Burton Vocal Festival

The Fourteenth Burton Vocal Festival

At The Pirelli Stadium, Burton on Trent

Sunday 5th March 2017



Rhys Matthews M.Mus, B.Mus(Hon), LRSM.

Vivien Pike Hon. M.Mus, GRSM, ARMCM, LGSM, FRSA.

Professor Mark Wildman

The Festival is a Member of the British and International Federation of Music, Dance and Speech of which Her Majesty the Queen is Patron.

Audience tickets

The Festival is also open to observers.

Tickets are priced at £5.00 for the full day and can be purchased on the day at the venue

The Pirelli Stadium is located at

Princess Way,

Burton on Trent,

Staffordshire, DE13 0BH

Mellows – Gypsy

The Mellow Dramatics are pleased to announce their next production coming to Burton on Trent in May 2017.


A Musical Fable

16th to 20th May 2017

Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm (plus Saturday Matinee at 2.30pm)

at The Brewhouse Arts Centre,

Burton on Trent

All tickets are £12 apart from Tuesday and Saturday Matinee they are £10

Brewhouse Box office 01283 508100

Thanks to Natalie Summers for the info.

BASE-Jack and The Beanstalk-review

Windy Bottom is the place to be this half term if you want to lose yourself in some great slapstick comedy and musical numbers that get you clapping, toe-tapping and singing your heart out – plus a few fart jokes and the odd mention of Donald Trump.

You’ll find it all on the stage of the Brewhouse Arts Centre, which Burton Amateur Stage Entertainers (BASE) have turned into the colourful village home of Dame Dotty Dimple and her sons Jack and Simple Simon.

This barnstorming production of Jack and The Beanstalk includes all the elements you’d expect from a professional, celebrity-studded pantomime – yet here it is, on our doorstep, with tickets half the price you’d pay in some nearby cities.

Keyboard player Alex Priestley kicked off proceedings with a short medley of tunes we’d hear later in the show. Then, after some verbal sparring in verse from wicked fairy Piccalilli (June Austin) and her goody goody counterpart Fairy Sugardust (Pam Holburn), we were treated to an exuberant Uptown Funk by a stage full of beautifully-costumed chorus members. It was all some of us could do to stay in our seats and not rush the stage to join in. The cast were having a blast and so were the audience – and we were barely 10 minutes into the show!

As in all good pantos there were topical references and name checks for local places. Donald Trump narrowly escaped being appointed as the giant’s henchman in favour of Rancid the Ratcatcher, portrayed by Peter Bourne with a face as dirty as his dark soul.

Chris Knight was irrepressible as Dame Dotty Dimple and one of many first half highlights was his cleverly choreographed slapstick DIY decorating sketch with Simple Simon (Jodie Swann) which they made look deceptively simple. It was hilarious and smoothly executed with brilliant timing.

Principal Boy Jack (Callie Burley) and Princess Primrose (Ellie Austin) had the Frozen fans in the audience swaying along when they duetted to Love is An Open Door from the Disney film favourite.

There was professional polish aplenty in a scene featuring luminous, glow-in-the-dark insects and flowers dancing apparently in mid-air across the darkened stage. Little audience members were bewitched and bemused into silence.

Just before the interval an impressive beanstalk materialised at the back of the stage leaving us anticipating some giant fun in Act Two. BASE did not disappoint. Jack climbed the beanstalk, followed by all the aforementioned principals, who also included henpecked King Hubert (Ken Dawson), stylish Queen Hyacinth (Sharon Hughes) as well as comedy duo Snatchet and Scarper (Gemma East and Sarah Goodall).

Yes, there WAS a real giant – and he was magnificent, with a voice of towering fury provided by Craig Poxon.

This production looked as if no expense had been spared on costumes, props and some well-placed special effects.

Tribute must also be paid to Lauren Downs and Lesley Hill, who didn’t put a hoof wrong as Buttermilk the cow, and Chloe Horton as the Harp.

The audience lapped up every second and the young and young-at-heart added to the entertainment of the night with their joyful reactions. Special mention goes to several rows of high-spirited Brownies. Their Brown Owl also demonstrated some nifty footwork of her own when Simple Simon expertly-handled the obligatory ‘getting people on stage for a song and dance’ section.

As the clock raced round towards 10pm, the entire cast burst back on to the stage for a sparkling finale dance number, We’re All In This Together from the much-loved High School Musical.

Opening night was a triumph for Director/Producer duo Lynda Freeman and Martin Goodall. Choreography was spot-on thanks to Sam Uche and Ellis Burley and the hard-working cast who brought their vision to life.

