Posted on 12:42pm Friday 7th August 2015
Alexandra Burke is back in town belting out classic Whitney and bringing one of cinema's most successful love stories to the stage. I headed to Birmingham Hippodrome to see if she has what it takes to be crowned 'Queen of the Night'...
Posted on 8:36pm Sunday 2nd August 2015
If foxes are shown to be a genuine problem, there are humane ways to control their numbers, which does not require resurrecting foxhunting in the form it took before the ban was introduced over ten years ago. The latest ‘YouGov’ findings show that, apart from the foxhunting fraternity and the Conservative MPs backing them, the majority of people in England still support the present ban.
Posted on 6:12pm Wednesday 22nd July 2015
Fresh from it's celebrated West-End revival, Andrew Lloyd-Webber's prolific, beloved classic lands in Blackpool for a summer tenure with singer and TV recording artist Jane McDonald as its Grizabella. I headed to the Opera House Theatre to see if the production remained the thing musical theatre 'memories' are made of...
Posted on 8:44pm Tuesday 14th July 2015
The annual highlight for any local brass band player is the Pershore Midsummer Brass Festival. Every year, around 30 brass bands descend on the charming Pershore to entertain at venues around the town, from the outdoor area of the Angel Inn to the beautiful, imposing setting of Pershore Abbey. Players involved would argue that this is brass band’s answer to Glastonbury and I for one always enjoy becoming a “rockstar” for the day!
Posted on 7:21pm Monday 29th June 2015
Will Birmingham, which was once a medium-sized market town in medieval times that now contains over one million people spread over 103 square miles, evolve next into ‘Greater Birmingham’ by absorbing its neighbours territory once again? Will it follow in the steps of Manchester and be run by a powerful ‘Metro Mayor’? Is it necessary, will it happen, and could we avoid being swallowed up by Birmingham?
Posted on 2:28pm Thursday 7th May 2015
Fresh from the West End and based on the 1988 Michael Caine/Steve Martin movie of the same name, 'Dirty Rotten Scoundrels' is embarking on it's first ever UK Tour. I headed to Press Night at Birmingham's New Alexandra Theatre to see if the show brings anything fresh to the musical theatre table, or is one big con all of its own...
Posted on 1:48pm Thursday 23rd April 2015
X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke takes the smash London musical adaptation of the 1992 hit movie on tour for the first time. I headed to Press Night at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, where the show is currently running, to see if Alexandra could do the late, great Whitney Houston justice...
Posted on 10:09am Wednesday 1st April 2015
From the East End to the West End to Birmingham for Eastenders' stars Charlie Brooks and Thomas Law, as they bring Jonathan Harvey's cult gay classic on tour. I headed to the Hippodrome to see if the show remained relevant, and if two of Walford's finest could do it justice.
Posted on 10:52pm Monday 16th March 2015
A local voluntary fellowship that specialises in the world of psychics and spiritualism has attracted another Internationally-renowned visitor for an exclusive, four-day whistle-stop tour of the Midlands, including a visit to their base of operations in Stourbridge.
Posted on 12:08am Thursday 12th March 2015
Wolverhampton-based MUSCOM once again return to the boards of the Grand theatre, this time bringing with them their take on the highly successful musical adaptation of Reese Witherspoon's 2001 comedy Legally Blonde. I headed to the Grand to see if the team of local talent can do justice to a show which scooped a clutch of Oliviers, as well as holding some degree of personal relevance to me...
Posted on 1:44am Wednesday 11th March 2015
The highly successful and critically acclaimed London production of the Fred and Ginger classic arrives in Birmingham this week as 'Top Hat' begins a fortnight engagement at the Hippodrome. I headed to press night to review the show and see if it is indeed worth facing the music or if there may be trouble ahead...
Posted on 1:28pm Tuesday 24th February 2015
Alan Bennett's multi Tony and Olivier award-winning magnum opus returns to the stage for a 2015 UK Tour. I headed to Birmingham's New Alexandra Theatre to see if the show remained as intelligent and delightful as ever, or if there is some history not worth re-visiting...
Posted on 4:24pm Wednesday 18th February 2015
The multi Olivier-award winning 'Curious Incident' arrives in the Midlands this week as the critically acclaimed National Theatre production continues it's UK Tour. I headed to press night to see if it is a case worth being curious over...
