Colors: Red Color

As part of the effort to restore Sutton Coldfield Town Hall, Sutton Coldfield Arts and Recreational Trust (SCART), the managing charity trust, are launching a new ‘Friends of the Town Hall’ initiative to raise funds for the historic, locally listed venue.

Sutton Coldfield’s landmark Town Hall, built in 1865, was recently taken over from the City Council by the Sutton Coldfield Arts and Recreational Trust, a team of local Arts and Heritage enthusiasts. Since the Town Hall was faced with closure, its staff have created a jam-packed calendar of events from musicals to comedy, from classical concerts to tribute nights and now, fundraisers.

This inaugural fundraiser will see the versatile venue’s curtain open to an original Al Jolson and Frank Sinatra musical that first premiered in 2010 to great acclaim. Branded a “refreshing, slick piece of theatre” Ain’t No Angels, a show by Role-Play Productions and written by Ken Wragg, pits the two warring giants of the entertainment world against one another whilst stuck in purgatory waiting to discover whether they get to go “up” or “down”. With a narrative that looks back over each of the icons’ lives, this is a story “told to absolute perfection” and is most definitely not one to miss!

For this fundraiser, fifty percent of the proceeds of Ain’t No Angels ticket sales will go straight to the Town Hall Charity trust to help facilitate much needed improvements to the building to provide a valuable asset for Sutton Coldfield and the wider area. Money raised from the “Friends of the Town Hall” schemes will go towards projects such as updating the toilet facilities, refreshing the décor and revamping the dressing rooms to ensure the Town Hall remains a vibrant and inviting venue for many years to come.

Shiiine On is set to launch a new one day festival at Birmingham’s Genting Arena, taking place on Saturday 8 September 2018.  The incredible line-up includes more than 20 iconic bands and a Hacienda afterparty.  Orbital, Shed Seven Happy Mondays & Julian Cope headline and will be joined by a stellar supporting cast.

Over four stages there will be performances from: Orbital // Shed Seven // Happy Mondays // Embrace // Glasvegas // Julian Cope // Reverend & The Makers // Black Grape // Cast // Gang Of Four // The Wedding Present // Dreadzone // A Certain Ratio // Jim Bob (Carter USM) // Bentley Rhythm Ace // Thousand Yard Stare // The Stairs // Smoove & Turrell // Psyence // Deja Vega // Todd Terry // Marshall Jefferson //  Steve Lamacq // Steve Cradock (Ocean Colour Scene) // Clint Boon (Inspiral Carpets) // Jon Dasilva // Uke2

The all-day event will be headlined by dance pioneers Orbital who are set to mark their 30th year at the forefront of dance music in style.  Renowned for their headline slots at Glastonbury amongst others, they will perform their full festival show in Birmingham.

Also playing the Main Stage are Indie heroes Shed Seven who are riding high on the success of their recent top ten album ‘Instant Pleasures’, and Happy Mondays who after 30 years in the business remain as one of the most important bands around.

In a never seen before line up exclusive, Shaun Ryder will support himself with a Black Grape set earlier in the day.  The Main Stage also features performances  from Embrace who are celebrating a top five album with 'Love Is A Basic Need' and Liverpool legends Cast.

Glasvegas will also play the Main Stage and are set to perform a special anniversary show celebrating ten years since the release of their debut album.

On the Forum Live Stage there will be a rare festival performance from Julian Cope.  The epic supporting cast comes from The Wedding Present, Gang Of Four, A certain Ratio, The Stairs, The Membranes, Psyence and Deja Vega.

The outdoor stage, sponsored by Eventim, features headliners Reverend And The Makers who will be joined by Dreadzone and Bentley Rhythm Ace. Jim Bob performs a solo set and his Carter USM bandmate Fruitbat’s band Abdoujaparov and Smoove & Turrell complete the line-up.

In Forum Live, Star Shaped bring us their Britpop disco featuring Ocean Colour Scene’s Steve Cradock.  Steve will be playing best of his Northern Soul and Motown collection.

The “In conversation” stage hosts Steve Lamacq who will be performing his "Going Deaf for a Living" show and Steve "Adj" Atherton relaying hilarious tales of his time with the Stone Roses.

Senior Venue Sales Manager for the Genting Arena, Alex Ginever said: “These are the artists that sound tracked a golden era of music, and to have them all play this one day line-up is going to be epic!  The Genting Arena is becoming a firm favourite as an alternative festival location for organisers and we’re sure that gig-goers are going to love it.”

