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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA


 previews, reviews, interviews, and recommendations with Steve Cooke






Call Out for volunteers at the Feel Good Festival 2024

By Steve Cooke

This year, the ever popular and increasingly recognised by festival goers from far afield, Feel Good Festival promises to be an exciting summer event.

Produced by Rochdale Borough Council on Saturday 10th August, followed by the Feel Good Folk Festival on Sunday 11th August. This will be a weekend of live music which will take place in Rochdale Town Hall Square. 

There is a call-out for volunteer sat the Feel Good Festival weekend to support Rochdale Borough Council’s Events and Creative Programmes team to ensure the Festival is a success and that everybody who attends has a day full of joy!

You can sign up to volunteer for one or both dates - it’s completely up to you.

The dates are:

Saturday 10th August – Feel Good Festival – Live Music Event

Two shifts during the day, but volunteers will be welcome to stay for the full event.

Sunday 11th August – Feel Good Folk Festival

This is a ticketed event, so volunteers are needed to take and check tickets on entry.

Tasks will include providing information for those attending the festival about what is going on and what they can get involved with as well as answering any questions they may have, taking tickets, and meet and greet to make sure the contributors (local organisations, artists and companies) get set up in the correct area and settled in for the event.

Volunteers will be asked to only volunteer for one of the two shifts but will be welcome to attend the full day. Refreshments will be provided for volunteers.

There will also be a full induction and training in the run-up to the event – date to be confirmed.

For the Feel Good Festival, shifts will be split:                

First shift will be 11am – 5pm  (Arrive 10.30am for volunteer Briefing).

Second Shirt will be 4.30pm – 11pm (Arrive 4pm for volunteer Briefing)

For the Feel Good Folk Festival time will be 11am – 4pm.

If you would like to support the Feel Good Festival, please contact Lee Brennan at: ( with Your Full Name & Contact Number, Email Address, Which event/shift you would like to volunteer on plus any Access requirements or provisions.


Magic Moments at TLC with More than Melody Ladies’ Choir

Review by Dr Joe Dawson


The words of the opening chorus of Comedy Tonight by Sondheim set the theme for the eager midday audience at St Mary in the Baum: ‘with something for everybody’.


More than Melody is a group of ladies from Bury, Oldham and Rochdale formed in 2008 by Alyson Brailsford ‘to have fun and fellowship and provide a programme of musical entertainment’. (Contact:  07773710325 or They certainly fulfilled their mission today.

Avuncular conductor, Jonathan Gibson graduated from the RNCM as a horn player and now freelances. He is also currently the Musical Director of Rochdale Phoenix Opera Society. Pianist Brian Milligan, a member of several vocal and opera groups, accompanied throughout.


It was indeed a varied programme. Show songs of stage and screen and settings of popular and serious songs were all treated with enthusiasm. Joyful arrangements of A dream is a wish your heart makes, I leave my heart in an English Garden, and I Whistle a happy tune, led to a resonant contralto rendition of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah from Jennifer Workman.


The Impossible Dream, and a spiritual, Rocka my soul led to an unusual but moving choral arrangement of ‘I know that my Redeemer liveth’ from Handel’s Messiah.


In contrast, a poetry reading by Ann Baxter-Stubbs commented with wry humour on ageing disgracefully.


The penultimate set consisted of a Perry Como Medley including Magic Moments and Catch a falling star. Then The Music of the Night by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Westering Home and Bless this house.

Finally, all this culminated in ABBA’s famous hit Thank you for the music. The sentiment of these words was reflected back by the audience in their sustained applause.

Magic moments indeed.


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



Dracula – The Bloody Truth at the Octagon Bolton

Review by Hilary Dawes


Written by Le Navet Bete and John Nicholson and directed by Paul Robinson, Dracula the Bloody Truth is a hilarious and madcap comedy retelling of the famous gothic classic.

It’s 1900.  Dracula, the best-selling novel by Bram Stoker was released three years ago and Professor Abraham Van Helsing is not happy.  He was there.  He knows The Truth. The Bloody Truth, and The Truth must come out.

Professional vampire hunter Van Helsing has gathered three totally incompetent actors to assist in relating his version of events in order to reveal the true ending to the story of the vampire who sailed from Transylvania to Whitby leaving a trail of destruction in his wake.

Professor van Helsing introduces himself to the audience to explain the reasons for this performance.   He is at pains to stress that “this is not theatre”, but rather an attempt to tell the true story of what really happened to him and his friends in their encounters with Bram Stoker’s titular character, shamelessly fictionalised in the novel.


Mayhem ensues, as Van Helsing vainly endeavours to direct the inept cast, only creating more chaos along the way!  Every attempt to portray the “real” story results in more things going wrong!  Add into the mix unreliable props, collapsing scenery, plus lightning fast costume changes, and the result is hilarious slapstick farce, which still maintains the essence of the original novel.


