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Arts & Entertainment

Rehearsals for the Marlborough Community Passion Play start as cast welcome their professional lead actor

The first rehearsal: Frazer Blaxland (standing - Jesus) with Ben Tanning, Edward Maurice, David Maurice, Alison Shelby & Pauline BerrymanThe first rehearsal: Frazer Blaxland (standing - Jesus) with Ben Tanning, Edward Maurice, David Maurice, Alison Shelby & Pauline BerrymanRehearsals are underway for the Marlborough Community Passion Play which will take place in the town on Easter Saturday, April 15 from 4 to 6 pm.  Spectators will not have to pay to watch the performance.

Frazer Blaxland, the professional actor who will play Jesus, and those members of the community who have been allocated speaking parts, met on Sunday for the first read through of the script written by Helen Stokes.

Helen, who is the play's artistic director, believes that “The retelling of the most famous story in Western culture will bring the community together and it will be a fruitful experience for all those involved.”

Volunteers are still required to assist in a variety of ways. Teams of stewards are needed on the day. 

They will receive basic Health and Safety training, be dressed as Roman soldiers and will be required to attend the rehearsals in the week prior to the performance.

If you would like to be involved, contact the Production manager David Wylie at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or call/text  on 07434802554.

Planning the moves...Planning the moves...  The team behind the production:  Back row - l to r: David Wylie, Liz Woods, Martin Milner, Charles Joseph, James Seddon, Louise Seddon Front row: Hugh de Sarum, Andy Tatum, Nina Woolrych, Noel Woolrych, Helen Stokes, Vincent StokesThe team behind the production: Back row - l to r: David Wylie, Liz Woods, Martin Milner, Charles Joseph, James Seddon, Louise Seddon Front row: Hugh de Sarum, Andy Tatum, Nina Woolrych, Noel Woolrych, Helen Stokes, Vincent Stokes

The costume department are looking for donations of fabrics in neutral shades, fake fur and leather, old tie-backs, tea towels, sheets and anything else that would be appropriate for middle eastern costume of that period.

If you can help please contact Carole Walker at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 07539081449 to arrange a suitable pick up or drop off point. Alternatively suitable materials can be delivered to the Jubilee Centre in the High Street - by the clock - Monday-Friday, between 8am and 2pm.

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80s classic Fame comes to the stage at St John’s

Rosie Amos, who plays Carmen, in a dance scene from FameRosie Amos, who plays Carmen, in a dance scene from FamePull up your leg warmers and pop a tape in your Walkman – 1980s classic Fame is coming to the stage at St John’s in Marlborough.

The musical is set at New York City’s High School of Performing Arts, where sweat and hard work are the key factors to a successful life as a performer.

The plot follows a group of students across the acting, dancing and music faculties from 1980-1984 as they learn to master their craft and grow up alongside each other, rising to the various challenges that face them.

Performers include several Sixth Form students who gave stand-out performances in last year’s musical, We Will Rock You, as well as new talent taking lead roles for the first time.

Director of performance Max More said: “St John’s students from Years 8 to 13 have once again shown their considerable talents.

“The principal actors have been directed by our new experienced and dynamic head of drama, Kelly Matyla.

“Two Year 11 students, Jess Lamb and Rachel Naughton, have played a major role in devising and teaching the choreography, supported by drama teacher Tanya Bourton.

“I have continued to enjoy working with my wonderful chorus and band to provide the musical backdrop for the action on stage.”

The show runs over four nights: Tuesday January 31, and Thursday to Saturday February 2 to 4 from 7pm at Theatre on the Hill.

Tickets – priced £7.50, £5.50 for concessions, and £23.50 for families – are available from


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Avebury Rocks to return as a two-day festival

Nick Harper on stage at Avebury Rocks in 2012Nick Harper on stage at Avebury Rocks in 2012Avebury Rocks is returning as a two-day music festival with associated sponsored walk at a new venue.

The festival will move from Avebury Cricket Ground to East Farm, Avebury, from Friday July 7 to Sunday, July 9.

It continues to be a fundraiser for Prospect Hospice, the charity it was set up to support in 2011.

The musical entertainment will kick off on Friday evening. Then, after the traditional morning walk across the neolithic landscape, the bands return throughout Saturday.

Local and national acts from the worlds of rock and folk will provide the entertainment.

Already confirmed are Bath-based hip-hop and soul act Benji and Hibbz, singer-songwriter Ed Mann, local troubador George Wilding, dub, reggae and ska-influenced Kioko, Marlborough Rock Choir, Swindon Samba, ukulele band Ukey D’ukes, rock band Ulysses, and festival founder Nick Harper, the renowned singer-songwriter, with more acts to be confirmed.

Ticket prices – which include overnight camping – are yet to be confirmed.

For details, log on to the festival’s new website –


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PVADS Cinderella begins this week

It's behind you! – Steve Clements, Chris Pearse, Hallum Britten, Pete Bromwich, Diane Bromwich, Milo DavisonIt's behind you! – Steve Clements, Chris Pearse, Hallum Britten, Pete Bromwich, Diane Bromwich, Milo Davison

It's that panto time of year. Oh yes it is! 

