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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA

COLUMN W/E 26 NOVEMBER 2023


previews, reviews, interviews, and recommendations with Steve Cooke


Rochdale to light up with new fire festival.

Preview by Steve Cooke


The countdown to Christmas begins in Rochdale in November with a spectacular new 2-day event and magical family entertainment leading up to the lights switch-on.

A free immersive experience for all ages, Ignite will feature incredible flame arches, an elegant 'Eyeful Tower' of fire and flame throwing, a musical fire tree.



‘Ignite’ Fire Festival will transform the gardens opposite Rochdale Town Hall from Saturday, 25 November 2023 to Sunday, 26 November 2023 with 2 free night-time spectaculars delivering a magical trail of blazing fire and lights. Over 25 fiery displays, blazing sculptures and illuminated installations created by artists from the UK and abroad will be open to walk through from 4pm to 8pm each evening, with the Christmas lights switch-on taking place on Sunday, 26 November 2023.



Visitors will be able to follow the trail of flaming chimneys, fire shells, fire pits, festoon lighting, magical lights and jaw dropping special effects. Image courtesy of David Street.

Visitors will be able to follow the trail of flaming chimneys, fire shells, fire pits, festoon lighting, magical lights and jaw dropping special effects.


Street theatre and interactive arts group Travelling Light Circus will host fire shows featuring jugglers, torch spinning and dance for a multi-sensory mesmerising experience along with over 70 local residents that they will have trained especially for the event.


Listen and look out for a techno infused performance by ‘Drum Machine’, a 20-strong drumming collective. The group have performed at top festivals across the UK, but it will be their very first time in Rochdale.


For younger children there will be lantern making workshops so little ones can take their own homemade lantern to the switch-on.


There will also be hot food, mulled wine, and other seasonal drinks. It will be the first time the lights have been switched on in front of the town hall since 2019, with the square and building closed for major refurbishment.


Father Christmas and his special guests, including Mayor of Rochdale Councillor Mike Holly, will officially switch-on the lights at 5.30pm on Sunday, 26 November2023 in front of the town hall after the traditional countdown, whilst the ‘Ignite’ Fire Festival continues until 8pm.


Ignite is organised by Rochdale Borough Council in partnership with Out There Arts – the National Centre for Outdoor Arts and Circus and Culture Co-op, a ‘Creative People and Places’ programme, funded by Arts Council England.


Councillor Janet Emsley, the council’s cabinet member for equity, safety and reform said:

“This new fire festival is such an exciting and unique addition to our switch-on, something we’ve never seen before in Rochdale, providing amazing family entertainment across the weekend and helping to attract visitors from across the region. It’s a chance to support local with our fantastic businesses and I invite everyone to come and join us.”


Free

Visit: https://www.rochdale.gov.uk/events/event/655/ignite---fire-festival-and-roc...

Saturday 25 November 2023 - Sunday 26 November 2023

Ignite - Fire Festival

4pm - 8pm each day

Rochdale Town Hall, The Esplanade, Rochdale OL16 1AZ


Margaret Ferguson soprano and Jonathan Ellis piano lead goodbyes to conv=cert stalwart.

Review by Dr Joe Dawson


Today’s concert was tinged with sadness with the news that Frank Lever, one of St Mary in the Baum’s long standing church members, had passed away the night before. The genial nonagenarian was churchwarden in 2000 and became an original committee member of TOLPAC, which agreed to host the council’s lunchtime concerts that had become homeless. He remained a fervent supporter, often manning the door. He was also elected the very first ‘Man of Rochdale’.


He will be remembered with great affection and much missed.



The celebrated duo, soprano Margaret Ferguson and pianist Jonathan Ellis has been an ideal partnership for many years, and they were among Frank’s favourites. Margaret’s charismatic personality and wonderful singing and Jonathan’s powerful playing never ceased to delight him. On learning of Frank’s passing the previous night, Margaret spontaneously introduced Cesar Franck’s Panis Angelicus as an opening to the recital, which was dedicated to him and proved to be a fitting requiem.