Ticket prices include entry to two special aftershow parties.  In the Main Arena the Hacienda will descend on Birmingham with Todd Terry headlining a superb line up alongside Marshall Jefferson and Jon Dasilva.

The unbelievable life story of one of Bollywood’s most controversial actors comes to life in the teaser for Rajkumar Hirani’s SANJU, which has been released. Ranbir Kapoor stars in the hotly anticipated biopic based on the dramatic life of actor Sanjay Dutt.

Releasing worldwide on 29th June 2018, Sanju is an exploration of one man’s battle against the more wild aspects of his nature and the powerful forces around him that threaten to engulf him. More than the story of an actor, the film depicts the journey of a man who endures everything that life can throw at him.

The trailer begins with an unrecognisable Ranbir Kapoor inhabiting the role of a more recognisable modern-day Sanjay Dutt, as he recounts his “rollercoaster ride” of a life. The audience is then treated to glimpses of various moments from Dutt’s tumultuous life, from his experience as a drug addict at 22 to the superstar lifestyle in his prime, to his time locked away as a prisoner.

Kapoor’s resemblance to Dutt throughout his life is uncanny, with the actor embodying the film’s tagline “one man…many lives”.

The film also features a supporting cast made up of recognisable faces including Paresh Rawal, Manisha Koirala, Anushka Sharma, Sonam Kapoor, Dia Mirza, Vicky Kaushal, Jim Sarbh and Boman Irani.

Audiences are sure to be thrilled to see the stars of today playing the stars of yesterday.

Fasten your seatbelts for this turbulent ride – the unbelievable yet true story will shock and surprise cinema-goers!

Lakeside Proms will be heading to the NEC this summer, for two spectacular open air performances by the internationally renowned Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.  Having performed in major concert venues across the world, this will be a unique opportunity to experience its classical sounds right here in Birmingham.

The perfect setting for an outdoor summer’s evening, the NEC Lakeside will play host to the event, offering two different styles of music across the weekend, with each show concluding with a dramatic firework display finale across the lake!

Saturday 4th August - Symphonic Rock

Hear your musical heroes come to life for one epic night, in this must-see show of classic rock anthems and hit songs.  The show will feature a spectacular light show to accompany the iconic music of:  Queen, Bon Jovi, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, The Eagles and many more.

Sunday 5th August – The Music of John Williams

The Orchestra will celebrate the musical brilliance of John Williams, undoubtedly one of the world's most prolific and respected film composers. As the most Oscar-nominated man alive, Williams has unleashed the power of the film score in over seventy-five blockbuster classics.

In this action-packed show, the Orchestra will perform his superb orchestrations and legendary melodies, including music from the likes of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, E.T., Harry Potter, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Superman, Jaws, Jurassic Park, Schindler's List, Hook, Fiddler on the Roof, Home Alone, and War Horse.


Brits love gameshows and for decades shows such as Catchphrase, Wheel of Fortune and University Challenge have had the nation hooked, often playing along at home from the comfort of their sofas, however it’s The Chase that’s been crowned the nation’s favourite.

To celebrate the UK’s love of quiz shows, ScS, one of the UK’s leading sofa and carpet specialists, conducted research1 to determine the favourite gameshows of all time, and the ones people would most like to appear on themselves.

When it comes to quiz shows, it turns out that the nation loves a mixture of new and classic shows, with recent programmes such as The Chase and Tipping Point joining the ranks along with classic shows like Gladiators and It’s a Knockout.

The top 10 gameshows to watch were voted as:

1.     The Chase

2.     The Crystal Maze

3.     Catchphrase

4.     Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

5.     Pointless

6.     Tipping Point

7.     Countdown

8.     Family Fortunes

9.     It’s a Knockout

10.  Gladiators

‘Our Country’s Good,’ is on its way to Birmingham Repertory Theatre. Looking at the first British convict colony to land in Australia, this new touring production is brought to life by the brilliant Ramps on the Moon.

Based on an extraordinary true story and set in 1787, this gripping and powerful drama ‘Our Country's Good,’ tells the extraordinary true story of a group of convicts transported to Australia as a punishment for their crimes. Survival is by no means certain in this strange, unfamiliar world, yet an officer inspires them to rehearse and perform a play – Australia’s first theatrical production. Facing opposition, supply shortages, abuse and the threat of hangings, the odds are seemingly stacked against them.

2018 marks 30 years since the premiere of Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Olivier Award-winning epic at the Royal Court.

Depicting true events, and based on Thomas Keneally’s best-selling novel ‘The Playmaker,’ ‘Our Country’s Good’ received great critical acclaimtransferring to the West End and Broadway and winning the Olivier Award for Play of the Year and the New York Drama Circle Award for Best Foreign Play. Now, Timberlake’s remarkable play is recognised as a modern classic exploring themes of crime, punishment and rehabilitation.

