A lifestyle blog all about Birmingham, UK.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Six Birmingham locations you'll see in Ready Player One

Can you name a film that used Birmingham as its filming location? I'll be honest, I'm only aware of a handful.

Of course, the city featured in about 20 seconds of Kingsman: The Golden Circle in 2017, but it was a whole new level of excitement in Brum when Steven Spielberg himself chose the city for his latest, what is set to be, blockbuster hit Ready Player One.

I was fortunate enough to be invited along to an exclusive screening of the film this week at Cineworld on Broad Street. Ready Player One is set in 2045 in Columbus, Ohio. The future isn't exactly how we all imagine it to be, and the world is obsessed with the OASIS.

Created by tech legend James Created by James Halliday, the OASIS is a virtual reality game. The game allows people to escape real life and become an avatar where they can live their dream. After Halliday passes away, he leaves players of the game a challenge.

Players must complete three challenges to gain keys which unlock a clue to the next task, but no one is yet to complete it - until now.

The film is completely captivating, and from the moment it began I couldn't take my eyes off the screen! Not only is the film concept itself simply brilliant, and really makes you think of what the world could be like in 30 years time, it is also packed full of incredibly talented actors that will definitely go on to become huge stars in their own right.

Ready Player One also has a fantastic soundtrack, with everything from Tears for Fears to Hall & Oates that help make the film as fun as it is, with a vintage touch, helping to appeal to both young and older audiences.

However, by far the most exciting aspect of the film is that huge amounts of the movie was filmed right here in Birmingham! From the Jewellery Quarter to Digbeth, you can spot the streets of the city on the big screen in this movie.

It is also not just like a snippet here and there, there are lengthy sections where you can really see parts of the city, which makes it really exciting to notice the streets we all walk down in a massive movie.

So, what areas can you expect to see in the film? Here are the areas of Birmingham you can find in the movie, where they are close to and how you can see them for yourself!

Floodgate Street, Digbeth
You will find Floodgate Street just at the back of Ghetto Golf in Digbeth. If you're walking, head towards the Custard Factory from the Bullring and turn left after South & City College Birmingham. The closest train station is Birmingham Moor Street, it is just over the road from the city's coach station and the closest car park is Bradford Street Car Park. 

Typhoo Factory, Digbeth 
You will find the Typhoo Factory in Digbeth. The closest train station is Birmingham Moor Street. Turn right outside of the station and follow the road down to Fazeley Street, then down to New Canal Street and you will then come out into Bordesley Street where you will see the Typhoo Factory. The closest car park is Coventry Street Car Park. 

Lionel Street - JQ 
Sat right next to our iconic BT Tower is Lionel Street where a super exciting scene was filmed. The closest train station is Birmingham Snow Hill and the closest car park is Ludgate Car Park. Whilst you're in the area, take a stroll round to The Coffin Works where you'll be able to learn more about the city's history. 

Ludgate Hill, JQ
Just round the corner is Ludgate Hill. The closest train station is Birmingham Snow Hill and the closest car park is Ludgate Car Park. Take a walk down into a gorgeous area of the city around see St Paul's Church. Hungry? Check out one of my favourite restaurants in the area; Cucina Rustica. 

Livery Street, JQ
And just a road down is Livery Street, which is below the Snow Hill train tracks and you will see one of the city's most loved pieces of art 'A MATTER OF OPINION', which can be seen clearly in Ready Player One. It is very close to Birmingham Snow Hill, and the closest car park is the one within the train station. Whilst you're in the area, it is well worth heading into the Indian Brewery. 

Under Spaghetti Junction
If you love it or hate it, you can't deny that Spaghetti Junction is unlike anything else in the UK. Which is probably why Steven Spielberg wanted to use it in the film! It may only be a snippet, but you can definitely see Spaghetti Junction in the movie. 

Ready Player One comes to cinemas across the UK on March 29th, 2018. 

