Open from 10am Monday - Saturday

April 2017 Newsletter

Your latest update on what’s going on behind the scenes here at Oldham Coliseum Theatre.

Cheers for Spring and Port Wine

Spring and Port Wine is a hit with audiences and critics alike. Bill Naughton’s Bolton-based kitchen sink drama follows the Crompton family, who are at war over the dinner table as the strict father, Rafe, tries to maintain control over his four grown-up children.

A terrific revival of 1960s comedy that bridges the generation gap
The Stage

The long applause at the final curtain is well deserved all round
Oldham Evening Chronicle

4,000 people have come along to see Spring and Port Wine at the Coliseum so far and there’s still another week left to run. Spring and Port Wine continues until Saturday 29 April. To book tickets click here, phone 0161 624 2829 or call in at Box Office.

Spring and Port Wine has been specially chosen for the Coliseum’s debut Dementia Friendly performance, which takes place on Thursday 27 April at 2.30pm. Learn more about the Spring and Port Wine Dementia Friendly performance here.



Behind the scenes: Coliseum Associate Director, Chris Lawson, discusses Hard Times

Hard Times is set in a fictional northern town called Coketown, which could be compared to Preston, Manchester and of course, Oldham. For me the play is important because there’s a lot that resonates between then and now, the ideas: politically and socially and in regards to education are still very prominent.

We meet Thomas Gradgrind Snr. and his family, who he brings up through an education system that’s all about facts – and he has little time for fancy. So when we meet Sissy Jupe, who is daughter of a travelling circus performer, we have a bit of a collision of worlds – between the facts and the fanciful. We also have Josiah Bounderby, a bank owner and a mill owner. He’s a moneyed man who holds himself in very high regard. We follow the stories of these characters as they essentially try and get on. That can be in terms of surviving – for Stephen Blackpool who just needs to earn enough money and wants to be happy, to getting on in terms of succeeding in a big ideas kind of way.

Hard Times opens on Friday 19 May.

Chris will be joined in the rehearsal room by Sushil Chudasama, who is joining the Coliseum on a three-month placement through the Regional Theatre Young Director’s Scheme (RTYDS). Sushil worked as an actor for almost 20 years before turning his hand to directing and we’re thrilled to have him on board.

On Monday 22 May Manchester ADP will be performing on the set of Hard Times with What The Dickens? – an evening of short script-in-hand responses to the themes of Hard Times with a contemporary take, written and performed by artists and theatre makers from across Manchester.



Next up: Award-winning comedy 

Before we open Hard Times in our Main Theatre, the Coliseum welcomes London Classic Theatre’s touring production of Hysteria.  

Hysteria is an Olivier Award winning comedy by Terry Johnson that sees Sigmund Freud come face to face with Salvador Dali in London. Freud has fled Nazi occupied Austria and settled in leafy Swiss Cottage, near Hampstead, intent on spending the rest of his days in quiet contemplation. When Salvador Dali arrives and discovers a naked woman in the cupboard mayhem ensues.

London Classic Theatre’s production of Hysteria features a fantastic cast including West End star Summer Strallen as Rebecca, and a familiar face to Coliseum audiences, Ged McKenna, as Sigmund Freud. Ged was last in Oldham playing Danny in our incredibly popular production of Brassed Off last September.

Hysteria runs at the Coliseum from Tuesday 2 – Saturday 6 May.




Alchemy celebrates South Asian music and performance

On Thursday 11 May the we open our second Alchemy Festival, in partnership with Southbank Centre, London, Black Country Touring and Cast, Doncaster. Alchemy is an inspiring and varied festival of art, music and performance from and inspired by South Asia.

The Festival opens with Mother Tongues from Farther Lands, a new show from comedian Sajeela Kershi, who created the multi-award-winning national tour, Immigrant Diaries. Alongside Sajeela, Mother Tongues from Farther Lands features actors Shobna Gulati, who played Sunita in Coronation Street, and Shobu Kapoor, who plays Mrs Khan in Citizen Khan, plus broadcaster and writer Shyama Perera, performing fearless and funny monologues inspired by the stories of South Asian women from across the UK.

