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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA


 previews, reviews, interviews, and recommendations with Steve Cooke






Footprints in the Sand at St Andrew’s

Preview by Steve Cooke

In 2014, St Andrew's Church moved from the site on Smith Street to a new building on Entwistle Road, Rochdale because of the town centre redevelopment and they are celebrating 10 years on the new site with a performance of Footprints in the Sand. They are celebrating not only 10 years in a new building but also everything that has happened during that time including the worship, the variety of groups that use the building, support for the community and all the many people involved in these activities and events.

Footprints in the Sand sung by the United Christian Singers is a musical by Joseph M. Martin that takes us to the lakeside beaches and along the dusty roads of Galilee, to the ancient streets of Jerusalem and far beyond. It traces the journey of faith for some of those who responded to Jesus’ call to follow him. Through word and song, it celebrates the incredible story of some of the men and women whose lives were turned around by Jesus as they tell of their amazing experiences.

The United Christian Singers involves about 40 people from all parts of Greater Manchester, representing a wide range of Christian denominations, and has been in existence for 35 years. The concert will last for about 2 hours with a short interval for light refreshments. There is no entrance fee but there will be a retiring collection for anyone who wishes to or is able to make a donation.

United Christian Singers

St. Andrew’s Methodist and United Reformed Church

10th Anniversary Celebration Saturday 15th June 2024

2:30pm Retiring Collection

46 Entwisle Rd, Rochdale OL16 2HZ


Dracula: The Bloody Truth at the Octagon

Preview by Steve Cooke

The Octagon Theatre and Stephen Joseph Theatre have announced casting of their

spectacular new production which takes the lid off the familiar story of the world’s greatest – or worst, depending on how you look at it – vampire.

Dracula: The Bloody Truth is a co-production from the Octagon Theatre Bolton and

Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough. Based (very loosely!) on the book by Bram Stoker.

it’s written by one of the UK's leading touring physical comedy theatre companies, La Navet Bete, and John Nicholson, one of the co-writers of previous Octagon productions The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Time Machine.

And it’s from the same creative team that were behind last year’s SJT hits The 39 Steps and the UK Theatre Award-nominated The Comedy of Errors (more or less), a co-production with Shakespeare North Playhouse.

The show opens at the Octagon from Tuesday 11 – Saturday 29 June before travelling to

Stephen Joseph Theatre from Wednesday 3 – Saturday 27 July.

Making his Octagon debut, Chris Hannon (Now Is Good, Chester Storyhouse, The

Ladykillers, Oldham Coliseum), as well as familiar faces Annie Kirkman (Ladies Day,

Octagon Theatre Bolton & New Vic Theatre, Ladies Down Under, New Vic Theatre), Killian Macardle (Animal Farm, Octagon Theatre Bolton, Derby Theatre & Hull Truck Theatre, Mind Mangler: Member of the Tragic Circle, Mischief Theatre) and Amy Revelle (The Time Machine: A Comedy, Park Theatre & UK tour – including the Octagon Theatre, The Possibility of Colour, Manchester tour) will be directed by Paul Robinson in a show which sees vampire hunter Van Helsing reveal the real story behind the phenomenon.

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 a troupe of highly trained, versatile actors to tell the story of the vampire who sailed from Transylvania to Whitby – just up the coast from Scarborough – leaving a trail of destruction in his wake…


Stephen Joseph Theatre Artistic Director, Paul Robinson, will be directing the production, fresh from huge critical and audience acclaim for his three shows in 2023: The Comedy of Errors (more or less); The 39 Steps; and Christmas show Beauty and the Beast.

Paul says: “Our first summer show of last year was The 39 Steps, which was so wonderfully successful we knew it would be a hard act to follow. But when we came across the script for Dracula: The Bloody Truth we knew we’d found a worthy successor – a show we could really sink our teeth into! And as an added bonus, of course, it’s got a lovely local connection – in the original story, Count Dracula makes landfall at Whitby, just up the coast, so we (proudly?) think of him as a local boy.”

Lotte Wakeham, Artistic Director at the Octagon Theatre Bolton, added: “We are excited to once again be teaming up with our friends at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, this time to present this hilarious, fast-paced, knockabout comedy. The script is from the same co-writer of our previous productions of The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Time Machine, so audiences are in for a real treat in this fresh and very funny adaptation. Forget everything you think you know about Dracula and join us for what promises to be a great night out.”

Dracula: The Bloody Truth is designed by Helen Coyston, with lighting design by Jane Laljee. The composer and sound designer is Simon Slater and movement direction is by Wayne Parsons. The wardrobe supervisor is Julia Perry-Mook. The assistant director is Jack Clearwater, and the assistant musical director is Dylan Townley, Cameron Mackintosh Resident Composer 2023-24. Casting is by Sarah Hughes CDG.

