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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA


previews, reviews, interviews, and recommendations with

Steve Cooke


Heywood AODS present the Stephen Sondheim musical revue Putting It Together at The Curtain Theatre

PREVIEW By Steve Cooke

Two of our much-loved local theatrical stalwarts are combining to produce a real treat for lovers of live performance - Heywood Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society [HAODS] formed in 1930, presents its latest production, Stephen Sondheim musical revue Putting It Together at The Curtain Theatre, established in 1925.

The Stephen Sondheim musical revue Putting It Together, which features songs from Company such as The Ladies Who Lunch, Being Alive and Marry Me A Little.

Company first premiered on Broadway in 1970 and was so acclaimed that it was nominated for 14 Tony Awards and won six of them, a record at the time. Company is considered of the first concept musicals.

Company follows Bobby, who is single and surrounded by married people, on the eve of his 35th birthday. Interestingly, for the 2018 production Marianne Elliott reimagined the character if Bobbi as female 35-year-old; making this version about a woman struggling with Bobbi’s issues in a way that only men were in 1970.

There is a great line-up of performers, performing some of Sondheim’s most loved musical numbers.

Including-talented leading lady, Sophie Lord.

‘I’ve been involved in amateur theatre since the age of 10 after I watched a production of Oliver! I begged and begged my parents to allow me to join the local youth section of Bacup AODS (Bytes) The first production I was involved with was Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat, and from that moment I haven’t looked back. I have been lucky enough to take part in many productions around the northwest. Some of my favourite roles have been Lucille (Parade), Sukie (Witches OF Eastwick) Lola (Copacabana) and Eliza (My Fair Lady). However, this production of Putting it together will mark the first production I have been involved with at Heywood AODS.’

‘When I heard that HAODS were auditioning for this production I just had to audition. I have loved this musical since the moment I stumbled across a YouTube video of John Barrowman singing Marry Me A little.’

‘Whilst I have to admit I have a love-hate relationship with Mr Sondheim, it is an utter privilege to be able to perform his work alongside a cast of talented humans such as Sarah, Jon and Sam.’

Recent society member, Katie:

‘Hello I’m Katie Zobs'

‘I have had a love of musicals since a young age. My sister had me watching Cats on repeat at home and of course I would dress up as Grizabella and we would be trying partner cartwheels in the back garden. Coincidentally the first am dram I took part in was a junior production of…you guessed it…CATS! After that I took a big break from amateur dramatics as I moved away for university and work.’

‘As soon as I was back home, I felt like it was time I started singing again and so, I signed up for HAODS! Since then I’ve attempted to take part in both 9-5 and Kinky Boots however covid and pregnancy made sure that wasn’t happening. Finally I got on stage to perform in Sister Act this year and it felt amazing! I didn’t want the theatre thrill to finish there and so I decided to join the ensemble of “Putting it Together”. The cast may be small but wow they are mighty. I cannot wait for everyone to see the hard work that has been put in, so be sure to get your tickets!’

HAODS was formed in 1930 and is affiliated to both the National Operatic and Dramatic Association and to the Greater Manchester Drama Federation. The Junior section, known as 'HeyKids' was formed in 1990.

The society produces two full musicals each year: one for the senior section (16+) and one for HeyKids (8 -18), as well as a play and concerts from time to time. The senior show is normally in early March each year, and the HeyKids show in mid-October at the Heywood Civic Centre.

Rehearsals are on Monday and Wednesday evenings, with additional Sunday afternoon rehearsals for the last few weeks before the show goes on. The rehearsals for the senior show usually run from October to March each year, and for the HeyKids show from May to October, with a break for the summer holidays.

Throughout the year the Hey Kids don their brightly coloured Hey Kids T-shirts and take part in various activities to raise money for their society. Such activities include bag packing at Morrisons Heywood, carol singing and various other activities. And as you can imagine singing Christmas carols in December wearing those T-shirts shows how committed these young thespians really are! We also have regular fundraising events with the adults so keep checking the website for more information.

They are a friendly bunch who are always on the lookout for new members and helpers.

For more information on joining HAODS or HeyKids visit;

The Curtain Theatre, Milkstone Road, Rochdale OL11 1EB

Phone: 01706 642008

The theatre seats an audience of 180 on its fully raked seating.

Secure parking is available behind the theatre in the NHS Nye Bevan Car Park

Tickets can be purchased here:

Oldham Coliseum Theatre Ltd announced as anchor tenant for new Oldham theatre.

PREVIEW By Steve Cooke

Following the closure of the Coliseum’s building in March Oldham Coliseum Theatre Ltd [OCT] has been confirmed by Oldham Council as the anchor tenant for a new theatre in Oldham, the new building, currently in its design phase, is scheduled to open in 2026.

The announcement follows extensive discussions between Oldham Council and the new Board of Oldham Coliseum Theatre Ltd (OCT). This new Board was appointed following OCT’s unsuccessful application to remain in ACE’s National Portfolio from 1 April 2023, which led to the closure on 31 March 2023 of the building on Fairbottom Street and the ongoing redundancies of the Coliseum’s loyal staff team.

Oldham Council has previously begun developing plans for a new theatre in the borough, which will be located on Greaves Street as part of Oldham’s Cultural Quarter. Construction of the new theatre is being funded by Oldham Council.

As part of the discussions, Duncan Craig, Chair of OCT, has taken a seat on the Performance Space Partnership Board - chaired by Fiona Gasper and including members from Oldham Council, Peshkar and Oldham Theatre Workshop, the Board is responsible for overseeing the design and delivery for the new theatre.

