Colors: Red Color

Record-breaking, global comedy superstar, Jeff Dunham, is bringing his cast of characters to the UK in 2018 for two dates only. America’s favorite ventriloquist has announced the UK leg of his ‘Passively Aggressive’ tour and his only dates in the country this year on 19th May at Birmingham’s Genting Arena and 20th May at London’s The SSE Arena, Wembley.

Recently Dunham released his latest standup special, Jeff Dunham: Relative Disaster, on Netflix that was recorded in Dublin. The special features Dunham along with his ill-behaved and slightly demented posse of characters for a gleeful skewering of family and politics. Dunham and his famous cohorts Walter, Achmed the Dead Terrorist, Bubba J, and Peanut also consider what a new member to their already dysfunctional family could mean, putting the ‘relative’ in Relative Disaster.

Dunham, a Guinness World Record holder for “Most Tickets Sold for a Stand-up Comedy Tour,” has built an entertainment empire over years of non-stop touring and innovation. With over a million YouTube subscribers amassing over a billion views, he has carved out his own unique space in the comedy world leading to record-breaking viewership with his comedy specials on Comedy Central and NBC. His 2015 standup special, Jeff Dunham: Unhinged in Hollywood, debuted on NBC Primetime in the fall and ranked as the time period’s top non-sports program on the Big 4 in every key measure.

Finally, adding to an amazing list of recent accomplishments, Dunham’s contribution to the world of show business and comedy for over two decades of superstardom was recognized when he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!

A firm fixture on the city’s festive calendar, Birmingham Bach Choir present their hugely popular Nine Lessons and Carols on Sunday 17 December 2017.

Taking place at St Alban’s Church, Birmingham, at 3.30pm, Nine Lessons and Carols features a series of Bible readings telling the Christmas story, interspersed with seasonal music for the choir and congregation.

Led by conductor Paul Spicer and accompanied by organist Paul Carr, those attending are invited to join in singing such familiar carols as O Come All Ye FaithfulO Little Town of Bethlehem and Hark The Herald Angels, as well as listening to the choir perform John Rutter's Dormi Jesu, R Rodney Bennett's Lullaby Baby, and Tomas Luis de Victoria's beautiful 16th century motet, O Magnum Mysterium.

Though a long-held annual tradition, this year marks Birmingham Bach Choir’s second visit to St Alban the Martyr, in Highgate, Birmingham. A hidden 19th century Grade II* listed Gothic Revival gem, it’s renowned for its magnificent ornamental panels, painted by Birmingham-born artist Kate Bunce. With a hand-beaten copper frame by sister Myra, the panels demonstrate a strong Pre-Raphaelite influence.

Birmingham Bach Choir Chair Sarah Platt, said: “Just a few minutes away from the bustle of the city centre, the magnificent St Alban’s is a lovely venue for our traditional afternoon Nine Lessons and Carols service, which touches on the true spirit of Christmas. We welcome all to come and join us in reflection and song.”

Nine Lessons and Carols takes place on 17 December 2017, the last Sunday before Christmas, at 3.30pm. Admission is free, with an optional collection for church funds. No booking required. St Alban the Martyr Church, Conybere St, Highgate, Birmingham B12 0YH.

In addition to the traditional service, members of the Birmingham Bach Choir together with the Midlands Military and Community Choir will be filling the atrium of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Edgbaston, with the sound of Christmas carols on Wednesday 20 December 2017 from 6.30pm-7.45pm. This fundraising appearance will help to provide Christmas trees for the wards, treats for staff and patients, and free parking and television for patients and their visitors on Christmas Day. Passers-by are welcome to join in the singing (and usually do!).

The UK’s leading classical ballet touring company will be crossing two oceans in 2018, as Birmingham Royal Ballet announces extensive international touring to Virginia and Japan. The company will be flying across the Atlantic to perform Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet at Virginia Arts Festival (20-22 April 2018). Next, from 11 to 27 May, the Company heads east to perform in four cities across the southern region of Japan. Performing in Japan’s capital city of Tokyo, they will bring to life Sir Peter Wright’s The Sleeping Beauty and Sir Frederick Ashton’s La Fille mal gardée, alongside further performances of The Sleeping Beauty in Nishinomiya, Shiga and Nagoya.