The backstage crew must have been working exceptionally hard on the many set changes so credit must also go to them:  Simon Collins, Joe Cowell, Alex Goodall, Martin Goodall, Karl Hollingworth and Keiran Swann.

Lighting and sound was delivered by Robert Bond and the Brewhouse’s own Matt Bancroft.

Jack and the Beanstalk runs until Saturday February 25 at 7.30pm nightly, except Wednesday night’s performance, which starts at 6.30pm. There is also a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm. Ring the Brewhouse box office on 01283-508100 to check on ticket availability.

Elaine Pritchard

BMTC-Little Shop-review

Congratulations to debut director Oly Wright and the cast and crew of Burton Musical Theatre Company for their production of the cult-classic Little Shop of Horrors.

This is the first time in the company’s 66-year-history that they have performed LSOH and it is great.

Little Shop of Horrors is a sci-fi horror musical with an electrifying 1960s pop/rock score by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman.

Seymour Krelborn is a meek and dejected assistant at a florists who happens upon a strange plant, which he names Audrey II – after his female co-worker. Little does he know that this strange and unusual plant will develop a soulful R&B voice, a potty mouth, and an unquenchable thirst for human blood.

As Audrey II grows bigger and meaner, the carnivorous plant promises limitless fame and fortune to Seymour, as long as he continues providing a fresh supply of blood. Just when it’s too late, Seymour discovers Audrey II’s extra-terrestrial origins and its true drive for world-domination.

The superb cast, led by Kyle Lamley as Seymour and Lindsey Biddle as Audrey, romped their way through the show with great performances from Andy Last as the flower shop owner Mushnik and Steve Foster as the reprehensible dentist Orin.

The girl group of Alex Davison as Crystal, Karen Hambleton as Chiffon and Samantha Walker as Ronnette set the scene and added depth and va-va-voom to many of the numbers.

Tom Berriman who handled the manipulation of the giant Audrey II did really well.

I was delighted to see and hear Jonathan Salt back on stage with BMTC. He was the voice of Audrey II and boy did he give it a voice. Rich, smooth and soulful. At first I was distracted by him being to the side of the stage but the action in the second half kept my eyes on the stage.

There were fewer musicians than usual under the direction of David Blackwell, but the sound didn’t suffer for that.

The lighting effects were superb and the set design made scene changes effortless without slowing the action.

The show is on at the de Ferrers Academy’s Harehedge Lane campus until Saturday, commencing each evening at 7.30pm plus a matinee on Saturday at 2.30pm.

Tickets are available from the Burton Musical Theatre Company online at tickets@burtonmusicaltheatre.co.uk

Bill Pritchard.

First Saturday school of its kind for Burton

A new Saturday drama school is launching in Burton, which will also offer training in musical theatre, film acting and film production skills.

This combination of subjects will make StageScreen unique in Burton.

Singing teacher Heather Gallagher is behind the idea and will be Principal of the new school with three tutors, all professionals in their field, leading weekly classes for under-18s.

StageScreen will open for its first term on Saturday, April 22, at the Burton Albion Community Hub, Grange Street, Burton on Trent, DE14 2ER.

StageScreen will meet between 10am and 1pm and pupils will have an hour of drama and comedy acting, an hour of musical theatre and an hour of exploring film production and performance skills.

StageScreen Open Day

An open day is taking place at the Grange Street venue on Saturday, April 8, where there will be a chance for youngsters to enjoy taster classes and for their families to meet the school’s staff and find out more about enrolling.

Visit www.stagescreen.co.uk, or email info@stagescreen.co.uk, for more information. Tickets for the open day are free of charge but must be booked in advance at http://stagescreenopenday.eventbrite.co.uk

Meet the team behind StageScreen

Heather, who has performed locally and nationally as a singer, actor and dancer, said: “I am very excited to announce the opening of StageScreen and I’m looking forward to working alongside some wonderful industry professionals to provide local students with an amazing opportunity to work on a unique and complementary combination of specialist areas.”

The film hour will include acting for film and TV, editing, producing, script writing, casting and directing. It will be taught by professional filmmaker Tilley Bancroft, owner of Red Door Studios.

Musical theatre classes will teach young performers safe and healthy vocal techniques and combine this with creating truthful acting performances and moving confidently on stage. Musical theatre will be taught by Megan-Louise Daniels.

Sam Thorogood, an experienced actor, director and workshop facilitator will teach comedy and drama acting. His classes will cover subjects including ensemble work, improvisation, storytelling, puppetry, clowning and speaking in verse.