Posted on 12:09am Wednesday 11th February 2015
Matthew Bourne's revival production of his dance adaptation of the 1990 Tim Burton classic returns to the Midlands this week as it makes itself home at the Birmingham Hippodrome for the Valentines period. I headed to press night to review the show and see if Bourne and his New Adventures' troupe have done the cult classic justice...
Posted on 2:43pm Thursday 5th February 2015
Dance director Matthew Bourne's celebrated revival of 'Edward Scissorhands' arrives in Birmingham this valentine's period. I preview the show ahead of it's run, including a chat with it's lead, Dominic North, about the show and films ongoing appeal, and how his inspiration for the role saw him going beyond Johnny Depp and to the silent film stars of yesteryear...
Posted on 11:47pm Tuesday 3rd February 2015
Murderous rabbits, shrubbery-coveting knights, a diva from the lake and a truly bonkers take on the King Arthur legend... it can mean only one thing - Monty Python's 'Spamalot' is back in town. I review the show, running at the Birmingham New Alexandra until Saturday...
Posted on 11:25pm Tuesday 27th January 2015
Brian Conley returns to the stage, bringing with him a theatrical spectacular, spectacular. I headed to press night at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre to see if it was worth following the band and joining the circus with Conley and co...
Posted on 1:36am Thursday 15th January 2015
TV favourite Jane Horrocks brings co-star Ayub Khan Din's 'East is East' to Birmingham this week, straight from London's Trafalgar Studios. I headed to press night at the New Alexandra theatre to review the show...
Posted on 9:38am Monday 5th January 2015
I’ve rarely written a “look back” at the year sort of column but this past year had so much drama in it – personally and globally – that I felt it wise to do this simply for my own memories. I want to remember this year.
Posted on 9:28am Wednesday 31st December 2014
I have the greatest car dealer service rep around. So great that I actually get my car serviced AT the dealership which is against my religion (figuratively). We all know we pay more for service at a dealership. But, I bring my car there because I love “Mark,” my service rep.
Posted on 2:00pm Tuesday 23rd December 2014
It was my birthday recently and we were invited to a big gala charity event. Before the entertainment began, my wife was nodding off. When she briefly awoke, she nudged me and said, “Let’s go.” Usually, I’m there right beside her wanting to leave and go home to sleep. This time I actually wanted to stay, but you know the saying, “Happy Wife, Happy Life,” so we left and looking on the bright side, we didn’t have to wait long for our car at the valet!
Posted on 1:57pm Tuesday 23rd December 2014
Former Loose Woman Jane McDonald, Corrie star Chris Gascoyne and Blue heartthrob Duncan James headline Birmingham's premier panto, and I headed to Press Night to see if it was the greatest in all the land...
Posted on 5:23pm Thursday 18th December 2014
Stars of stage, screen and TV assembled at Birmingham’s Hippodrome Theatre this afternoon to officially launch the world’s biggest pantomime, ahead of 'Jack and the Beanstalk' beginning its magical journey tomorrow evening!
Posted on 5:01pm Friday 12th December 2014
The musical story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, fresh from a celebrated run in London's West End, comes to Birmingham this Christmas and New Year. I headed over to Press Night at the New Alexandra Theatre to review the show and see if it could escape the trappings of actor-muso productions...
Posted on 4:50pm Thursday 11th December 2014
The king of innuendo and witty asides, Mr Julian Clary, headlines the Wolves Grand's panto this year, and I headed to press night to review the show and see if it really is the grandest, most impressive ball that Julian has ever held...
Posted on 9:11am Monday 8th December 2014
I was talking with a good friend who happened to share that her brother had recently gotten a promotion, yet he was always in money trouble. When I probed for the reason, she really didn’t have any, but it provoked a discussion about how people spend, save, and manage their money. This friend went on further to state she didn’t know how she could even be related (to her brother) given their completely opposite habits about money.
Posted on 3:18pm Monday 1st December 2014
I have been a mentor/friend to “David” for a half-dozen years or so – long enough that I don’t really remember (how long). David (a pseudonym) is in his mid-twenties and suffers from a rare disease in which he has a handful of challenges and remains intellectually and emotionally at the level of about a 12-14 year old. He has minor symptoms of autism, walks a bit awkwardly, and his speech is sometimes difficult to understand.
