Friday, 28 October 2011

Zombie Ball - Jamie Chapman talks about his Halloween event

Jamie Chapman, organiser of Birmingham's "Zombie Events" and this weekend's "Zombie Ball" recently answered a few questions about the "Zombie Events".

Regarding the organisiton of such as huge event he says, "I had previously organised a few flashmob events in Birmingham, so already had a selection of people to invite through Facebook. I never would have thought there would be over 1,500 zombies walking the streets of Birmingham by 2011. It's just got bigger and bigger each year, which is fantastic for both the people involved and the charities we support."

Jamie, being only 21 already has a list of events under his belt, and being only 21 there must be a lot of challenges. He goes on to comment, "Being only 21 it has been such a great achievement to have organised these Zombie events in aid of local charities. Despite the stress that comes with it I wouldn't ever change it as I have met some great people through organising these events that I will stay friends with for the rest of my life. It's easy to pick up a newspaper or turn on the television and have the hope drained from you by the all the bad news that is reported, but the fact is there are many more good people than there are bad in this world. I consider myself lucky to be fortunate enough to work with so many good people as a result of organising these events."

This weekend's "Zombie Ball" and the Birminhgam Ballroom is all in support of St Basils, a charity dedicated to helping homeless youths across the city, is set to be one of the biggest events of this season. Both the charity and the city will see many benefits. Jamie comments, "It will raise not only much needed funds but will also raise awareness of the great work the charity does for young homeless people locally. They do such a fantastic job and it's great to be able to give something back to them so that they can continue the brilliant work they do for those that need the help across our region."

Let's not forget the impact it will have the city culture, he says, "It will benefit Birmingham by bringing people together. It's not that easy to meet new people, but these events give people a chance to make new friends and relationships in their lives. Birmingham is a fantastic city with so many positive things going on. You just have to get out there to see it all for yourself."

Useful Links:
St Basils Website
The Zombie Ball Website
Facebook Event

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Burn the Floor - Tour Review

Flashback ten years and I was one of those kids, you know the Latin and ballroom competitive kids that you see covered in fake tan and sequins? I’ve not waltzed since I was at least ten years old. Now in 2011 the international tour of Burn of the Floor visits Birmingham this week and I find myself in awe of this production.

The show is basically a programme of “reinvented” Latin and ballroom dances and at first I thought it would be another “I can’t wait for the interval” show, but it was anything but! The energy and passion the company oozes is captivating and you find it hard to know where to look with such amazing performers on stage. The short snippets of dance means there’s always something new and fresh happening: no time for boredom! The dances range from slow elegant waltzes to foot tapping jives. The dancing is only enhanced by the clever lighting plot and luscious amounts of dry ice.

The company, made up of dancers from all over the world, has such a great chemistry together and perform as an ensemble with each person being given a chance to show off. The simple set means that the production focus’s fully on the actual dancing and is driven by the talent of the company. These people are the best in the world, having been competing and working in the dance industry since they were kids. And let me tell you, their bodies show their years of dancing... Wearing tight fitting costumes covering half their bodies, this show is HOT. Two vocalists and live percussion support the dancers and help the show to flow smoothly, linking everything together.

I think the success of this show is down to Jason Gilkison, the choreographer for this international hit. His reinvention of traditional dances is perfect for today’s modern audience. The routines are set to songs we all recognise including, “Everybody Hurts”, “Proud Mary” and “It Don’t Mean A Thing”. My personal highlight in the show was the number “After All”, a stunning routine comprising of the waltz, tango, Paso Doble and the rumba.

A special mention should go to Emma Slater: a Birmingham girl currently in the cast who already has a biography comprising of Broadway, West End and movie credits.

I came out with the biggest smile wanting to put my sequins back on and take to the floor. Go and see!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Birmingham prepares for first charity Zombie Ball at new city club venue...

A few days ago I was sent a press release for Birmingham's first Zombie Ball, and let me tell you, it's set to be a big event in the Birmingham calander. Read on for more details...

A Zombie Ball, in aid of one of Birmingham’s major charities helping young people, is to take place at the city’s newly revamped Birmingham Ballroom venue this month.

Sarmad Qusai as a ‘Zombie’ outside the Birmingham Ballroom venue

Being launched by the organisers of the annual Birmingham Zombie Walk, the ‘Dance of the Dead’ ball aims to raise money for St. Basils, which works with homeless youngsters in the city.

