crossing swords with a Hollywood film director, meeting members of the Royal family, opening Alan Turing’s codebreaking hut to the public and being awarded the Freedom of Bletchley Park.

Noble Jacks in Concert

IF you’re stuck for a gift for friends and loved ones why not get Christmas all wrapped up with a theatre experience gift for a show in the New Year, as the Assembly Rooms continues on tour in Tamworth.

Touring Theatre has brought a variety of professional productions to community venues across the borough so far this year and is set to continue in February 2018, making a show ticket the perfect Christmas gift for any theatre lover.

Live & Local – the Midlands’ Rural and Community Touring Network – will continue to work with Tamworth community groups to provide volunteers with the tools they need to bring professional touring theatre companies to the town, including booking, promoting and selling the events.

Touring Theatre is part of the two-year Arts in Unusual Spaces project funded in partnership with Arts Council England, Tamworth Borough Council and the local community.

It includes a number of exciting initiatives for Tamworth, designed to bring the arts to all corners of the community. More information is available at http://www.tamworthartsandevents.co.uk/arts-unusual-spaces.

New Year Touring Theatre shows include:

Noble Jacks in Concert at St Francis Church on Thursday, February 8, starting at 7.30pm – This rip-roaring alt-folk band brings warm electro-acoustic interactions to its live shows, fused together with a mixture of lively, folky foot-stomping rhythms and engaging lyricism. The band encompasses heartfelt, yet upbeat songs, showcasing fiddle, blues harmonica and big anthem songs. Exhilarating and refreshing to hear, this band will be raising the roof in February. Tickets are priced at £7.50.

 

Tantz in Concert at Sacred Heart Church on Friday, February 9, starting at 7.30pm – A high spirited and original klezmer dance and gypsy style band. Offering a performance of great global music this remarkable six-piece band will bring joyous jazz-infused music with an infectious vibe.  Tickets are priced at £8 adults, £6 concessions and £26 for a group of 4 (standard tickets).

Tickets are available via the box office: www.tamworthartsandevents.co.uk.  A transaction fee of £1 is payable on all online and telephone bookings.

Or you can book your tickets direct with the venues here:

St Francis Church Tickets: 01827 65926, available from St Francis Vicarage, Masefield Drive.

Sacred Heart Church Tickets: 01827 709618, available at the Hub in the Castle Grounds.

Cllr Joy Goodall, Tamworth Borough Council’s Cabinet member for Environment & Culture, said: “The Touring Theatre project has brought productions to venues in the community on a regular basis. As well as broadening the use of community venues, this has made it even easier for people to experience and enjoy theatre and the arts.

What a wonderful gift for a loved one this Christmas, guaranteed to bring cheer into the New Year.”

THE popular Christmas concert at St Editha’s Church was extra special this year as Tamworth Voices and Tamworth Wind Band performed for the first time at a festive Christmas performance, on Saturday, December 2.

The event proceeds raised just under £650 for Macmillan Cancer Support and St Editha’s Church.

Tamworth Assembly Rooms continued ‘on tour’ this season with the annual festive favourite, as part of Tamworth Assembly Rooms on Tour.

Tamworth Voices delivered a contemporary twist on the traditional choir; covering a wide range of musical styles and performing well known Christmas anthems. In addition, Tamworth Wind Band performed a set of classic tunes such as Whams “Last Christmas” and songs from the film ‘Frozen’.

Sing-a-long favourites and festive tunes filled St Editha’s Church, finishing with three Christmas favourites as Tamworth Wind Band accompanied Tamworth Voices for a finale of ‘We wish you a Merry Christmas.’

Tamworth Voices and Tamworth Wind Band in action.

Tamworth Voices and Tamworth Wind Band in action.

Gwen Wilkinson, St Editha’s Church Warden, said: “It was a Lovely concert we thoroughly enjoyed it. We are very grateful for the kind donation. The money will go towards the restoration of the church and is very much appreciated.”

 

Pauline Lewis, Fundraising Manager for Macmillan in Staffordshire, said: “We are thrilled that some of the profits from the concert will be donated to Macmillan. This donation will help us to provide vital services for people in Tamworth who are living with cancer, as well as their family and carers. Thank you to everyone who supported this brilliant concert. We really do appreciate your generosity”

Cllr Joy Goodall, Tamworth Borough Council’s Cabinet member for Environment & Culture, said: “This was a wonderful opportunity to see both Tamworth Voices and Tamworth Wind Band, perform Christmas classics with a contemporary twist. The evening brought Christmas cheer into the hearts of all that attended.

“The Arts and Events team has been working hard to ensure their groups find alternative venues until the new-look Assembly Rooms are ready to welcome them back.

