top of page
  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA


 previews, reviews, interviews, and recommendations with Steve Cooke





Magic in Melody song recital – Jane Burnell with Tim Kennedy piano

Review by Dr Joe Dawson


Toad Lane Concerts are fortunate in the quality of its visiting performers. The audience at St Mary in the Baum was treated to a first-class song recital by a versatile, rising star, partnered by an expert accompanist.


Twenty-seven-year-old British/Irish soprano Jane Burnell recently received her master’s from the RNCM. She was the 2021 Sussex Young Musician of the Year, a 2022 Finalist of the RNCM Strauss Competition, and a multi-Award Winner at the 2024 David Clover Festival of Singing. After being a Young Artist with Buxton Opera in 2023, Jane returns there this season as a principal artist in Ernani (Verdi) and La Canterina (Haydn). She will also be a member of the chorus with Wexford Festival Opera this Autumn.


Accompanist Tim Kennedy studied music at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and is now a freelance musician based in Manchester. As well as being a piano accompanist (including ten years as a staff repetiteur at the RNCM), he also works as a professional singer, vocal coach, and organist.


Jane’s carefully selected programme of varied styles centred round the theme of Magic in Melody. Following songs of dreams and beauty by Ireland and Vaughan Williams, her lieder set consisted of love songs by composers Robert Schumann and his widow Clara, resonating a century later in ‘My life belongs to you’ by Ivor Novello.


A further extrapolation followed with songs by Brahms and Fauré that revelled in nature, again finding a twentieth century parallel in ‘the hills are alive with the sound of music’ by Rodgers and Hammerstein.


Switching successfully to conversational stage delivery for ‘The place where the lost things go’ (Mary Poppins Returns) by Shaiman, and then embracing the operetta style of Novello’s ‘We’ll gather lilacs,’ suggested that the underlying connection throughout was fine singing, whatever the period or style.


The concluding sublime Morgen by Richard Strauss epitomised it all, beautifully sung and played – Magic in Melody indeed.


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



Sweat at the Royal Exchange Theatre

Preview by Steve Cooke

Sweat by Lynn Nottage is running at the Royal Exchange Theatre until the 25th of May.

Fresh from receiving her Olivier Award director Jade Lewis makes her debut in this unique theatre space.

Set in Reading, a small city in Pennsylvania, where everyone knows everyone’s business, fat-cat factory owners care more about profit than people, and the economy's on the decline. Amongst the rise of social and racial tensions, Pultizer Prize-winning writer Lynn Nottage carefully crafts a story of community, joy, and friendship, making the everyday of these people’s lives beautiful and significant.

Prof. Stephen Scott-Bottoms says, ‘The outcome of this year’s American presidential election will have implications for all of us—whether or not we get a vote. A revival of Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Sweat is therefore both timely and welcome. Hailed by the New Yorker as “the first theatrical landmark of the Trump era” when it made its Broadway debut in 2017, Sweat is a play that dramatizes, “with empathy and without judgment, the nationwide anxiety that helped put Donald Trump in the White House” (Ben Brantley, New York Times). Eight years after that fateful election of November 2016, those anxieties have not gone away.’

Sweat is a sweeping state-of-the-nation play that embraces huge political and economic ideas in a magnificent gritty social drama. Nottage’s stunning writing pits friend against friend as social and racial tensions, once buried by a sense of solidarity, soon rise to the surface in this breathtaking drama.

Tracey and Cynthia are best friends, and after 20 years on the factory floor their friendship is ingrained with the sweat of shared manual labour. Together, in this small Pennsylvanian town, they have celebrated birthdays, stood firm for each other and laughed until they cried. But as fat-cat factory owners look for cheaper options, where unions are no trouble, and employees will work for less, these women are about to have the rug pulled out from under everything they know.

Lynn Nottage’s 2017 Pulitzer-Prize winning drama, directed by Jade Lewis is destined to be an American Classic.

“I feel really honoured and excited to bring Lynn Nottage’s Sweat to Manchester. Sweat gives a voice to the people, highlighting lives, dreams and experiences of the ordinary person with such nuance and complexity.” Jade Lewis, Director

Tickets from £10

Until Saturday 25 May at the Royal Exchange Theatre, St Ann’s Square,

Manchester M2 7DH

Phone: 0161 833 9833



Sunday 05 May 2024

Ace Lips Events: Wardle FC Comedy Night Special with Nick Page

Doors open 6.30pm / Show starts 7pm

The Old Court Room, Flying Horse Hotel, 37 Packer Street, Rochdale OL16 1NJ

Join us at The Old Court Room for this Bank Holiday Sunday Fundraising special for Wardle FC.

Pete Otway

A multi-award nominated comedian, presenter and former dairy farmer. His razor-sharp wit and hilarious tales have taken him across the world, whilst making him in demand at some of the biggest comedy clubs and festivals in the UK.

Jon Capewell

A rising star on the comedy circuit. His high energy, cheeky personality, and relatable material are a hit with audiences up and down the UK. Jon has supported Mock the Week star Nathan Caton on tour.

