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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA


previews, reviews, interviews, and recommendations with Steve Cooke


A Celebration of Music Hall at Hope Mill Theatre

Preview By Steve Cooke

A great opportunity to spend an evening with Dame Maureen Lipman and special guests, including friends from the most famous street in Weatherfield, to celebrate the iconic entertainment era of Victorian Music Hall.

Your ticket includes an arrival drink, and 3 course meal of pre-show starter, pie mash and gravy, and an interval homemade brownie and ice cream. All bookers will be contacted prior to the event with confirmed menu, requests for dietary requirements and allergies.

All proceeds will go towards Hope Mill Theatre’s charitable missions, including their Community Programmes and bringing world-class Musical Theatre and new writing to one of the most deprived wards in Manchester.

A suggested Gift Aid-eligible donation of £20 can be added at checkout, which will go directly towards supporting the young people in our Theatre School. 50% of all places are fully funded scholarships for those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford this training and all the benefits it brings.

Sunday, 1 October


Hope Mill Theatre, 113 Pollard Street, Manchester M4 7JA.

Hope Mill Theatre was the dream of couple Joseph Houston and William Whelton. After training and building a career in theatre and time spent living in London, they were inspired by the highly regarded Off West End Theatres and small producing venues which dominate the London theatre scene. Hope Mill Theatre officially opened its doors in November of 2015, and has become one of the most successful and reputable independent venues in England – winning Fringe Venue of The Year at The Stage awards in 2018.

Lewis Kingsley Peart’s Virtuoso Piano Showcase at TLC

Review By Dr Joe Dawson

Pianist Lewis Kingsley Peart, a Chetham’s alumnus, and graduate of London’s Trinity Laban Conservatoire made a welcome return to Toad Lane Concerts.

Based in both London and Manchester, Lewis enjoys a busy life as a working musician. He delivered a dynamic recital full of energy and musicality with beautifully articulated introductions, all from memory.

Paderewski, that world-famous virtuoso (who, incidentally, was also the Polish Prime Minister and a signatory for the end of WW1) was gleefully represented by his Minuet in G and Nocturne in B-flat.

The Hungarian composer-pianist Dohnányi enjoyed similar treatment in his Aria, Op. 23 No. 1 and Rhapsody in C. Lewis brings a freshness of attack and insightful power to his interpretations.

The 1940s silver screen often used piano concertos to underpin romantic narratives such as with Charles Williams’ Dream of Olwen (1947) and Richard Addinsell’s Warsaw Concerto (1941). Lewis revived both of these pianistic gems lovingly and enthusiastically.

A delightful set of foot-tapping song transcriptions of Gershwin songs led to the grand finale of this brilliant showcase, Grünfeld’s Soirée de Vienne, Op. 56 (a concert paraphrase on Johann Strauss II's Die Fledermaus). Lewis’s passionate performance made full use of the vintage 1933 Challen grand and left the audience breathless and wishing for more.

The Queen’s Award-winning Toad Lane Concerts are every Wednesday at 12.30pm at the Grade 1 listed St Mary in the Baum, Toad Lane, Rochdale, OL16 1DZ. Entrance fee is £6. Contact 01706 648872 for further information.


P.G. Wodehouse’s iconic double act land in Bolton for a night of very silly nonsense!

PREVIEW By Steve Cooke

If you fancy a night of very silly nonsense, then Jeeves & Wooster in Perfect Nonsense at The Octagon is for you.

Following a riotous weekend at country house, Totleigh Towers, Bertie Wooster has a tale to tell. Forced to play matchmaker between his newt-fancying acquaintance Gussie Fink-Nottle and the girl of his dreams, Madeline Bassett, Bertie must also secure an elusive silver cow-creamer for his formidable Aunt Dahlia.

It’s a tall order, but fortunately he has the help of his loyal valet, the ever-reliable Jeeves, to navigate the many twists, turns and mishaps in this fast paced and dazzlingly inventive comedy.

Marieke Audsley directs Luke Barton (Bertie Wooster), Patrick Warner (Jeeves) and Alistair Cope (Seppings). The production will feature design by Olivia du Monceau with lighting design by Jane Lalljee and sound design by Matt Eaton.

Director Marieke Audsley said today, “I'm thrilled to be working with Wiltshire Creative and the Octagon on this hilarious adaptation of P.G. Wodehouse's much loved classic novel, The Code of the Woosters. We have a really exciting cast to bring Bertie, Jeeves, their friends (and foes!) to life, and a wonderful creative team to create the fabulous world of Berkeley Mansions and Totleigh Towers. Both dedicated Wodehouse fans and anyone new to Jeeves and Wooster can look forward to a fantastically farcical and fun evening out!”

This production will be part of the Octagon Theatre Bolton’s autumn/winter season which also includes a visceral and compelling contemporary co-production of Arthur Miller’s masterpiece, A View From the Bridge (8 – 30 September 2023); a world premiere musical adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic adventure tale, Around the World in 80 Days (16 November 2023 – 13 January 2024); and a powerful re-telling of George Orwell’s chilling and timeless classic, in a co-production of Animal Farm (1 – 24 February 2024).

Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense comes to the Octagon Theatre Bolton from Wed 4 – Sat 21 October. Tickets start from £15 and are on-sale now.


