Sutton Coldfield BookFest 2020

PRESS RELEASE – Sutton Coldfield Town Hall

30th December

BookFest Sutton Coldfield 2020 – Saturday 29th February

Sutton Coldfield BookFest is back for 2020! It’s a fantastic chance for children to meet their favourite authors, discover astonishing books and experience hands-on storytelling.

Meet Jacqueline Wilson and Nick Sharratt! Enjoy adventure stories, Tiger Who Came to Tea Tea Parties, mystery writers, Dr Who script-writing, and stories for the very young. 

Events for 0-12 year olds all take place on one fabulous day, at Sutton Coldfield Library and Sutton Coldfield Town Hall, with a fun, free Where’s Wally book trail taking place between the two venues.  There will be a book shop and opportunities to have books signed by their authors. So if you know a young book worm – or someone who’s ready to be inspired – then don’t miss out! Tickets start at just £3.50 and go on sale on Monday 6th January.

Sutton Coldfield BookFest is produced by Bournville BookFest and FOLIO Sutton Coldfield. Our grateful thanks go to Heart of England Community Foundation and the Peddimore Community Fund, and to Sutton Coldfield Town Centre BID and Sutton Coldfield Town Hall for their support.

Festival director Sarah Mullen said:  “We are very proud to be bringing Sutton Coldfield BookFest back in 2020 and really have something for everyone, from famous authors to storytelling for tots. Join us for a Leap Day to remember – a chance to #LeapintoBooks!”

Zoe Toft, Chair of FOLIO Sutton Coldfield, said: “We are so excited to see the return of Sutton Coldfield Bookfest in 2020! And this time it’s going to be even bigger and better, with Jacqueline Wilson, a former Children’s Laureate, joining us to help celebrate. Coming just before World Book Day (5 March), and Sutton Coldfield LIbrary’s birthday (7 March) there’s never been a better time to get families excited about sharing stories together.”

Details of all events are now on our website so you can plan your day. Tickets can be booked from Monday 6th January.

Ticket Hotline: 0121 780 3333

Hearing impaired patrons can call the Box Office minicom line on 0121 644 6140.

Who is coming to Sutton Coldfield BookFest in 2020?

Legendary author-illustrator team Jacqueline Wilson and Nick Sharratt

They are the creators of Tracy Beaker and have produced more than 50 books together selling 40 million worldwide. They’ll be talking about their characters and Nick will be drawing live on stage, and there will be a chance to meet them afterwards. Don’t miss out!

The Tiger Who Came to Tea Tea Parties 

This BookFest tribute to the late Judith Kerr is a treat for 2-6 year olds and their grown ups.  Bring the story of a hungry tiger who invites himself in for tea to life – pour the tea, eat the cake and sandwiches. Face-painting optional!

Fantasy adventures with WildSpark author Vashti Hardy

Explore the fantasy worlds of WildSpark and BrightStorm with author Vashti Hardy, using maps and explorers’ stories. 

Dr Who Scriptwriting Workshops

Love Dr Who? Then step this way for a fantastic scriptwriting workshop, which will have you creating characters, planets and plot twists.

Tom Percival with Meesha Makes Friends

Perfectly Norman star author Tom Percival has written a sweet story for children who find social manners tricky. A lovely session which will spark conversations in every family.

Fabio the Flamingo with Laura James and Emily Fox

Fabio might not be tall or strong – but he is the world’s greatest flamingo detective. Discover this unusual hero, his love of pink lemonade and crime-solving skills with author Laura James – and draw the characters along with illustrator Emily James.

Mystery Writing Workshop with Serena Patel

Create your own funny stories at this lively interactive workshop with Walsall author Serena Patel. Serena’s hilarious new novel Anisha the Accidental Detective has just been published – and she’s going to share her writing tips so you can all create a completely new story together!


WIN tickets to see Jacqueline Wilson and Nick Sharratt!