Directing ‘Our Country’s Good’ is Nottingham Playhouse associate director, Fiona Buffini. For her, the play seeks to find the humanity in everyone, its convicts and army officers alike. Its argument, she says, is between those that believe people don’t change and those convinced that they both can and do.

She says: “It insists on the possibility of redemption,” she says. “It’s about seeing beyond stereotypes and giving people access to all kinds of things that they’re normally denied. It’s about seeing people as human beings.”

‘Our Country’s Good’ is at The REP from May 23 to June 2.

The National Theatre is encouraging primary school teachers across the Midlands to join its newly launched programme, Let’s Play, which gives schools the chance to put on a play specially commissioned and developed by the National Theatre.

Let’s Play commissions exciting new plays with songs and music for children to perform and provides teachers with training and professional development to help them create an extraordinary piece of theatre with children at both Key Stage 1 and 2. New plays commissioned for Let’s Play include A Quest for Arthur, a lively re-telling of the legends of King Arthur, Megaball, an original piece exploring friendship, and Hercules and Phoebe, inspired by the Greek myth.

The programme inspires creative learning across the curriculum and pupils will have the opportunity to get involved with all aspects of planning and creating a theatre production – from performing to designing costumes to operating sound. Let’s Play aims to bring together the whole school community to celebrate the creation of a school play and the achievements of all involved. The National Theatre is aiming to recruit at least 700 schools across the UK to take part in Let's Play over the next 3 years.

Lisa Burger, Executive Director at the National Theatre said, “It is great to see that so many schools across the UK have already signed up so their pupils can take part in Let’s Play this Summer term. We would like to welcome more teachers from across the Midlands and there is still time to join if they act fast. At the National we believe all young people should have the chance to see, make and explore theatre as a core part of their education. With Let’s Play we are providing everything a school might need to produce a school play and an approach to creativity that brings together the whole school community, including teachers, pupils and parents.  This is part of our commitment to support teachers and schools to ensure the arts, including drama and theatre, play a vital part in school life.”

Let’s Play was launched last month by Sir Lenny Henry, a member of the National Theatre’s board of trustees, at Hill Mead Primary School in Brixton.

Schools are encouraged to visit to find out more about the programme and to register to apply. Recruitment to take part in the programme starting this summer term closes at the end of April 2018 and includes a special introductory offer which gives schools access to the programme for an additional term at no extra cost (usually £350 per academic year).

The Paul Hamlyn Foundation is supporting the programme across the UK.  Catherine Sutton, Senior Grants Manager from PHF commented “School productions are important occasions in the primary school calendar and a valuable vehicle for pupils’ learning. Let’s Play will enable schools to extend and deepen the opportunities for creative teaching and learning offered by school productions, to build teachers’ knowledge and confidence and to develop children’s skills and enjoyment of drama and theatre. We’re delighted to be supporting this new programme.”

Malaga's Gran Hotel Miramar brought together some of the finest culinary talents in Spain and Latin America last night for a special Gala Dinner to celebrate the 21st Festival de Malaga Cine en Espanol. Reflecting the city's explosion onto the foodie scene as a culinary destination to rival the world's best, the gastronomic spectacle was an exclusive collaboration of world-renowned champions of Spanish and Latin American cuisine – including Michelin-starred Chefs Benito Gomez and Diego Gallegos.

The evening saw Gomez and Gallegos team up with internationally renowned chefs such as Fernando Rivarola (Argentina) and Charlie Collins (Panama), not to mention Gran Hotel Miramar's very own Head Chef, Diego Nicás, to create an 11-course Tasting Menu as part of Cinema Cocina, a programme of activities organised by Lumen Proyectos Gastronómicos  to coincide with the film festival.

Throughout the evening, guests were treated to savour delicacies from a variety of tasting stations including hand-carved acorn-fed Iberico ham; special Gold Coast oysters and exceptional Polanco Caviar, in addition to award-winning cheeses and wines from the province. Among the appetisers were steamed oyster, marrow, sea fennel and caviar, created by Benito Gómez; Ilama carpaccio with quinoa and amaranth, by Fernando Rivarola; and Crab and Hake cooked in Sherry, from Diego Nicás, among others.

The Gala Dinner also marked the start of an exciting summer season of new culinary launches at Gran Hotel Miramar celebrating the local produce of the Costa del Sol's culinary hotspot.