We hope that people will support and continue to enjoy these very special events.”

cinderella

CINDERELLA starts Thursday in a giant Big Top in Tamworth Castle Grounds – oh yes it does!

Pantomime is an annual tradition in Tamworth, but since the closure of the Assembly Rooms it has taken place in a heated Big Top, and this year’s show is set to be bigger and better than ever before.

Company manager Alex Farrell said: “We are so excited to start Cinderella. Not only do we have one of the best local casts I’ve ever worked with, we also have former ITV Newsreader, now BBC WM presenter, Llewela Bailey starring in the show – it really is one not to be missed!”

The show runs for 15 performances until next Friday 22 December, and tickets are available from the door or the Tourist Information Centre.

This is Alex’s 11th pantomime in Tamworth. He continued: “The first thing people ask us is, ‘will it be cold?’, The answer is absolutely not – it’s just like a theatre experience, just in a different place!

“This year we have moved the Big Top slightly so it is taking place quite near the river by the public toilets in the Castle Grounds, and this has also made the access much easier along the paths. It really is a magical show for the whole family!”

Tickets are £14 for adults, £9 concessions and £42 for a Family Ticket.

There are seats still available for some shows and can be bought from the Tamworth Tourist Information Centre on 01827 709618 or visit www.TamworthPanto.co.uk. They will also take bookings on the door, but this will have to be cash only.

symphony hall, xtra humongous

LOCAL businessman Brina, Owner of Event and Creative Agency Xtra Humongous hosted a sold-out show at The Symphony Hall, Birmingham recently that was broadcast to a global audience of approximately 10 million people.

It is not the first time that Brina’s work has been broadcast live.  Previously he created a crazy area in Shangri-La at Glastonbury for a number of years, which was broadcast live on the BBC.

You can watch the full two-hour show of the event at the Symphony Hall anytime by clicking  here

Some of the comments about the event were;

‘The best visual production we have ever had here’ Symphony Hall, Birmingham
‘Wow … Epic’Mixmag
‘Best Musical Show I have ever been too and I’ve been to them all’Jeremy Healy (DJ to Christian Dior & John Galliano)
‘Forget Pete Tong, Hacienda & Cream, this is the show to go to, over and over again’5*Facebook Review from attendee

Tamworth Informed caught up with Brina to ask him a few questions and what it was like to put on such a show, this is what he had to say: ‘The Miss Moneypenny’s ‘A Night At The Proms’ was the coming together of a 2 year project that saw me full service conceptualise, market, promote and produce the 2 hour show … but what a 2 hours it was!”

So whats next for Brina? ”Well i have a 27-piece orchestra playing ska music with bands and DJs and members of The Specials in attendance in the spectacular Coventry Cathedral on 30th December with Secret Symphony, and a credible house music event with Secret Party Projects on New Years Eve in the cool iconic gallery space Nottingham Contemporary”

And then? ”Well it’s a secret obviously, although there are a couple of projects in Tamworth I’m looking to help within 2018, we should talk about those soon!”

Apparently, his events and creative agency offer services that are a little more inside the box.

You can find out more at the Xtra Humongous website: www.xtrahumongous.com

Via his experiential incredible clubbing brand Secret Party Projects, his new orchestral brand Secret Symphony, it seems a long time since he owned and operated Tamworth’s most successful House Music club ‘Bullit’ for 12yrs bringing the biggest DJ names and brands into the Town that it has ever seen with
judge jules / howard donald / trevor nelson / boy george / jeremy healy / danny rampling / farley jackmaster funk / shapeshifters / freemasons / bodyrockers / sonique / norman jay / oliver lang / richard f / brandon block / alex p / k-klass / sonique / stonebridge / mark doyle / aaron ross / soul central / jon carter / jonathan ulysses / kate lawler / andy ward / lisa lashes / amber d / anne savage / nick rafferty / spoony / dave pearce / tim westwood / hedkandi & miss moneypennys to name just a few, or the ones he can remember!

So maybe a ‘Bullit’ reunion back in Tamworth?  ”HaHa, no comment, actually maybe we could open up the Assembly Rooms when it is finally finished, now there’s a thought”

Cinderella

PANTOMIME comes to Tamworth Castle Grounds next week, and you can win two tickets to the show if you find one of Cinderella’s slippers – oh yes you can!

Eight pictures of the famous shoe are hidden right across Tamworth and if you find one you can exchange it for a pair of tickets to see Cinderella in the Big Top.

Company Manager Alex Farrell said: “Cinderella is the most magical pantomime of them all, and we are really excited to give eight lucky people in Tamworth the chance to win a pair of tickets to the show.