Recent discussions between Oldham Council and OCT have focused on the delivery of high-quality arts and culture to the people of Oldham, at a range of venues across the borough, in the lead up to the opening of the building. OCT are currently exploring new approaches to programming, creative learning, talent development and audience development in Oldham, whilst building new partnerships that ensure the new theatre responds to the needs of Oldham’s diverse communities and creative practitioners.

Oldham Council has submitted a proposal to Arts Council England for the ringfenced £1.845m over the next three years – which would see OCT playing a key role in the delivery of the arts and cultural programme alongside other cultural organisations – and a decision is awaited.

Duncan Craig OBE, Chair of Oldham Coliseum Theatre Ltd, said:

“My focus since becoming Chair in March has been on listening to the Coliseum’s many friends, partners, collaborators, and supporters – and I’m delighted that our conversations are starting to bear fruit. This has been a very difficult time for so many people associated with the Coliseum, from staff and volunteers to those who’ve simply known and loved this grand old theatre. My huge thanks go to Chris Lawson, the Coliseum’s outgoing Artistic Director, and the Coliseum’s departing staff, who have continued to work with tirelessly dedication in such trying circumstances. My fellow Board members and I look forward to continuing collaborating with Oldham Council, ACE, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, and others as we work together on delivering culture to the heart of Oldham.”

Emma Barton, Executive Director for Place and Economic Growth said:

“This is a key milestone in the future of theatre in the borough, ensuring arts and performance continue to thrive in Oldham, and ensuring that performers and audiences have a fully accessible, modern, and sustainable new venue. “The new theatre will revitalize Oldham’s cultural offer, create additional jobs, and attract visitors into the town centre.

“It's on target to be open by 2026 – giving certainty to the future of performing arts in the town and building on our theatrical legacy – along with activities and performance to build and maintain audiences between now and then.”


Saturday 10 June

Littleborough Food Festival Craft Fair

The charge to stallholders for a table is £20.


Phone: Littleborough Coach House 01706 378481


10am - 3pm

Littleborough Coach House, Lodge Street, Littleborough OL15 9AE

Saturday 10 June

Riverside Artisan Market

Running on the second Saturday of every month, the successful Riverside Artisan Market returns again to Rochdale Riverside this weekend.

A warm welcome is waiting from over 20 small independent businesses who grow, rear, make or bake what you see. All different, all quality and made by the people you speak to.

From artisan meats to hand made fudge and glass creations.

From room sprays, wax melts, handmade soaps, and quirky gift ideas

From preserves, chutneys, oils and vinegars to delicious savoury pies, sweet treats and fresh fruit and veg and so much more.


Phone: 07447 412534

10am - 4pm

Riverside Retail & Leisure Complex, Riverside Walk, Rochdale OL16 1TR

Sunday 11 June

Alkrington Village Craft Market

Pop along and support your local small businesses and community.

With over 30 stalls a fantastic range of brilliant crafters selling their handmade and unique crafts not available on the high street.

Hot food and refreshments available.

Free customer parking outside Alkrington Community Centre, plus additional parking outside Tesco Mainway Alkrington.


Phone: Lee Yates 07807 457 703


11am - 4pm

Alkrington Community Centre, Hardfield Road, Alkrington, Middleton M24 1TQ

Sunday 11 June

Friends of Hare Hill Park Band Concert - Littleborough Brass Band

Kick back and relax to the sound of a brass band in Hare Hill Park.

Refreshments will be on sale. Please take your own chair or picnic blanket as they only have a limited number of chairs available.

All these events are possible thanks to volunteers who give up their time to make them happen. If you would like to get involved and help with the events in Littleborough, please submit your details here:


Phone: LEAF 07931 992393


3pm - 5pm

Hare Hill Park, Hare Hill Road, Littleborough OL15 9HE

Tuesday 13 June

Edwin Waugh Dialect Society

A Blast from the Past - Letters and recordings from past members, including Harvey Kershaw.

Edwin Waugh Dialect Society meetings are held on the second Tuesday of every month (previously Wednesday) from October to June.

Annual subscription is £5, but voluntary donations at each meeting help defray the cost of the room hire. Your first meeting is free.

Formed in 1938 by a group of Lancashire Dialect enthusiasts, the objects of the society are the maintaining and increasing of interest in Lancashire.

At the meetings, members are entertained by a speaker or a performer.

Phone: 01706 826227


7.30pm start - 9pm

St Andrew's Methodist and United Reformed Church, Entwistle Road, Rochdale OL16 2HZ

Wednesday 14 June

Wednesday Art Group

The weekly Art Club will regularly explore a variety of topics using collage, drawing, painting, and mixed media drawing from Touchstones Rochdale’s current exhibitions and the borough’s collections. All materials will be provided.

The sessions are designed to reduce stress, build confidence, and meet others through creativity.

Creative Health and Well Being Ltd is a not-for-profit organisation based in Rochdale. They run art sessions that are informal and relaxed whilst ensuring the topics are informative and help participants to build skills.




Touchstones Gallery Rochdale, The Esplanade, Rochdale OL16 1AQ

Wednesday 14 June

Toad Lane Concerts - Rochdale's Weekly Music at Lunchtime

This week we have Music from Louise Taylor soprano Jonathan Ellis piano (RNCM & Manchester Univ).

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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