Headlining the Jam House in May are the superb, New York based disco band who shot to fame in the 1970’s with the UK number 1 ‘Use It Up Wear It Out’ and club floor fillers such as ‘Going Back to My Roots’, ‘Native New Yorker’ and ‘Inside Out’.

Following the steps of his Mother, Lillian Lopez-Callazo Jackson the group’s original founder, the group is now led and fronted by Steven Callazo.  Sharing the stage with Steven are Jerdene Wilson, Tracy Roma and Romina Johnson, reproducing the stunning sounds of Odyssey that has had people up on the dancefloor for well over three decades. Romina Johnson is well known for her vocals and collaboration with producer Artful Dodger on the 2000 hit song ‘Movin’ Too Fast’.

Odyssey’s tracks have been covered by artists such as Tindersticks, Simple Pleasure, Electribe 101, Phyllis Hyman and Esther Phillips amongst others. The band have continued touring, performing and making television appearances throughout the United Kingdom, Europe and the Middle East and have remained a popular disco band.

Steven Callazo of Odyssey said “Being born and bred in a major city, one can always appreciate another’s pulse; it’s flow, vibrancy and unique personality. What I like about “Brum” (as I know it to be affectionately called) is its diversity of people and contrasts of old and new which somehow sit side by side, and best of y’all is some partyin’ peeps! Lookin’ forward to our return to Birmingham for our annual jam at the Jam House, we always have a warm welcome from the managers, staff and the people who come and see us. As the journey that is Odyssey continues, it’s gonna’ be a party y’all…”

Michelin-starred chef and TV personality Tom Kerridge's food festival, Pub in the Park, is back for 2018, bigger and better than ever. Pub in the Park will come to Marlow, Bath, Tunbridge Wells and Knutsford for four weekends over the summer, and with 53,000 tickets sold already it's going to be an incredible new nationwide festival for the UK.

Pub in the Park celebrates the very best food the country has to offer, combined with great live music, chef demonstrations, top quality shopping and other festival fun. On top of nationally-famous chef and music acts, each event will celebrate the local community in the form of brilliant local artisans, pubs, local foodie heroes and musicians.

The festival boasts an amazing line-up of the UK's best culinary and music talent - including Jamie Cullum, Melanie C, Razorlight, Billy Ocean, Tom Odell, Will Young and Sophie Ellis-Bextor taking to the stage, and superstar chefs Josh Eggleton, Angela Hartnett, Paul Ainsworth and Tom himself cooking up a storm. Tom and his fellow chef mates will also be bringing a selection of top pubs and restaurants to serve up some of the best pub grub the UK has to offer for just £5 a dish, so everyone can try a few.

Texas, Scouting for Girls, Squeeze and KT Tunstall will also be playing at the festivals, and other exciting chef demos include GBBO winner Candice Brown and supermodel-turned-landlady Jodie Kidd. Food will also be served up from pop up pubs, including Tom's two pubs, The Hand & Flowers and The Coach, as well as The Sportsman – which was recently named the UK's best pub in the Top 50 Gastropubs Awards. There will be plenty of unmissable dishes on the menu including Pan-fried Foie Gras Toad In The Hole from The Star Inn, Salt Beef, Potato and Fried Onion Croquette from The Hardwick and The Kingham Plough's Courgette Flower Tempura stuffed with Windrush Goats Cheese, Pea and Mint Tartar.

Tom Kerridge said “I am delighted to be able to share the magic of Pub in the Park with the beautiful people of Bath, Tunbridge Wells and Knutsford. Expect great food, brilliant music and an ace day out.”

Pub in the Park will be taking place on the following dates at the following venues:

  • Marlow, Higginson Park 17-20 May
  • Bath, Royal Victoria Park 8-10 June
  • Tunbridge Wells, Dunorlan Park 6-8 July
  • Knutsford, The Lambing Shed 7-9 September

A Birmingham arts and culture festival is tackling the taboos of death and dying with a programme of theatre, film, food, art and crafts, exhibitions, tours and discussion.

A Matter of Life and Death, between May 10-26, is aiming to encourage open and honest conversation about death and dying through a variety of events aimed at all ages.

Organised by BrumYODO, a diverse community collective featuring health professionals, undertakers, artists, hospice staff and lawyers, this is the third year the team has organised a festival in the city.

And this year it takes in a range of venues including the Electric Cinema, The Coffin Works, Library of Birmingham, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Ort Gallery and the John Lewis Community Hub.

Kicking off A Matter of Life and Death is Annabel de Vetten of Conjurer’s Kitchen with a Movie Taste-Along to the cult horror Sleepy Hollow, starring Johnny Depp. Audiences will be biting into delicious treats inspired by the Tim Burton film.