The Marlborough and Pewsey area are lucky enough to have a panto staged every year by Pewsey Vale Amateur Dramatics Society (PVADS), who've been creating high quality musical shows and plays in Pewsey's Boverie Hall for over 80 years.

This year it's Cinderella. It's a story familiar to everyone, but here's the PVADS take on it:

Will you marry me? Poor Cinders. Her home is about to be repossessed and her two terrible stepsisters have ripped up her invite to Prince Charming's Ball.

Will help come from Buttons the Pageboy or will he rescue Bob the Bunny instead? Is that a funny old lady or the Fairy Godmother? And can anyone save us from Ugly Sisters Griselda and Gertrude's noxious gases?

Steve Clements, director and ugly sister Griselda, says it's an essential part of the annual event calendar. "A panto like Cinderella is a fun English tradition. All ages can enjoy it and it has local humour. We have songs people know and can join in with - and a few jokes like that too!"

Steve, from the Pewsey Vale area whose day job is with BBC Wiltshire, has been a PVADS member for 12 years. This is his fifth panto in the director's chair. “PVADS is like a big family, and we aim for a high standard," he said.

Cinderella runs this weekend 13 to 14 and next weekend 20 to 21 January, 7.30pm with 2.30pm Saturday matinees at Pewsey's Bouverie Hall. Tickets are available from or 01672 810 436, priced £9 (£6 children/concessions).

Anna Gent, Lucy Brown, Georgia Elson as Cinderella, Prince Charming and the Fairy GodmotherAnna Gent, Lucy Brown, Georgia Elson as Cinderella, Prince Charming and the Fairy Godmother

The chorusThe chorus

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It's going to be fun: St Peter's Church welcomes a young pianist and her menagerie of classical pieces

An-Ting ChangAn-Ting ChangThe Taiwanese pianist An-Ting Chang will open the fifth series of Brilliant Young International Pianists and Musicians at St Peter's Church on Sunday, October 23. And she is bringing with her a wonderful musical menagerie of pieces - some of them evergreen favourites and some that could well become favourites.

An-Ting, who is married and lives in Bristol, has a somewhat different background to most concert performers.  She studied chemistry at Taiwan's foremost university before deciding on a career in music.

She told Marlborough.News: "I've always played the piano quite seriously. Only when I had to stay in the lab all day long to do chemical experiments, did I realise that I much prefer to work on the piano for my career - instead of doing science."

She is now an accomplished concert pianist.  Why did she decide on an animal theme for her Marlborough recital?  "I feel the way musicians programme their concerts is very important to enhance the audience’s appreciation of the music. So I always do it very carefully."

"The idea for the ‘animal’ programme came after I transcribed and played Saint- Saëns’ The Carnival of Animals for piano duet, flute, cello and percussion. I was fascinated by the musical description of the animals and thought it would be very interesting if I can show the audiences many different compositions inspired by the animals in the different styles. And it is fun!"

So St Peter's Church will be home to all manner of beasts, insects and fowls.  There will be butterflies (Schumann), a nightingale (with a maiden) (Granados), a flying bumblebee (Rimsky-Korsakov), a trout (Schubert), a gold fish (Debussy), a cat and mouse (Copland), a cuckoo (Daquin), Saint-Saëns’ full carnival and Chopin's little dog waltzing away.

This last piece is sometimes called the Minute Waltz - that's 'minute' as in 'tiny' - when you were learning the piano, we asked An-Ting, was it known as the 'Little dog waltz'?  "Yes, it is known in Taiwan as ‘little dog’. I've known it since I was about ten. I had a little Pomeranian and the way it chased its tail was exactly like the character of the music!"

Not content with her chemistry and piano studies, An-Ting also studied for a degree in drama.  This has led her to found Concert Theatre - which gives live performances joining music and actors: "I am very glad that I can now combine my interest in drama with my passion for music."

Concert Theatre began life as a project for her degree at the Royal Academy of Music in London: "I created a performance by combining a play by Sarah Kane - 4.48 Psychosis - with music for piano by Webern and Gibbons, focusing in particular on themes of sanity and insanity. As a pianist, I performed side-by-side with actors on the same stage."

"Since the music and the play were not directly choreographed or composed for each other, each provided a distinct and independent language of its own and I felt that the collisions between these two languages could inspire the audiences to experience fresh views on both works."
She is carrying on the development of this idea for her PhD at the Royal Academy  and has formed a non-profit company to test it more widely: "I am currently working on a new production, The Tenant, based on Anne Brontë’s Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Scriabin’s 24 Preludes, Mozart’s sonata for piano and violin K. 378, and Brahms’ Rhapsody Op. 79."

In The Tenant, the 19th-century story is presented through two actors on stage and 20th-century piano and pianist - live on-stage along side them.  The Tenant will be launched in April 2017 at National Portrait Gallery, the Holburne Museum in Bath and other venues, as an immersive performance within the gallery context."