Sunday, 18 March 2018

The 20 best Brummie and Black Country words and phrases

It wasn't until I went to university in Liverpool that I realised just how many words and phrases us lot from Birmingham and the Black Country say, that the rest of the country doesn't understand in the slightest. I found myself having to explain certain phrases time and time again, and it was like a lovely big warm hug when I moved back to the West Midlands just over two years ago - the land where people understood what I meant! 

I personally love our little words and phrases and a huge part of me enjoys that people from outside the area don't understand them, it's like our own little language and it makes me feel instantly connected to others. So, I have asked fellow Brum bloggers and some of my favourite people from the West Midlands what their favourite phrase is! This is in no order at all - I would be here for months attempting to arrange them into my favourite ones. But we all know number one is BAB anyway! 


When I asked the question, the majority came back with their favourite local word being Bab. It is hard not to use it, and is the perfect word to call someone you love, as well as someone you barely know. It's not baby and it is no way soppy. It's just Bab - and we love it. I guess if you don't like Bab, you can use the normal 'love' or 'darling', but that is a bit boring isn't it. 

"You alright, bab?" 


Following on from Bab, we have Babby. A lot of us around these ends refer to a baby as 'the babby'. 

"Hannah is coming round with the babby"

Yampy - suggested by Fashion Mommy
Emma from Fashion Mommy loves Yampy, which is of course the phrase for when someone is a bit mad. 

"He's a bit yampy isn't he!"

Tarra a Bit - suggested by Laura, Head of Communications at Birmingham Hippodrome
Tarra a Bit is also a local favourite, with many of us choosing to say that rather than bye or see you later! 

"I'm finished so I'm going to make a move, tarra a bit bab"

Got a Cob On 

This is definitely a personal favourite of mine! Someone who has 'got a cob on' is someone in a vile mood with major negative vibes. 

"You've got a right cob on today"

Ay and Day

We are all guilty of using these words from time to time - or on a daily basis like me. Instead of saying 'I didn't do that' it would be 'I ay done that' and 'I didn't go there' would be 'I day go there'. It sounds more complicated than it is, but we understand it and that's all that matters right?!

"I day go down that road"

Mom - suggested by A Brummie Home and Abroad 

I've got my knickers in a right twist about this on numerous occasions, and Emmalene from A Brummie Home and Abroad agrees. Mother's Day is a bit of a nightmare for us locals, seeing as we don't call our mother's mum. They are Mom! As this is seen as an American term outside of the Midlands, it is difficult to find any card shops that sell cards for Mom's, not Mum's. 

"I'm going round to my mom's for dinner"


Before I went to university, I honestly believed that the whole country referred to roundabouts as islands - but they don't! I've heard from several people that they call smaller roundabouts islands, but others call all roundabouts islands. Why do we do it? I have no idea. But can someone inform the SatNav?!

"I'm just approaching the island"

The Cob/Bap Debate 

This debate is the best kind of argument to have. Is a small round bread roll a cob or a bap? Well, for me, it's always a cob. There is also the argument that a cob is crispy, and a bap is soft, but that conversation is for another time...

"I'll have two ham cobs please"

Tuthbrush - suggested by Momma Mack 

Another one I didn't realise I said 'incorrectly' until a Northerner informed me. A lot of us round these ends call a toothbrush a 'tuthbrush'. Lucy from Mamma Mack agreed and told me how her nieces and nephews who live near London always laugh at her for saying it, but that it sounds odd being said the other way. 

"Have you seen my tuthbrush?"

Black Over Bill's Mothers 

A personal favourite of mine, Black Over Bill's Mothers means that the sky is really dark and that it is about to rain. For a history reference, Bill is actually a reference to William Shakespeare, whose mother was Mary Arden of Stratford. It is said that locals say that it is Black Over Bill's Mothers because the rain usually approaches from the south-west of the region. 

"It's black over Bill's mothers, look at the sky over there!"


Chobbling is the local word for eating really loudly. 