“It will be a light-hearted night to set the mood for a positive start to the festival,” says Annabel, whose Conjurer’s Kitchen creates fantastical works of food art. “Sleepy Hollow is ideal for a death-themed festival but it also has a real fun element to it.

“During the Movie Taste-Along I pause the film at certain points and then hand out an edible representation of what is on the screen - I’m not saying what they will be because they are a surprise and they certainly won’t be what people expect!”

Annabel held a hugely successful Death and Dine event for last year’s A Matter of Life and Death and says she is honoured to be launching this year’s festival.

“It is a real privilege to be included in the festival full stop but then I am thrilled to have the launch event,” she says. “I hope this event will set the whole tone for the festival.

“A Matter of Life and Death is so important because it’s about making people aware of the possibilities that are open to them and that there are so many ways of celebrating someone’s life after they have gone. These things can be very personal and very positive.

“Death is something which is going to happen to us all and we can plan for it but instead we leave it until it’s too late and then it’s all mixed up with grief and loss. The festival is about making people have those conversations as they are so often viewed as taboo in society.”

Another highlight of the festival is also food-related. Death over Dinner is an evening of dining and death talk with performances and speakers.

Taking place at Stirchley Baths on Saturday May 12, programme manager and BrumYODO committee member Antonia Beck says Death over Dinner will be a very special evening.

“Death over Dinner will be a truly unique event,” she says. “We are inviting audiences to gather around a table to enjoy a delicious three-course feast, intriguing conversations about death and dying and a line-up of performances and speakers.


“Our evening programme so far includes performer Joanne Tremarco who will sharing an extract of her beautiful show The Birth of Death and speaker Hilary Grainger of the Birmingham and West Midlands Victorian Society and we’re still adding to the programme.”

During the day on Saturday May 12, Birmingham Library hosts A Matter of Life and Death’s family events with performances of Bootworks Theatre’s The Many Doors of Frank Feelbad, exploring bereavement for young people. Local charity Inspiring Lives will be chatting about how to support families and children who have a sibling who has died, is dying or seriously ill and there will be art activities for all ages.

During the afternoon Ort Gallery in Balsall Heath hosts a discussion event called Death, Faith and Cancer which is presented in association with artist Charlotte Jarvis’ exhibition Et in Arcadia Ego.

An artist who collaborates with scientists, Charlotte’s project saw her growing a tumour from her own body cells and aims to encourage discussions around cancer and mortality. Inspired by a painting by French artist Nicolas Poussin in the Louvre Gallery in Paris, Charlotte’s work challenges audiences to re-think ideas and language around cancer.

“The image conjured of patients fighting cancer casts cancer as the external agent; something alien to be waged war against, so that dying of cancer becomes both the fault of the patient and the result of something ‘other’ to their bodies,” says Charlotte, whose work has previously been shown at the Victoria and Albert Museum, The Southbank Centre and in galleries across Europe.

“I had previously made a number of biological artworks using cell cultures harvested from my own body and I became interested in developing a piece of work which would interrogate these metaphors, challenge the idea of cancer as ‘other’ to us and probe my relationship to mortality.

“The project combines art and science to examine mortality and create a public dialogue about cancer. Everyone has some experience of cancer but we believe that this is particularly important in the current context of cancer services within the local community of Ort Gallery and the wider Birmingham area.”

And she is delighted that her project is part of the May festival.

“I feel the A Matter of Life and Death festival is vital and I am incredibly proud to be part of it.”

Birmingham participatory artists Jane Thakoordin and Margaret Murray are holding a series of creative workshops on Friday at the John Lewis Community Hub and Saturday at the Library of Birmingham as well as subsequent dates at the Ort Gallery. The artists, who have been part of the festival since its foundation, have been inspired by Charlotte’s exhibition to create the activity called Precious.

“We will work with participants to create a series of miniature extinct, fanciful and surreal creatures,” says Jane. “They will be entombing precious objects, ‘dead’ creatures and artefacts in beautiful, precious, intricate final resting places. These tiny creatures will be exhibited in a bespoke cabinet, reminiscent of a lepidopterist’s cabinet.

“We hope people will be engaged in thinking about extinction, loss to the planet of creatures - some of whom we may never have even seen other than in images or drawings. This metaphor of imaginary creatures is one that enables us to talk about loss, death, acceptance and the rhythm of life.”

Which is in keeping with the aims of A Matter of Life and Death.