In April 2018, Birmingham Royal Ballet makes a welcome return to Virginia Arts Festival after seven years to set hearts alight with Kenneth MacMillan’s exquisite Romeo and Juliet. Love at first dance, forbidden passions, dangerous secrets and star-crossed fate combine in this exhilarating classic ballet. From the balcony scene’s ecstatic pas de deux, exploring love in all its soaring wonder, to the lovers’ heart-breaking ends, Romeo and Juliet is dance at its most poignant and beautiful.

Promoted by NBS Performing Arts Foundation based in Tokyo, the company’s tour to Japan celebrates two greats of British ballet with performances of Sir Peter Wright’s The Sleeping Beauty and Sir Frederick Ashton’s La Fille mal gardée.

Dancing alongside Birmingham Royal Ballet principal Mathias Dingman, Alina Cojocaru will guest in two performances of The Sleeping Beauty in Tokyo (18 and 20 May). Born in Bucharest, Alina trained in Kiev for seven years before joining the Royal Ballet School in 1997. Upon completion of her training she returned to Kiev to join the company as a principal dancer. She joined the Royal Ballet in 1999, and was promoted to principal in 2001 after a performance of Giselle. Alina joined the English National Ballet in 2013 as a Lead Principal. She continues to perform with companies worldwide, and is a regular guest with the Hamburg Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. In February 2012 Alina premiered her Alina Cojocaru - Dream Project in Tokyo, Japan, which she directed and staged, featuring friends and colleagues from the Tokyo Ballet, Hamburg Ballet, ENB and Royal Ballet. Alina's second Dream Project took place in July 2014.

Mathias Heymann will guest in two performances of La Fille mal gardée in Tokyo (25 and 27 May) alongside Birmingham Royal Ballet principal Momoko Hirata. Mathias trained at the Paris Opera Ballet School, and joined the corps de ballet of the Paris Opera Ballet at the age of 17. In 2006, he was promoted to coryphée and awarded the Prix du Cercle Carpeaux and Prix AROP de la Danse. Following further promotions in 2007 and 2008, Mathias was made an étoile on 16 April 2009 following his debut performance as Lenski in John Cranko’s Onegin. In 2012, he was awarded the Prix Benois de la Danse and the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres.

The Sleeping Beauty is one of the grandest ballets in Birmingham Royal Ballet’s repertory, with a classical score by Tchaikovsky and original choreography by Marius Petipa. The opulent world of Imperial Russian ballet, with its marvellous mixture of virtuoso dance, fairy tale characters and dazzling spectacle, has delighted audiences for over a hundred years. Sir Peter Wright’s 1984 production for Birmingham Royal Ballet, with designs by Philip Prowse, is acclaimed as one of the best in the world.

Sir Frederick Ashton’s sunniest, funniest masterpiece, La Fille mal gardée (The Wayward Daughter) mixes spectacular classical ballet with finely wrought English comedy, colourful sets designed by cartoonist Osbert Lancaster, a clog-dancing dame and a super-cute miniature pony. It is based on a 1789 French ballet originally created by Jean Dauberval; John Lanchbery created the music for Ashton’s ballet from Ferdinand Hérold’s 1828 score. Inspired by Ashton’s love of the English countryside, La Fille mal gardée includes some of his most virtuoso, energetic choreography as well as elements of traditional folk dancing.

Wolverhampton Art Gallery’s free Friday lunchtime performances by talented musicians from across the city are back.

The concerts are organised in partnership with the Wolverhampton Music Education Hub to give young musicians the chance to perform in inspiring spaces away from their schools.

Each show at the Lichfield Street gallery’s newly-refurbished Georgian Room features a range of music from classical to contemporary - and most stops in between.

The next concert takes place on Friday, November 24 and starts at 1.10pm.

A flute choir made up of young musicians from Coppice Performing Arts School, Wolverhampton Grammar School, St Peter’s Collegiate Academy, Wolverhampton Girls’ High School, The King’s School, and St Edmund’s Catholic Academy will be performing music by Tchaikovsky, Debussy and John Williams.

Further concerts will be taking place on December 8, January 19, February 2 & 9, and March 23.

Councillor John Reynolds, City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: “If you are looking for something to do on a lunchtime then come and spend it in the Georgian Room at Wolverhampton Art Gallery.