Draw your favourite character and you could be in with a chance to win 4 tickets to see Jacqueline Wilson and Nick Sharratt at Sutton Coldfield Town Hall on Saturday 29th February 2020 – then have an exclusive chat afterwards and a book signed. Details are on our website:

Sutton Coldfield BookFest took place for the first time in 2019. This is what families said:

My 10-year-old reluctant poetry reader is now hooked! Thank you Sutton Coldfield BookFest! Natasha Salari

Well organised, inspiring and entertaining! We’ll definitely book more events next time. Beth Mordaunt

So much fun! I recommend it to anyone with children, whether they like to read or not – this will inspire them.  Rumena Aktar

Swing That Music

PRESS RELEASE – Sutton Coldfield Town Hall

30th December 2019

Swing That Music 24th January 2020


Back in 2018, Down for the Count wowed audiences at Sutton Coldfield’s Concerts in the Park, supporting the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in front of 4,000 people.  Now they are returning to Sutton Coldfield Town Hall on Friday 24th January with their theatre show SWING THAT MUSIC.

The show evokes the atmosphere of the ballrooms and jazz clubs of the swing era – combining top class musicianship with authentic dance performances from local Lindy hop dance group, The Swing Era.  

Described as “one hellova celebration of vintage music” by TimeOut London, the SWING THAT MUSIC show breathes new life into some of the best music of the 20th Century, treating audiences to joyous instrumental solos, sublime vocal performances, energetic dance routines and Down for the Count’s irresistible humour and on-stage banter.

Expect to hear songs from the likes of Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Count Basie and Glenn Miller, and classics from singers such as Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Nat ‘King’ Cole.

SWING THAT MUSIC has had a string of sell-out shows in 2019, at venues including the world-famous Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London, and the tour marks the release of Down for the Count’s new album, also called SWING THAT MUSIC. The album is available to buy from the band’s website Band leader Mike Paul-Smith describes the album as “a celebration of my favourite musicians and singers from the Swing Era. At that time young people were cramming themselves into ballrooms to listen and dance to incredible music from pioneering musicians – and our album and show aims to recreate that energy and sound.”

The band’s previous album, LETS DANCE, was featured on Clare Teal’s BBC Radio 2 show in 2017.

The band was formed by Mike Paul-Smith in 2005 whilst he was still at school. “We always loved playing jazz and soul music, but it was when we started getting asked to play for swing dance events that we really started to love the big band music we play nowadays. It’s such a thrill to see people interpret the music you play through dance, and it wasn’t long before I began taking Lindy hop dance classes myself. Because the band started when we were so young, we’re only in our late 20s and early 30s now – and we find that audiences are often surprised to see people of our age playing vintage music. It’s great that Swing dancing has become increasingly popular with younger people too.” 

Since then, Down for the Count has become a favourite amongst fans of retro nostalgia, making regular appearances at events such as Twinwood Vintage Festival, who described them as “a breath of fresh air on the swing scene”. The band are regulars at London jazz clubs and have even performed at the oldest jazz club in Europe, Le Caveau de la Huchette in Paris, which featured in the film La La Land. The band includes award-winning jazz musicians and West End performers, who have performed at events across the globe.

The format of the band’s show means that no two performances are ever exactly the same. As Mike said, “we make sure our show is entertaining, bringing our own humour and personalities to the stage, recreating the atmosphere of swing era dance nights and jazz clubs so that every moment feels spontaneous and exciting. Ultimately the music is the star of the show, and we want audiences watching and listening to feel as uplifted as we do when playing. We hope our joie de vivre is infectious and that audiences leave sharing our love for all that swings!”

Swing That Music at Sutton Coldfield Town Hall

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The band’s new single Swing That Music can be found here:

Aladdin ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Aladdin – The Production Exchange

Sutton Coldfield Town Hall

Friday 20th December

By Nigel Gambles

Photography – Lee Williams (WOISC)

Pantomime is an essential part of the Christmas festivities and it returns to Sutton Coldfield Town Hall this year courtesy of The Production Exchange who also presented last years mega hit Beauty and the Beast.