Posted on 1:13am Tuesday 25th November 2014
Star of Hollyoaks, Eastenders and Footballers Wives, Gary Lucy leads the cast of this stage adaptation of the wildly successful 1997 film of the same name. I headed to press night over at the Grand, where the show is running for a week, to see if it really has the full package... and whether it is one worth seeing... *cue shameless innuendo*
Posted on 1:00pm Monday 10th November 2014
As I enter the twilight years of my life – or at least the latter half of my life – I have come to the conclusion that I will never fully understand women and sex. However, I have gotten better than the stumbling young man I used to be and wanted to share some random observations that may help other stumbling men (and women).
Posted on 4:22pm Wednesday 22nd October 2014
Wyre Forest Citizens Advice (CAB) is urging families using oil for heating to buy early and cut their costs this winter........
Posted on 2:36am Wednesday 22nd October 2014
Following on from the continued success of the surprise ITV2 hit show, 'The Big Reunion' returned to the Midlands and the LG arena this week with it's special 'boy band' tour, bringing reunited pop groups from both this years show and last together for a night of Nineties and Noughties nostalgia. I headed to the LG arena to review...
Posted on 9:00am Saturday 18th October 2014
We all think or speak about wanting to “Start over” with dreams of what we might do differently if we could. Whenever I declare such a thing, I am clear that I’d like to start over with the knowledge I’ve learned living as long as I have. Sort of an oxymoron, I suppose.
Posted on 3:25pm Friday 10th October 2014
Wyre Forest Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) is campaigning about the dangers of payday loans following World Mental Health Day last friday...........
Posted on 11:00am Wednesday 8th October 2014
I used to think I knew my boys well. We were especially close after their mother left, when they were six and nine. I was a stay-at-home-dad and involved in everything in their lives when we were married and then after their mother virtually disappeared. For a while, shortly after she left, we all slept together in my bed with both our dogs, too. I was jammed in so I barely could move but it was still very comforting and I treasure that memory. Now, as they’re young adults, I’m wondering if I really know them (at all)?
Posted on 3:20pm Monday 29th September 2014
Wyre Forest Citizens Advice (CAB) is warning motorists that tax discs will no longer be issued from October 1st 2014 (this week).....many car owners are unaware of this.
Posted on 9:42am Monday 29th September 2014
I recently underwent some minor surgery for a small hernia. I haven’t been “under” since I had rotator cuff surgery a decade or so ago. That was a horrendous experience on a number of levels. Yet, as I approached this next time going “under” I was not particularly anxious. Part of my calmness was confidence in the doctor who was going to perform the operation. Part of it was a resignation that this is what comes with “maturity” or simply getting older. Part of it was the wine…just kidding.
Posted on 2:04pm Saturday 27th September 2014
What a summer it’s been for us at Stourport on Severn Brass Band. Since our last update, we have a new home in the shape of Stourport Sports Club.
Posted on 11:20pm Thursday 25th September 2014
In the second part of our Jane McDonald triple-feature, I caught up with her for an interview at the Birmingham Hippodrome to discuss her upcoming Pantomime debut in 'Jack and the Beanstalk', the inspiration behind her first album in over six years, and how it feels to be more popular and in-demand than ever over sixteen years after first rising to success.
Posted on 7:17pm Thursday 25th September 2014
In this week's update, Craig Bateman who is Member of Worcestershire Youth Cabinet explains the significance of engaging young people in Make Your Mark - an issue-finding campaign run by Worcestershire Youth Cabinet in partnership with its national counterpart, the UK Youth Parliament.
Posted on 1:11am Thursday 25th September 2014
The record-breaking stage adaptation of the Oscar-winning 1987 hit of the same name is once again touring the UK. I headed over to Press Night at the Wolverhampton Grand to review the show and see if you will, indeed, have the time of your life...