“We have a spectacular programme arranged, where young students from across the city will be singing and playing instruments for your entertainment, for free.

“It would be great for people to go along and show their support.”

One of the world’s most acclaimed South Asian musicians has joined Barnardo’s as an international ambassador, in a huge boost for the children’s charity.

Rahat Fateh Ali Khan accepted the offer after topping the bill at the sell-out Annual Gala Dinner at London’s Dorchester Hotel for the UK’s South Asian community to support Barnardo’s work with vulnerable children and young people across the UK.

The renowned Pakistani singer played a mesmerising set of traditional Qawali music in front of celebrity guests including Barnardo’s ambassadors Andy Serkis, Nicola Roberts, Lydia Bright and Debbie Douglas, along with new supporters including celebrated musician Naughty Boy and top TV presenter Sonali Shah.

Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan said: “It’s a huge honour that Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan has agreed to become Barnardo’s International Ambassador. The maestro comes from a 600-year-old family heritage of Qawali singing and has a huge global following and influence.

“He was very generous in his praise for Barnardo’s work to help vulnerable children and young people - last year alone we reached 272,000 children, young people, carers and parents.

“Barnardo’s works in a wide range of communities across the UK.  From our earliest days over 150 years ago, Barnardo’s has been proud to help those who need us most, regardless of cultural or religious background. We have always valued and respected diversity at our core. Britain’s Asian communities have made a huge contribution to UK life, and helped develop a respect for and tolerance of difference, making this great country a vibrant place in which to live and work.”

Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan said: “I’m honoured to become an international ambassador for Barnardo’s as I know how hard the charity works to support vulnerable children, young people, carers and parents of all backgrounds in the UK, including those with South Asian roots.

“It was wonderful to raise funds for Barnardo’s, and I’m looking forward to working with the charity so that more children who have experienced tough situations in the past can look forward to a better future.”

Will Self has been revealed as the headline act for the second annual Wolverhampton Literature Festival.

The English novelist, journalist, political commentator and television personality, is the author of ten novels, five collections of shorter fiction, three novellas, and five collections of non-fiction writing.

Reader in English Literature at the University of Roehampton, Sebastian Groes, will host the evening with Self, in Wolverhampton Art Gallery’s Georgian Room, on Sunday, January 28, at 5.30pm.

The city’s inaugural literature festival last year proved a popular event with audiences and, the 2018 festival - from Friday, January 26 to Sunday 28 - will see more than 80 artists and performers.

Organisers are now putting the finishing touches to the rest of the programme that has three themes running through it – music and literature, politics and journalism and community voices.

The aim is to build the event over the next five years and make it a permanent fixture in the calendar, after receiving Arts Council England funding up to 2022.

Councillor John Reynolds, City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: “The pilot festival in 2017 was made possible by the generous contributions of artists and local businesses and was a great celebration of literature in our city.

“I am pleased that the festival will take place again in 2018.  Already there is a great variety of entertainment lined up during the three-day festival, with even more authors and events to be announced.”

The council is working in partnership with the University of Wolverhampton and Express & Star on the festival.

It will include a range of discussions, workshops and performances celebrating City of Wolverhampton’s rich relationship with the written and spoken word.

Events will be taking place across the city at Wolverhampton’s 16-strong network of libraries, art gallery, Bantock House, Archive, and other venues.

Exciting additions to the programme include a story writing competition for local schools, which will see winning entries adapted for the stage and performed by drama students from the City of Wolverhampton College.

The Grand Theatre will also be home to the National Theatre’s modern production of Hedda Gabbler, Ibsen’s thrilling masterpiece which has been brought to bold new life by Olivier Award-winning playwright Patrick Marber (Closer) and directed by Olivier and Tony Award®-winner Ivo van Hove (A View from the Bridge).

In conjunction with Write Out Loud and the Express & Star, there will also be a poetry writing competition for adults inspired by the city’s motto – ‘Out of darkness cometh light’. Poets are invited to submit pieces of up to 40 lines on the theme of ‘out of darkness’ before the deadline of December 31, 2017.

The competition is open to all, with a first prize of £400, and poems will be judged by City of Wolverhampton poet, Emma Purshouse, who said: “I will be searching for those poems that engage with the reader, those poems that people will want to read again and again.”

