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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA



previews, reviews, interviews, and recommendations with Steve Cooke



ORTOA recital: Gary Hulme plus the return of the JJ Binns organ in Rochdale Town Hall

Preview by Dr Joe Dawson


ORTOA (Oldham, Rochdale and Tameside Organists’ Association) est. 1908, continues its exploration of fine organs in its patch.


One particularly beautiful example is the Harrison & Harrison organ at Royton Parish Church, St Paul’s, Church Street, Royton.


Guest soloist will be Gary Hulme ARCO, LTCL. Born in Manchester in 1961, Gary was appointed to his first organ post at the age of thirteen. Since 1984 he has been Organist & Choirmaster at Prestwich Parish Church.


Following early retirement from school teaching, Gary is now a freelance organist and accompanist. He is a regular recitalist, and is a regular player at Bolton Parish Church, and St. Ann’s Church, Manchester. As an Organ Accompanist, he has regularly performed with Todmorden Choral Society for a number of years, and Urmston, Prestbury, Oldham and Bury Choral Societies, along with Bolton Choral Union.


In addition, he is Musical Director of Prestbury Choral Society.

His varied programme will consist of G.F. Handel, Michael C. Festing and J.S. Bach,

plus, Cesar Franck, Norman Cocker, Ernest B. Farrar, and C.V. Stanford.

Admission £8 (£6.50 for members & concessions).


P.S. Meanwhile, ORTOA hope to resume their Celebrity Organist recital programmes with the magnificent JJ Binns instrument at Rochdale Town Hall soon. The organ will be used as part of the grand Re-opening Concerts with The Black Dyke Band, 5th and 6th March 2024 played by Darius Battiwalla, City Organist of Leeds Town Hall.


A billion-colour musical coming to HOME

Preview by Steve Cooke

Get ready to be swept away into the dazzling world of Bollywood at HOME this Spring!

Rifco’s most ambitious musical yet, Frankie Goes to Bollywood is a breathtakingly colourful journey of romance, epic songs, and spectacular dance – inspired by real stories of British women caught in the spotlight of the biggest film industry in the world.

Frankie never wanted to be a star, and after a chance encounter with a director, she finds herself transported to the ruthless world of Bollywood. As she climbs the sparkling staircase of stardom, Frankie must confront what she is willing to do for fame and fortune. Can she stay in the Bollywood family and still be true to herself.

Amidst the heroes and villains, ornate costumes and sweeping sets, get ready for this tale of being British in Bollywood.

Concept and Book by Pravesh Kumar, Songs and Music by Niraj Chag, Songs and Lyrics by Tasha Taylor Johnson.

From the makers of Britain’s Got Bhangra comes the world premiere of a new British musical.

Meet the cast of the billion-colour musical!

Laila Zaidi (Clem in 'Little Bits Of Light' (National Theatre, London); Charlie in 'The Selfish Giant' (Vaudeville Theatre, London’s West End); Tassita in 'Starlight Express' (The Other Palace Theatre, London); Maria in ‘West Side Story' At Shakespeare's 400th Anniversary (RSC); Rosalia in ‘West Side Story’ BBC Proms), plays the title role of Frankie. Frankie feels alone and wishes she had a family. She loves watching Bollywood films because they remind her of her mother and a place where she can belong. As she climbs up the ladder of stardom, she realises that she has to sacrifice more and more of herself to get to the top.

Helen K. Wint (Bronco Billy (Charing Cross); Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! (Wyndhams); Dirty Dancing (UK Tour); One Night of Tina (UK Tour); Dancing in the Streets (UK tour); Daddy Cool (Shaftesbury); plays Malika, Malika is a Bollywood starlet who knows that her reign is limited. She has made it to the top by playing the game and now waits for the right opportunity to make her next move in this ruthless world of men.

Shakil Hussain (BBC One’s ‘We Hunt Together’ Sky One’s ‘Gangs of London’, BBC’s ‘Boat Story’, ITV’s ‘Emmerdale’ Amazon Prime’s ‘Riches’) plays Raju King. Raju is known as the King of Bollywood and has reigned for over 25 years. He has done whatever he needed to maintain his position at the top and has many dark secrets. Raju loves fame, adoration, and power.