Sully O’Sullivan

Making his TV debut on New Zealand's iconic 'Pulp Comedy', UK based Kiwi Comedian Sully O'Sullivan has gone on to become a veteran of the international circuit, performing professionally in Australasia, North America, Arabia, the British Isles and Europe.

Nick Page

With some comics there’s a moment where you ask yourself ‘I wonder how much of this is true?’, with Nick Page, you might hope it isn’t true, but somehow know that it is, mostly. His shows are full to bursting with stories from a life lived on the edge of (self-inflicted) disaster. Performed at comedy festivals in 3 continents and been awarded the Operational Service Medal by the British army for numerous gigs in warzones, doing everything from shows in Camp Bastion and Kandahar for 5000 troops at a time, to being helicoptered to perform for 20 soldiers in a patrol base in the desert. He’s reached the live finals of Britain’s Got Talent despite having never watched the show

Line up may change.

This is an Adult show. All profits to Wardle FC

£12 early bird / £15 Standard

Phone: Rick Attwood 07720 849866


Sunday 05 May 2024

Rochdale Science Extravaganza: Inspiring Communities for a Sustainable Future through Art and Science

Join us for a spellbinding day at the Rochdale Science Extravaganza, where the wonders of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) come alive.

What's in store for you?

Experience the magical Colourscape installation, where vibrant hues and enthralling performances intertwine to celebrate the beauty of art and science.  Get hands-on with interactive exhibits and live demonstrations that'll ignite your love for learning and discovery.  Be captivated by our theatrical science shows that blend fun and facts for an educational extravaganza. Come face-to-face with fascinating creatures in our live animal encounters and learn about the natural world.  Rub shoulders with STEAM experts and artists from top-tier institutions, ready to share their knowledge and passion.  Dive into discussions on climate change and sustainability, exploring how we can all contribute to a greener future.  Witness the brilliance of local schools and community organisations as they present their innovative projects and ideas.  Marvel at the fusion of culture as local museums and artists showcase their unique blend of creativity and scientific flair. Indulge in a variety of food options catering to every taste, plus prayer facilities ensuring a comfortable experience for all.

Why should you come?

Ignite a passion for STEAM in youngsters, opening doors to future educational and career pathways. Experience a cultural feast of science and arts to broaden your horizons.  Make new friends and connections in a vibrant community setting. Network with like-minded organisations and potential collaborators. Share your skills and expertise or discover new ones.  Access a wealth of resources and learning opportunities. Emphasize the critical role of STEAM education for our collective future. Boost community pride and contribute to the local economy. Raise environmental consciousness and champion sustainability. Volunteer and develop leadership and teamwork skills. Celebrate the rich tapestry of cultural diversity within STEAM. Inspire the next generation of innovators and thinkers. Spark long-term community growth and development initiatives. Connect with industry professionals and seek mentorship opportunities. Capture and share moments to inspire even beyond the event.

Join us as we embark on an unforgettable journey of discovery, inspiration, and community spirit at the Rochdale Science Extravaganza.

Spread the word, bring your friends and family, and prepare to be amazed. Let's celebrate the magic of STEAM together.


Phone: Mohammed Rahman


11:00am - 4:00pm

Rochdale Town Hall, Town Hall, The Esplanade, Rochdale OL16 1AZ.


Tuesday 07 May 2024

National Theatre Live – Nye (12A) - A new play by Tim Price directed by Rufus Norris

Michael Sheen plays Nye Bevan in a surreal and spectacular journey through the life and legacy of the man who transformed Britain’s welfare state and created the NHS.

Confronted with death, Aneurin ‘Nye’ Bevan’s deepest memories lead him on a mind-bending journey back through his life; from childhood to mining underground, Parliament and fights with Churchill.

Written by Tim Price and directed by Rufus Norris (Small Island), this epic new Welsh fantasia will be broadcast live from the National Theatre.

Tickets from £10

Phone: Middleton Arena 0300 303 8633 


Middleton Arena, LCpl Joel Halliwell VC Way, Middleton M24 1AG


Tuesday 07 May 2024

Rochdale & District Camera Club

Tonight is RDCC V Oldham CC. competition.

You are more than welcome to come down to one of our club nights to see if you would enjoy joining the club.

Phone: Pete Williams07967 969136


Syke Methodist Church Hall, Syke Road, Rochdale OL12 9TF


Wednesday 08 May 2024

Rochdale Photographic Society

Tonight's session - club meeting.

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.

Phone: Secretary - Ed Whitaker

Doors open 7.15pm, 7.30pm start

Rochdale Unitarian Church, Clover Street, Rochdale OL12 6TP


Wednesday 08 May 2024

Toad Lane Concerts - Rochdale's Weekly Music at Lunchtime

This week we have The Nightingale Singers – conductor Ken Greaves, accompanist J Edward Rigg.

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.


2 views0 comments


bottom of page