The winners will be announced in advance of the festival itself, giving them the opportunity to read at an awards event during the festival.

Suffolk's St Peter's Brewery is gearing up for the Mindful Drinking Christmas Festival this weekend, a two-day event at Spitalfields, London.

With sales of its two alcohol-free beers now accounting for 15% of its overall sales, St Peter's Brewery is keen to target those looking for high quality alcohol free drinks to enjoy and the Mindful Drinking Christmas Festival is the perfect opportunity.

Organised by Club Soda, the free Mindful Drinking Christmas Festival on Friday 24th and Saturday 25th November provides a platform for the growing quality and diversity of the UK's alcohol-free drinking scene, with a range of zero to 0.5% alcohol craft beers, wines, ciders and sodas all available for tasting, alongside street food, music and entertainment for all the family.

St Peter's will be offering visitors to the event free tastings of its two delicious alcohol-free beers, St Peter's Without Original and Without Gold, selling single bottles and gift packs and hosting a competition which will see one lucky festival-goer winning a year's supply of St Peter's Without Original and Without Gold (45 cases in total!)

St Peter's Brewery launched Without® Original, its first-ever alcohol-free craft beer in August 2016 and it has created a huge buzz in the industry, with the likes of Tesco, Nisa and The Co-Op all giving it national listings. In July the brewery unveiled its second zero-alcohol beer, Without® Gold, a citrusy, slightly malty golden ale to appeal to lager and ale drinkers that is currently sold exclusively through Morissons.

“We are dedicated to providing the highest quality alcohol-free beer,” explains Steve Magnall, CEO at St Peter's Brewery. “Our Without® Original and Without® Gold have been phenomenally successful, proving just how much demand there is for high quality, alcohol-free craft beers that really are as good as their alcoholic counterparts. By supporting the Mindful Drinking Christmas Festival we have a fantastic opportunity to prove how strong the alcohol-free category is becoming and ensure that even more people have a chance to try our fantastic alcohol-free beers,” adds Steve.

Christmas time is here again! And what better way to celebrate the holidays, than by hearing all those festive favourites performed by a sixty-piece orchestra? The People’s Orchestra are once again putting on their popular “Something Magical...” concert at West Bromwich Town Hall and it’s sure to be a perfect evening out for the whole family. Opening at 19:30 on Saturday 16th December, audiences shall be treated to all the yuletide classics, from 12 days of Christmas, straight through to Frozen.
Tickets are on sale now from West Bromwich Box Office or available online and are sure to sell out fast, as audiences snap up the chance to soak in the festive cheer with classic orchestral arrangements of all their favourite Christmas pieces. Troika, Gaudette, The Muppets and more, there is something for everyone at Something Magical...
Orchestra founder Sarah Marshall said “It’s a wonderful time to bring these pieces to West Bromwich. Christmas is such a wonderful time to spend with loved ones, and this concert is a chance for us to play these pieces to our loved ones; our very passionate and supportive audience. We wouldn’t still be here without them and we hope that this concert will give them that magical feeling that Christmas is all about”
“Remember the name, and see them when you can, we have a feeling that tickets for future performances will be difficult to get your hands on once word spreads”
– Phoenix Newspaper, July 2017

A spectacular new light and sound show featuring lasers by renowned artist Chris Levine and original soundscapes from special guest stars will be the highlight of the Eden Project's Christmas celebrations (beginning November 25).

Festival of Light and Sound will see beautiful laser beams projected high above the outdoor gardens and the Mediterranean Biome will be filled with spellbinding patterns of light and 3D immersive sound.

Appearing live at the festival, singer-songwriter Jamie Crowe has completed his new album Elysium part 1 which he will perform with acclaimed Cornish singer Kezia.

Chris Levine will be creating brand new laser treatments to harmonise with the new sound work.

The focus this year is on the interplay between light and Eden's exotic plant life and landscape, with multiple festive-coloured laser beams tracing and highlighting the shapes and forms of the former clay quarry near St Austell in Cornwall.

The experience will begin at the entrance to Eden where visitors can marvel at the intricate patterns of lasers creating a canopy of light over the gardens.

The journey continues to the Mediterranean Biome, which will be filled with brightly coloured beams choreographed to the soundscapes and live performances.

The festival returns to Eden following a spectacular debut last year.

