2018 Award Winners

 

It’s been another year with an eclectic mix of wonderful shows and fantastic performances.

 

It’s therefore been difficult to pick out some award winners but we’ve done it and here goes!

 

 

2018 FESTIVAL WINNERS:

 

*BEST SHOW – “GUY: A NEW MUSICAL” (LEOE & HYDE).

*BEST PERFORMANCE – TILLY FARRELL WHITEHOUSE (“FRED & GINGER”).

*BEST NEW PIECE – “SURPLUS” (SHARP THEATRE).

*BEST ADAPTATION – “CORDELIA / FOOL” (INAMOMENT).

*BEST NEWCOMER – SUZIE EVANS & KATE KNIGHT (“SQUIDHEART”).

 

Huge congratulations to them and everyone else that took part and made Birmingham Fest 2018 so great.

 

Birmingham Fest 2018 Full Line-Up & Brochure

 

The programme of events for Birmingham Fest 2018 has been finalised!

 

 You can see the full list here.

 

You can download the brochure here:

Birmingham Fest 2018 brochure

This can also be downloaded from our main website page.

 

This year’s festival takes place between 13-28 July (inclusive).

 

We have a great, varied selection of shows as usual so please have a look through. We’re sure you will find something you like the look of – hopefully a few things!

 

And don’t forget to share!

 

KIM WILDE “HERE COME THE ALIENS” CONCERT REVIEW

 

Kim Wilde

Birmingham Town Hall

21st April 2018

 

Kim Wilde is pop royalty. She was the most charted British female singer of the 80’s. She became an immediate worldwide star when she burst on to the music scene in 1981, had a US number one with “Keep Me Hangin’ On” (the last British female to do so until Leona Lewis two decades later)  and was hand-picked by Michael Jackson to support him on his “Bad” tour. The hits continued until she took a break in the mid 90’s (after a West End run in the musical “Tommy”) to get married, have two children, and somewhat randomly become a successful celebrity gardener! Following some headlining 80’s revival concert appearances she returned with the aptly titled “Never Say Never” album in 2006 and hasn’t stopped since.

There is huge nostalgia for 80’s pop star concerts which are immensely popular. Audiences relive their youth and great fun is had by all. This was in abundance this evening in Birmingham and testament to Kim’s popularity the beautiful Town Hall is completely sold out and full to the rafters. However, this isn’t just a throwback gig; it’s a very current concert which supports Kim’s brand new album “Here Come the Aliens”. The title comes from an apparent UFO encounter in her back garden. Whether you believe in such things is by the by but there genuinely may have been some extra terrestrial activity at play because Kim looks and sounds exactly the same as she did in the 80’s!

Bounding onto the stage in a figure hugging leather cat suit she was like a gorgeous rock chick on a space mission (later she even whipped out a ray gun to protect us from aliens during “1969” like a scene from Barbarella). The audience were very politely seated for the first two numbers but upon the opening guitar rift of “Never Trust a Stranger” they were up out of their seats and remained so for the duration (thank you Birmingham Town Hall, I know some venues ridiculously don’t allow this).

The show was a great mix of the old and new. The great thing was the old tracks sound just as good now and the new tracks sit just as well alongside them. The new album is fantastic. Aside from the fact it’s Kim Wilde, it’s also down to the fact that her musical powerhouse brother Ricky writes with her and produces her music, which he has since the beginning. This is very wise as it’s a winning formula and why the album put her back in the UK top 40 charts. This is very much a family affair with Kim’s niece (Ricky’s daughter) Scarlett on backing vocals and even Ricky’s wife Mandy running the merchandise! Scarlett also did the stunning artwork for “Here Come the Aliens”.

New single “Kandy Krush” is an instant Kim Wilde classic. Another highlight was “Bladerunner” from the 1984 “Teases and Dares” album. Had it been written a few years earlier it could easily have been on the soundtrack to the movie of the same name. Pop classic “You Came” was dedicated to the audience who were more than glad they did.

The encore had to be the iconic 80’s anthem “Kids in America” – a track which was way ahead of its time and amazingly was recorded by Kim when she was just 19 years old. It was electric to hear live. The band were awesome and made everything sound so good.

It’s been a while since Kim toured the UK. Let’s hope she doesn’t keep us hanging on so long next time!

