Members of Birmingham's Crescent Theatre have been saddened by the death of Colin Lamb, popular with patrons and colleagues alike, after a prolonged fight with cancer. A memorial service, following private cremation, will be held at 11 am today at St Peter's Church, Balsall Common.
Colin's last role was as a staff member of the canalside venue, working part-time in the box office, from where ill-health forced his retirement in the summer of 2006. Previous duties had found him as members' manager for the resident amateur company, as well as working voluntarily behind the scenes as a production assistant and in the prompt corner.
He became noted for his meticulous record-keeping of incoming invoices and payments to the Crescent's suppliers. The tiny admin office eventually had a whole shelf crammed with his folders and binders. Occasionally, his wife, Eileen, helped in the monthly task of manually preparing invoice payments.
When Jane Frisby, the theatre's former administrator, married her husband Simon, volunteer stalwart among the Crescent's bar staff, in 2006, I was privileged to be invited, with Colin, to do the readings. Jane, like many others, has lost a good friend. She recalls how his brisk efficiency failed to hide his mischievous sense of humour - disconcertingly displayed to people who arrived at the theatre when the foyer doors were locked.
He opened them by pressing a concealed button and delighted in the bemusement with which visitors responded to his resounding cry of "You're through!"
Jane says: "Colin would always be the first one to make you a cup of tea in the office. He would transform a cloudy day into a sparkling one with his positive attitude and his helpful assistance, whatever the task. It's difficult to do justice to somebody who was unique."
* Tony Rogers has moved smoothly from being the loose-limbed man of straw in The Scatterbrained Scarecrow of Oz at High-bury Little Theatre over the New Year period to directing the Sutton Coldfield venue's hard-hitting studio production of Popcorn, Ben Elton's satirical comedy-thriller set in Beverly Hills.
The show, which opens on Monday and runs for the rest of next week, marks his directorial debut after a string of successful comedy roles.
The theatre warns that the play has strong adult content and is not suitable for under-16s.
* Birmingham and District Theatre Guild's Festival of Acting and Musical Entertainment (BFAME) now in full swing at The Dovehouse Theatre, Kineton Green Road, Olton, Solihull, includes a sponsored drama workshop for young people aged 11-19.
It will take place on Friday evening and Saturday and it costs £5 to claim a place. No previous experience is necessary. Full details are available from Vivienne Wilkes on 0121 777 5974 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
* I must register my delight at the warning shot that Hall Green Little Theatre put across my bows in the form of its press release for this week's studio production of The Comedy of Errors.
It starts as it means to go on: "Once upon a time there was this shipwreck, see, and not one but two sets of twins got separated, but years later they get washed up in nearly the same place, but not knowing anything about each other being there.
"And when there's a gold chain and a bag of money involved, you can bet your life there's going to be a lot of mistaken identity and misunderstandings. Plus a duke and a courtesan, two pretty sisters, a goldsmith and an abbess who's really someone else, etc. etc.
"Does it get sorted? Is there a happy ending? Well, it's billed as a comedy, so a good time should be had by all."
Moreover, it's distinctly different, with only three men in the cast and most of the roles played by women - some, we are warned, pretending to be men.
Director Jean Wilde is paired with Ros Davies as one set of twins. The other twins are played by two sisters, Christine Bland and Louise Price - and no, the sisters are not twins, but they look remarkably and reassuringly alike underneath their black woolly hats.
* The fair sex also features prominently in Ladies' Day, the exuberant Amanda Whit-tington comedy which Walsall's Grange Players will present at the Grange Playhouse from next Thursday until March 15. It is the story of a fish-filleting foursome from Hull docks on a day trip to the races - at Royal Ascot, in the year it had moved to York.
I am sure that the Birmingham School of Acting has no idea how lucky - if that's the word I want - it was to see me on Wednesday, when I turned up for its excellent production of Antigone at the Crescent Theatre.
I had actually entered it in my diary under Thursday, which inevitably lengthened the odds against my getting there on opening night.
Fortunately, however, some 10 days after I made the entry, I did not act on what my diary was telling me. Although it was Wednesday, I did not stay at home and I never even fleetingly thought about doing so.
This was because I spent all Wednesday thinking it was Thursday and I trotted off to the theatre, fully intent on launching a mild enquiry into why the play was running for only three nights instead of the usual four that the BSA normally accords its shows.
Somehow, reality dawned before I had the chance to cause total confusion at the box office.
* Birmingham Festival of Acting & Musical Entertainment (BFAME), Dovehouse Theatre, Solihull (to Saturday).
The Hired Man, Talisman Theatre, Kenilworth (to Saturday).
The Comedy of Errors, Hall Green Little Theatre (to Saturday).
Patience, Birmingham Savoyards, Arden Hall, Water Orton (to Saturday). Pippin, Birmingham School of Acting, Crescent Theatre, Birmingham (to Saturday)..
Shoreditch Madonna, Birmingham School of Acting, Crescent Theatre, Birmingham (to Saturday).
Dead Certain, Norbury Theatre, Droitwich (to Saturday).
The Decorator, Coleshill Drama Group, Coleshill Town Hall (to Saturday).
Class of 77, SOSage Factory, Solihull Library Theatre (Feb 28-Mar 1). Shakespeare Schools Festival, Crescent Theatre, Birmingham (Mar 3 & 4).
Popcorn, Highbury Little Theatre, Sutton Coldfield (Mar 3-8).
Sweet Charity, Wolverhampton Musical Comedy Company, Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton (Mar 4-8).
Of Mice and Men, Dudley Little Theatre, Netherton Arts Centre (Mar 5-8).
L'Incoronazione di Poppea, Birminmgham Conservatoire, Crescent Theatre, Birmingham (Mar 6-8). Ladies' Day, Grange Players, Grange Playhourse, Walsall (Mar 6-15). Strictly Murder, Oldbury Repertory Players, Barlow Theatre, Langley (Mar 8-15).