A cheerful song by Carey was followed by sumptuous arias by Handel, Saint-Saens and Rossini and works by F Paolo Tosti, including his renowned Goodbye (noted for its many repeats of the word).


The audience were enraptured as usual and demanded, and got, a cheeky encore. But it was clear on many levels, that this was not Goodbye, but au revoir.


This was concert number 1,062 since taking over from the council in 2001. The Queen’s Award-winning Toad Lane Concerts are every Wednesday 12:30 – 13:30 at the Grade 1 listed St Mary in the Baum Church, Rochdale OL16 1DZ, admission £6.


Hot Orange at the Contact Theatre

Preview by Steve Cooke


Hot Orange follows Amina and Tandeki as they navigate what it takes to sustain love and friendship beyond childhood idealism - and the moment you fall in love.



‘It’s summer. It’s hot. Like really hot. Like ice pop after melting ice pops hot. Like orange midday sun hot.’


Across the divide of a scorched basketball court two girls meet, shoot hoops, and discover their shared obsessions make them inseparable friends. But will faith, growing pains and the darker reactions of others get in the way of that long, hot, orange summer?


A decade later the past walks back into view when 18-year-old Amina is confronted by her childhood best friend Tandeki. Can they reignite the spark of friendship by untangling their hurt feelings, or are some heartbreaks just too hard to mend?


Hot Orange, by Amal Khalidi and Tatenda Naomi Matsvai, is the latest production from Half Moon, the UK’s leading small-scale young people’s venue and touring company. It will be presented in their multi-award-winning immersive theatrical style, exquisitely framed within an evocative soundscape.


DATES & TIMES

TUE 28 NOV - THU 30 NOV: 1.30pm and 7:30pm

£15 full price – concessions available

60 minutes, plus 20-minute Q&A

13+


Please note, this is a standing show with limited available seating. Please do reach out to boxoffice@contactmcr.com with any queries or requests.


Ed Byrne’s stand-up tour sets Middleton Arena date

Preview by Steve Cooke


A treat for fans of Mock the Week, Have I Got News For You and observational comedy at its very best as comedian Ed Byrne brings his new tour to Middleton Arena next year.

Having had the experience of both interviewing Ed and seeing his previous shows at the Middleton Arena I can highly recommend you don’t miss out on this opportunity.


With his TV career now in its third decade, the much-loved master of observational comedy has appeared on the likes of Father Ted, QI, Mock The Week, Alan Davies As Yet Untitled, The Pilgrimage, Dara & Ed’s Big Adventure and Have I Got News For You, as well as hosting Live At The Apollo and Comic Relief Bake Off.



The Irishman will be performing his new live show, ‘Tragedy Plus Time’ on Wednesday 7 February 2024, direct from its premier at this year’s Edinburgh Festival where it received a stack of five-star reviews and was named Best Reviewed Show at the Fringe. Humour was defined as Tragedy Plus Time by Mark Twain, so Ed says he is going to test that formula by mining the most tragic event in his life for laughs.


Recognised as one of the finest observational comics, Ed has also developed huge success on the international circuit, performing to capacity audiences in Canada, France, Australia, New Zealand, and the USA. He is an Edinburgh Festival Fringe favourite and has performed sell-out tours across the UK. It will be Ed’s fourth appearance at the Middleton venue, having performed previously there in 2015, 2017 and 2021.


Ed Byrne ‘Tragedy Plus Time’ is at Middleton Arena at 7.30pm on Wednesday 7 February 2024 February. Tickets (£27.50, plus booking fee) from middletonarena.com or by phoning 0300 303 8633. You can buy in person at Middleton Arena.


Octagon Theatre unveil their exciting Spring/Summer season.

Preview by Steve Cooke


A lot for theatre goers to look forward to in 2024 with the Octagon Theatre announcing an unmissable programme year for their spring/summer season.


The impressive line-up boasts a literary classic, a rock ‘n’ roll musical, a compelling new play, a hilarious northern classic, a zany fast-paced comedy, and a musical adaptation of a beloved family adventure.