This is a professional production and this shows in the quality and standard of the cast , costumes and sets.  The Production Exchange have done a fantastic job in assembling a small but powerful cast all credit to director Colin Blumenau and producer Florrie Wilby.

Ruby Ablett playing Wishy Washy opens the show with a fun filled singing and dancing sequence  and leads the audience participation sections with great confidence. She is aided in her audience participations by Jack Alexander, who plays both Hanky Panky, The Chief Constable who leads the young dancers playing constables on some comic almost Keystone Cops style routines; he also plays Gene the Genie with a wonderful comic touch.

Seren Sandham-Davies is the star turn in my humble opinion playing Princess Jasmine, along with choreographing the show. She sings with confidence and enthusiasm and always with a smile on her face, her interaction with Ben Boskovic who plays Aladdin is superb.

The “Baddie” Abanazar (Have a Banana!!) played by Sam Pay is wonderful, greeted by a barrage of boo’s and jeers from a very enthusiastic audience every time he steps on stage. He is part of the stand out double act with Widow Twankey in the second act, more of that in a moment.

Widow Twankey played by Matthew Bugg, who has not played a Panto Dame before so I understand, delivers a stunning performance of the washerwoman. Fierce and bold in the first act and transforming into a temptress to seduce Abanazar to win back the stolen lamp, this is performed to the wonderful Dirty Dancing’s Time of My Life you do not want to miss this, the audience were cheering and howling with laughter.

Musical Director Sue Appleby plays the keyboards holding a lot of the musical numbers together, but also appears as Princess Jasmines mother Empress Double Chin  in a great performance with some wonderful Disney villain moves and mannerisms. Finally there is Lung the Lion, the costume is beautiful and played by two of the young ensemble it dazzles in several dance routines and had a wonderful range of mannerisms.

The Director has created a show with life and passion where all the performers are the stars of the show, it’s a modern take but never strays far from tradition.

The fantastic music including songs ranging from George Ezra to Metallica, Queen to the Proclaimers is all performed live on stage by the extremely versatile and talented cast.

The evening runs for around two and a half hours and I have to say that it is so compelling and such a joy to watch I didn’t see any children or adults leaving their seats for a comfort break .

Finally all that is left to be said is that this show is one not to be missed filled as it is with so much laughter, surprises, naughtiness and everything else that goes into making an amazing show you’ll never want to end

Tickets are still available simply follow the link or call the Box Office 10-4 Mon-Fri exc. 25th and 26th December. 0121 296 9543

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Take Over For A Make Over raised £5670.00

Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Hall

Saturday 16th November

Sutton Coldfield Musical Theatre and Sutton Coldfield Musical Youth Theatre

Just over a week ago two very special and incredibly talented groups of performers from Sutton Coldfield Musical Theatre Company (SCMTC)and Sutton Coldfield Musical Youth Theatre came together for our first official fundraiser at the Town Hall to kickstart raising vital funds as we look to secure this iconic building for generations to come…

…It is with great pleasure then that we can announce the grand total raised from “Take-Over For A Make-Over” is – £5670.00!!

💖 Thank you to all involved from cast and crew to Town Hall staff and all of you who came to watch and support this event! 💖

The Mint Theatre Society – The Christmas Elves

The Mint Theatre Society

Wylde Green United Reform Church

Saturday 23rd November

I am new to “The Mint Theatre Company” a pop-up theatre group who perform their shows in unlikely venues such as village halls, church halls. I will say now Im a new recruit to their following and will definitely be going to future productions.

Their latest production “popped up” in what I believe is a new venue Wylde Green United Reform Church Hall. Although it has a stage that is about it, and that it’s self is pretty small with very little space for props to be stored until required, no stage lighting to add that ambiance. As always what scenery, props etc need to fit in the back of a car to be taken to the next venues.