"That bloke is proper chobbling his dinner"

Gambol - suggested by Charlotte Ruff 

Gambol or Gambowl, however you want to spell it, means a forward roll. We could just say forward roll, but that seems really boring doesn't it. Charlotte Ruff agrees, and told me that her partner from up north looks at her like she's speaking a different language when she uses it!

"Our kid is good at gambowls"

Buz - suggested by Ed James

Unsure of what a buz is? It's just a bus. But we prefer to call it a buz round here! 

"I've gotta go and catch the buz"

Bostin - suggested by Rainbows and Roses

It's a classic and we all love it - BOSTIN! Suggested by Sarah from Rainbows and Roses, Bostin means amazing, fantastic, brilliant etc. 

"That pub was bostin!"

The Cut 

Did you know that Birmingham has more canals than Venice? Of course you did! Us lot round these ends often refer to the canal network as 'The Cut' which means that we are walking somewhere that will require walking alongside the canal. 

"I've gotta go up the cut to get to work"


Another personal favourite, Bawl means crying really loudly, like proper sobbing. 

"She was absolutely bawling her eyes out"

Get That Down Ya Wazzin! - suggested by Nikkipedia 

Nikki from Nikkipedia loves the phrase 'Get that down ya wazzin", and it is a Black Country classic. Wazzin means throat, so instead of saying 'get the down your throat or gob', us lot say 'get that down ya wazzin'. 

"Get that tea down ya wazzin it'll go cold"

Round The Wrekin - suggested by Full to the Brum 

Going round the Wrekin is a popular phrase in the West Midlands, and Laura from Full to the Brum loves it. It basically means a journey is taking a long time or you're going a long way to get somewhere. What is the Wrekin? Well, it's actually a hill in Shropshire. 

"This journey is taking me round the Wrekin!"

0121 Do One - suggested by Tara Tomes 

Tara loves the retro '0121 Do One!' phrase we have round here. It is a classic come back which includes the dialing tone for the Birmingham area; 0121.

"0121 DO ONE!"

Do you have any more Brummie or Black Country slang favourites? Let me know! 

Saturday, 17 March 2018

REVIEW: Farmer & Friends, Wolverhampton

I feel like this blog very much makes me come across as a proper 'city girl', but actually, I do enjoy life outside of Birmingham city centre too! I absolutely love getting out into the country whenever I can and breathing in that lovely fresh air. 

It has been on my list for a long time to head over to Farmer and Friends, based on the Bridgnorth Road on the outskirts of Wolverhampton, as I have been told on multiple occasions how great the place is and the surrounding area. So on a rainy Saturday afternoon recently, I decided that it was the time to explore! 

This Farmer and Friends isn't to be confused with the other one in the region; there is also one in Wombourne, which I also hope to take a trip to soon. 

The venue is simply delightful with a lovely countryside, community feel. It is sat next to a garden centre, and there is a whole host of mini shops selling everything from pets to home trinkets. 

Upon arrival to Farmer and Friends, I was welcomed with warm friendly smiles from the staff and made my way to my table. At 2pm on a Saturday afternoon, it was incredibly busy and it was heartwarming to see so many people supporting a small business. 

The cafe and restaurant combo is incredibly cute and quaint with vintage inspired decor and a really homely vibe. This combined with the picturesque setting, makes it a lovely place to enjoy a Saturday, especially with its family-friendly and calming vibe. However, despite its cuteness, it is actually a very large space, which is great as it clearly a very popular place.
Me and Dan settled into our seats and chose our drinks. I, of course, couldn't help but choose chocolate milkshake - it is my favourite after all! But the drinks menu is actually really impressive with a whole range of teas and coffees, milkshakes, alcoholic options as well as a 'Spring Selection', which includes light and fresh options. 

When choosing from the menu, I noticed that the venue offers Brunch until 3pm. My sort of place! So I chose the Eggs Royale, which was absolutely delicious. I often find when I order eggs royale that there won't be much salmon at all, but there was so much salmon to enjoy on the dish, so I was a happy bunny. Other options on the Brunch menu include a fry up, as well as veggie fry up, Spanish broken eggs and Bubble and Squeak.