Gordon Seabright, Eden's chief executive, said: “Festival of Light and Sound will see Eden at its most beautiful. The laser show and new compositions are set to combine perfectly and celebrate nature in our Biome and gardens, creating an enchanting experience for all of our visitors.

“We're confident this Christmas at Eden will be our best ever, with the laser and music show appearing alongside our ever-popular Father Christmas experience, family activities and our magical ice rink.”

Festival of Light and Sound features iy_project, a collaboration between the Eden Project, creative partners EdenLAB and internationally-acclaimed artist Chris Levine.

Originally developed at Eden with support from the Arts Council, iy_project employs pioneering laser and 3D spatial sound technology, and has headlined venues and festivals across the world with top sound artists, including the Glastonbury and Wilderness Festivals in the UK and the highly-prestigious Dark Mofo Festival in Tasmania.

At Glastonbury last year, iy_project worked with conductor Charlie Hazlewood and his 45-piece orchestra as part of the festival's official tribute to the life of David Bowie. The piece was performed to an audience of 25,000 on the Park Stage at midnight on the Saturday of the festival and broadcast live by the BBC.

Chris Levine is a pioneer in the field of light art. Incorporating numerous mediums (laser, photography, holograms) across multiple platforms including music, performance, installation, fashion and design, his creativity is manifest in a multitude of projects.

Singer-songwriter Jamie Crowe will be returning to Eden following his residency last Christmas to perform material from his newly completed album, inspired by Eden, on every night of the festival. Jamie is a Cornwall-based singer and guitarist and used to front top bands Rootjoose and Rairbirds.

Other Eden Christmas favourites will also be making a return, refreshed for the 2017 season.

Father Christmas and his elves will once again be taking up residence for the season. Visitors will be able to hear a magical tale brimming with Christmas cheer and sparkle, told around a roaring fire.

Children will get to meet the elves as they make their final preparations for the big day. Then they share an enchanting moment with Father Christmas himself.

Eden's ice rink is open throughout the winter season with sessions available for various ages and abilities. As well as general skating sessions, lessons from expert tutors will be available. Chilly Juniors, fun sessions for children aged six to 12 on Sundays, will also be making a return.

Toddlers can join the fun too with Sunday morning sessions where they can play with a multitude of toys on the ice without having to wear skates.

Father Christmas will be at Eden from November 25 to Christmas Eve and pre-booking is strongly recommended. Festival of Light and Sound opens on November 25 and will be taking place on selected nights until December 30. Eden's ice rink is open until February 18.

Birmingham Royal Ballet, in association with Sadler’s Wells, has announced the first three choreographers and first two composers commissioned as part of Ballet Now – a unique five-year programme of professional development for choreographers, composers and designers funded by Oak Foundation.

Ballet Now will create two new one-act ballets per year for five years, each with a choreographer, composer and designer who are creating their first dance piece for a large company on a large stage. In total 30 artists will collaborate on these new works, helping to grow the pool of artistic talent available to ballet companies world-wide. This not only guarantees ten new ballets for Birmingham Royal Ballet’s dancers to perform, and for the Company’s audiences to see, but it offers those 30 artists an individual mentoring plan, a budget for their work and a level of creative support that they will not previously have experienced.

This ground-breaking initiative has been developed and overseen by a Creative Consortium; a panel of experts drawn from across the world of ballet supporting the selection of creative talent, as well as overseeing mentoring opportunities and the on-going success of the programme.

The Consortium consists of: David Bintley (Director, Birmingham Royal Ballet), Koen Kessels (Music Director, Birmingham Royal Ballet), Alistair Spalding (Sadler’s Wells Artistic Director and Chief Executive), Cassa Pancho (Artistic Director, Ballet Black), Ted Brandsen (Director, Dutch National Ballet), Emma Southworth (Studio Programme Senior Producer, The Royal Ballet), Sally Beamish (Composer), Sally Cavender (Director, Performance Music and Vice-Chairman, Faber Music).

The first three Ballet Now choreographers are George Williamson, Juanjo Arqués and Didy Veldman. The first two Ballet Now composers are Sarah Kirkland Snider (working alongside George Williamson) and Gabriel Prokofiev (working with Didy Veldman). These artists have been selected by the Creative Consortium due to the originality, insight and world-class potential shown in their previous work. Ballet Now will give them the opportunity to challenge their choreographic practice and work on the largest scale, whilst leading a creative process in a major ballet company.