On Saturday 13 May a collective of international hip-hop artists from South Asia and the UK join together for Beats Without Boundaries. The line-up includes some very exciting hip-hop pioneers including: Afghanistan’s first female rapper, Paradise, performing with Diverse; host of the first ever hip-hop radio show in Bangladesh, Black Zang; Sri Lankan rapper, singer and songwriter Ashanthi De Alwis;  and two artists making waves in India – feminist rapper Dee MC and political rapper Naezy. Southbank Centre’s Alchemy has commissioned Beats Without Boundaries in partnership with the British Council and Alchemy national partners: Black Country Touring, Cast Doncaster and Oldham Coliseum Theatre. 

Alchemy events also include: Daughters of the Curry Revolution in our Studio on Thursday 18 May, an intimate performance in which Afreena Islam serves up stories following her father’s journey to this country and his experiences to this day, and in July Phyzzical present Bring on the Bollywood – a romantic comedy with a fantastic soundtrack interwoven with wit, wild parties and some wicked dances.

To learn more about any of these events or to book tickets visit the click here.



Studio Theatre: Coming up 

This weekend ferocious clubber and party girl Eleanor Conway comes to the Coliseum Studio with her stand-up comedy debut, Walk of Shame.

Eleanor Conway is a woman of extremes; she partied around the world as a music journalist, ran off to Asia to work for the Triads, made hardcore porn and Tinder’d her way through most of London. Now sober from alcohol and substances, she comes to Oldham to discuss the modern addict that lies within us all. Walk of Shame is on in the Coliseum Studio on Saturday 22 April.

On 20 May Lucy Grace returns to the Coliseum Studio with her new show, Lucy, Lucy and Lucy Barfield.

Realising she’s never going to follow Lucy Pevensie into Narnia, Lucy Grace searches for a new heroine. Perhaps the god-daughter of C.S Lewis, writer of The Chronicles of Narnia, holds the key to another wardrobe. Lucy, Lucy and Lucy Barfield is an intimate show about falling through the cracks and finding your own way back.

To learn more about shows coming soon to the Coliseum studio, or to book tickets, click here.



Learning and Engagement: TheatreLAB and TSG

Our Learning and Engagement Department are recruiting for young people to get involved with the theatre in our Youth Theatre Group, TheatreLAB and our Youth Steering Group, TSG.



The Coliseum’s Youth Theatre Group, TheatreLAB, is for 13-21 year olds, who work towards producing a Main Stage production with our Associate Director, Chris Lawson.

This term, TheatreLAB will work alongside writer, Elliot Hughes, from Hidden Track Theatre to devise and script a performance that mixes theatre with live gaming and interactive storytelling. Elliot will provide a structure based on the ideas of the group as we tell a story that includes audience participation – the journey of the story is decided by their decisions. The actors will work with the audience to control which path the story takes – which means it could be a completely different show every time!

Sessions are £3 and run from 6pm – 8pm at the Coliseum on:

Monday 8 May Saturday 17 June (11am – 4pm)
Monday 15 May Monday 19 June
Monday 22 May Monday 26 June
No session on 29 May Monday 3 July
Monday 5 June Friday 7 July (4pm – 8pm)
Monday 12 June  

Performances: Saturday 8 July (Call Time 2:30pm – 8:30pm) with performances at 4pm and 6pm.


The Steering Group (TSG)

We’re looking for young people aged 13-25 who are passionate about theatre and the community to join our Youth Steering Group. As part of TSG, your voice will be critical in helping to shape the theatre’s projects, initiatives and performances.

TSG members are allocated a specialist mentor to contribute to their learning and development and will work on a range of projects and represent the Coliseum at Press Nights.