This fusion of music and drama has found favour with many audiences with accolades such as ‘poignant and beautiful’ (Gramophone.)  The playright Caryl Churchill: "I found it quite moving to experience these two quite different performances, each coming through in its own right while illuminating the other in unexpected ways."  And Michael White writing in the Daily Telegraph described one Concert Theatre performance as "strikingly innovative."

An-Ting's recital on October 24 may not have the drama of a Concert Theatre performance, but the linking of such a diverse range of composers with the one theme will provide an intriguing and rewarding evening's music.

These recitals are given on behalf of the Marlborough Brandt Group and the St Peter's Trust and are supported by Robert Hiscox and Hiscox Insurance.

Details of this recital and tickets can be found at Marlborough.News' What's On calendar.  But note a change to the programme: An-Ting will not be playing the Mozart - on reflection she decided the Mozart variations did not fit closely enough to her ‘animal’ theme.

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Your indispensable guide to fireworks displays

Image courtesy of satit_srihin at FreeDigitalPhotos.netImage courtesy of satit_srihin at FreeDigitalPhotos.netRemember, remember the fifth of November... or the 3rd, or 4th. Whenever you decide to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night, do it affordably and safely at a professionally organised event. Here are some of the events in our area.

Thursday, November 3

Rushall Primary School. Gates 5.30pm, display 6pm. Adults £4, Children £3, Family £12

Friday, November 4

Marlborough Town Football Club, Elcot Lane. Gates 7pm, fireworks 8pm. Adults £4, Children £2, Family £10, Concessions £2.

St Katharine’s Primary School, Savernake. Gates 6pm, display 7pm. £15 per car IN ADVANCE from the school office.

Saturday, November 5

2nd Marlborough Scouts , George Lane. 6pm to 8pm. Entry by donation.

Aldbourne Scouts and Guides New Big Hut Appeal, Court House, Aldbourne. 7.30pm.

Burbage Fireworks by Savernake Forest Scout Group, Scout Hut, East Sands, Burbage. Gates 6pm, display 7pm. Adults £5, Children £2.50.

Easton Royal Fireworks by Devizes Young Farmers. Gates 6.30pm, display 7.30pm. Donation on entry for Wiltshire Air Ambulance

Pewsey fireworks at The Moonrakers, 6.30pm to 10.30pm.

Shalbourne Fireworks Display, the Playing Fields, Shalbourne. 5.30pm to 9pm. £10 per car.

Sunday, November 6

The Crown Fireworks Display, Broad Hinton. Bonfire 5pm, fireworks 6pm. Adults £6, Under 12s £3

Got an event to add? Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Molly's Marvellous

Molly, Molly the Dolly, the scientist, two moustaches and a tiny fanMolly, Molly the Dolly, the scientist, two moustaches and a tiny fan

'Hello I'm Molly! I'm a grown-up!'

The audience was small but that didn't dampen Molly or her impressive facial hair.

Molly wanted to be a grown-up and the - obvious! - solution was to sport a Mum-made moustache. So off she went on adventures, the colourful kitchen set becoming a jungle, the sky ('how did she do that?!' one child exclaimed as a cloudy backdrop unfurled from a cupboard top), outer space, an art galley and an inventor's workshop. On reflection, it was particularly brilliant for my three-year-old daughter, Sydney, to see a girl having fun as an explorer, an astronaut, a pilot, an artist and a science professor.

This was the first outing for Sydney at the theatre with me. She was all wide eyes and cuddles at the beginning but soon warmed to the experience. Eventually she found her voice to bid for one of Molly-the-artist's drawings, where kids said a number and Molly picked her favourite - if only all art auctions were like that. 

We all became professors (the grown-ups being the 'free ride' for the small ones; there were lots of adult-friendly jokes) and assisted Molly and her scientist in making a big machine of bendy tubes, plastic u-bends, a bowl and three flashing balls which were magically turned into a yellow 'molecule'.

Molly decided she wanted to stay a grown-up, but a builder who insisted she needed insulation and a conservatory instead of a paddling pool and bouncy castle, a waiter who fed her mushroom vol-aux-vents, and a tedious job which ran on coffee, brought out a sneezing reaction to her moustache and so back to mum for milkshakes and pocket money and childhood. 

I wasn't sure about the ending - all those fun jobs are make-believe? Being a grown up is actually really boring? It felt like all those wonderful possibilities were closed down. The little members of the audience got restless too.

This aside, Ceri Ashcroft made a wonderfully exuberant Molly, on stage for the whole hour, and Kathryn Hanke convincingly characterised each of Molly's moustachioed new friends, each one fun, connecting with both adults and children, even my own little rabbit.

Molly's Marvellous Moustache was a celebration of childhood imagination and innocence. As Sydney left the auditorium, unprompted she exclaimed, 'that was great!'

Molly's Marvellous Moustache was adapted from the book by Andrea Heaton and Talya Baldwin, and performed by Fidget Theatre at New Greenham Arts, Newbury, 15 October 2016.

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