As well as brunch, there was a wide range of other options on the menu. The venue offers gourmet sandwiches, with Dan choosing and thoroughly enjoying the Classic BLT, as well as main meals such as a Farmer's Burger, Boeuf  Bourguignon, Cottage Pie and Mushrooms and Lemon Feta.
And as for the pastry selection...I have no words. There was so many to choose from that it was hard to choose from! But I eventually went for the Rocky Road - a classic - to enjoy for pudding. 

I was totally surprised at how much of a selection there was. It does mean that you can go along with the whole family and there will be something for each member to enjoy, which is a huge plus in my eyes.

But what I loved the most about Farmer and Friends was the friendly atmosphere and community feel. It is that feeling that is sometimes missing in city centre locations, so it was a part of the experience that I really held onto.

If you live in the area, or fancy a trip somewhere new, I can't recommend this place enough. 

Farmer & Friends is open every day 8am-5pm and can be found at the Garden Village on the Bridgnorth Road, Shipley, near Wolverhampton. 

Romeo & Juliet meets Peaky Blinders in show coming to Birmingham

Romeo & Juliet will meet Peaky Blinders in a gripping tale of crime and romance coming to Birmingham next month. 

Graham Greene’s iconic novel Brighton Rock is brought to Birmingham Repertory Theatre from 10 – 14 April 2018, adapted for the stage by award-winning playwright, Bryony Lavery. 

Directed by Pilot Theatre’s new Artistic Director Esther Richardson and featuring a soundtrack composed by the acclaimed singer, musician and composer Hannah Peel, Brighton Rock tells the story of two seventeen-year olds, Pinkie and Rose, who get embroiled in a vicious gang war in Brighton. 

One brutal murder leads to the next, the police are impassive, but the courageous and life embracing Ida Arnold wants the truth. Nothing scares her. Whatever the cost, she'll see justice is done.
Written in 1938, Graham Greene's classic novel of good and evil was first adapted for the stage at the Garrick Theatre with Richard Attenborough playing Pinkie, a role he resumed in the iconic 1947 film version. 

In 2010 Greene’s novel was remade, setting it in 1964, with Sam Riley, Andrea Riseborough and Helen Mirren. In 1993 Vicky Featherstone directed David Hurlock’s stage adaptation of the novel at West Yorkshire Playhouse and in 2004 John Barry and Don Black wrote a musical version which ran at the Almeida Theatre. 

Speaking of the new adaptation, playwright Bryony Lavery said: "Why adapt Brighton Rock for the stage? Because it is such a treasure chest of narrative delights. It has got everything...It's a love story, a revenge tragedy, a small-town murder mystery, an array of small-time gangsters and a middle-aged woman who knows no fear and who will stop at nothing to do right.
"In the poisoned relationship between Pinkie and Rose, there is one of the best accounts ever of what it is like to be 16 and 17 years’ old in a terrible, violent, adolescence." 

Returning to The REP’s stage, following her villainous portrayal of Crulla de Vil in our Christmas production of The Hundred And One Dalmatians, is Gloria Onitiri in the role of Ida, the cast also includes Jacob James Beswick as Pinkie and Sarah Middleton as Rose. 

Tickets for the show can be found here

The REP to hold grand sale of iconic theatre pieces

Members of the public will have the chance to buy unique pieces of theatrical history as the Birmingham Repertory Theatre hosts a special one-off costume sale next month. 

Iconic costumes up for auction include Dorothy’s gingham dress from the theatre’s 2005 production of The Wizard of Oz, Cruella de Vil's fake fur coat from The Hundred and One Dalmations, Lady Bracknell’s frock from the 2011 production of The Importance of Being Earnest, as well as a beautifully detailed 17th Century-style gown and a selection of colourful costumes. 

As well as hundreds of costumes, also available to buy will be shoes, hats, accessories and a selection of unusual speciality props, including some very special items being auctioned off. 