As they get ready to open their rip-roaring festive show later this month, the venue is already looking ahead to 2024, in what promises to be a jam-packed season with something for all audiences to enjoy.



Kicking off their spring offering is a bold reimagining of one of literature’s most loved authors, in a new adaptation of Jane Austen’s NORTHANGER ABBEY (Fri 1 – Sat 23 March 2024). A co-production with Orange Tree Theatre, Stephen Joseph Theatre and Theatre by the Lake, this new adaptation by Zoe Cooper infuses the plot and spirit of Austen’s original novel with her own unique voice. Directed by Tessa Walker (former Associate Director at Hampstead Theatre and Birmingham Repertory Theatre) it promises a play packed full of humour and brimming with love.



Then, one of the world’s greatest entertainers is celebrated in HOUDINI’S GREATEST ESCAPE (Wed 3 – Sat 6 April 2024) in this hilarious 39 Steps-esque thriller from New Old Friends in association with Yvonne Arnaud Theatre. Expect physical comedy, sparkling wit, a touch of chaos and mind-blowing and unbelievable magic illusions.



Classic comedy is next on the bill in John Godber’s hysterical northern favourite, BOUNCERS (Tue 9 – Sat 20 April 2024) from The John Godber Company. Celebrate good times at the Octagon when this new production takes audiences back to the 80s when disco was king, and everyone lived for the weekend.



Next up is the smash-hit musical sensation LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (Wed 24 April – Sat 18 May 2024), in a co-production with New Wolsey Theatre, Theatre by the Lake and Hull Truck Theatre. This brand-new production of the devilishly delicious sci-fi musical, directed by the Octagon’s Artistic Director Lotte Wakeham, features an iconic rock ‘n’ roll score in this beloved, globally renowned show.



The season continues with a compelling new play TESTMATCH (Thu 23 May – Sat 1 June 2024), a co-production with Orange Tree Theatre and English Touring Theatre (ETT). Directed by award-winning director Diane Page, this provocative and funny play by Kate Atwell explores the mythology of fair play when cricket’s past and present collide in this captivating production, set during present day Lord’s at the Women’s Cricket World Cup and early 19th century India.



Bram Stokers best-selling novel gets a hilarious re-telling in the brand-new comedy theatre show, DRACULA: THE BLOODY TRUTH (Tue 11 – Sat 29 June 2024) – a co-production with Stephen Joseph Theatre and directed by their Artistic Director, Paul Robinson. Three years after the iconic gothic novel was released, Professor Abraham Van Helsing is not happy. He knows the truth - the Bloody Truth - and is about to share that with audiences, in this side-splitting comedy by the UK’s leading physical comedy theatre company, La Nevet Bete, and writer of previous Octagon smash-hits The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Time Machine, John Nicolson.


Before all that, the Octagon will bring their current season to a gripping conclusion with a compelling new production of George Orwell’s iconic classic drama, ANIMAL FARM (Thu 1 – Sat 24 February 2024), adapted for the stage by Ian Woolridge and directed by renowned director Iqbal Khan. This enduring and devastating satire about equality and the corruption of power will be brought vividly to life in the Octagon’s co-production with Derby Theatre and Hull Truck Theatre.


Octagon Theatre, Howell Croft South Bolton BL1 1SB

Visit: octagonbolton.co.uk

Phone: 01204 520661


RECOMMENDED


Saturday 25 November

Littleborough Christmas Lights Switch-on

Littleborough Events & Associations Forum will be switching on the Christmas Lights in the centre of Littleborough.

Featuring: fun-fair rides, stalls, music, entertainment from Sing Littleborough, Wardle Junior Blast, The Good Vibes Choir and Littleborough Brass Band, plus a visit from Santa

Lights to be switched-on at 5.30pm.

Phone: Simon France 07931 992393

Visit: https://linktr.ee/littleboroughevents

3.30pm - 6pm

Littleborough Square, Littleborough OL15


Saturday 25 November

Friends of Littleborough Stations (FOLS) Christmas Event

Free refreshments and goodies.

This is the same day as the Littleborough Christmas lights switch on.

