John Slim sniffs out an interesting story...
Eliza Harris usually stays clear of anyone suffering from flu symptoms but this year Tudor Musical Comedy Society director Jane Aston is positively encouraging her to follow the script and develop a cold.
Eliza is making her debut with the society as Adelaide in Guys and Dolls, opening on March 7 at Sutton Coldfield Town Hall - and the role calls for her to have a bad cold.
Jane says: "Adelaide is suffering from love sickness manifesting itself in cold and flu symptoms."
Eliza, a local primary teacher, says: "Normally I would try to avoid anyone with the sniffles but with this production it's the total opposite.
"If any of the children start to sneeze I move them closer to the front, in the hope of absorbing their germs - although I have drawn the line a sitting in doctors' waiting rooms."
I am told it was Richard Tye, who is playing the part of Nathan Detroit, who suggested this drastic approach to reality with which I am being regaled.
His only comment was: "At last I get a pretty girl to kiss and she has to have a cold!"
You get a story, you stick to it.
LOOK in on Peter Smith every ten or 20 years or so, and you are liable to find him involved with Alan Ayckbourn's Confusions.
In 1976, he played several parts in the production at the Grange Playhouse in Walsall. Then in 1996 he directed another version at Aldridge Youth Theatre.
And next week, here he comes again, directing Confusions at the Crescent Theatre, Birmingham.
His studio production is being staged in the round, as was the original production in Scarborough in 1974.
He is keeping the setting in the 1970s. He says: "It was a time before mobile phones, the internet and a thousand other things we've come to depend on.
"Yet life in Ayckbourn terms has changed very little. The middle classes at war and peace still works well, more than 30 years after it was written."
The Crescent production will run from Tuesday to Saturday next week.
THE Babes in the Wood , with which the Lapworth Players occupied the Village Hall for four nights last week, was a homely and unpretentious affair with some lovely moments that were all its own - as when the snake that was hiding in a tree on the first night and appearing from a hole in the trunk to pinch food found that the iced cake was too big to fit through.
Somehow, the gloved-arm snake managed to break it in two.
Some lively lines, too: "Sire, I have heard there are three people outside asking for an audience."
"Tell them they can have this lot." And, "I meant no harm. I did it for England." "That's what Tony Blair said."
STILL with panto. I hear of a production of Dick Whittington in which the patrons were fascinated at hearing Captain Fishlock shouting, "Come on, dickhead - this way!"
The general idea had been that the instruction should be more on the lines of, "Come on, Dick. Head this way."
WHEN did Richard Burton appear on stage as a rabbit, a snail and the second undertaker?
Answer: he started 11 days ago and he will finish on Saturday. You're right: it isn't that Richard Burton.
The Richard now on view is 33, and he joined Birmingham's Crescent Theatre 14 months ago, in time to appear as the abominable Eustace in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
Since then, he has been seen as Smike in Nicholas Nickleby and in two roles in Antony and Cleopatra - and until Saturday he will continue to be involved as seven characters in Pinocchio.
MY colleague Chris Morley has just had his annual fix of the Young Ones' pantomime at Netherton Arts Centre, which this year is Aladdin.
He writes: "There are so many things I love about these shows: the sheer unassuming expertise and generosity of the many members of the production team; the delight and involvement of an audience immersing itself in real theatre; the talents of the adult principals (including this year a rapping Genie of the Lamp from Alan Harris - it is worth travelling many a mile to see) and, above all, the enthusiasm, dedication, discipline and teamwork of the chorus of youngsters who make up the backbone of the enterprise.
"The value of this in terms of education, responsibility towards others, and self-esteem is immeasurable."