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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA


previews, reviews, interviews, and recommendations with Steve Cooke

Toad Lane Concerts to Christmas 23

Preview by Steve Cooke

If you haven’t already, line-up I highly recommend that you experience some TLC [Toad Lane Concerts] at the iconic St Mary in the Baum.

They have an impressive line-up for the pre-Christmas season.

Nov 15 The Kell Wind Trio: Alastair Roberts flute Geoffrey Smith clarinet & Alex Kane bassoon

Nov 22 Joseph Buckmaster tenor (RNCM & RAM) & Tim Kennedy piano (Cambridge & RNCM staff)

Nov 29 Slava Sidorenko's piano class from Chethams School of Music

Dec 06 Telemann Baroque Ensemble: Alfred Pollard oboe Kevin O’Sullivan bassoon Elaine da Costa & Sarah Snape violins John Goodstadt viola Roger Bisby cello Peter Collier harpsichord

Dec 13 Rascallity Harp Duo: Alice Roberts & Kathryn Mason (both RNCM Manchester University)

Dec 20 More than Melody Ladies Choir Christmas Special MD Jonathan Gibson, Brian Milligan piano

The concert series has been held at St Mary’s since 2001 and was granted the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2020… during the pandemic!

Running every Wednesday, Music at Lunchtime is a weekly live classical music concert series that has been going since the 1960s. The sessions were initially run at the old Rochdale Art Gallery by the local authority, but since May 2001 have been run by volunteer-enthusiasts and artistic director, Dr Joe Dawson.


Phone: Dr Joe Dawson 01706 648872

Doors open 12noon, concert starts 12.30pm - 1.30pm

St Mary in the Baum, Toad Lane/St Mary's Gate, Rochdale OL16 1DZ

A vibrant, musical re-imagining of The Snow Queen heads to Sale this festive season.

Preview by Steve Cooke

Acclaimed children’s theatre company Wrongsemble return to Waterside with a joyful Christmas show for all the family, with climate change and sustainability at its heart.

This vibrant musical re-telling of The Snow Queen is reimagined in an exciting adventure for the whole family.

Positive, powerful, and playful – this adaptation celebrates the idea that small changes can make a big difference. The Snow Queen - who is supposed to control the weather – is about to face her biggest challenge yet! The seasons aren’t behaving. The world is getting warmer. And it hasn’t snowed for years...Little Lumi gazes up at the stars and worries about the world. The adults don't seem to have noticed that the seasons aren’t behaving, or that it hasn’t snowed for years. This is an emergency. So, it’s time to take the issue straight to the top (of the world) and find the Snow Queen who she has heard so much about...

The sustainable and climate change-conscious Snow Queen shimmies and slays like the fierce drag queen that she is, residing in a sequined moon watching over the world below from her glittering piano.

Joyous, anarchic, and wonderfully musical, the show fuses fun and the magic of theatre to shine a much-needed spotlight on climate change emergency. Through humour and heart, it provides an inspiring and powerful message about caring for the planet and the power of using our own voices to stand up for what we believe to be right. It takes a beautiful and traditional story and gives it a contemporary twist both in terms of its casting and its storyline to reflect the issues and the wonderful, diverse world around us.

Featuring an original soundtrack of music performed live by the cast of three actor-musicians, an eclectic mix of musical genres, from piano cabaret anthems to storytelling folk-pop songs, and energetic musical theatre numbers combine with high-energy dance-routines to entertain all ages from 4-104!

In keeping with the shows message of sustainability - the set and costumes are made from recycled materials and most of the production elements have been designed to be as sustainable and eco-conscious as possible.

As writer and director of this adaptation, Wrongsemble Artistic Director Elvi Piper comments:

As a family theatre company, we feel it is part of our role to explore the themes and ideas which our young audiences are curious about, and which affect us all. Inspired by young activists like Greta Thunberg we felt adapting The Snow Queen in this way was a perfect opportunity to celebrate the power of children’s voices regarding issues which impact their future.

It feels so important that what we put on our stages reflects the world around us. As well as entertaining families, we have a responsibility to educate, encourage questioning, and inspire conversations. By providing opportunities to explore sustainability in a fun and engaging way we hope audiences will leave inspired to take whatever action they feel they can.

We are also so thrilled to be returning to Waterside this festive season as we have had the pleasure of spending Christmas at this incredible venue with its brilliant audiences previously in 2021 (The Not So Ugly Sisters) and cannot wait to be back with this magical and musical show.”


Wed 29 Nov – Sat 30 Dec

Various times

£16 / £14 / £7 low income/ £12 Schools

Age 4+ | 60 mins, no interval

In the Robert Bolt Theatre


Horton / Oops / Flash Molly Grace Cutler

Snow Queen (Madge) Richard Priestley

Lumi Amy Tara

Creative Team

Director / Writer Elvi Piper

Designer Antony Jones

Creative Producer Chemeana Lacey

Musical Director/Composer Rosie Fox

Stage Manager Heather Newsham

Lighting Design Alastair Fox

Associate Artist Edith Kirkwood

Waterside is an award-winning, vibrant destination for performance, culture, and events in the heart of Sale in Trafford, Greater Manchester.

Waterside opened in 2004 and has built a strong reputation for delivering high quality and engaging work, ranging from family theatre, interactive arts activity, performance, live music, and regular comedy as well as high profile visual arts exhibitions.

With an important role to play in the local community, the venue welcomes over 100,000 visitors per year, stages the annual ten-day Refract Festival and the cultural LGBTQ+ celebration Pride in Trafford; and engages with over 7000 residents through the established participation programme.