The REP has created thousands of costumes over the years, from medieval to modern day, as well as hundreds of interesting props from practical furniture to miniature houses for the theatre’s many and varied shows.
Costumes made by the theatre’s highly skilled wardrobe department, will be on sale on the day, as will some small, special props from The REP’s recent Christmas show, The Hundred and One Dalmatians. 

All money raised from the sale will go towards the theatre’s REP First fundraising campaign, which aims to raise £1million towards staging new productions, offering more training opportunities and welcoming more participants and audiences than ever before. 

Rachel Cranny, Head of Fundraising said: “Our costume and props sale will definitely appeal to amateur dramatic societies, costume hire companies, schools and collectors of theatrical paraphernalia. I’d urge anyone who’s interested in theatre or those who would just like a fabulous fancy dress costume to come along and have a rummage.
"By doing so they’ll be supporting The REP.” 

The REP’s Grand Sale of Theatrical Costumes takes place on Saturday 7 April from 11am – 5pm.

Friday, 16 March 2018

REVIEW: The Kite Runner, The REP Birmingham

Back when I was 11 years old, I read Khaled Hosseini's best-selling novel The Kite Runner. I'll be honest; I didn't really understand it. Maybe it was my age that meant that I didn't quite get all the emotion and the story line. I put the book away, and never thought about reading it again. Until now. The Kite Runner, now on stage at Birmingham's REP Theatre until March 24th, will make you go straight to your local bookshop and read it all over again. It is THAT good. 

Direct from the West End, The Kite Runner, adapted by Matthew Spangler, follows the friendship of Amir and Hassan. Set in the 1970s in Afghanistan - a country that was going through social and political changes. Despite Amir and Hassan being from different class backgrounds, they are the best of friends and become Kite Runner legends when they win the annual competition one winter. 

However, the country is on the verge of war and the two friends face being torn apart. Following the excitement of the kite flying tournament, a terrible incident happens that will totally shatter their friendship and change their lives forever. The story follows Amir's journey to face his past and find redemption. 

The stage is set long before the production begins thanks to Hanif Khan's captivating tabla drumming that he continues to do throughout the whole show. It brings an extra element to every scene and is hugely enjoyable to watch. 

The set itself is incredibly simple - but it is brilliant. I have said before that I think one of the aspects that makes a show so good is being able to transform to a handful of places without even needing to change the stage. The audience is taken from Afghanistan, to Pakistan and then right over to San Francisco where we follow Amir become a man, meet the love of his life and say goodbye to his Baba.
In fact, every aspect of the production is incredibly clever and the show does theatre in a whole new way, which is what makes it such a captivating watch. The Kite Runner successfully makes you feel every emotion possible. From the moment the production begins, it is impossible to take your eyes off the stage as every single moment is mesmerising, with members of the audience on the edge of their seat for the whole show. 

I would go as far to say that it is by far the most intense show I have ever seen on stage, as it is impossible to not totally immerse yourself into the story and you can't help become very attached to the characters on stage. 

But of course, it is the huge array of talent that really makes the show. Soroosh Lavasini, who takes on the role of Assef, by far the most evil character I have ever seen in theatre, completely owned the stage. It is an incredibly difficult role to take on, and a deep understanding of the character is needed, but Soroosh did an fantastic job doing so.
Other character highlights were from Gary Pillai, who played Amir's father, whose portrayal of the man with so much love yet no heart, was absolutely brilliant, as was Jo Ben Ayed's take on the role of Hassan. Raj Ghatak, who played main character Amir, completely made the role his own. His emotion was totally believable and he constant adjustments from past to present deserved their own standing ovation; it was truly wonderful to watch. 

My only hesitations with the production is that if you hadn't have read the book before, it could be easy to get lost in the story. However, with a bit more concentration than what is normally needed for a theatre production, it does make for one hell of a show. 

The Kite Runner is not for the faint hearted; it is raw, incredibly dramatic and does not hold back on reality. It is unlike any other show I have ever watched, and it is in no way a production you will forget about any time soon. However, it is completely worth the heartbreaking and downright shocking moments. This show really manages to bring the pages of the book to life on stage, and it is a total pleasure to watch.