“The pictures of Cinderella’s slipper will be scattered at eight different locations around the town – they could be in the town centre, by Ventura Park or even down your local cul-de-sac. If you’re lucky enough to find a picture, you need to take a selfie with the picture and email it to [email protected] or send us a message through our Tamworth Pantomime Company Facebook page. Good luck!”

Cinderella opens next Thursday 14 December and runs eight days in a giant heated Big Top on Tamworth Castle Grounds.

Tickets are £14 adults and £9 concessions and can be bought by calling 01827 709618 or by visit www.TamworthArtsAndEvents.co.uk.

cinderella shoe

cinderella

TAMWORTH’s magical family pantomime will once again take place at Tamworth Castle Grounds this Christmas – oh yes it will!

Cinderella will run for a week from 14 – 22 December in a spectacular heated Big Top while the Tamworth Assembly Rooms renovations continue.

Company manager Alex Farrell, who also plays one of the Ugly Sisters, said: “We are so excited to be back at the Castle Grounds. Last year we took a risk and hired a Big Top and the show was a fantastic success.

“This year the show is going to be bigger and better than ever. We have a new Big Top, which is just like a theatre on the inside, with hot and cold food and some surprises thrown in as well.

“If you want some good local fun, slapsticks, singing and dancing, Cinderella is for you – it really is magical entertainment for the whole family.”

Cinderella is the only pantomime in the Midlands to take place in a Big Top, but there are only 16 shows to catch it this December!

Tickets are £14 adults, £9 concessions and £42 for a family ticket. They can be booked now from the Tamworth Tourist Information Centre on 01827 709618 or by visiting www.TamworthArtsAndEvents.co.uk.

THE formidable face of Tamworth’s ‘Warrior Queen’ Lady Aethelflaed has been revealed as work on the town’s new landmark statue continues to progress.

Much of the main bodywork on the six-metre tall statue has now been completed, following months of back-breaking labour by artist Luke Perry, who has literally hand-sculpted the huge work of art.

The face and upper body of the impressive statue are now nearing completion, revealing the striking features that will tower above the ground for all to see.

In the coming months, the upper body, sword and shield will be joined together and all elements will be galvanised, polished and tinted, ready for installation next year.

The Saxon Queen will stand on the Offa Drive/Saxon Drive roundabout, outside Tamworth Railway Station, where she will greet visitors as they step off the train and point them towards the town centre.

Also known as ‘Lady of the Mercians’, Queen Aethelflaed is a key figure from Tamworth’s past, having played a pivotal role in English history by building a chain of fortifications against Viking invaders throughout the Kingdom of Mercia. Her fortification of Tamworth in 913 AD became the forerunner to Tamworth Castle. Daughter of Alfred the Great, Aethelflaed’s accession as a female ruler has been described as one of the most unique events in early medieval history.

She was chosen as the subject for the new statue following consultations with local people, exploring what they are most proud of about Tamworth.

Luke’s final design aimed to reflect the town’s Saxon history, but with an ‘alternative, modern twist’ that places it firmly in the 21st century.

Face of Aethelflaed

The face of Aethelflaed

While the final interpretation is not exactly how Queen Aethelflaed might have looked, Luke has worked with a 9th-century historian to ensure all details are authentic and correct for the Saxon period.

The project also represents quite an ambitious feat of engineering and is expected to attract a lot of attention.

Luke said: “This is really exciting for me as it’s quite a unique project. Very few pieces like this are unveiled in a year and this one will really stand out in today’s society due to its sculptural nature. Most things this big are abstract pieces and don’t catch the attention so much.

“A lot of the big structural work is now finished, but there’s still plenty to do. It has to be galvanised and then there will be lots of polishing and tinting. I don’t do anything with machines because I don’t like the aesthetic that produces. It’s all hand-sculpted, which means I’m a bit broken as it’s physically quite abusing. It’s great to see her taking shape though.”

The ‘Roundabout Art’ project is one element of the Arts in Unusual Spaces initiative, funded by Arts Council England, which will see art in all its forms popping up in a variety of locations across the borough.

The sculpture is being funded by Arts Council England and Tamworth Gateways Project – a partnership between Staffordshire County Council and Tamworth Borough Council.

Cllr Joy Goodall, Tamworth Borough Council’s Cabinet member for Environment & Culture, said: “It’s great to see the face of the new statue being revealed for the first time and I can’t wait to see the completed sculpture. This project has been designed to celebrate and promote the rich and fascinating history that Tamworth has and the Saxons were a key part of that.

“We hope the Queen Aethelflaed statue will serve as a lasting legacy for this town, as well as making a real bold first impression to visitors as they step off the train into Tamworth.”

 

bus shelter art

A COMMUNITY project to transform a series of bus shelters across Tamworth has now been completed, thanks to the help of local artists and around 700 school children.