The space houses a main auditorium (the Robert Bolt Theatre), a versatile conference and studio performance space (the Chambers), three exhibition spaces and several studios, meeting, and workshop spaces, all used by a variety of different groups.

The Lauriston Gallery is open to the public six days a week and is free to visit. The venue is funded by Trafford Council and supported by Arts Council England, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

Enjoy the magic of light this winter at Lightwaves Festival, Salford Quays

Preview by Steve Cooke

Lightwaves 2023 invites you to explore a trail of dramatic light art installations that animate and transform the urban waterside environment around Salford Quays and MediaCity each winter.

Breaking Barriers, a Rochdale-based Production Company, are collaborating with renowned light artist Akeelah Bertram to create a light project to be presented at Lightwaves Festival this December.

The project was co-created with a women's group at Deeplish Community Centre, where the artists and women explored the importance of light, what light, and dark mean, and what comes to mind when we think about light. Their answers have influenced the piece that Akeelah is making and will be premiered at the festival this December.

Artistic Director Parvez Qadir says, "When we were asked to create a piece of light art work for the festival we were really excited, but we wanted to open out the project to our local communities to give them the opportunity to share their ideas and create a platform where their thoughts and conversations become reality. We can't wait to welcome them to the launch to see their piece light up the dark nights at Salford Quays."

Taking place from Thursday 7th to Sunday 10th December, visitors of all ages can enjoy illuminated works from established as well as emerging artists, local and national, bringing a variety of different pieces; thought-provoking, surprising, and playful.

And as always Lightwaves is FREE – just turn up and enjoy!

Lightwaves Festival is part of the Quays Culture Programme, a partnership initiative with a mission to animate public spaces, bringing extraordinary art into the heart of the community for everyone to experience free of charge.

Highlights from last year can been found on


Preview by Steve Cooke

Go on an epic journey to the South Pole as a boy tries to take a wandering penguin home, in this heart-warming adaptation of Oliver Jeffers’ award-winning children’s story.

‘Once there was a boy and one day, he found a penguin at his door…’

But everyone knows penguins don’t belong in sleepy seaside towns, so what’s the boy to do? Find out where the lost penguin came from and take it home, of course.

Together they embark on an epic journey across the high seas all the way to the South Pole. Encountering many obstacles along the way, the boy realises what he’s really lost… and found.

This magical stage show of Oliver Jeffers’ Lost and Found has been adapted by renowned children’s TV and theatre producer Will Brenton. Original music composed by Gruff Rhys – who many will know as the guitarist and vocalist of Super Furry Animals as well as for his award-winning film and theatre scores – adds another layer to this moving story.

Featuring puppetry and video projections, a cast of characters that charm and delight, not to mention a gang of rowdy seagulls – expect to laugh and be moved by this touching tale. Full of surprises, you might even be called on to help out from time to time. What will you find?

12 DEC 2023 - 6 JAN 2024



Standard Tickets £15, £20, £25

Affordable Tickets £7.50, £10, £12.50

Schools Performance 14 Dec 10.30am £10

To reserve tickets or to discuss what other options might be available for your school’s visit to Lost and Found, please contact the Group Bookings team on or call 0161 817 4531 (Phone lines are open 10am – 5pm, Monday – Friday).


Tuesday 21 November

Paint Starry Night! Rochdale

Your sip & paint event at The Spring Inn will be themed around Van Gogh's Starry Night painting!

Paint your canvas blue and green - your starry night awaits.

Unleash your creativity – wine glass in one hand, paint brush in the other.

No experience needed.

Your PopUp Painting experience in Manchester will include:

All art supplies – including paint, brushes, canvas, and apron.

Guidance from a practicing artist - but feel free to go off-piste.

A themed playlist to immerse you in your experience.

Please note your ticket does not include a drink, but a wide range of drinks are available for purchase at the bar.

Your canvas is yours to keep. Hang it with pride!


Phone: Debbie Lord 07805 726165



The Spring Inn, Broad Lane, Rochdale OL16 4PR

Wednesday 22 November

Rochdale Photographic Society

Tonight's session - Practical night and club sort out.

We meet every Wednesday at Rochdale Unitarian Church, starting at 7.30pm prompt (doors open from 7.15pm). The door is kept locked so please ring the bell on arrival.

If you would like to see the club for yourself and meet our members, you are welcome to attend as our guest for up to 3 weeks before committing to membership. Annual subscription is £36 for single or £46 for joint membership.

A weekly room fee of £2.50 is also payable on arrival at the meeting. Refreshments are 50p.

Visit the link below for a full 2023 syllabus.

£2.50 for room fee


Doors open 7.15pm, 7.30pm start.

Rochdale Unitarian Church, Clover Street, Rochdale OL12 6TP

Wednesday 22 November

Toad Lane Concerts - Rochdale's Weekly Music at Lunchtime

This week we have Joseph Buckmaster tenor (RNCM & RAM) & Tim Kennedy piano (Cambridge & RNCM staff).

The concert series has been held at St Mary’s since 2001 and was granted the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2020… during the pandemic!

Running every Wednesday, Music at Lunchtime is a weekly live classical music concert series that has been going since the 1960s. The sessions were initially run at the old Rochdale Art Gallery by the local authority, but since May 2001 have been run by volunteer-enthusiasts and artistic director, Dr Joe Dawson.


Phone: Dr Joe Dawson 01706 648872

Doors open 12noon, concert starts 12.30pm - 1.30pm

St Mary in the Baum, Toad Lane/St Mary's Gate, Rochdale OL16 1DZ

celebrating creative arts and artists - an oasis of positivity supporting individual and community wellbeing.

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