The show is a take on the “The Christmas Elves and the Shoemaker” tale given a seasonal twist by director Liz Daly to deliver a festive family tale full of morels and a charm of its own, the basic message is it is better to be kind and help others than to be selfish and nasty.. and I’ll drink to that !

Our story starts in Santas workshop, where Santa is demanding the Elves work harder and longer hours to get everything ready for Christmas. This sparks our stars Sage (played by David Stonehouse) and Onion into action, Onion (wonderfully played by Alex Howell) being the shop steward for the National Union of Elves citing elf and safety and organises a mass walkout well two man walk. We then follow Sage and Onions adventures in the real world helping Peter the shoemaker (played by Ian Toulouse) who is struggling to pay his rent by creating shoes whilst he is asleep and the all the repercussions that produces.

We are treated to a number of classic pantomime routines, amusing the adults and bringing laughter from the children. With this being a story about Elves and Shoemakers we are treated to a number of appearances from the like of Lady Mariah of Carey  played by Charlotte Ball who gives us a wonderful rendition of “All I want for Christmas is Shoes” we also meet Nancy Shoenatra (played by Liz Daly) who manages to entertain us with…yes “These Boots Were Made For Walking” and finally Elfis (played by David Daly) treating us to plenty of Elfish puns and songs including…”Blue Suede Shoes” you can see a theme appearing can’t you?  we are also treated to some lovely tap by Ellie Ball who happens to have happy feet and is also “Rocking around The Christmas Tree”

Although it was a small audience the cast did a fantastic job filling the hall with enthusiasm  and plenty of feel good factor.

This was a fantastic production and wonderfully and enthusiastically delivered, I would recommend any families looking for a pre Christmas laugh and treat to go along to one of the next performances at either Shenstone Village Hall on Friday, 29 November and Stonnall Village Hall on Saturday, 30 November.



Dare To Trick or Treat

Thursday night saw On The Breadlines annual dare to trick or treat event raising money for local charities this years chosen charity is the YMCA in Sutton Coldfield

All the children who attended came away with a goodie bag and all money from bread and cake sales went to the charity along with donations

Sebastian said  “we raised an amazing £463 for YMCA Sutton Coldfield…Just want to say a massive thank you to everyone for there kind donation and hope everyone enjoy the evening. It’s just going to get better next year… 💀 💀 💀”

Anita Ellis from YMCA Sutton Coldfield quoted

“That’s absolutely fantastic Sebastian, thank you so very much. The work you put in to this event is incredible; from preparing all the bakes, the gorgeous goody bags for the kids and all the effort you went to with with the decorations, the attention to detail with every single part of the event is remarkable. What a wonderful thing to do for charity and for the local community. We are so very grateful for all your efforts, you really are amazing! 😊🙏 👍 👏

Sutton Coldfield Musical Youth Theatre – Peter Pan

Peter Pan – Sutton Coldfield Musical Youth Theatre

Sutton Coldfield Town Hall 

Tuesday 29th October

By Linda Gambles

To be honest, I had not heard of Peter Pan the musical and only have distant memories of the Disney film and reading the book as a child, so I attended this with a very open mind.

The first thing that hit me was the stage setting, a large screen at the back of the stage was intriguing and then there were the musicians surrounded by a runway from stage left to stage right.

So with my anticipation peaked I sat and awaited the start.

This is a fun filled-family show which flies along at a steady pace with lines interspersed by plenty of catchy songs

I’m pretty sure most people would be able to recollect the story, Peter Pan the boy who won’t grow up, has lost his shadow and whilst trying to retrieve it with the help of Tinkerbelle (I won’t spoil how Tinkerbelle flies about the stage!!) meeting Wendy, John and Michael after quickly persuading them to join him in Neverland and teaching them to fly they all leave by the bedroom window. I did wonder how they would create the illusion of flying and it partly explained the large screen at the back of the stage. On reaching Neverland we meet the Lost Boys performing an energetic and strong song and dance.

