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Folk from the forties

In Birmingham at the end of the month, the Midlands Arts Centre's annual youth show provides more than 80 young people with the chance to take part in two productions with a forties flavour.

Kurt Weill's Down in the Valley, is a folk musical which centres on a violent episode in a rural community near Birmingham, Alabama, where a boy, Brack Weaver, is sentenced to death for the murder of his rival.

With nothing to lose he breaks out of jail to return to the girl he loves.

The second half of the bill is Simple Gifts, a dance piece inspired by Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring, choreographed for MAC by Jennifer Jackson of Birmingham Royal Ballet. Themes from the original ballet by Martha Graham - the vastness of the landscape and the spirit of the pioneers - have been picked up by Jackson in her own choreography. Musical director Paul Herbert says "The two pieces complement one another very well as both are strongly influenced by American folk music"

Mayfair Suite, Birmingham Bull Ring, April 27-29. Tickets: 0121 440 3838.

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