The event is the Birmingham Ballroom’s premiere Halloween event since it’s reopening in September and is hoped to be as successful as recent Zombie Walks, which have so far raised over £3,000 for charity.

Event organiser Jamie Chapman, 21, feels the Zombie Ball is a unique way of engaging young people with important causes whilst ensuring they enjoy themselves.

“After the success of the third annual Zombie Walk this year, we decided to do a zombie themed club night at the most memorable venue in the city in aid of raising money for St Basils,” he explained.

“I really enjoy voluntarily organising charity events despite it being hard work and quite stressful at times. It’s all worth it to bring everyone together whilst supporting great local causes.”

Previous events have regularly supported Birmingham Children’s Hospital so Jamie felt his fundraising formula could be expanded to assist other organisations.

“We chose St Basils as they don’t get as much support as larger charities and with the winter nights drawing closer, we felt that the homeless were most vulnerable at this time of year. So we hope our money will have a positive impact on the lives of the less fortunate.”

Based in Digbeth and founded in 1972 with just one night shelter, St Basils has grown to have 26 accommodation projects and 367 bed spaces across the West Midlands.

A St Basils spokesperson added: “We are very grateful to the Birmingham Zombies for organising this Ball to support St Basils and young homeless people in Birmingham. The Zombie Ball is a great idea and sounds like a lot of fun. We really hope as many people as possible join in!”

Primarily sponsoring the Zombie Ball is the Oasis Alternative Fashion Store, situated in The Square in Dale End. A short promotional video showcasing the forthcoming Zombie Ball was also filmed on the streets of Birmingham city centre last week with the assistance of the Birmingham Hippodrome.

Tickets for the event are priced only £3 advance and available from and from Ticketsellers at, or by calling 0844 870 0000.
• Jamie Chapman is the founder of the Birmingham Zombie Walk and the Birmingham Zombie Ball. He is 21 and from Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham. He began hosting charity ‘Zombie’ events in 2009, aged 19.
• The Birmingham Ballroom has a capacity of approximately 3,000 people in the venue’s main building. It is located at: 52-54 Dale End, Birmingham, B4 7LS.
• St Basils works across Birmingham, Solihull and North Worcestershire to prevent youth homelessness by providing a range of support services and supported accommodation. They work with young people aged 16 – 25 including some young mums and dads, so at anytime housed within our projects there may be babies, toddlers and young children as well.


Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Tracie Bennett's End of the Rainbow on Tour

Judy Garland once graced the stage of the Birmingham Hippodrome and now over 40 years after her death Tracie Bennett brings "End of the Rainbow" to the theatre giving audiences a dramatic insight into the final events of her life.

Judy starts off as a camp diva, refusing to go on stage and ends up flailing around her London hotel as she is forced into drink and drugs by the life she's led. The emotional ending really hits home. And a few references to The Wizard of Oz are sure to keep the audience chuckling.

Bennett gives a truly magnificent performance as Judy. One moment I found myself chuckling away at her over the top camp performance and the next I was taken aback as she wobbles around stage drunk and dosed up on drugs. It's not surprising that London audiences loved her, and it's not at all a surprise that Bennett will be reprising her role on Broadway. From Judy's voice to her dramatic personality, Tracie Bennett embodies the character.

The show features many of Garland's much loved songs including "The Man That Got Away", "The Trolley Song" and "Over the Rainbow"... Not only are these songs orchestrated beautifully by a small band, but the likeness in the leading lady to Garland's voice is uncanny. Bennet really does capture that deep husky tone that Judy was famous for.

Hilton McRae, Norman Bowman and Robert Maskell give excellent performances to as Anthony (Judy's pianist) Mickey (her fiancĂ©e)  and various other roles. The relationship between the men in her life and Garland was portrayed beautifully by these fine actors.

I couldn't help but feel emotional as we see the events leading up to the star's tragic overdose after which Bennet performs "Over the Rainbow" to a standing ovation. The shows leading lady definitely gave it her all and fully embodied the Hollywood star.

Finally, a piece of pure class entertainment is getting the recognition it should! This show deserves every success it gets and it's easy to tell that Broadway will lap this production up. 

See this show on the rest of the UK tour... It's one not to miss.

For tickets and information visit