“BrumYODO is a wonderful way to entice people into a world where they can immerse themselves in the creative process and allow themselves to reflect and contemplate their own journey through life,” says Jane. “It is always a pleasure and a privilege to have conversations with people about their views on death - for some people it can be for the very first time.”

On Friday May 11 the festival takes over the Community Hub at John Lewis in the city centre where a day of free activities offers people the chance to take part in workshops looking at funeral planning and will writing as well as a Death Café in which people are invited to discuss issues around death and dying over tea and cake.

On Sunday May 13, the festival moves to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery for a free tour, The Shadow of Death exploring items in the collection focussing on mortality, and a Death Café. There’s also a marketplace with local lawyers advising on will-writing and hospice staff and death doulas providing information on end of life planning. That afternoon, in partnership with Still Walking Festival, there is also the chance to explore hidden and public death-related places of Birmingham on a newly created walking tour of the city.

A Matter of Life and Death is rounded off with the Crema-tour-ium, a behind-the-scenes visit to Redditch Crematorium and to Westall Park Natural Burial Ground on Saturday May 26.

BrumYODO has held events in Birmingham for four years and launched A Matter of Life and Death, which is supported by Arts Council England, last year. The team has won national acclaim and two awards for community engagement for the festival which coincides with Hospice UK’s national Dying Matters Awareness Week.

BrumYODO chair Anna Lock said: “Each year we’ve found that arts and activities are a fantastic way of encouraging open and honest conversations about death and dying – subjects that society generally shies away from.

“This year’s A Matter of Life and Death is packed with lots of very different activities which we hope will make people laugh, will encourage them to chat and will definitely make them think.

“We are still adding events to the programming so watch this space for more.”

Following last year’s record-breaking production of Jack and the Beanstalk, Sutton Coldfield Town Hall is delighted to announce its 2018 pantomime, Beauty and the Beast. This production, of one of the greatest love stories ever told, will feature a multi-skilled cast of entirely professional performers who will act, sing, dance and play musical instruments in a feast of musical and spectacular festive fun!

Sutton Coldfield’s historic Town Hall, built in 1865, was recently taken over from the City Council by the Sutton Coldfield Arts and Recreational Trust, a team of local Arts and Heritage enthusiasts. Since the Town Hall was faced with closure, its staff have created a jam-packed calendar of events from musicals to comedy, from classical concerts to tribute nights.

Written by pantomime veteran Daniel O’Brien, Beauty and the Beast will follow the classic storyline first written by Madame Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve in 1740. A handsome Prince falls in love with Beauty the beautiful daughter of a French merchant. An evil Enchantress turns the Prince into a hideous, hairy Beast who captures Beauty and we all fear for the worst. But there is something about the Beast that isn’t all bad. Will Beauty fall in love with him and break the evil spell? And, with this being panto, will Dame Dominique Derrière and her son ‘Potty’ Pascal help save the day? Will it, indeed, be the greatest love story ever told or will it all end very unhappily?

Building upon the success of the 2017 pantomime, this year’s show will be produced for the first time by The Production Exchange. This organisation has an enviable reputation for producing professional pantomimes up and down the country meaning this will most definitely be one not to miss! Beauty and the Beast, the magical family pantomime, will run from Tuesday 11th December until Monday 31st December 2018.

“The Production Exchange is very excited about bringing this professional pantomime to Sutton Coldfield Town Hall” said Colin Blumenau, this year’s pantomime producer. “We are looking forward to making a dynamic, colourful and highly musical show with our young and incredibly talented team. The production will feature many traditional pantomime elements mixed with a few innovations. We will whisk the audience through one of the most potent love stories ever told - and have a great deal of fun along the way!”

Chancellor of Birmingham City University, Sir Lenny Henry will be taking to the stage of the institution’s new Royal Birmingham Conservatoire next month.

The Dudley-born actor, writer, comedian and charitable campaigner will be narrating Sergei Prokofiev’s classic story ‘Peter and the Wolf’ on Friday 4 May, with the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Pops Orchestra playing the various characters in a performance that helps introduce youngsters to the world of classical music.

Alongside ‘Peter and the Wolf’, the Pops Orchestra will transport the audience to “a galaxy far, far away” with music from the original ‘Star Wars’ film trilogy on the day fans of the franchise celebrate Star Wars Day each year.

Elsewhere, the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire musicians will conjure images of swinging through the skyscrapers of New York City with Danny Elfman’s ‘Spider-Man’ theme and then take concertgoers in to the domain of cowboys, cowgirls and the American West with ‘Hoe-Down’ by Aaron Copland from the 1942 ballet ‘Rodeo’. The programme will be further complimented by ‘Overture’ from Leonard Bernstein’s swinging ‘Wonderful Town’.