Abigail Reeve, producer of Ballet Now, commented: ‘Ballet Now is a unique programme of development and new work that Birmingham Royal Ballet is delighted to be launching in association with Sadler’s Wells.  Its aim is to develop the next set of creative voices for the dance world. Our first three choreographers commissioned through the programme bring with them fresh outlooks and ideas which will excite audiences across the world.’

The Ballet Now programme will also support one designer per commission; further details will be announced in 2018.

The first Ballet Now commission, choreographed by George Williamson, will be performed as part of the In the Upper Room mixed programme at Sadler’s Wells (15-16 June 2018) and Birmingham Hippodrome (20-23 June 2018).

Opening night of The Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker will be screened live into cinemas around the world on Tuesday 5 December at 7.15pm.

A firm family favourite with Tchaikovsky’s mesmerizing score, a Christmas tree that magically grows, a battle between toy soldiers and an Army of Mice, and the famous role of the Sugar Plum Fairy danced by Royal Ballet Principal Sarah Lamb with her Prince, Principal dancer Steven McRae, this event presented by Darcey Bussell is not to be missed.

Peter Wright’s enchanting production tells the story of Clara, danced by Royal Ballet Principal Francesca Hayward, whose Christmas is transformed by a visit from Drosselmeyer, a mysterious magician and maker of magical toys.  Drosselmeyer longs to break a curse that has turned his nephew, danced by Australian Principal Alexander Campbell, into a nutcracker doll.

Matched with exquisite designs and world-famous melodies, this production of The Nutcracker has enthralled audiences for over 30 years since its opening in 1984. It showcases the full energy of the Company, alongside the emerging talent of young dancers from The Royal Ballet School. The stunning costumes, numbering around 600 and dating back to the world-premiere, are revitalized for the show.

An encore screening takes place on Sunday 10 December at 2pm.

The next production in the Royal Opera House’s 2017/18 Live Cinema Season is Verdi’s opera Rigoletto on Tuesday 16 January at 7.15pm.

The Belgrade Theatre is partnering with Junges Theatre from Werftpark, Kiel this November in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the twinning of Coventry with the German city of Kiel.

On Thurs 9 & Fri 10 Nov, Junges Theatre will perform their show Lost & Found in the Belgrade’s B2 auditorium. This short play, aimed at ages 5+, explores the tools of communication, language and friendship and will be performed for speakers of either English or German.

Astrid Grossgasteiger, Director of Lost & Found said, “As a token of our long lasting friendship we are very excited to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the twinning of Coventry and Kiel with a vividly artistic, cultural and educational exchange for young audiences. Especially with Lost & Found which has a story based on the playfulness of language, the tiny misunderstandings of words and about organising your world within your own system. This invariably leads to children exercising their imaginations leading to new discoveries and finding greater meaning.”

She added, “We hope that our performances bring people together overcoming language barriers and their hesitations to connect to one other and we especially look forward to deepening our understanding of communication and strengthening our cultural exchange by sharing a good time with our audience.”

Astrid Grossgasteiger is also Head of Young Theatre at the Shipyard Park in Kiel and has been responsible for more than 20 productions as a director, including children's classics such as The Little Prince and The Jungle Book and also her own texts.

Kiel has been partnered with Coventry since 1947, following the Second World War when, like Coventry, it was heavily bombed. Mr Williams, a serviceman from Coventry who was based in Kiel during the rebuilding process proposed a friendship link to the city authorities and they have been twinned ever since.

Like the Belgrade Theatre, Junges Theatre Werftpark shares a commitment to producing educational work for children and young people. Each season, the theater in the Werft Park plays around 12 different pieces for the different age groups from kindergarten through elementary school to adolescence and adulthood.

The Belgrade is also known as a pioneer of the ground-breaking Theatre-in-Education movement, which has been adopted by theatre practitioners across the world.

The Belgrade Theatre has announced more shows to be added to its Spring 2018 Season, including the multi-award winning West End comedy The Play That Goes Wrong from Mon 19 to Sat 24 March, back by phenomenal demand following a sold out run earlier this year.

