STEVE COOKE AATA
WEEKEND COLUMN SAT 20 MAY 2023
RMTC’s GREASE highly entertaining, engrossing and exhilarating!
REVIEW BY STEVE COOKE
What a thrill to be among a sell-out audience in the revitalised Champness Hall for the opening night of RMTC’s [Rochdale Musical Theatre Company] magnificent production of GREASE.
Full disclosure – I thought I didn’t like musicals! I am now converted!
The whole experience was highly entertaining, engrossing and exhilarating.
The stunning cast, wonderful production team and superb [live] musicians pulled off a never to be forgotten show.
One excited audience member was heard to exclaim on hitting the cold night air on Drake Street ‘well that were bloody great’.
We were transported back to the 1950s with the timeless story of the Pink Ladies and T-Birds, and the romance between Danny and Sandy. The show-stopping hits kept coming "Summer Nights", "Greased Lightnin'", and "You're The One That I Want" all bringing rapturous applause, fully deserved by this amazingly talented cast.
The audience spanned the generations and included Grease fans in brilliantly created fancy dress.
At the end of the show the whole audience rose as one applauding and whooping.
Wow! What night – can’t wait for the next one!
Coming to the Octagon Alan Plater’s warm and witty musical play, Blonde Bombshells of 1943
PREVIEW By Steve Cooke
Coming to the Octagon next month is Alan Plater’s warm and witty musical play, Blonde Bombshells of 1943.
Following the success of 2021’s Home I’m Darling and 2022’s Brief Encounter, the Octagon Theatre Bolton, Stephen Joseph Theatre and Theatre by the Lake are now taking audiences back to the swinging 40s in this production, directed by Zoë Waterman (Jane Eyre, Stephen Joseph Theatre and New Vic Theatre, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, Theatre by the Lake)
Featuring a stellar company of 8 actor–musicians, the full cast includes Verity Bajoria (Tale of a Thousand and One Nights, Dragonboy Productions, Atrocities at Arkham, Tell No Tales Theatre Company); Lauren Chinery (Dreamboats and Petticoats, Bill Kenwright Ltd, Gatsby, Ruby in the Dust); Georgina Field (Gods & Dogs, The Rude Mechanical Theatre Company, Roll Over Beethoven, Belgrade Theatre Coventry).
They will be joined by Stacey Ghent (We are the Best, Live Theatre, When the Long Trick’s Over, High Tide and New Wolsey Theatre); Rory Gradon (The Snow Queen, London Touring Players, Julius Caesar, The Undisposables); Sarah Groarke (The Borrowers, Theatre by the Lake, Jane Eyre, Stephen Joseph Theatre and New Vic Theatre).
Completing the cast are Alice McKenna (Red Sky at Night, Mikron Theatre Company, Girls Don’t Play Guitar, Royal Court Liverpool); and Gleanne Purcell-Brown (Playboy of the West Indies, The Birmingham Rep Company, She Loves Me, Sheffield Crucible). The Blonde Bombshells, the most glamorous all-girl swing band in the North, loses members every time it plays a GI camp. Now there’s an important BBC job in the offing and Betty needs to find new musicians fast!
This lively and lavish musical play is filled with glorious live swing performances of 1940s classics including Glenn Miller, The Andrews Sisters, George Formby, Fats Waller and more, taking audiences on a wonderful journey back to a bye-gone era.
The creative team includes Jess Curtis (designer); Greg Last (musical director); Richard G Jones (lighting designer); Chris Bogg (sound designer); Sundeep Saini (movement director); Howard Gray (orchestrations); Sarah Hughes (casting director); and Ryan McVeigh (assistant director).
Commenting on the casting of the production, director Zoë Waterman said: “I am absolutely thrilled to be directing Blonde Bombshells of 1943. We have got a glorious and terribly talented cast; it is such a privilege to work with performers who are not only stunning actors but also phenomenal musicians. I can’t wait to get into rehearsals and start bringing the characters to life and weaving the music through the show. It is always a joy to make work that celebrates women, and this is no exception - full of hilarious, practical, strong characters who make do and mend as the time dictates and manage to pull an all singing, all dancing performance out of the jaws of an air raid.”
The Blonde Bombshells of 1943 comes to the Octagon Theatre Bolton from Fri 9 June – Sat 1 July.
Tickets start from £15 and are on-sale now.
Find out more and book tickets via the Box Office on 01204 520661 or at octagonbolton.co.uk.
Saturday 20th May
Come and Sing C O R O N A T I O N
Vivaldi, ‘Gloria in D’, G.F. Handel, 'Zadok the Priest'
Price includes tuition, sheet music and drinks throughout the day, however, please bring along a packed lunch.
Workshops 9.30am-3pm Public Concert at 3.30pm
To book your place and for further information please contact Jill Midgley email@example.com or by phone 01706 639162.
Rochdale Parish Church of St. Chad, Sparrow Hill, Rochdale OL16 1QT
Saturday 20 May
A Coronation Celebration
A celebration of the Coronation of King Charles 111.
Poetry, readings and singing. Members of Milnrow Brass Band will provide music.
Suggested £8 donation includes a light afternoon tea.
Phone: Diane Hardwick 01706 644134
Moorhouse Methodist Church, Rochdale Road, Milnrow OL16 3LN
Saturday 20 May
A Spring Concert to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of St Edmund's Church with Cantare Ladies Choir.
£10, tickets available from choir members or on the door
Phone: Jackie Holt 07969 931145
The Church of St Edmund, Clement Royds Street, Rochdale OL12 6QF
Wednesday 24 May
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 24 May
Toad Lane Concerts - Rochdale's Weekly Music at Lunchtime
This week we have Music from Maria King (RNCM & cruise ships) 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
Thursday 25 May
National Theatre Live – Best of Enemies by James Graham directed by Jeremy Herrin
Inspired by the documentary by Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon
David Harewood (Homeland) and Zachary Quinto (Star Trek) play feuding political rivals in James Graham’s (Sherwood) multiple award-winning new drama.
In 1968 America, as two men fight to become the next president, all eyes are on the battle between two others: the cunningly conservative William F. Buckley Jr., and the unruly liberal Gore Vidal.
During a new nightly television format, they debate the moral landscape of a shattered nation. As beliefs are challenged and slurs slung, a new frontier in American politics is opening and television news is about to be transformed forever.
Jeremy Herrin (All My Sons) directs this blistering political thriller, filmed live in London’s West End.
*This production will not be broadcast live via satellite. It will be recorded in advance of the release, filmed in front of a live audience.
Tickets from £10
Phone: Middleton Arena 0300 303 8633
Middleton Arena, LCpl Joel Halliwell VC Way, Middleton M24 1AG