The Kite Runner is theatre on a whole new scale. Don't miss it - it's on stage until March 24, 2018.

The Kite Runner: 9/10

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Brunchin' at Wayland's Yard in Birmingham

There's a new Brunch spot in Birmingham, and seeing as Brunch is not only my favourite meal but also one of the best things ever invented, I had to go along and see what Wayland's Yard is all about. 

Wayland's Yard is already a popular venue for breakfast and lunch, and of course 'brunch' dishes in Worcester, but it has now also set up shop in Birmingham, much to my delight. Promising 'proper coffee and proper food', the new spot is on Bull Street, just off Colmore Row, and it is definitely worth a visit. 

The decor is super cool and industrial inspired, with the occasional bold colour and fun art print. There is also a resident dog - which was, obviously, my favourite part of my experience at Wayland's Yard. The venue is sleek, simple and it is really is all about the food, which does not disappoint.
I would love to be able to tell you how amazing the coffee is, but I have something to admit. I DON'T LIKE COFFEE. I know right?! I suffer shocked faces on a weekly basis when I have to admit this. But the taste is something I have never liked, and I am just more of a cup of tea kinda gal. 

However, the venue has a whole host of drinks to enjoy other than coffee, including Turmeric and also a super cool raspberry tea which changes colours, which comes served in an equally unique teapot. There is of course cold juices to enjoy too.
The food menu includes breakfast, brunch and lunch options, with choices for everyone from meat eaters to vegans, and all in between. There are super healthy options that will really give you a good kick start to the day, and there are also some down right naughty options, which I was all over, including an incredible range of pastries. The staff are also very attentive, and are happy to make the food to your needs, which in my eyes makes the place as special as it is. 

During my time at Wayland's Yard, I was fortunate to be treated to three different Brunch dishes which meant hello food baby! However, the food baby was totally worth it. 

We started with Eggy Crumpets. Wow. I'd go as far to say that Eggy Bread is one of my favourite meals of all time, but this blew it out of the water. Eggy Crumpets come topped with homemade chilli jam, grilled halloumi, fresh chilli and ketchup. Does it sound disgusting to you? Well, it's not. It's a masterpiece. The dish is so full of flavour that is is hard not to crave more as soon as you have finished.

Soon after, we enjoyed the Brunch Bap. The Brunch Bap is a sage patty with avo hummus, grilled halloumi and smoked streaky bacon. It is essentially a mega posh McMuffin with a hipster twist. It was totally delicious, and also very filling. 

We ended our Brunch dishes with Aussie Eggs - it was pretty amazing. Aussie Eggs is sourdough toast with poached eggs, chorizo and avo hummus. However, what really made the dish was the pink hollandaise sauce. The sauce is coloured with beetroot, and definitely makes the dish a super exciting one!
The Brunch menu also includes a 'Big Brunch', a veggie brunch and a vegan brunch. The best thing though? Wayland's Yard's brunch is served all day - now that's what I like! So if you're not in a lunch kind of mood, you know where to head to during your lunch break. 

I can't recommend Wayland's Yard enough. It is fresh, fun and adds something new and cool to the area. With it only being a short walk from both Snow Hill and New Street too, it is in a great location and the perfect place to go to try something completely new. 

Wayland's Yard is open seven days a week, Mon-Fri 7am-6pm, Saturday 8am-6pm and Sunday 9am-5pm. 

*I was invited along to try Wayland's Yard brunch menu with fellow Brum Bloggers. Therefore, I tried the dishes free of charge, but this does not impact how much I did actually really like the place. 

Monday, 5 March 2018

Mum's the word in Stratford-upon-Avon this Mother's Day

Mum’s the word at Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall in Stratford-upon-Avon this Mother’s Day, when mother’s and grandmothers are invited to enjoy free entry on this special occasion to explore the story of Shakespeare’s life as a young boy. 