The Conservatoire was granted a Royal title by Her Majesty The Queen in September 2017, with the bestowment following the HRH The Earl of Wessex becoming the college’s first Royal Patron in March 2016. The Earl officially declared the building open on Sunday 11 March this year prior to the Royal Opening Gala Concert in his honour.

Featuring the Royal Conservatoire’s Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, and conducted by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s (CBSO) Music Director, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, the Royal Opening Gala Concert marked the beginning of the college’s Opening Festival, which continues with ‘Peter and the Wolf’.

Sir Lenny Henry, Chancellor, Birmingham City University, said:

“Being the Chancellor of Birmingham City University is a great gig. Not only do I get to mingle with all the fantastic students and see first-hand how our research is transforming lives, they also let me take centre stage at our new £57 million Royal Birmingham Conservatoire!

“I first narrated ‘Peter and the Wolf’ in 2000 and it was so much fun. I’ve been longing to perform it since and to be able to do it here on home turf is just brilliant. With music from ‘Spider-Man’ and ‘Star Wars’ in the mix as well, this is going to be a musical hoot for the whole family. May the Fourth be with you!”

Alongside Sir Lenny Henry the Opening Festival will welcome a wealth of world-class artists to Birmingham, including Julia Donaldson, Peter Donohoe, Orkest de Ereprijs, Laura van der Heijden, Nigel Kennedy, Nitin Sawhney, Roderick Williams and Jacqueline Wilson.

Not only will the festival see international stars grace the Conservatoire’s five performance venues, there will also be a focus on the rising stars and grass roots artists of the local music scene, as per the institution’s commitment to nurturing talent and providing a hub for performing arts in the city.

The public show of ‘Peter and the Wolf’ at 7pm is proceeded by two sold-out performances for schoolchildren in the afternoon.

The career of Dutch violin superstar André Rieu spans more than 30 years – he is not only a first-class entertainer, he is the “King of Waltz”. And he sure knows how to stage a grand show including romantic moments and witty twists.  His orchestral tours draw more than 600,000 people per year, meaning that the charismatic entertainer outsells superstars like Bruno Mars, AC/DC and Rihanna in the Billboard’s Top 10. He has sold a massive 40 million CDs and DVDs and notched 30 Nr. 1 chart positions. André Rieu ends his annual world tour traditionally with an UK and Ireland Arena Tour that leads him 2018 into nine cities including Birmingham on 13 December. To bring romance and magic to every fan during the cozy pre-Christmas season of course he will play wonderful Christmas carols besides his entertaining and fantastic program.

Waltzes, film scores, folk songs and musicals

On stage André’s incredible musical prowess, passion and charisma make for a magical spectacle. His romantic and fun shows are the only ones where people regularly jump to their feet and dance in the aisles. It’s not uncommon to see devoted fans laughing, weeping, clapping, dancing and embracing when they listen to the orchestra and André’s precious Stradivarius violin from 1732; his shows are a perfect mix of thrilling, romantic, festive and emotional melodies combined with surprises, balloons, beautiful soloists and of course André’s great sense of humor.

“Spending the Pre-Christmas season in the UK and Ireland with such fantastic fans makes me feel very grateful and pleased every year” says André Rieu. “People write to me, telling me that it takes them two weeks to get back to normal after one of our concerts. It is simply fantastic to feel this energy and joy every evening.”

André and his 60-piece Johann Strauss Orchestra (the largest private orchestra in the world) created a global revival in waltz music, staging spectacular extravaganzas which are second to none.  André’s concerts are a feast not only for the ears but also the eyes! Having received over 500 Platinum Awards, three Classical Brit Awards for “Album of the Year” and billions of Youtube views, André is one of the biggest touring artists in the world.

World Arena Tour 2018 and Private Life

Known to millions around the world as the “King of the Waltz” André is also a true “King of Romance”. He has been married for over 40 years and lives with his wife Marjorie in a historic castle, built in 1452 in his hometown of Maastricht/Netherlands. The couple has two sons and five grandchildren. André’s World Arena Tour 2018 will hit Europe, Mexico, Israel, the USA and Canada, Argentina and Australia before returning to the UK and Ireland. Don’t miss your chance to see André Rieu LIVE this December!

André Rieu

13 December 2018, Arena Birmingham


One of the most successful film franchises of the last decade, The Hunger Games will come to British shores in a world exclusive, with a full live orchestra as a unique cinematic concert experience.