Sometimes sharing characters, sometimes one actor portraying three in the same scene, each of this cast of only four deserves the highest praise, delivering at breakneck speed 40 or so characters with incredible energy, skill, and perfect comic timing, as we travel with them to Transylvania, Whitby, London and back again to illustrate Van Helsing’s extraordinary version of events.


Chris Hannon as the indefatigable Professor Van Helsing, Annie Kirkman as Dracula and Dr Seward, Alyce Liburd as Mina Murray and Holmwood, together with the superb comic skills of Killian Macardle as Jonathan Harker and the ill-fated Lucy Westenra, in addition to their countless other roles, all ensured that the pace never flagged, and the laughs kept on coming!


Praise too should go to the creative team, with designer Helen Coyston, lighting designer Jane Laljee and composer and sound designer Simon Slater.  Movement and fight direction are by Wayne Parsons and Kaitlin Howard, and wardrobe supervisor is Julia Perry-Mook.


For a thoroughly entertaining and exhilarating evening, forget everything you think you know about Dracula and catch this brilliant show at the Octagon Bolton, running until 29th June. 





Wednesday 26 June 2024

Rochdale Photographic Society

Tonight's session - landscape competition.

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.

Doors open 7.15pm, 7.30pm start

Rochdale Unitarian Church, Clover Street, Rochdale OL12 6TP


Wednesday 26 June 2024

Toad Lane Concerts - Rochdale's Weekly Music at Lunchtime

This week we have The Silja Trio George Bloomfield violin, Cillian Hennessey cello & Hanna Csermely piano (all RNCM)

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


Wednesday 26 - Saturday 29 June 2024

Ben Hu

Based on the timeless stories of the nineteenth century, this adaptation condenses the epic tale so that it can be told by just four actors. The story follows an amateur theatre troupe as they produce the massive tale of the fictional Jewish prince and merchant Judah Ben-Hur. From galley slave to champion charioteer within Jerusalem during the life of Jesus Christ. The actors struggle along through the piece as rivalries form and offstage romances interfere. Complete with chariot race, sea battle, and stage combat.

Written by Patrick Barlow

Directed by Andrew Fidler

Wed 26 – Friday 28 June 7.30pm

Saturday 29 June 4.00pm

Phone: Danny Groves 01706 642 008

The Curtain Theatre, 47 Milkstone Road, Rochdale OL11 1EB


Thursday 27 June 2024 - Saturday 29 June 2024

Visit Fireground Museum

Join us at Fireground this week to discover Greater Manchester's firefighting story.

Fire museum attractions are on show inside the museum including our collection of historic firefighting artefacts from the 18th century to present day, plus home-made refreshments in the new Fireground Café, and souvenirs from our fantastic new gift shop! We have a wide choice ranging from toddler to collector.

Fireground is open to visitors on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 10am - 4pm.

Under 4s are free, Children (aged 4-15) and Concessions £5, Adults £7 and Family (4 people) £20.

Phone: Fireground 01706 341219

Fireground, Maclure Road, Rochdale OL11 1DN



Friday 28 June 2024

Chaka – The Music of Chaka Khan

An exhilarating music show celebrating one of the world’s most gifted music icons and multi-grammy award winner, Chaka Khan.

Honouring the legacy of a legendary singer and songwriter who has captivated audiences and inspired generations of singers for over five decades with her funk, soul, pop and dance hits, Chaka – The Music of Chaka Khan is the ultimate musical tribute.

Led by the incomparable Sulene Fleming (The Brand New Heavies, Incognito, The New Master Sounds) and featuring a stellar live band, this two-hour music show encapsulates the true essence of Chaka Khan.

Featuring the all-time diva greats and anthemic dance floor hits I’m Every Woman, Ain’t Nobody, I Feel For You, Through The Wire, Like Sugar, and the funk/soul Tell Me Something Good, Sweet Thing, and many more, this show is chock full of irresistible groove and dance floor smash hits – a must see for anyone who loves funk, soul, and dance floor diva classics.

As Bridget Jones says: “I prefer vodka, and Chaka Khan”.

This show pays homage to a true musical icon and one of the greatest artists of all time whose influence is unmeasurable.

Get ready to dance, sing, and groove to the music that made Chaka Khan a true icon.

: Tickets from £29.50

Phone: Middleton Arena 0300 303 8633 


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


Saturday 29 June 2024

Summer Serenade

Join our award-winning society for an evening of your favourite melodies.

Featuring hits from ABBA to Gilbert and Sullivan there is sure to be something for everyone as we sing all your favourite songs!


Phone: Penny Lydiate 07761 116304


Bamford Chapel, Norden Road, Bamford OL11 5PQ



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