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Death of Midlands Arts Centre founder.

John English, founder of the Midlands Arts Centre and founder president of Highbury Theatre Centre, Sutton Coldfield, has died at Good Hope Hospital, Sutton Coldfield , aged 87.

He had been in failing health for many years, having had a series of strokes - including one when he was directing Highbury Little Theatre's 50th anniversary production, The Servant of two Masters.

John English was general manager of the former Chance Brothers, the Smethwick glassmakers, until he was 40 - at which point, after several years' involvement with amateur theatre, he left to found Arena Theatre, the professional group which toured parks both in Birmingham and as far afield as Newcastle-on-Tyne and led him in the 1960s to establish and become the first director of the Midlands Arts Centre in Birmingham's Cannon Hill Park - the first in Britain to be aimed at young people.

His services to theatre led to his receiving the OBE.

Five Bromsgrove Operatic Society committee members visited Birmingham's Crescent Theatre before reporting to an extraordinary general meeting which the society held to discuss the possibility of moving its annual show to the new pounds 4 million theatre in 2000.

Everything remains on hold because the Crescent is not taking bookings that far ahead at the moment, and because Bromsgrove Council is talking seriously about building a state-of-the-art arts centre which may be enough to tempt the group to stay closer t o home.

n While Wolverhampton's Grand Theatre receives the acclaim and publicity for its Robin Hood pantomime, with which it has reopened after its pounds 8 million Lottery refurbishment, spare a thought for the unpaid and unsung heroes and heroines of Malvern T heatre Players and Coventry's Three Spires Musical Society.

They have all volunteered to place something of a shadow over their personal Christmas by presenting pantomimes which begin on Boxing Day - see below.

WHAT'S ON

Robinson Crusoe, Priory Theatre, Kenilworth (to Jan 2).

Mother Goose, Palace Theatre Company, Palace Theatre, Redditch (to Jan 2).

Daniel and the Dragon and the Auntie from Hell, Highbury Little Theatre, Sutton Coldfield (to Jan 3).

Dick Whittington, Crescent Theatre, Birmingham (to Jan 16).

Dick Whittington, Three Spires Musical Society, Coventry College (Dec 26-Jan 2).

The Wizard of Oz, Malvern Theatre Players, Malvern Festival Theatre (Dec 26-Jan 9).
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Dec 23, 1998
Words:376
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