Professional-standard training

Lessons will be tailored for three different age groups: six to nine-year-olds; 10 to 13-year-olds and 14 to 18-year-olds who will spend an hour with each teacher.

Heather said: “The aim is to deliver professional-standard training for stage and screen. It will be ideal for youngsters interested in making a career in the performing arts, but we will help pupils develop life and social skills that will give them confidence and enrich their lives even if they don’t choose to perform professionally.”

You can also follow StageScreen on Twitter at https://twitter.com/stagescreenUK and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/stagescreenuk.

 Thanks to Elaine Pritchard for the info.


VocAL Intuition Student showcase -Review

Student showcase by VocAL Intuition

Students of Burton’s VocAL Intuition tutors performed a showcase of their work in a celebration concert at the town’s Tower Brewery on Saturday (February 11).

VocAL Intuition was established by Anne Leatherland and provides students of all ages with opportunities to study classical, musical theatre and popular music vocals. A strong emphasis is placed on safe and healthy singing techniques.

Anne has personally trained and mentored Rachel Shaw and Heather Gallagher who are now both VocAL Intuition teachers with dozens of pupils between them – many of whom were singing in public for the first time at Saturday’s concert.

The beautiful setting of the Tower Brewery enhanced the evenings’ entertainment as strings of fairy lights, bunting and giant paper lanterns created the feeling of a party night.

A sold-out audience of family and friends enjoyed a total of 43 songs covering a variety of musical genres. The evening also marked the return to a local stage of two performers who have enjoyed professional success after VocAL Intuition coaching.

The evening began with a 27-strong group of students performing Wings, by pop band Little Mix. The lyrics of the song include the lines: “Mama told me not to waste my life. She said spread your wings my little butterfly”. How apt this was as the evening continued with a number of performances by very young singers taking their first brave steps on to a stage. It was lovely to see the respect, encouragement and kindness they received from more experienced singers taking part in the concert. There was also a warm reception from the audience for everyone who stepped up to the microphone.

Songs in Act One included musical theatre favourites such as Castle on A Cloud from Les Miserables, Good Morning Baltimore from Hairspray and pop classics such as Michael Jackson’s Ben and Art Garfunkel’s Bright Eyes.

Act One ended with an energetic performance of Naughty, from Matilda, by Rachel’s pupil Emily-May Stephenson who recently completed a six month run in the West End playing the title role in the hit show.

Act Two included some less well-known musical theatre gems including I Wanna Go Home, from Big; I’m Number One from Muppets Most Wanted and Proud of Your Boy from Aladdin. A rendition of Audition (Fools Who Dream) from the hit film of the moment La La Land, brought the song choices right up to date.

As the evening drew to a close, special guest Kirby Frost took to the stage to sing two numbers, Adele’s All I Ask and Kirby’s own debut single Head Vs Heart, which charted in America. Kirby reached the finals of Open Mic UK, was a contestant on the 2016 X Factor and will be supporting former X Factor winner Sam Bailey on her forthcoming tour.

The evening ended with all the students returning to the stage to perform Abba’s Thank You For the Music, which got the audience swaying their arms in the air. It was a fitting finale to a fabulous evening.

Elaine Pritchard.

B.A.S.E – Jack and the Beanstalk

Burton Amateur Stage Entertainers present

Jack and the Beanstalk.

Tuesday 21st – Saturday 25th February 2017 -

Something’s not right in the village of Old Windy Bottom. The Villagers live in fear of the Giant Buster Gut Bucket. Even King Hubert and Queen Hyacinth are powerless to stop his wicked ways.

But one villager has had enough. Jack is determined to stop the Giant in his tracks once and for all. With a little help from his (admittedly stupid) brother Simon and mother Dame Dotty – he’ll make the Giant wish he’d picked on someone his own size.

All of your favourite panto characters are here again in this B.A.S.E production of Jack and the Beanstalk:

Tuesday 21st – Saturday 25th February 2017

at The Brewhouse Arts Centre, Burton upon Trent.

All shows: 7:30pm (apart from Wednesday: 6:30pm).

(and matinees on Thursday and Saturday at 2:30pm).

Ticket information: Adults: £12, Concessions: £11

Family ticket: £40 (2 adults, 2 children – not available for Fri, Sat matinee or Sat evening shows)

Group Bookings : For parties of 10 or more apply for group concessions (Tuesday – Thursday only). Tel: 07745 448836

 Brewhouse Box Office : 01283 508100

BMTC – Little Shop of Horrors

Burton Musical Theatre Company

Little Shop of Horrors is a delectable sci-fi horror musical with an electrifying 1960s pop/rock score by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman.

