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A sad FAME that isn't spreading; Highlights of the world of local amateur theatre are rounded up.

Byline: John Slim

Birmingham's FAME - the annual Festival of Acting and Musical Entertainment - has had a chequered history since it started nearly 50 years ago.

But despairing organisers have discovered that it is hitting a new low with this year's event, due to be held next month at the BarlowTheatre, Langley, the home of Oldbury Rep.

Festival organiser Jane Garvey says: 'Oldbury have been fantastic to us, but we are struggling to get people to go out that far. We have only four groups entering.'

By this time, it is too late for further entries, but the Birmingham & District Theatre Guild still hopes that the event, which opens on March 12, will receive audience support and that groups will show more interest in February next year - when FAME will be at the new Dovehouse Theatre at Solihull.

A spell at the George Cadbury Hall in Selly Oak followed its loss of its traditional home at the Old Rep. Then FAME moved to the old Crescent Theatre and had one year there, followed by two at the new theatre, but there were problems in obtaining suitable dates for this year.

This year's participants consist of Sutton Coldfield College, Belfry Theatre, of Wellington,Tamworth Arts Community Theatre (TACT), and TACT's youth section, Imp Act, which means that Birmingham is not exactly over-represented in its own competitive festival.

Jane Garvey has more information on 0121 777 1151.

I am not quite as daft as patrons of Highbury Little Theatre have reason to suspect - honest!

I was spotted there on Tuesday night last week, for the launch of Pardon Me, Prime Minister. The following morning, I recorded in this corner that Denise Phillips was playing secretary to the Chancellor, played by her husband Rob.

That was me, acting on information received and writing before the event - at which, like the rest of the audience, I realised that Denise's role was in fact that of the Prime Minister's daffy wife.

It's another one for my intermittent notes about getting to grips with the gremlins.

. . .Talking about which, Nuneaton Pantomime and Revue Society was inadvertently putting a new slant on an old title with its letter announcing what purported to be Dick Whittington and This Cat, which opened last night at Bedworth Civic Hall.

Hall Green Little Theatre celebrates its half-centenary with The Importance of Being Earnest from March 30 to April 7.

The theatre's first production, The Circle of Chalk, opened on April 8, 1951 - a year and a week after members had begun their do-it-yourself building job as volunteer bricklayers, plasterers, roofers and all-round enthusiasts, to create their own home.

The week of Oscar Wilde will include a civic evening and a special performance for current and former members of the group.

WHAT'S ON

Tess of the d'Urbevilles, BSSD Theatre Company, Crescent Theatre, Birmingham (to Saturday).

Pardon Me, Prime Minister, Highbury Little Theatre, Sutton Coldfield (to Saturday).

The Deep Blue Sea, Fellowship Players, Grange Playhouse, Walsall (to Saturday).

Dick Whittington and His Cat, Nuneaton Pantomime and Revue Society, Bedworth Civic Hall (to Saturday).

Company, Rugby Theatre (to Saturday).

The Sleeping Beauty, Cincinnati Theatre Company, Cincinnati Machine UK, Erdington (Feb 16-24).

No Man's Land, The Nonentities, Rose Theatre, Kidderminster (Feb 19-24).

Handsworth Gang Show, North-West Birmingham District Scout Association & Perry Barr Guide Division, Old Rep (Feb 19-24).

Samson and Delilah, Royal Sutton Opera, Sutton Coldfield Town Hall (Feb 20 &21; 23 & 24).

Gang Show, Sutton Coldfield Scouts, Bishop Vesey Grammar School (Feb 20-24).

The Weekend, Company of the Curtain, Water Orton Parish Hall (Feb 20-24).

Sweet and Hot: the Songs of Harold Arlen, BSSD Theatre Company, Crescent Theatre, Birmingham (Feb 21-24).
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Feb 14, 2001
Words:606
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