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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA

World premiere new musical leads exciting new season at the Octagon

By Steve Cooke

The Octagon’s new season for 2022/23 brings the best of local, national, and international talent together to deliver an exciting programme of productions this autumn/winter.

A world premiere new musical, and adaptation of two British classics and Bolton’s own Bill Naughton all feature in the exciting programme.

Opening the season in sensational style is the world premiere musical adaptation of Markus Zusak’s worldwide best-selling novel THE BOOK THIEF (Sat 17 September – Sat 15 October 2022).

Written by award-winning author Jodi Picoult (My Sister’s Keeper and Small Great Things) and Timothy Allen McDonald (adaptor of Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka and James and the Giant Peach), this hauntingly beautiful tale set in 1930s Nazi-Germany follows courageous young orphan Liesel as she enters a dangerous game of book thievery.

A superbly crafted new musical premiering in Bolton, with music and lyrics by Elyssa Samsel and Kate Anderson (Olaf’s Frozen Adventure and Central Park Apple TV+) directed by Octagon Artistic Director Lotte Wakeham.

Jodi Picoult said of the upcoming production: “The Book Thief, as a novel, is a blockbuster that has sold over 20 million copies and deeply moved readers all over the world. Having the chance to bring it to life three-dimensionally in a world premiere musical at the Octagon is a dream for us!”

“The story of a foster child in Nazi Germany — who learns the power words have to both hurt and to heal — feels painfully relevant today. We hope that Liesel’s journey will inspire audiences to take a stand in the face of adversity, and to be agents of change in ordinary ways that just might change the world.”

The Octagon will then present Emma Rice’s joyous adaptation of Noël Coward’s BRIEF ENCOUNTER (Thu 20 October – Sat 5 November 2022), in a co-production with Stephen Joseph Theatre and Theatre by the Lake.

The iconic love story will be reimagined for the stage in a stunning new production with music and movement, directed by Stephen Joseph Theatre Artistic Director Paul Robinson. Be swept away in the whirlwind of this classic British romance.

Next up is the Octagon’s 2022 festive production – a joyful musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic tale A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Thu 17 November 2022 – Sat 14 January 2023) by Kate Ferguson and Susannah Pearse.

Go on an exciting journey through yuletides past, present and future in this heart-warming and uplifting tale as Ebenezer Scrooge learns the value of redemption. Filled with toe-tapping live music, festive fun and a good splash of magic.

A Christmas Carol will be directed by the Octagon’s new Associate Director Georgia Murphy.

The season closes with Bill Naughton’s beloved Bolton classic SPRING AND PORT WINE (Fri 3 February – Sat 4 March 2023).

Returning to the Octagon stage after breaking box office records back in 2008 this new production will be directed by Lotte Wakeham.

The Crompton family begin to fall apart over the course of a weekend as they struggle to cope with the ups and downs of life in 1960s working-class Bolton in this touching and funny drama that has delighted Octagon audiences for over 50 years.

Also in the season the Octagon’s must see FIRST BITE play readings return with three new plays performed by actors ‘script in hand’ in our Studio.

This season’s scripts include family drama LEGEND (Fri 9 September) by Alison Carr, heart-warming drama SWEETMEETS (Fri 7 October) by Karim Khan and Nick Ahad’s warm comedy BLUE ENVELOPES (Fri 4 November).

This season families can enjoy a variety of events, including the return of the OCTAGON FAMILY FESTIVAL (Fri 26 – Sun 28 August 2022) over the August Bank Holiday. Sponsored by Carrs Pasties, families will be able to enjoy a variety of free activities including craft, storytelling and music.

Also in the summer, outdoor theatre company The Fabularium return with THERE BE MONSTERS! (Fri 22 – Wed 27 July 2022) that will be touring local communities with venues to be announced soon.

In the autumn the Octagon are thrilled to welcome back M6 Theatre Company with SUNFLOWERS AND SHEDS (Fri 28 & Sat 29 October 2022) in the Studio.

Featuring Octagon Theatre, Howell Croft South Bolton BL1 1SB 01204 520661 a gentle mix of humour, music and storytelling, this charming tale is sure to delight children over the October half term.

The season will also include a variety of one-night events including the return of the sell-out OCTAGON COMEDY CLUB

in the Studio once a month, comedian SHAPARAK KHORSANDI: IT WAS THE 90S (Sat 2 July) reminisces about her youth on our main stage and music lovers can enjoy BUDDY HOLLY AND THE CRICKETERS (Sun 9 October).

The Octagon’s Artistic Director, Lotte Wakeham, commented:

“One year on since reopening, we have loved bringing our building back to life, welcoming thousands of audience members, participants, artists and visitors through our doors and have been thrilled with the rave reviews from audiences and critics alike. For our autumn/winter season we are going even bigger – bringing together the best of local, national and international talent to create an electrifying programme. This will include the brand-new musical of beloved best-selling novel The Book Thief. We believe Bolton audiences deserve world class productions, and we can’t wait to share this one with you. We’ve been busy developing The Book Thief over the past couple of years in New York, London and Bolton, and we’re incredibly excited to be producing this world premiere production right here at the Octagon this autumn. We passionately believe in providing shows and events for everyone to enjoy, and we’re delighted that this season’s line-up includes classic work by Noël Coward and Bolton’s own Bill Naughton, alongside artists such as Shaparak Khorsandi and Karim Khan. From our main stage productions to our family festival, the return of our sell-out comedy club and must-see play readings – we hope that audiences will have many reasons to join us for great nights out over the next few months. Thank you to everyone who has visited, booked, donated, and joined us so far on our journey. As a registered charity, without your support we wouldn’t be here today presenting a programme of world-class theatre and continuing our life-enhancing work with young people and local communities.”

The best way to see shows will be with the Season Saver – with audiences getting the best seats at the best prices, saving up to 20% off tickets.

Saver tickets is available from Thu 5 May, with individual tickets on sale from Thu 17 May.

For more information or to book tickets visit or call the Box Office on 01204 520661.

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