Seymour Krelborn is a meek and dejected assistant at a floral shop who happens upon a strange plant, which he affectionately names “Audrey II” after his crush at the shop. Little does he know that this strange and unusual plant will develop a soulful R&B voice, a potty mouth, and an unquenchable thirst for human blood.

As Audrey II grows bigger and meaner, the carnivorous plant promises limitless fame and fortune to Seymour, as long as he continues providing a fresh supply of blood. Just when it’s too late, Seymour discovers Audrey II’s extra-terrestrial origins and his true drive for world-domination

Directed by Oly Wright

The show runs at  the de Ferrer’s Academy, Dove Campus, Harehedge Lane, Burton on Trent. DE13 0AS from Tuesday, February 21st until Saturday, February 25th, from 7.30pm, there is also a matinee performance on the Saturday at 2.30pm.
Tickets are available by telephoning 01283 541552 or by emailing tickets@burtonmusicaltheatre.co.uk

LTCY – Les Miserables (School Edition)

Little Theare Company Youth

Les Miserables (School Edition)

 by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg

Back by popular demand, LTC Youth are thrilled to bring you their brand new production of the world’s most popular musical, “Les Miserables School Edition”, starring a brand new cast.


Tuesday 18th – Saturday 22nd April 2017

7:30 each evening plus Thursday & Saturday matinees at 2:30pm

Tickets: £12 adults / £10 concessions

(Concessions available at all performances – Matinee tickets all £10)

All Little Theatre Company shows are performed at The Brewhouse Arts Centre, Burton upon Trent

 Brewhouse Box Office 01283 508100

Mellows – The Addams Family -review


Picture credit: Phillip Ingham



Yesterday was Tuesday, but it was Wednesday’s night at Burton’s Brewhouse arts centre.

Charlotte Farthing shone in an outstanding cast as The Mellow Dramatics brought The Addams Family to ‘life’.

The Addams Family is a musical comedy with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa and the book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Ellice.

Brilliantly led by Edward Moore, as patriarch Gomez, and Donna Stephenson, as matriarch Morticia, the whole of the Addams family – living, dead and undecided – entertained the Brewhouse audience with witty one-liners, intricate lyrics and, courtesy of director/choreographer Natasha Ingham, slick dancing.

I struggle to recall when I have seen better casting in all the major roles. Each and every one of the principals looked the part.

Although the show is based on Charles Addams cartoon strips rather than the TV or film characters, they all looked as if they had stepped straight off the big screen.

The plot concerns the secret engagement of Wednesday to Lucas Beineke, played by Owen Wardle, who, whisper it, comes from a ‘normal family from Ohio’.

Wednesday confides in her father and also reveals that she has invited the Beineke family to dinner so she and Lucas can announce their engagement to both sets of parents. This leads to a dilemma for Gomez which is only sorted out during one fateful, but hilarious dinner party after which none of the protaganists will ever be the same.

The remaining, living Addams family, consisting of son Pugsley, played by Joe Wardle, Grandma Addams, played by an unrecognisable Natalie Veasey, Uncle Fester, played by Rhys Jones, who sets the scene and is instrumental in recruiting the deceased Addamses to Wednesday’s cause, are excellent and each has a little cameo in which to shine.

The ghostly ancestors form the chorus and dancers. I don’t know how much work they put into the routines  but they really did look like a dance troupe rather than cast members who were having to dance.

Lucas’ ‘normal’ family were both great. A strong performance by Tom Brassington as dad Mal and a joyful Lucy Robinson as mom, Alice, who was all sweetness and rhyming light until the dinner party.

Finally, and very slowly, we come to the Addams Family manservant Lurch, superbly played by Chris Towland who had few lines, then mainly noises, but who conveyed so much with an eyebrow – or a feather duster.

The production team of Rob Murray, musical director, Nicola Wagstaff, Becky Stewart, assistant director and the aforementioned director/choreographer, along with all those behind the scenes have done very well in converting this show for the Brewhouse stage.

As the old theme song says: ‘They’re creepy and they’re kooky, Mysterious and spooky, They’re altogether ooky, The Addams Family.

They’re also on at the Burton’s Brewhouse arts centre all this week. Shows start at 7.30pm every evening with a matinee on Saturday at 2.30pm.

Tickets are available from the Brewhouse box office on 01283 508100.

Bill Pritchard.