 

Darren Haywood

 

SET LIST:

Stereo Shot

Water on Glass

Never Trust a Stranger

Kandy Krush

Cambodia

Birthday

Yours ’til the End

Another Step (Closer to You)

Words Fell Down

Bladerunner

If I Can’t Have You

Rosetta

View from a Bridge

Chequered Love

You Came

Keep Me Hangin’ On

1969

Pop Don’t Stop

Kids in America

We welcome The Victoria!

 

We’re excited to announce a new venue for Birmingham Fest!

The Victoria is a well known pub in Birmingham – dating back to the days of Queen Victoria herself. Known as a “theatre pub” it is situated next to the New Alexandra Theatre which has been there nearly as long.

As well as everything else they have to offer, they also have a great function room which hosts performances and events – hence where we come in!

You can read  more about the The Victoria and how you can be involved in the festival here.

Stage Experience “West Side Story” Review

 

West Side Story

Stage Experience

New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham

Thursday 24th August 2017

 

“Stage Experience” returns to the New Alexandra Theatre for their fourteenth annual production and this time they tackle one of musical theatre’s big guns – “West Side Story”. However, this young cast does it more than justice.

Jerome Robbins’ original production of West Side Story was first staged in 1957 and was a game-changer. Since then we’ve seen numerous musicals come and go. So, sixty years later, the question is – has it stood the test of time. The answer quite simply is yes. The theme of opposing gang culture is as relevant today as it was back then.

The story is one as old as time – boy and girl meet, fall in love, but destiny is against them. It is based on the love story to end them all – Romeo & Juliet (we even get a balcony scene) but it’s not necessarily the story that is the main attraction here. Those honours really go to Leonard Berstein’s stunning score and Stephen Sondheim’s wonderful lyrics.

A young and energetic cast of well over one hundred tackle the choreography with much exuberance tackling all the styles of dance that this demanding piece demands.

The star-crossed lovers are played by Elliot Gooch (Tony) and Grace Whyte (Maria). They were a great pairing and their voices were stunning, especially in the “Tonight” duet.

A stand-out performance comes from Leah Vassell as the sexy and fiery Puerto Rican Anita. One of the best female roles in musical theatre, Ms Vassell brings all the aspects of Anita’s character to life in a performance which belies sixteen years of age. A highlight is her duet with Maria – “A Boy Like That/I Have a Love” which they both perform beautifully.

A special mention should also go to little Alfie Mitcham who had a hilarious scene stealing role as Glad Hand which had the audience in stitches.

Most of the songs in this show are well known classics but a highlight has to be the “Somewhere” dream sequence which here featured an absolutely spine tingling solo from one of the young ladies in the cast. Another audience favourite being the always joyous “Gee, Officer Krupke”.

Director and choreographer Pollyann Tanner once again delivers the almost impossible by staging a full musical in two weeks, especially at this standard. As she said herself, this is her favourite musical, and even though it must’ve been a labour of love she should be immensely happy with the result.

I’ve seen “West Side Story” quite a few times but this production made me feel very emotional as I’m sure it did many others.

 

5 stars. Robbins would be proud.

 

Darren Haywood

 

2017 Award Winners

It’s been another year with an eclectic mix of wonderful shows and fantastic performances.

It’s therefore been difficult to pick out some award winners but we’ve done it and here goes!

 

2017 FESTIVAL WINNERS:

 

*BEST SHOW – “THE MARRIAGE OF KIM K” (LEOE & HYDE).

*BEST PERFORMANCE – LIZZIE WOFFORD (“WOLFIE AND THE SHOWGIRL”).

*BEST NEW PIECE – “WOLFIE AND THE SHOWGIRL” (CAROLYN SCOTT-JEFFS/PETER JOHN DODSWORTH).

*BEST DEVELOPED PIECE – “A POSITIVE LIFE / DYSTOPIA” – (AUTIN DANCE THEATRE)

*BEST ADAPTATION – “THE OVERCOAT” (ENACT ACADEMY).

*BEST NEWCOMER – CLEMENT CHARLES (“ABOUT A GOTH”).

 

Huge congratulations to them and everyone else that took part and made our fifth year so great.

 

Birmingham Fest 2017 Full Line Up & Brochure

 

The programme of events for Birmingham Fest 2017 has been finalised!

