THE Black Country amateur dramatic circuit has been left shocked and stunned by the sudden death of one of its brightest stars.

Popular leading man Mitchell Bastable died on Tuesday morning after suffering bleeding on the brain.

The much-loved 45-year-old stage star had played a host of top roles with the Tab Operatic Society and Trinity Musical Theatre Company in recent years.

But perhaps his greatest and most nerve-wracking performance came backstage when he proposed to his sweetheart and co-star Beth Berwick-Lowe after they appeared together in West Side Story at Stourbridge Town Hall in March this year.

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Mitchell, a father-of-two, popped the question in a perfectly-planned proposal on set after the curtain fell following the last night of the show in which he had appeared as Bernardo, leader of the Sharks - pictured above, and Beth had starred in her dream role as leading lady Maria.

The pair, from Kidderminster, had met and fallen in love on the amateur dramatic circuit and had hoped to marry in 2020.

Heartbroken Beth, a singer with 1940s trio The Bluebird Belles, confirmed on Facebook the devastating news that her "soulmate" had passed away yesterday morning after suffering two bleeds on the brain.

She said Mitch, a singer with Got the T Shirt party covers band "just couldn't be saved" and she said: "The light has left my life. We are all utterly heartbroken."

Members of the Tab Operatic Society and am dram performers across the region have been paying tribute to dynamic performer Mitch - a former professional singer and holiday park entertainments director, pictured below right ahead of a production of Summer Holiday in 2015.

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A statement on the company's Facebook page said: "We are all heartbroken to be informed of the passing of our much-loved friend Mitchell Bastable.

"We are honoured and privileged to have been a part of Mitchell's life on and off stage.

"We offer our sincere condolences, thoughts and much love to his fiancée Beth, his two sons, his mother Trina and the rest of the family."

A statement on the Facebook page of Trinity Musical Theatre Company said: "Everyone at Trinity would like to express our sincere condolences to the family of Mitch following his sudden and shocking loss, and especially to fellow long-time Trinity supporter, Mitch's fiancée, Beth.

"Mitch helped to put Trinity firmly on the local musical theatre scene when we changed from an operatic society three years ago, with his totally wicked interpretation of Daryl Van Horne in the Witches of Eastwick, and it was here that Mitch and Beth met.

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"Last year he was our dashing captain in Return to the Forbidden Planet, again playing opposite Beth, his love interest in the production and in real life.

"The Black Country has lost one of its am dram leading lights."

Close friend and work colleague Lisa Dignam said: "It’s completely tragic that he has been taken away from us so suddenly and at such a young age. He was not only one of my closest friends but my work colleague too and he has touched the lives of so many he has come in to contact with over the years.

"He will be sadly missed by so many and the tributes on Facebook just show how loved and highly thought of he was."

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Howard Luft, chief executive of Selco Builders Warehouse, said: “Everyone within the business is devastated by the news.

"Mitch was an important and valued member of the Selco team for two years and his enthusiasm and dedication to his work as a recruitment advisor always shone through.

“He was hugely popular amongst all of his colleagues and he will be sadly missed.”

  • Mitchell's funeral will take place on Friday August 24 at 11.15am at St Mary and All Saints Church, Kidderminster.