It has often been said that mothers in Shakespeare’s work are conspicuous mainly for their absence, particularly in plays like The Tempest and King Lear, where fathers take the leading roles. However, they will be very much centre stage this Mother’s Day, with every mother and grandmother visiting the Schoolroom with her family enjoying free entry to this award-winning and immersive attraction.

Mothers in Shakespeare’s writing have also had a somewhat checkered history, from the flighty Gertrude in Hamlet to the ineffectual Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, whereas his own mother was a strong and inspiring figure. 

The daughter of a Warwickshire farmer, Mary lived through the social and political upheaval set in motion by Henry VIII. Despite being a woman from a rural background, she found time to learn to read, do arithmetic and, it is believed, to write, before marrying glove maker John Shakespeare and having eight children of her own, the third of which was William Shakespeare.

Bringing to life Shakespeare’s school days, early life and influences to help understand how he became the writer that he did, are the Schoolroom’s volunteers that work alongside the guides. 

Visitors can experience the kind of education young William would have received and his first taste of live theatre. These days, and those people around him, were to influence his career path as well as feature within his works all of which is part of this atmospheric and fascinating medieval building.

Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall is open daily from 11am to 5pm, with last admissions at 4:30pm. Quote ‘Mums Go Free’ at the reception desk on your arrival at Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall.

ELF is coming to Birmingham this Christmas

It may be a little while away from Christmas, but locals are in for a real treat this year with the hit West End and Broadway musical ELF, based on the Hollywood blockbuster movie, is set to be supersized into a Christmas spectacular at Birmingham's Genting Arena.  

The spectacular will star pop legend David Essex as Buddy the Elf’s father, and Love Actually star and singer Martine McCutcheon as Buddy’s girlfriend, Jovie. Buddy the Elf will be played by comedy actor Tam Ryan, who counts Priscilla Presley amongst his past leading ladies.West End star Louise English will play Buddy’s stepmother.

The cast also features Father Christmas and a line-up of 70 performers, including children from local Pauline Quirke Academy stage schools.

As well as being a hugely successful singer/songwriter, director and best-selling author, David Essex has starred as the lead in many musicals from Evita to War of the Worlds and is particularly excited to be taking on the role of Buddy’s grumpy and unwitting dad. 

David said: “I’m really looking forward to taking Elf on tour. The big special effects that we have lined-up are incredible, including a giant sleigh which will fly across the arena, an indoor snow blizzard and lots of skating which all adds to this perfect Christmas story.” 

The original stage version played to record breaking audiences in 2015/2016 at London’s Dominion Theatre and firmly established this heart-warming tale of Buddy the Elf leaving Santa at the North Pole to seek his real father in New York as a Christmas classic. 

This new Christmas Spectacular production will feature a book written by Bob Martin and Thomas Meehan and an original score of great new songs. 

The original staging will be enhanced with giant screens, showing both computer graphic backdrops and live action close-ups. The 5,000 seat arena layout will have a 70-foot wide stage and a 60-foot long thrust stage, with some scenes taking place around and above the audience. 

Elf will be produced by WBP Ltd, the team behind last year’s Christmas spectacular Peter Pan, which played at Arena Birmingham and The SSE Arena, Wembley.

Tickets go on sale on Friday 9 March at 9am. Find out more here

Tickets go on sale for Dippy the Diplodocus in Birmingham

Tickets are now on sale to see the world famous Dippy the Diplodocus in Birmingham this summer. 

It is the first time that he has been put on public display outside of the Natural History Museum since he arrived in London in 1905. As part of Dippy on Tour: A Natural History Adventure, Dippy will visit eight venues across the UK, including the Gas Hall at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. 

Tickets for the event, taking place from May 26th - September 9th, 2018, are free but tickets must be booked in advance. Dippy the Diplodocus is an awe-inspiring 292 piece skeleton cast. Dippy’s arrival at BMAG will be the only chance to see the impressive 26 metres long cast in the Midlands. 

