When Euan Rose sits down to write a show, the result is usually a musical, created in co-operation with someone who joins him to make the melodies.
The biggest and most successful has been Wallop Mrs Cox, which traces a family through a century of life in Birmingham, but another is Ridin’ the No 8, the story of the city’s Inner Circle bus route, and the most recent is Charlotte Badger, about Bromsgrove’s woman pirate, who took charge of the ship that was transporting her to Australia.
Last night, however, saw the relaunch of the first Rose drama, 3-1-6 – Sex, Lies and Retribution, a three-hander that premièred as a workshop at Birmingham’s Custard Factory in 2005 and received its official launch six months later at Basingstoke – and has vastly expanded since then. The figures refer to three people, one tragedy and six days and were initially the sum total of the title, until Euan Rose realised that perhaps a little more explanation was needed.
In the original workshop version, the three participants stayed in their own three spaces and the result was a series of monologues. Now, however, there is much more interaction.
And Rose has now made the characters more likable because he felt that audiences did not really care about any of them.
Moreover, music has somehow found its way into the rehearsals for its stars – Gail Graye, the central figure in Charlotte Badger; Sarah Manners, of television’s Doctors and Casualty; and Steve Downing, long-established member of Oldbury Repertory Players and, like Euan Rose, a member of Birmingham’s Crescent Theatre.
And it’s music with the wow factor: grand opera.
Euan Rose, who is directing the production, said, “We’ve tried doing it as grand opera. It’s a trick I learned from Trevor Nunn. When people are doing something over and over again, you try to get some deeper emotion out it – and I think it works.
“I’m not sure that the actors will tell you the same, but you can see changes. You do need to try to inject a bit of magic.”
He also went seeking a bit of magic with an improvisation session, just once, in All Saints’ graveyard, in Bromsgrove.
The result can be seen until the show ends its three-night run at Bromsgrove’s Artrix tomorrow – with Euan Rose nurturing plans to tour it next year.
* Nobody can accuse Birmingham youth group Stage 2 of not being on the ball. This highly-talented bunch of youngsters are about to come up with William Golding’s Lord of the Flies – and it’s no coincidence that it is a text that is popular on just about every English syllabus.
But apart from this, it is a play with plenty of excellent roles to be shared out in what, if all previous form is maintained, will be a highly-populated production that will find plenty for a large chorus to do.
And there’s also a specific interest for psychology and philosophy students.
A group member told me: “We like to provoke discussion by putting a spin on things – and there are more spins in this show than you can count with both hands, not least the controversies and angles caused by a mixed-gender cast.”
Sounds exciting! All will be revealed at the Birmingham’s Crescent Theatre from Wednesday to Saturday next week.
* A youth group’s members stopped the pedestrian traffic when they rolled up in Worcester’s Angel Place in a borrowed 1961 Cadillac Sedan de Ville.
The large white American car was on loan so that Worcester Operatic and Dramatic Youth Section (WODYS) could promote the musical Back To The 80s, to be staged at the city’s Swan theatre from July 29 - August 2.
The owner – who wishes to remain anonymous – bought the vehicle on e-bay after last July’s floods wrecked two other limousines he had parked in a barn. It was driven over from Belgium and is now used at promotional events and weddings.
As the youngsters handed out flyers promoting the show, shoppers took the opportunity to have their photographs taken with the car. And its owner has since approached several other owners of American cars – and now they are planning to offer both of Worcester’s hospices – St Richard’s and Acorns – free use of their vehicles at any fund-raising events.
He said: ‘’Our cars are sitting around doing nothing for a lot of the time and it would be rewarding to put something back into such worthwhile causes.’
* Professional actors and directors are planning a drama academy in Sutton Coldfield, based on Grease. Class Act Drama Centre has teamed up with Aspire Active Camps to offer a week-long series of workshops based on musical theatre training.
Directors will be looking for enthusiastic youngsters aged from 8-13. The workshops will cover acting, singing and dancing and are designed to be fun. The week will culminate in a mini-show based on Grease. The venue is Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School from July 28-August 1.
More details are available on 0845 508 2734 and at activecamps.co.uk.