Gigi Zahir (multi-disciplinary drag artist, actor, singer Crayola the Queen, Antonio/Trinculo in TEMPEST at The Pleasance, and Becky Biro in the solo black comedy FAME WHORE at The King’s Head. nominated for Best Newcomer at the UK Pantomime Awards in 2023) plays Shona Chatterji.  Shona (they/them) is the most sought-after choreographer in the industry. They will do whatever it takes to survive and stay at the top, and the secrets they know will keep them there. If they like you, they can be a great friend.

Navin Kundra (six number one singles in the Asian Charts and winner of “Entertainer of the Year Award" at the House of Commons, a “British Soap Award” at the ITV Soap Awards and the “Stardust Global Icon Award” for Outstanding Achievement in Music), plays Prem Kapoor. Prem is an independent filmmaker who comes from a family of filmmakers. He wants to prove himself and change the world with his stories, but he feels lost in the world of mediocre Bollywood cinema.

Katie Stasi (Roles We’ll Never Play (Union Theatre), Dick Whittington (Stanley Arts Theatre), Wizard of Oz (Theatre Royal Winchester), Betty Blue Eyes (Union Theatre), No For an Answer (Arcola Theatre) plays Goldy Singh. Goldy is Frankie's cousin and friend who works with her at the cinema. She dreams big but struggles to take action. She is desperate to increase her Instagram followers and thinks it is the key to fame.

Box Office 0161 200 1500

Restaurant 0161 212 3500

HOME, 2 Tony Wilson Place, Manchester M15 4FN



Preview by Steve Cooke

WOW Manchester presents a very special, bold, and empowering evening with beloved artist and author, Melanie Brown.

Celebrating the launch of her critically acclaimed memoir Brutally Honest, Mel and journalist and co-author Louise Gannon join us for an unfiltered discussion on her journey from Spice Girl and global icon to Women's Aid patron and champion for survivors of abuse – plus everything in between.

Expect a frank and honest conversation with all the fun, infectious energy and personal insight Melanie is known for, in an event that promises to live up to its name.

WOW is the world’s biggest, most comprehensive festival celebrating women, girls, and non-binary people. WOW Manchester takes place from Friday 24 May to Sunday 26 May.

You can purchase a pre-signed paperback copy of Mel B's book Brutally Honest and collect it at Aviva Studios. Add to your basket when you book your ticket – limited availability!

As a Spice Girl, TV talent show judge and Broadway star, Mel B a.k.a Scary Spice, has been a global icon since her twenties. But behind the glittering façade of fame, the struggles and pain of this working-class, mixed-race girl from Leeds are laid bare in her critically acclaimed best-selling memoir, Brutally Honest.

With deep personal insight, remarkable frankness and trademark Yorkshire humour, the book tells how she went from Girl Power to girl powerless during her ten-year emotionally abusive marriage. Tracing a path through the key moments in her life, she reflects on her childhood, rise to fame and her chilling downward spiral before she finally broke free.

In this expanded edition written with Louise Gannon, Mel brings her story up to date and tells the unfiltered story of piecing herself back together, dealing with trauma and new heartbreak whilst becoming a champion for survivors of abuse.

24 MAY 2024


£25.00 Standard Tickets, £12.50 Affordable Tickets, £10.00 Aviva Tickets

This event is suitable for ages 14+

Running time: 90 mins (no interval)

Accessibility features available for this event: Captioning BSL Interpreting Wheelchair Access



Tuesday 05 March 2024

Rochdale & District Camera Club

Tonight is Mike Ryan - travel photography.

We meet every Tuesday at 8pm at Syke Methodist Church Hall.

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

Visit the link below for the 2023 syllabus.

Phone: Pete Williams 07967 969136


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


Wednesday 06 March 2024

Rochdale Photographic Society

Tonight's session - president's evening.

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.

£2.50 for room fee

Doors open 7.15pm, 7.30pm start

Rochdale Unitarian Church, Clover Street, Rochdale OL12 6TP




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


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