Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
Best of theatre from summer to Christmas
Top Theatre Shows Coming To Birmingham Summer To Christmas 2014
Summer blockbusters and Christmas showstoppers are lined up for theatres across Birmingham and the surrounding regions.
Cats is among the hit musicals coming to Birmingham
Among the performances being transferred from the West End to Birmingham as part of UK tours are Jersey Boys, Wicked and Avenue Q.
There's also emotional dramas, ballet and opera set to thrill theatre-goers.
Here is a round-up of the top shows you won't want to miss for the rest of 2014.
Annie Get Your Gun
Jason Donovan is a big crowd-puller for this romantic tale set in the Wild West, but it's also the timeless songs including There's No Business Like Show Business and Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better.
Sharp-shooting in Annie Get Your Gun at Birmingham's New Alexandra Theatre
Annie Get Your Gun is an Irving Berlin classic musical and Tony award-winning show based on the true story of gunslinger Annie Oakley.
The story follows our fiesty heroine as she shoots her way to glory and has a competitive romance with rival marksman Frank Butler while working for Buffalo Bill's Wild West Circus.
Playing Buffalo Bill is another well known face of TV - comedian Norman Pace (one half of duo Hale and Pace), while Annie is played by Emma Williams, a two-time Olivier nominee who has even had trapeze lessons to get her ready for the demanding role.
The drama takes place as a 'show within a show' in Buffalo Bill's Circus Big Top. There's plenty of big dance routines, colourful costumes and daring moves.
Jason Donovan, who has become a safe pair of hands in theatre since leaving Australian soap opera Neighbours, says, "It's a love story essentially, and it's about opposites.
Jason Donovan speaks about his role in Annie Get Your Gun
"Annie and Frank are completely opposite people; the tables turn and they end up falling in love. It's an incredible musical with some really great songs. There are lots of famous songs that people will recognise but not necessarily realise come from this show, so it will be good to show audiences how those songs tie in to the story of Annie Get Your Gun."
Annie Get Your Gun New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham - July 1 - 5 On Saturday July 5, Jonathan Wilkes will play the role of Frank Butler instead of Jason Donovan).
Something wicked this way comes with the spin-off from the Wizard of Oz.
Wicked flies into Birmingham Hippodrome for the summer of 2014
Proving a box office success in Broadway and London's West End, it now goes on a UK tour, stopping off at Birmingham Hippodrome.
The musical is about two witches in the Land of Oz - Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West) and Glinda (the Good Witch of the North). Based on Gregory Maguire's novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. The plot is set both before and after Dorothy's journey into Oz, as seen in the Wizard of Oz novel and film.
It's a show for all the family with a catchy soundtrack including it's most famous track, Defying Gravity, plus huge extravagant and magical sets.
Birmingham Hippodrome - July 9 - September 6. Tickets cost from £25 to £60 by calling 0844 338 5000 or from the Birmingham Hippodrome website.
April in Paris
Big names from television take the lead in this relationship drama.
April in Paris stars Shobna Gulati and Joe McGann
Shobna Gulati, a household name from her roles in Coronation Street and Dinnerladies, joins former Upper Hand actor Joe McGann.
Focusing on the romantic trials of couple Al and Bet, we venture with them after he loses his job. Despite all the troubles, their relationship gets a boost when they win a prize to Paris.
Part comedy and part romance, this show was Olivier-nominated for Comedy of the Year.
April in Paris - Malvern Theatres
August 12 - 16
Tickets cost £16.24 - £28.08 and are available from Malvern Theatres website.
Once you've seen the timeless song Memories performed, you never forget. Andrew Lloyd Webber's iconic musical Cats returns to Birmingham with its colourful feline characters.
Cheeky fun characters in Cats
The musical may be more than 30 years old but it's still attracting fans throughout the world to see the dance routines, enchanting songs, and most importantly, fantastically intricate costumes.
Based on T.S Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, the drama unfolds around a selection of cats who meet for the Jellicle Ball.
Cats is one of the longest-running shows in the West End and Broadway history that is perfect for children as well as adults.
Puppets with attitude is the premise of this hilarious award-winning musical with a difference.
Cheeky puppets in Avenue Q
The show that tells the story of a bunch of cheeky but adorable puppets in New York that will make you giggle at their bad behaviour and political incorrectness.
It's already pickted up coveted Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book, but it's easy to understand why when you know the creators behind it - Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez, who co-created Book of Mormon and writer of the songs for Disney's Frozen.
This show is recommended for audiences aged 14 and over.
New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham - September 16 - 20
Tickets cost from £17.90 - £39.40 from the ATG theatre ticket website.
The Kite Runner
The breath-taking novel by Khaled Hosseini has been adapted for stage in this latest UK tour.
The Kite Runner has been adapted to stage
Revolving around a tale of friendship that crosses cultures and continents, it starts off in Afghanistan.