The Diplodocus lived between 156 and 145 million years ago, during the late Jurassic period and would have weighed around 13 tonnes. This superstar dinosaur cast, gives us an insight into the prehistoric creatures that roamed our earth, long before we were around. 

In Birmingham, Dippy will be displayed as part of an exciting and interactive free exhibition which will show that not all dinosaurs became extinct 66 million years – one group survived and evolved into the birds we know today. 

Bringing Birmingham’s bird collection back to BMAG for the first time in nearly 20 years, this exhibition will explore the progression from dinosaurs to birds. The exhibition will show the amazing diversity of modern birds and how they evolved to become one of the most successful groups of animals inhabiting almost every part of the world from the oceans of Antarctica to tropical rainforests. 

As well as getting up close to Dippy, who will be taking centre stage, families will also be able to see a velociraptor cast, a cast of a dinosaur nest and a real Great auk, the famous bird which became extinct the mid-19th century.

Gurminder Kenth, Museum Manager at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, said: “We are incredibly excited to welcome Dippy to Birmingham. 

"The famous dinosaur has the ability to wow and inspire everyone from toddlers to grandparents, and it’s going to be an exciting time at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. 

“Anticipation is building so don’t miss out on the chance to get free tickets. Not only will you see Dippy, but also experience an eye opening exhibition which allows us to showcase Birmingham’s natural history collection and inspire scientists of the future.” 

An exciting programme of events is set to accompany Dippy’s stay in Birmingham. Fun for all the family, try your hand at palaeontology with a Dino Dig, delve deeper into Dippy’s past with curator’s tours, take part in crafts and trails throughout the school holidays, or enjoy a screening of Night at the Museum. 

Across the Midlands, there will be lots of dinosaur fun to get involved with during Dippy’s visit to Birmingham. Venues across the region, from Wolverhampton to Coventry and Shropshire to Warwickshire, will be hosting their very own natural history adventures, with an array of events and displays.

Tickets can be booked now here.  

Sweeney Todd to take to the stage in Wolverhampton

Acclaimed by the critics as one of Stephen Sondheim’s most powerful scores, Walsall Operatic Society (WOS) are set to bring Sweeney Todd - The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to Wolverhampton next week. 

It will be the first time that Walsall Operatic Society will perform as a company at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre since it was formed in 1955. 

Walsall Operatic Society's members currently age from 14 to over 70, and they rehearse every Thursday at the Lamp Arts Centre in Brownhills. 

Sweeney Todd will be played by Richard Poynton. Richard is best known for working with Walsall Operatic Society as director, having directed their productions since 2007. He is also known for having had several cameo appearances in WOS’s productions since then, however, Richard first stepped into his first principal role with the company in their award-winning production of Sweeney Todd in 2014. 

He is hugely excited to be on stage at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre for Walsall Operatic Society’s first ever production at this venue. Richard said: “I very rarely perform in shows nowadays as I’ve taken a more directorial route, however Sweeney Todd has been one of my favourite musicals ever since I first discovered it as a teenager. 

"It’s a dream role for me and I simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play it again, plus, to be able to perform this role at Wolverhampton Grand was a double incentive as it’s such a gorgeous theatre."
Mrs Lovett is played by Steph Coleman. Steph has been actively involved in the performing arts for over 30 years. After training at drama school, Steph went on to perform in Little Red Riding Hood, The Real Inspector Hound, The Chalk Garden and The Crucible. 

Following her time on stage, Steph moved into the teaching of performing arts and was instrumental in running one of the area’s performing arts departments, where she directed a number of successful productions including, Little Shop of Horrors, Sweet Charity, Grease, Arabian Nights and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. 

Steph was also a founding member of a successful theatre company, touring productions and murder mysteries internationally, from small local venues to the Orient Express. In recent years, Steph has been delighted to be involved in productions with both Walsall and Brownhills Operatic Societies, including Annie, Kiss Me Kate, 9 To 5 and Sister Act. 

The production is set to be completed by a group of talented local performers. They take to the stage from Tuesday 13th - Saturday 17th 2018. Find tickets here
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