Posted on 8:08pm Saturday 20th September 2014
When speaking about the next generation, we are told that more young people need to be politically aware. We agree with this. But we also agree that this generation is as engaged as any. By way of example, whereas the recent West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner elections has a turnout rate of 10.3%, and the Worcestershire Youth Cabinet turn out rate was 14%. Although both percentages indicate that much work needs to be invested, and that there is no room for complacency, it brings around a positive message for youth democracy in Worcestershire. The past year has been a really busy one for Worcestershire Youth Cabinet, and we are really pleased to announce that the Youth Cabinet elections will be finally held in the autumn of this year. Worcestershire Youth Cabinet is a democratically elected youth-led organisation with members aged 11 to 18. We aim to provide the young people of Worcestershire with a voice that is listened to by local, regional and national government, providers of services for young people, and any other agency who have a concern in the interests and opinions of young people. We work cross party and with multiple agencies to advise and assist them with any relevant youth issues. This could be to carry out a consultation on their behalf, advise on accessibility of services and surrounding information, and to share good practice of effective youth involvement. Elected members are in office for a three-year term, and get to spend their time working on their election manifesto pledges as well as any other opportunities that they may wish to get involved with. In the Wyre Forest, we have 5 active members, of which two members serve as the Cabinet's Vice Chair elect and it's Secretary, respectively. Individual members may also engage with other opportunities on a local, national and even international scale with partners such as the United Kingdom Youth Parliament, the British Youth Council, the ContinU Trust, Positive Activities Commissioning and many other agencies and services. Since my election in March 2013, I have been thoroughly delighted to have seen youth participation develop both in the Wyre Forest and in Worcestershire. Over the last twelve months elected young people have been working with agencies such as the Local Economic Partnership to develop an online web-portal aimed at giving young people the opportunity to undergo a work experience placement with one of Worcestershire's strategic business such as Worcester Bosch or Malvern Instruments, of which over 100 placements have been secured since it's launch in March 2013. We are also currently working alongside Wyre Forest District Council to create a District Youth Council and Young Peoples' Mayor which would shadow the adult council on issues such as health, planning and environment and young peoples engagement, and be able to deliver their own project working alongside other agencies, whether it be a skate park or a youth cafe. One of the most important parts our work is holding our elections. This ensures that Worcestershire Youth Cabinet is sustainable in the long-term and makes sure that we have an active new intake of young people to take youth voice in the Wyre Forest and Worcestershire forward. Being a member of Worcestershire Youth Cabinet is a really exciting opportunity, and I encourage as many young people who are aged between 11 and 18 to think about standing for election. I can promise you that you will not regret it.
Posted on 11:20am Thursday 18th September 2014
To celebrate her latest album release, the first in 6 years, singer-songwriter Jane McDonald is touring the UK and bringing with her a show packed with old classics, fan favourites and plenty of new, original material. I headed to the Wolverhampton Grand to review the show as part of a Jane McDonald double feature...
Posted on 12:28am Thursday 11th September 2014
One of the most cherished and enduring musicals of all time, Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Cats' returns to the UK on it's latest tour, arriving in Birmingham for a three week tenure at the City's Hippodrome Theatre. I headed over to Press Night to see if the 'memory' is worth reliving...
Posted on 10:07pm Wednesday 10th September 2014
One of the techniques that are increasingly being used to attract young voters are the promises of apprenticeships and youth employment. Indeed, the House of Commons Library latest apprenticeship statistics update has reported that in the 2012/2013 academic year, there were 510,000 apprenticeship starts. This is a clear improvement on the 2009/2010 statistics when just 231,000 apprenticeship starts took place.
Posted on 10:01pm Wednesday 10th September 2014
In this exclusive, Craig Bateman reveals what he got up to on his recent Global Young Citizenship Conference to the United Nations Office in Geneva with the ContinU Trust Consortium of Wyre Forest and Hagley Schools
Posted on 11:00am Wednesday 10th September 2014
I recently attended perhaps the biggest fitness and nutrition convention around – The Idea World Fitness and Nutrition Convention. It’s not my usual bailiwick but it was still interesting and I enjoy meeting new people. As always, expectations can be a tricky thing and some of my expectations were most certainly not met.
Posted on 6:42pm Thursday 4th September 2014
Reviewing his recent visit to the United Nations Office in Geneva, in this update, Craig Bateman who is a Member of Worcestershire Youth Cabinet for Wyre Forest highlights just how important collaborative work is in securing a better future for the next generation