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John Highfield

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  1. FOR well over a century it has been Sheffield’s home to community theatre, gang shows, dancing school extravaganzas and concerts. And now city centre theatre and arts centre The Montgomery is wanting people to share their memories of the great productions they have seen or been a part of. There will be a rare chance for audience members to go behind the curtain and explore a fascinating backstage story of The Montgomery as the Surrey Street venue takes part in national Heritage Open Day on September 14 from 10am. It will be an opportunity for people to delve into The Montgomery’s theatrical past and celebrate the acts and shows that have appeared on the much-loved city stage. But organisers are hoping that people with memories to share will come forward with their old photos and memorabilia for a special exhibition that will form the centrepiece of the Open Day event. “The loose theme of this year’s Heritage Open Day is People Power and we want it to be a real celebration of the people of Sheffield and the many generations who have enjoyed the shows on our stage,” said The Montgomery Marketing and Programming Manager Rachel Jack. “We have been here for over 130 years and in that time a whole history of popular culture has been on our stage. “We’re not just talking about the popular musicals that range from Gilbert and Sullivan to Broadway hits but also all the many decades of Gang Shows, dance school productions and many other forms of entertainment. “Big local theatre companies like Manor Operatic Society have appeared on The Montgomery stage in the past so we’d love to hear from them and share their photos. “But most of all we want this to be a celebration of the many different forms of entertainment and the many people who have appeared on our celebrated stage.” The popular Surrey Street theatre and arts centre has been part of the fabric of city life since it first opened its doors more than 130 years ago, surviving both the Blitz and a devastating 1971 fire to become the home of many of Sheffield’s leading community theatre companies. “Bring us your pictures, your programmes and even your old stage props and ticket stubs because we want this day to be a real celebration of The Montgomery’s place in Sheffield’s heart,” said Rachel. “And from this exhibition we are hoping to build up our archive and provide a permanent record for future generations as they too enjoy The Montgomery and celebrate both its past and its future.” Anybody who has items to place in the exhibition should contact Rachel as soon as possible on 0114 272 0455.
  2. IT’S one of the classic novels of English country life, a rural idyll that has enchanted generations of readers. But in the 21st century the innocent world of the Wind in the Willows is more under threat from man than ever before. That is why Kenneth Grahame’s celebrated characters have been called in for service for a major new environmental campaign - Wilder Future - by national charity The Wildlife Trusts. And Handsworth and Hallam Theatre Company are supporting that campaign and the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust as they prepare for their next show - The Wind in the Willows! “The more we have worked on this show, the more committed we have become to supporting the work of the Wildlife Trusts in their efforts to preserve our environment for future generations,” said Handsworth and Hallam representative Laura Langley. “To think that families of the future might not have the chance to enjoy our countryside and rivers - the habitat of Mr Toad, Ratty, Mole and Badger - is unimaginable. “As soon as we heard about the Wildlife Trusts’ new Wilder Future campaign and the animated film based around the characters from The Wind in the Willows we knew that we wanted to give it our full support and encourage people to see it and understand the shocking damage that is being done to the world around us.” Ian Cracknell, Advocacy Officer at Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust said: "We're delighted to sponsor Handsworth and Hallam Theatre Company's production of The Wind In The Willows, which happily coincides with The Wildlife Trusts' own animated short film based on the story to publicise our Wilder Future campaign. “Our Hollywood-style trailer updates Wind In The Willows to show the problems the story's much-loved characters would now face from issues like habitat loss, development and pollution. "As those familiar with The Wind In The Willows will know, the character 'Ratty' isn't actually a rat but is in fact a water vole - a once common species in the UK which sadly have declined by 90 per cent in the last 30 years. "Our campaign highlights the opportunity of a new Environment Bill which could create new laws to turn around the fortunes for Ratty and his friends. “We need people to help us achieve this by contacting their MP to support our call for environmental protection in the draft Bill to be made much stronger. "We'll have postcards at the performances for people to write a message to their MPs and people can also watch our film, sign up to the Wilder Future campaign and contact their MP via our website at wildsheffield.com" The new stage version of The Wind in the Willows has been adapted for the stage by Oscar-winning Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, with songs by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, who worked on the hit West End and Broadway stage version of Mary Poppins. The Handsworth and Hallam production of The Wind in the Willows is the South Yorkshire premiere of the acclaimed show. Tickets for the production, which is directed and choreographed by Claire Harriott and runs at Sheffield’s Montgomery Theatre from June 19 to 22 are available by calling 07586293546 or email: hhtctickets@live.co.uk To see The Wildlife Trusts’ new film simply visit https://youtu.be/JZYcoeqzxVI
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