We are treated to many adventures with Peter and Wendy battling pirates rescuing Tiger Lilly and her Indian braves hiding from Tic Toc the crocodile and ultimately defeating the evil Captain Hook. Wendy and her brothers finally go home with their adventures leaving them changed for ever but Peter doesn’t go, promising to visit year to

The songs are a great mix of ballads and uptempo numbers performed solo or  ensemble. For such a young and inexperienced cast this is an excellent feel good production with the cast enthusiasm and enjoyment in abundance.

The Production is directed by Kerrie Davies in her directorial debut with the group. The growth and confidence in the cast can be seen in their performances and is a credit to all who have assisted in creating this wonderful show.

Tony Orbell returns as the shows musical director ensuring the music combined perfectly with the dance routines.

The choreography by Jane Slassor who worked on Joseph, is lively slick and energetic interpreting  the fun and youthfulness of the show. The costumes and sets were lovely, look out for Nanna the dog and of course Tic Toc the crocodile. The set changes were smooth allowing the show to move along at pace, well done to stage manager Georgia Young and her crew who were working hard behind the scenes.

I feel it would be very remiss of me not to mention the extremely talented youngsters if I had to single out any in particular, it would have be Peter Pan (Nate Wallace ), Wendy ( Sophie Pegg ) and Captain Hook ( Finley Waldron ) who all sang with strong and confident voices.

This is a fantastic production from a young and very enthusiastic cast and I urge you all to go and see them perform, you won’t be disappointed and I’ll guarantee you will leave uplifted thanks to the wonderful feel good factor this show delivers.

CLOC Musical Theatre Present Oklahoma

Wednesday 23rd to Saturday 26th October 2019
7.30pm Evenings, Saturday Matinee 2.30pm

Sutton Coldfield Town Hall
Upper Clifton Rd, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands B73 6AB

CLOC are back at Sutton Coldfield Town Hall this Autumn with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ‘Oklahoma

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s first collaboration remains, in many ways, their most innovative, having set the standards and established the rules of musical theatre still being followed today.

Set in a Western Indian territory just after the turn of the twentieth century, the high-spirited rivalry between the local farmers and cowboys provides the colourful background against which Curly, a handsome cowboy, and Laurey, a winsome farm girl, play out their love story.

Although the road to true love never runs smooth, with these two headstrong romantics holding the reins, love’s journey is as bumpy as a surrey ride down a country road.

That they will succeed in making a new life together we have no doubt, and that this new life will begin in a brand-new state provides the ultimate climax to the triumphant OKLAHOMA!

Ticket Information & Booking

Charity Abseil

19th October 2019

On Saturday St Giles hospice held their charity abseil at the Custard Factory in Birmingham.

St Giles Hospice recenly introduced an abseil to our calender, trying to ensure that they have a wider offering of activities for all people within their catchment area. For the participants that took part, they enjoyed  local business discounts such as 10% off at clean kilo, free entry to Digbeth Dining Cub and a half price stac at Stickie Fingers.

It costs over £9million a year for st Giles to support local people and their families living with a potentially terminal illness and events such as these are crucial for them to be able to do this.


Charity Moth Ball

11th October

Anita Ellis, marketing and business development manager at the YMCA Sutton Coldfield who organised the event along with the events team at Moor Hall said “We’re delighted that the event was such a success with so many people willing to donate a portion of their ticket price to the YMCA Sutton Coldfield.

This fun filled event saw over 100 ladies dust off their wedding dreossesand enjoy an evening of dining, dancing and bidding in the silent auction.

Moor Hall Hotel & Spa hosted this spectacular wedding themed event with the hall decorated with lights and music provided by Jays Disco

The evening raised over £2700 for the YMCA Triple A project, supporting disadvantaged children and young people