12pm onwards

History Centre, Platform 2, Littleborough Railway Station, Railway Street, Littleborough OL15 8AF


Saturday 25 November 2023 - Sunday 26 November 2023

Ignite - Fire Festival

A free immersive experience for all ages, Ignite will feature incredible flame arches, an elegant 'Eyeful Tower' of fire and flame throwing, a musical fire tree.

2 free night-time spectaculars delivering a magical trail of blazing fire and lights for all ages.

Over 25 fiery displays, blazing sculptures and illuminated installations created by artists from the UK and abroad will be open to walk through from 4pm to 8pm each evening, with the Christmas lights switch-on taking place on Sunday 26 November 2023 from 5.30pm.

A free immersive experience for all ages, Ignite will feature incredible flame arches, an elegant ‘Eyeful Tower’ of fire and flame throwing, a musical fire tree along with a varied assortment of other big and bright fire-based attractions.

Visitors will be able to follow the trail of flaming chimneys, fire shells, fire pits, festoon lighting, magical lights and jaw dropping special effects.

Street theatre and interactive arts group Travelling Light Circus will host fire shows featuring jugglers, torch spinning and dance for a multi-sensory mesmerising experience.

Listen and look out for a techno infused performance by ‘Drum Machine’ - a 20 strong drumming collectives. The group have performed at top festivals across the UK, but it will be their very first time in Rochdale.

For younger children there will be lantern making workshops so little ones can take their own homemade lantern to the switch-on.

There will also be hot food, mulled wine, and other seasonal drinks.

Ignite is organised by Rochdale Borough Council in partnership with Out There Arts – the National Centre for Outdoor Arts & Circus and Culture Co-op, a ‘Creative People and Places’ programme, funded by Arts Council England.

Free

Visit: https://www.rochdale.gov.uk/events/event/655/ignite---fire-festival-and-roc...

4pm - 8pm each day

Rochdale Town Hall, The Esplanade, Rochdale OL16 1AZ


Sunday 26 November

Springhill Hospice Christmas Fair

One of Rochdale's biggest festive fairs. Guaranteed fun for the whole family!

Entertainment includes DJ, a festive brass band and the fabulous Rock choir.

Many stalls from chocolate & bottle tombolas and hospice ran stalls such as nurses' raffle, hospice calendars and Christmas cards.

External stalls offering an array of Christmas gifts from beauty to handmade jewellery and art.

Lots for younger visitors including games like hook a bauble, stocking game, face painting and balloon modelling.

Plus, visit Santa in his magical grotto complete with a huge polar bear!

BBQ, Asian food, mince pies and yummy cakes.

All proceeds to Springhill Hospice.

Free

Phone: Jo Ali 01706 641790

Visit: https://springhill.org.uk/how-you-can-help-us/events/christmas-fair

11am to 3pm

Kingsway Park High School, Turf Hill Road, Rochdale OL16 4XA


Sunday 26 November

Rochdale Christmas Lights Switch On

The countdown to Christmas begins in Rochdale later this month as Rochdale Borough Council confirms a Christmas lights switch-on and lots of magical family entertainment on Sunday 26 November.

Father Christmas and special guests including the Mayor of Rochdale Councillor Mike Holly will switch-on the lights at 5.30pm in front of the town hall after the traditional countdown.

Outside there will be hot food, mulled wine, and other seasonal drinks.

Free

5.30pm

Rochdale Riverside, Riverside Walk, Rochdale Town Centre OL16 1TR


Wednesday 29 November

Rochdale Photographic Society

Tonight's session - A Christmas decoration/item (Hand in for Presidents Cup Competition – Theme TBA).

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

Phone: Secretary - Ed Whitaker

Doors open 7.15pm, 7.30pm start.

Rochdale Unitarian Church, Clover Street, Rochdale OL12 6TP


Wednesday 29 November

Toad Lane Concerts - Rochdale's Weekly Music at Lunchtime

This week we have Slava Sidorenko's piano class from Chethams School of Music.

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.

£6

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.

https://www.allacrossthearts.com



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