Octagon Theatre, Howell Croft South, Bolton BL1 1SB

NEST at M6

PREVIEW By Steve Cooke

NEST is one for the little ones and their grown-ups at the wonderful M6 Theatre. It is never too early to introduce the next generation to live theatre!

Take a bird’s eye view of the humans in a brand-new family show from M6 Theatre.

The only tree in a city. Two birds decide to make it their home and soon their cosy nest contains two very precious eggs. The world below is full of stuff but, very quickly, so too is the nest.

Filled with clowning, original song and beautiful shadow play, this highly physical show uses minimal language to tell a tale about taking care, discovering what’s important and learning how to fly.

"Fail to engage small children for even a second and you've lost them completely. It is a real art - as M6 demonstrated with aplomb" Lyn Gardner


Writer and Director: Gilly Baskeyfield

Composer: Mark Melville

Designer/Production and Touring Director: Joss Matzen

Stage Manager: Sharon McWilliams

Lighting Designer: Adam Carrée

Movement Director: Simone Lewis

Musician/Beatboxer: Faz Shah

Voiceover: Shaban Dar

Photography: Lewis Wileman

Cast: Simone Lewis and Emily Spowage

To book this show for your venue please contact Joss Matzen on 01706 355898 or:


Ages 3+ and families

Saturday 23 September 11am & 1:30pm

Pay What You Feel

45 minutes

Advanced booking essential. Phone: 01706 355898 or email

M6 Theatre Company, Hamer Community Primary School Albert Royds Street, Rochdale OL16 2SU


Saturday 09 September

Comedy Night

MC Howard Walker

Howard had a dream; he wanted to be a rock star. He tried. He tried so, so indifferently that he never succeeded. So, after many years of half arsed-ness, he had another dream and put a bit more effort in. About time. He dreamed he wanted to be a stand-up comedian, so this time he did it.

No matter how much you want something, if you don't succeed, just try something else. Ideally something that doesn't involve playing a guitar because it's difficult. Trust me. And don't listen to people who say playing guitar is easy, it's not; I tried for nearly 4 weeks.

John Lynn

Promising newcomer John Lynn has been making waves in his native Ireland for some time and is now busy building his reputation as a first-class international act. With an easy-going charm and natural stage presence, John did very well, very quickly, and early in his career, was invited to join Irish superstar Tommy Tiernan as a special guest at Dublin's famed Vicar St venue. Encouraged by his early achievements, John decided to take the plunge, and gave up his day job as a secondary school teacher to pursue his dream of global stardom. He began training for the screen with the Irish Films Actors Studio and began working full time both as an actor and stand-up. Further cementing his status as a promising talent, he has been invited to perform at the prestigious Montreal Just For Laughs festival.

Kathryn Mather

The ultra-cynical Kathryn Mather used to be a children’s entertainer, and now seems to relish the chance to explore darker thoughts her old job would never allow.

This Rochdale comic won the Frog and Bucket World Series 2017 and Southeast New Comedian of the Year 2018 and was placed third in the Leicester Mercury 2019.

She hosts the hilarious Zero Hours podcast, where she speaks to comedians about the best and worst jobs they have done to get by in their pursuit of the arts.

Mad Ron

Mad Ron – The Third Hardest Man in Uxbridge, is a comedy creation of Steve Lee, first appearing on the comedy circuit back in December 2015. Mad Ron has taken the circuit by storm. Now a multi award winning act, Mad Ron also finished 3rd in the prestigious 2019 NATY’s.

Tickets can be purchased behind the bar or message the Facebook page on the link below to reserve.




Rochdale Sports Club, Rochdale Cricket Lacrosse & Squash Club, Bridgefold Road, Rochdale OL11 5BX

Wednesday 13 September

Rock Choir Middleton - Sing with the nation’s leading adult choir

Rock Choir is much more than a choir - it's a multi layered singing experience.

The power of music, meeting new friends and performing at life changing events, together contribute to an emotional and powerful journey for our members. We have been perfecting Rock Choir for 10 years now and have achieved an award-winning standard of excellence in both the educational and emotional aspects of what we try to do.

Rock Choir is the pioneering contemporary choir of the UK and remains unique with over 28,000 members enjoying it across the UK. Each member is welcomed into the Rock Choir family and their journey with us allows music, friendship, and a newfound confidence to impact their everyday lives. Together we have created a safe, up lifting, and exciting experience just for you.

As a new member, you may choose to simply rehearse with your friends or take to the stage and join them at a variety of Rock Choir events and shows - it's up to you. You can take as much or as little from the experiences on offer. You'll never have to sing on your own or be under any pressure.

Sign up today on our website (link below) and get a FREE taster session with us.

First session FREE

Phone: Xander–Jaymes Le Petit 01252 714 276


8pm - 9.30pm

Alkrington & Providence United Reformed Church, Manchester New Road, Middleton M24 1LB

Wednesday 13 September

Rochdale Photographic Society

Tonight's session - AV night.

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.

Phone: Secretary - Ed Whitaker


Doors open 7.15pm, 7.30pm start.

Rochdale Unitarian Church, Clover Street, Rochdale OL12 6TP

Wednesday 13 September

Toad Lane Concerts - Rochdale's Weekly Music at Lunchtime

This week we have Anne Butterworth soprano Stephen Taylor baritone Elaine Marsden 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

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

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