Co-written by members of the Mischief Theatre Company, The Play That Goes Wrong is a highly physical comedy packed with finely-tuned farce and Buster Keaton inspired slapstick delivered with split-second timing and ambitious daring.

Awarded the 2014 Best New Comedy and the 2015 Olivier Award for Best New Comedy, The Play That Goes Wrong has also recently enjoyed a fourth year in the West End and has played to an audience of over a quarter of a million worldwide.

The world premiere production of Black Men Walking will take to the B2 stage from Weds 7 to Sat 10 Feb as part of a UK tour presented by Eclipse and the Royal Exchange.

Inspired by a real-life Black men’s walking group based in Sheffield, the piece has been conceived by Eclipse in collaboration with Leeds-based rapper, singer, producer and performer Testament. A rising star in the theatre landscape, Testament was most recently acclaimed for his one-man show about feminism, Woke, which fused powerful first-person narrative with his signature beat-boxing and rapping.

Directed by Dawn Walton, this new work mixes dramatic storytelling with original music written by Testament and performed by a four-person cast.

From Tues 5 to Sat 9 June, the essential Scottish musical Sunshine on Leith returns to the Belgrade Theatre in a brand-new production for the first time since 2010.

Follow the highs and lows of Ally and his friend Davy as they return home to Leith from the army. Families, friendships and life are not plain sailing in this funny and moving story about love and life.

With a soundtrack of Proclaimers songs including I’m Gonna Be (500 miles), Sunshine on Leith, Letter From America, and I’m On My Way this energetic piece of musical theatre is loved by audiences and critics alike.

Originally produced by the National Theatre and Complicité, A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer explores a new way to talk and think about illness, by Bryony Kimmings and visits the Belgrade’s Main Stage from Weds 14 to Sat 17 Feb.

This funny and moving show will look behind the poster campaigns and pink ribbons at the reality of cancer: newfound friendships, pain and death, mundane treatment cycles, hairlessness and scars…with songs.

Noël Coward’s most popular and enduring stage comedy, Private Lives, where strong passions and stronger personalities set the stage for a classic battle of the sexes from Thurs 19 to Sat 21 April.

Full of razor-sharp wit and quick-fire dialogue, Private Lives first opened at London’s Phoenix Theatre in August 1930 to packed houses. Since then, this charming comedy of manners has retained its remarkable appeal, captivating audiences all over the world.

There’s also plenty on offer for families next spring, with the return of Horrible Histories’ More Best of Barmy Britain from Weds 30 May to Sat 2 June, bringing even more of history’s most famous figures back to life on stage in a fun and educational treat for families.

Find out why the Romans were revolting! Could you survive the vicious Vikings? Can evil Elizabeth entertain England? Would you party with the Puritans? Clap along with crazy King Charles! Vomit with the vile Victorians and prepare to do battle in the frightful First World War!

During the Easter holidays, ages 2 – 7 will enjoy the interactive, sing-along show Easter Bunny’s Eggs Factor on Fri 13 & Sat 14 April from the creators of Marty MacDonald’s Farm and Santa’s Christmas Wish. This 40 minute show will be followed by a meet and greet with the Easter Bunny and special gift for every child.

Also for families, Dear Zoo – Live on Stage will visit the Belgrade on Fri 6 & Sat 7 April, based on the classic children’s lift-the-flap book by Rod Campbell. Celebrating 35 years in 2017, Dear Zoo is the story of a child who writes to the zoo asking them to send a pet and continues to delight each new generation featuring puppets, original music and lots of audience interaction.

All these shows will form part of the Spring 2018 Season at the Belgrade, which also includes previously announced shows The Sound of Music, Son of a Preacher Man, Awful Auntie, Thriller Live and more. The full Spring 2018 Season will be announced later in the year.


Internationally renowned conductor Paul Spicer celebrates 25 years leading Birmingham Bach Choir with a special anniversary concert on Thursday 30 November 2017, at Birmingham Town Hall.

Fittingly, for a choir named in honour of Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach, Paul has chosen Bach's masterful Mass In B Minor for the performance.

"Bach's B minor Mass is quite simply one of the greatest creations of the human mind," says Paul. "It has been central to my musical career ever since Birmingham Bach Choir's previous musical director, Richard Butt, brought back a full score of the work from Leipzig as a gift for me back in 1988.