Residents and visitors can now ‘Catch Art’ as well as buses at seven shelters which have been given bright, colourful makeovers as part of a Tamworth Borough Council project to bring art to all areas of the town.

Part of the Arts in Unusual Spaces initiative – funded by Arts Council England – the bus shelter project has been led by Tamworth Borough Council’s Arts & Events team in partnership with Vic Brown of Art Recruitment Tamworth.

Vic called in professional artists Simon Wingfield and Helen Martin and the three of them went out into local schools to work with children on bringing the bus shelter designs to life. As well as the chance to work with professional artists, hundreds of children can now see their work displayed pride of place for all to enjoy.

The final shelter in the project was recently completed in Fontenaye Road, Coton Green, marking the end of a successful initiative. This shelter design was led by urban artist Helen Martin who spent three days working with pupils at the Kettlebrook Short Stay School.

The school’s art and design subject co-ordinator, Jo Potter, said students enjoyed working with Helen and seeing their work on display.

She said: “A huge thank you to Tamworth Borough Council and to Helen Martin for the exciting opportunity of participating in such a worthwhile project. It was great for students to work with a visiting artist and be involved in a ‘live’ project.

“Kettlebrook students have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and it has been a privilege to witness the sense of pride and boost of self-esteem that the project has facilitated.”

Kettlebrook Short Stay School students also gave their views on the project.

 

Ellie said: “I am really glad I got to work with Helen and I am proud that others can walk past my work in the street and enjoy it.

Zac said: “The project was brilliant and I really enjoyed meeting Helen the artist and learning new art techniques. I think the bus shelter looks amazing and I hope people enjoy it.”

The shelters can be found at:

Glascote on Sea, B5000 Glascote – Beach Hut design by children from Little Learners in Amington together with Simon Wingfield, Vic Brown and photographer Alex Blaby.

Tree Stop, Fossdale Road – A tree scene with insects by children from Three Peaks Primary School and Stonydelph Nursery, together with Vic Brown and Simon Wingfield.

Glascote Academy Community Farm, Silver Link Road – By pupils from Glascote Academy and Glascote Heath Pre-school, with Vic Brown and Simon Wingfield. This shelter was inspired by the Glascote Academy’s own on-site farm.

Tam Modern, Fontenaye Road – Pupils from Kettlebrook Short Stay School worked on this art gallery-inspired theme with urban artist Helen Martin and Vic Brown.

Flipside, Kerria Road – 1970s living room design by artist Simon Wingfield

Wild About Tamworth, Peelers Way – Inspired by the nature found at the adjacent Tameside Local Nature Reserve. This shelter by Simon Wingfield won recognition from the Royal Horticultural Society as part of this year’s Tamworth in Bloom campaign with a ‘Greening Grey Britain’ award.

Butterfly, B5000 Stonydelph – A butterfly-themed shelter by artist Helen Martin.

The Catch Art project has received lots of positive feedback from the children and teachers involved, as well as the wider community, especially via social media. It was also featured on Midlands Today.

Commentators on Facebook include Richard Brown, who said: “I absolutely love them! I live near the butterfly one and I have to admit that I tend to ‘miss’ the first bus just to enjoy it a bit longer. You can really feel the pride the Tamworth community have for the amazing stops. Can you imagine how awesome the town bus stops would look if they were all painted!” 

Sarah Holmes said: “Absolutely brilliant, love that it’s all artwork by children, fantastic idea.” Alan Faultless said: “The kids will love that on their walk to school in the morning,” Anthony Perks added: “Brilliant! Brightens the roadsides up, great art, good vibes.”

Vic Brown of Art Recruitment Tamworth, which also organises the popular annual Urban Arts Festival at the Castle Grounds skate park, said: “It’s been a pleasure to work with Tamworth Borough Council’s Arts and Events team on this project and we are really happy with the final results. At the start of the project we agreed the stops needed to be artistically inspiring, but also fun and unique. Judging by all the kind words on social media and from passers-by, I think we have achieved this. 

“The best part of the project for us was working on the school stops; they are all fantastic. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in the project and especially all of the school children.”

Cllr Joy Goodall, Tamworth Borough Council’s Cabinet member for Environment and Culture, said: “This has been a really successful and imaginative project that has helped take art out into all corners of the community while giving local school children the opportunity to work with professional artists and see their work on public display.

“It wouldn’t have been possible without the funding from the Arts Council England, which likes to support initiatives that encourage community participation in the arts. The feedback has been amazing and my congratulations go to the Arts and Events team, Art Recruitment Tamworth, the artists and of course the hundreds of school children who have created beautiful works of art for all to enjoy, out of some tired and plain bus shelters.”

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