Presented in stunning HD via a giant screen, the tour will bring to life The Hunger Games’ renowned and imposing soundtrack as never before with a full symphony orchestra. Beginning in Manchester on 12th July, the tour will then take in Liverpool and London before finishing up in Birmingham.

Based on the successful trilogy of young adult fiction books by Suzanne Collins, the film is set in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic future, telling story of Katniss Everdeen, who takes part in the Hunger Games – a televised competition in which the twelve districts of the country of Panem choose a person at random to fight to the death.

Having grossed an unprecedented $694million worldwide, The Hunger Games has won many awards - not least for the breakout performance by Jennifer Lawrence, including Best Actress at the MTV Movie Awards. The star-studded cast also features Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Toby Jones, and Donald Sutherland.

Composed by James Newton Howard, who has scored over 100 films, and has been awarded a Grammy Award, an Emmy Award, and eight Academy Award Nominations for his work, the emphatic score for The Hunger Games is as magnificent as it is bold. Canadian Indie Rock behemoths Arcade Fire also contributed to the movie’s original score, contributing the ominous Panem National Anthem ‘Horn of Plenty’.

July 2018: 12th: Manchester Bridgewater Hall 13th: Liverpool Philharmonic Hall 14th: London Royal Festival Hall 15th: Birmingham Symphony Hall

Nine in ten Brits are facing daily déjà vu, claiming they are stuck in their very own version of Groundhog Day, according to new research.

Commissioned by natural source water brand, Highland Spring, the study of 1,500 adults took an in depth look into the daily routines of Brits and discovered the extent to which we are creatures of habit, with 67 percent of us saying we are “stuck in a rut.”

But the appetite for change is there, with the average Brit spending six hours every week dreaming about doing things differently, going somewhere new, trying new experiences or doing something they have never done before.

As many as 22 percent of Britons eat the same lunch every day, while one in five order the exact same take-away on a Friday night and 21 percent cook the same meals on rotation week in, week out.

More than one in three (37 percent) said they leave the house at precisely the same time every day and one in ten buy the same bottle of wine week in, week out.

And 14 percent said they have the same conversation with their other half every evening about the same things, including people and work.

Nearly three quarters (71 percent) of safe and steady Brits have booked the same holiday more than once, with the typical holiday maker travelling     back   to their favourite destination FIVE times.

Furthermore, according to the data, 84 percent don’t ever stray from their weekly shopping list and only 16 percent said they like to mix things up and try new foods.

It isn’t just our food choices that we are wedded to. People’s jobs were found to be the most repetitive area of their life, followed by their cleaning routine and daily commute.

The poll marks the launch of Highland Spring’s ‘H20omph’ campaign which encourages the nation to celebrate life by venturing outside of their comfort zone, just a little bit. Behavioural psychologist, Jo Hemmings, said:

“Over a third of Brits (35 percent) said that being a creature of habit was just a part of life, and familiarity can be very comforting.

“But while routine is comforting, it can also be a major cause of boredom, demotivation and can leave us feeling like it’s Groundhog Day! There are so many quick and easy, big and small ways we can mix things up and make the most of everyday. Take a routine work day - and shake it up a bit. Small changes can make big improvements in our daily routine.

More than four in ten (45 percent) worry about the cost of trying new things and 16 percent reckon they are scared of the unknown but trying new experiences needn’t be expensive or scary!

“We do need an element of predictability to reduce cortisol, the stress hormone. Modifying certain areas of our lives, such as trying a different sport, or simply changing our regular meal times or journeys, enables us to break out of the monotony cycle and has been shown to make us more adventurous overall. We have a release of feel good endorphins during exercise for example, or a rush of adrenalin doing something new, even as we simply anticipate it.

“Rather than going back to the same holiday destination time and time again - simply take the ingredients that you like, whether that's a beach, child friendly hotel, sightseeing or an activity-based break, type them into a search engine and see what new and unexplored adventures await.

“Setting ourselves new goals and challenges outside of our regular comfort zone - however small - can inspire us, make us feel more creative and more satisfied with life overall, improving both our self-esteem and our self-confidence.”

Karen Crowley, Head of Consumer Marketing at Highland Spring, added: “We’re all naturally driven to make the most of everyday and being properly hydrated helps us get there. It's about balance - with small changes making surprisingly significant differences to our quality of life and ultimate well-being.

“It’s all about diving in to something new and thriving on those fun, unexpected moments. That’s why we’re giving the nation 10,000 chances to win new experiences with added H20omph.

“32 percent of go-getting Brits said they were going to make 2018 a year to remember. Whether it’s taking an iconic train journey or reinvigorating an everyday cinema experience, we’re offering consumers the tools to help them on their way.”