We follow the lead role of Amir, played by Ben Turner from TV show Casualty, as he comes to terms with events that took place as a child during a kite flying tournament in Kabul with his friend Hassan.
The tour will stop off in the Midlands at Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Malvern Theatres.
The world premiere of this brand new British musical sees Paul Nicholas star as Crazy Max in a show featuring some of the most famous hits of the 1970s and 1980s.
Paul Nicholas takes centre stage in a new British musical full of nostalgic hits
It's a soundtrack of songs written by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, who were behind tracks for Sweet, Suzi Quatro, Smokie, Tina Turner and Mud.
The song list is a hit parade of nostalgia including Ballroom Blitz, Blockbuster, Tiger Feet, Some Girls, Living Next Door To Alice, Teenage Rampage, Mickey, Oh Carol and Lonely This Christmas, to name a few.
The plot sees a young busker, who is being hounded by a loan shark, escape into Crazy Max's Retro Record Shop, where he is magically transported back into 1975.
If he can perform two selfless deeds within seven days, he will be able turn his life around. Along the way, our hero makes new friends and questions the important things in life - all to the beat of the 1970s hits.
New Alexandra Theatre Birmingham - September 23 - 27
Tickets cost from £12.90 to £28.90 from the ATG theatre ticket website.
Beauty and the Beast
Birmingham Royal Ballet's magical version of the fairy tale has huge dramatic sets, out of this world costumes and dreamy dancing that ballet fans old and young will adore.
Ballet at its best in Beauty and the Beast
The ballet follows the famous fairytale storyline through extravagant dance scenes.
We see a selfish Prince cursed to spend his life living as a beast in a remote castle until he meets the beautiful Belle. If the beast can win her heart, he has the chance to reverse the spell.
Choreographer David Bintley has combined romantic waltzes and dreamy pas du deux for our unusual lovers. Added to that are some touches of stage magic to bring the fairytale alive for all the family.
A musical with a conscience, this drama penned by Willy Russell addresses Britain's class system by mixing comedy, heartbreak and social issues of poverty and adoption in a memorable two and and a half hours.
Blood Brothers is a hard-hitting musical about class
There are wonderful songs, repeated through the show, as we follow two families at either end of the class divide in Liverpool and a pair of twin brothers who are separated at birth.
Funny, sentimental and thought-provoking, Blood Brothers will mesmerise and sadden you at the same time. It's a must-see musical. A review of this production from the tour so far can be found here.
Fred and Ginger are brought back to life in this toe-tapping musical that recreates big show dance routines from the hey day of Hollywood.
This Irving Berlin musical charters the ups and downs in a romance between our two leads Jerry Travers and society girl Dale Tremont (roles played by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the film of the same name).
It's got tap-dance routines, romance and some of greatest songs created in musicals from the 1930s, including Cheek to Cheek, Puttin' on the Ritz and Let's Face the Music and Dance.
After a spate in London's West End, this show won three Olivier awards for Best New Musical, Best Choreography and Best Costumes - and it's no wonder as the show features more than 200 show-stopping costumes.
With a stellar cast, this new production of Oscar Wilde's witty play is like a list of who's who.
Nigel Havers, Cherie Lunghi and Sian Phillips are among the key stars of The Importance of Being Ernest.
A top cast of British talent in The Importance of Being Ernest
Crammed with the author's tell-tale sarcasm and sparky dialogue, the play set in the prim Victorian era follows bachelor John Worthing and his friend Algernon Moncrieff as they woo two ladies through various adventures, mistaken identities and tomfoolery.
Ultimately, the only way to get what John wants depends on the importance of being Ernest. That may sound cryptic, but the clever plot will all make sense by the final scene.
The cast also includes Rosalind Ayres, Niall Buggy, Patrick Godfrey, Martin Jarvis and Christine Kavanagh.
The Importance of Being Ernest
New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham - October 21 - 25
Tickets cost from £11.90 to £37.90 from the ATG Theatre Ticket website.
Slava's Snow Show
Despite no words, this show will keep you entertained in wonder throughout.
Slava's Snow Show is a magical experience
The one-man show is silly, magical and heart-warming all at the same time as our lovable hero Slava appears in a snowstorm and performs his way into the audience's hearts with a combination of slapstick and breathtaking feats.
It's a unique show, in its 20th year, that you will make you want to sit back, watch and enjoy the experience, whatever your age.
This show is a perfect starting point for anyone who hasn't tried opera as it features an array of well know arias by Bizet that will be instantly recognisable, like the rousing Toreador Song.
A dark tale of lust, betrayal and revenge in Spain, it is a passionate story made all the more intense with a backdrop inspired by Spanish artist Goya, described as evoking "the heat and intensity of 19th century Spain"
Carmen is the beautiful, fiery woman who bewitches straight-laced Don Jose and sends him down a self-destructive path.