Dracula: The Bloody Truth rehearses at the SJT from Tuesday 7 May, playing at the Octagon Theatre Bolton from Tue 11 – Sat 29 June then at the SJT in Scarborough from Wed 3 – Sat 27 July.

Tickets start from £15 and are on-sale now.

Octagon Theatre, Howell Croft South

Bolton BL1 1SB

Phone; 01204 520661



Saturday 08 June 2024

Thank ABBA For The Music – The 50th Anniversary

Grab your platforms and flares for a journey back in time to when ABBA dominated the charts and ruled the airwaves! Thank ABBA For The Music is a two-hour theatre spectacular that captures all of the magic and excitement of one of pop history’s most successful and entertaining live bands.

Featuring all of ABBA’s greatest hits including Dancing Queen, Waterloo, Mamma Mia, Take A Chance On Me, Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! Knowing Me Knowing You, Fernando, Super Trouper and many more!

With stunning costumes, live band, interactive video projection, some tongue-in-cheek Swedish humour and, of course, ABBA’s spectacular trademark harmonies, this is the ultimate feel-good party show!

ABBA and 70’s fancy dress optional … but encouraged!

Tickets from £23

Phone: Middleton Arena 0300 303 8633 


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


Saturday 08 June 2024

Riverside Artisan Market

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

A big thankyou to all our customers for helping us to grow this market every month.

A warm welcome is waiting from over 30 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.

Come say hi, let us know what you think and while you’re here check out the great Rochdale Riverside and the other lovely places Rochdale Town Centre has to offer.


10am - 4pm

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


Saturday 08 June 2024

Coach House Craft Fairs

The doors will open to the public at 10am. 

Stallholders will be able to access earlier in the morning to be able to set up their stalls.

The charge to stallholders for a table is £20 for each craft fair.

Please contact us to book a stall for one of our craft fairs or have a query about arrangements on the day.

We will also be holding Craft Fairs in September and November.


Phone: Elizabeth 07939 491 545

10.00am - 3.00pm

Littleborough Coach House, Lodge Street, Littleborough OL15 9AE


Saturday 08 June 2024

Community Fun Day

There’s a whole host of things for you to get involved in – no matter your age or interests. This includes meeting the college's rare and wonderful wildlife, which includes exotic creatures such as flamingos, meerkats, potoroos and much more.

Attractions include:

Wallaby Keeper Talks

Meet our Lorikeets

Fire Engine Experience

Pop-up Cinema

Virtual Reality Demos

‘Path to Paris’ Olympic-themed Activities

Samba Dancing

Esports & Gaming Sessions

Gym Challenges, Fitness Testing & Health Checks

Story Time Sessions

Penalty Shoot Outs

Sensory Activities

Garden Games (Giant Jenga, Connect 4, Hula Hooping, Giant Chalks)

Face Painting

Hair Braiding

Nail Painting


‘Whodunnit’ Crime Scene

Eventing Simulator (booking required on the day)

Mini Golf

Radio Controlled F1 Track

Quizzes & Competitions

Food & Refreshments

Live music

Parking is free but is limited so please arrive early – event starts at 11am.

Free, donations accepted

Phone: 0161 643 7560

11am - 3pm

Hopwood Hall College, Middleton Campus, Rochdale Road, Middleton M24 6XH


Sunday 09 June 2024

Explore Middleton's Conservation Area

Historic walking tour of Middleton's Conservation Area.

A guided walk round the amazing 'Golden Cluster' of historic buildings in the Middleton Conservation Area, particularly focusing on those by the 'remarkable' architect Edgar Wood (1860-1935).

In the course of our walk of one mile in length we will see 9 buildings listed of national importance, plus other 'locally listed' buildings to learn about Middleton's fascinating history.

The tour will be followed by a visit to the church and schoolrooms with refreshments after.

It will be led by members of the Edgar Wood Society.

Park on Long St. or on nearby Market Place Car Park M24 6AE (Parking free but display a ticket) The meeting point is on the 17-bus route from Manchester to Rochdale.

Please book beforehand to help us with our catering.

£10 for non-members

Phone: Christine Grime 0161 653 0512


Meet at Long Street Methodist Church, Long St. Middleton. M24 6UN

Wednesday 12 June 2024

Rochdale Photographic Society

Tonight's session - development 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.

Doors open 7.15pm, 7.30pm start

Rochdale Unitarian Church, Clover Street, Rochdale OL12 6TP


Wednesday 12 June 2024

Toad Lane Concerts - Rochdale's Weekly Music at Lunchtime

This week we have More than Melody Ladies Choir - conductor Jonathan Gibson

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



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