 

 You can see the full list here.

 

You can download the brochure here:

Birmingham Fest 2017 brochure

This can also be downloaded from our main website page.

 

This year is our 5th which is very exciting.

We have a great, varied selection of shows so please have a look through. We’re sure you will find something you like the look of – hopefully a few things!

And don’t forget to share!

Birmingham Fest Dance-Off Coming Soon!

bham-fest-16-page-19

 

Brand new for 2017, Birmingham Fest presents its first ever Dance-Off!

Dancers are invited to bring their “A” game in a competition to crown the very best.

Anyone from solo artists to companies of up to twelve can enter in any style of dance:

Jazz, tap, contemporary, ballroom, street, ballet – or even a fusion. Anything!

To make things even more exciting, the winner’s prize is a whopping £500!

So join us for the very first year…

IT’S TIME TO STEP-UP!

 

More details to follow…

To register your interest please e-mail NOW! info@birminghamfest.co.uk

 

“GREASE” review

Grease

 

GREASE

Stage Experience. New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham.

 

There can’t be many people that haven’t seen or heard of “Grease”. As well as the classic movie there’s been numerous stage productions, reality TV shows and most recently a live TV version. So the danger with a new production is always to bring something new or not to disappoint. Well fear not – both are most definitely covered here.

 

Stage Experience never disappoints. It’s always a joy to watch this young cast present their summer musical and for their 13th they bring us Grease and it most certainly wasn’t an unlucky number. From the moment it started with a beautiful “Sandy/”Danny” duet to the moment it ended with a crowd-pleasing mega-mix it never missed a mark. With a huge cast of 120 it felt like there was an entire high school on stage! It was also a novelty to see the characters actually played by teenagers. In the film the average cast age was 30 with Stockard Channing (Rizzo) clocking in at 34!

 

It feels unfair to single out any of the cast as they’re all wonderful and really throw themselves into their roles. There are some stand-out moments however. The electric opening of title number “Grease” was goose bump inducing. There was some fantastic dancing from the T-Birds in “Greased Lightning” (especially from one flic-flacking little boy). Georgia Anderson as Sandy delivered a gorgeous version of “Hopelessly Devoted To You”. Miss Anderson is definitely one to watch in the future. Sofi Robinson as Rizzo delivered a performance that belied her 17 years. She was wonderful in the role and her rendition of the excellent “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” was stunning.

 

“Beauty School Dropout” was show-stopping. The already camp number literally out-camped itself! Frenchy inexplicably doesn’t have her own number so it was great that she had a chance to shine here. Georgina Steggles was brilliant as the ditsy blonde (then pink) and was so fun to watch. Her commentary throughout the number was hilarious. Teen Angel Mark Shaun Walsh held his own however – even when he was again almost upstaged by two topless boys!

 

Director and choreographer Pollyann Tanner once again delivers the almost impossible by staging a full musical in two weeks, especially at this standard. The choreography especially was fantastic.

 

A special mention must go to the lighting. Colin Wood has designed a visual spectacle here. It was like the stage was a beautiful 50’s jukebox which was literally a feast for the eyes (even though we were almost blinded on the opening chord of “Grease”!).

 

All in all, a perfect “Summer Night”.

 

GREASE IS STILL THE WORD!

4 stars.

 

(Darren Haywood)

2016 AWARD WINNERS

It’s been another year with an eclectic mix of wonderful shows and some fantastic performances.

So it’s been difficult to pick out some award winners but we’ve done it and here goes!

 

2016 FESTIVAL WINNERS:

*BEST SHOW – “FANNY: A NEW MUSICHALL” (ROBERTS & JOHN PRODUCTIONS).

*BEST PERFORMANCE – LIZZIE WOFFORD (“FANNY: A NEW MUSICHALL”).

*BEST ORIGINAL PIECE – “LEARNED FRIENDS” (GINNY DAVIS PRODUCTIONS).

*BEST ADAPTATION – “SHAKESPEARE’S AVENGERS ASSEMBLETH: THE AGE OF OBERON” (DRAKE’S DRUMMERS).

*BEST NEWCOMER – LUKE JURGEN GRANT (“AWAY FROM HOME” – GRITTY THEATRE).

 

Huge congratulations to them and everyone else that took part and made Birmingham Fest 2016 so great.