“Since then I have conducted the work many times, a lot of those with Birmingham Bach Choir. There is a whole world of experience and emotion in this Mass. As I have said before, I feel that Bach is the only universal composer."

Completed in 1749, a year before JS Bach's death, Mass In B minor (BWV 232) revisits previously composed passages and was only performed publically, in full, a century later. Today, it’s regarded as one of the greatest musical compositions of all time.

Since becoming Birmingham Bach Choir's Musical Director in 1992, Paul has steered the choir through a myriad of successes, extending the their repertoire to cover both contemporary and centuries old lesser known works alongside more popular, well known choral pieces.

During his fruitful tenure, specific highlights have been numerous but must include The Deciduous Cross, a work based on five poems by RS Thomas commissioned for Paul's 10th anniversary as conductor; the much acclaimed recording of Easter Oratorio; and the world premiere of Unfinished Remembering, a major choral symphony commemorating the centenary of the first World War, performed at Symphony Hall, Birmingham in 2014.

For the 25th anniversary concert Birmingham Bach Choir are joined by the London Baroque Sinfonia, with Sarah Fox (soprano), James Laing (countertenor), Robert Murray (tenor) and Ashley Riches (bass).

Sarah has worked with many of the world's leading orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and the Halle. A former judge on BBC TV's The Choir: Sing While You Work, she also appears regularly with John Wilson and his Orchestra. James’ operatic engagements include performances for the Royal Opera, English National Opera, English Touring Opera, Glyndebourne Festival Opera and Opera North. A former member of King's College Choir, Cambridge, Ashley is presently a member of the 2017/ 2108 BBC New Generation Artist scheme.

Fans have welcomed enhanced security arrangements introduced at the City of Wolverhampton Council's Civic and Wulfrun Halls entertainment venues last week.

To strengthen security and public safety inside and outside both venues a number of temporary measures are now in operation, including road closures around the Civic and Wulfrun Halls on show nights.

There is also enhanced security measures outside and in the buildings, with searches taking place prior to people entering the venues and concrete barriers installed outside for the safety of pedestrians.

The new arrangements were put into place for the first time on Friday night (20 October) for a sell-out performance by W.A.S.P, with over 1,100 fans descending on the Wulfrun Hall to see the 80s metal icons in action.

Councillor John Reynolds, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: "The enhanced security measures were well received by concert goers.

“Our staff spoke to a number of customers who, in light of recent terrorist attacks in other parts of the country and around the world, were slightly nervous about coming to a gig and who found it reassuring that they would have to be searched on entry.

"I would like to thank people for heeding our warnings to allow themselves extra time to pass through security, and it was pleasing that we managed to keep queues to a minimum even though this was a sell-out performance."

In her review of W.A.S.P's gig, Express & Star group online entertainments editor Kirsten Rawlins noted: "As we went through the searches and barriers it admittedly felt a little like we were heading into a festival than a gig, but the additional checks were very welcome and reassuring.

"Though it’s unfortunate the City has had to bring in these measures and senses are clearly heightened, it was good to know we were being looked after."

Commenting on the Wolverhampton Today Facebook page, one individual wrote: "Smart moves, Wolverhampton Council. Well done." Another added: "Sad but sensible... a sign of the times."

With more big names coming to the Civic and Wulfrun Halls in the coming weeks, including comedians Jimmy Carr, Henning Wehn, Lee Nelson and Rich Hall, and 8,000 people expected at the Civic Hall on Saturday and Sunday for the 10th anniversary of the ever-popular West Midlands Vegan Festival, fans are urged to familiarise themselves with the enhanced security measures.

These include road closures for major events, with Red Lion Street, Mitre Fold and North Street shut to all traffic when shows are taking place. This will mean that people wishing to park at the Civic Centre will need to access the car park via Wulfruna Street.

Alternative car parks, all within a 10-minute walk of the Civic and Wulfrun Halls, will be open as usual, including Broad Street, Fryer Street, School Street, Fold Street, Peel Street and Temple Street. The pedestrian route to the Civic Hall from the Civic Centre car park will remain open.

Searches prior to entry will take place in covered areas outside the Civic and Wulfrun Halls. No bags over the size of an A4 sheet of paper will be allowed into either venue, and no bottles will be permitted.