Joining the Steering Group can:

  • Develop your communication and team working skills
  • Enhance your personal statement for your UCAS application or CV
  • Develop your ability to plan and deliver projects
  • Represent the Coliseum and receive free tickets for Press Nights

 TSG is free and takes place just before TheatreLAB, from 5pm – 6pm.

If you have any queries or would like to book your place for any of the above sessions please get in touch with Learning and Engagement Officer: Young People, Ben Hallworth on or phone 0161 785 7000.

Coming up in June the Coliseum will be holding auditions for young people aged 16+ to join our Young Rep Company. Learn more here.



Thank you to our Sponsors

The work of the Coliseum, both on stage and in the community, wouldn’t be possible without the support of our sponsors. We’d like to take this opportunity to issue our utmost thanks to recent returning sponsors:

JD Williams, who will be sponsoring our 2017/18 pantomime, Dick Whittington

Manchester Airport Group

Oldham Hulme Grammar School, who will be Educational Partner for Dick Whittington

Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisors

Pilgrim International

The Coliseum strives to work alongside other businesses in the borough to help make Oldham a great place to live, work and learn. Our Development Manager, John Edwards, works closely with each sponsor to offer individual packages of benefits, tailored to the organisations’ needs.

“As a charity, having the support of local businesses is crucial to the theatre. We’re reliant on our audiences, alongside our funders, but also increasingly on the support of Oldham’s business community, who really get behind the theatre and our work. Last year, our pantomime sponsors helped to fund a special workshop at New Bridge School for young people with additional needs, helping them to get closer to the pantomime before they came along to the Relaxed Performance of Sleeping Beauty in January.”
Kevin Shaw, Chief Executive and Artistic Director.

There are many ways that you can support the Coliseum and become part of this exciting chapter in the theatre’s long history. For more information about supporting the Coliseum please contact John Edwards, Development Manager, on 0161 785 7018 or email



Tell us what you think

Do you use TripAdvisor to find out about restaurants, tourist attractions and events?  Why not share your love of the Coliseum with others so they can discover great theatre in Oldham too?

Last year, the Coliseum received a TripAdvisor certificate of excellence for our productions and our customer service.  We love hearing from our audiences, and your opinions help to shape the future of the theatre.

There are plenty of ways to get in touch and tell us what you think about your experience at the Coliseum and our productions, next time you visit us, why not fill in one of our Customer Comments cards in the foyer.

You can also join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter and discuss the latest show with other audience members, and help to spread the word about great theatre in Oldham.



Spotlight on: Learning and Engagement Officer: Young People – Ben Hallworth

Introducing Ben Hallworth, Oldham Coliseum Theatre’s new Learning and Engagement Officer: Young People.

How long have you worked at the Coliseum?

Two weeks! I previously worked for Burnley Youth Theatre for a year and before that I was touring in Italy doing theatre shows and workshops for 6 – 14 year olds.

What has been your favourite production since working at the Coliseum?

So far I’ve seen Spring and Port Wine, which I thought was really funny.

What is your favourite aspect of working at the Coliseum?

I love the variety of working on theatre for different types of audiences. I have the balance of planning and facilitating sessions that are light-hearted as well as the hard-hitting stuff. And the staff are really friendly and welcoming.

What are you currently working on?

Lots! There’s the Summer Young Rep Tour which is a play for young children in relation the Summer Reading Challenge – this year’s theme is Animal Antics. There’s also the Teaching Theatre Pathways programme, which is for 17 – 24 year olds, it teaches employability skills and culminates in an exhibition in the Summer where the participants present their work to potential employers.

What are you currently looking forward to?

Well so far I have been doing a lot of planning so I’m really looking forward to the start of the school term, delivering sessions and meeting the young people I’ll be working with.

Can you tell us an interesting fact about yourself?

I once lived in Lapland for two months and worked as an elf.



Customer Experience Volunteers: Success Stories

Dan Herman, 24, joined the Coliseum’s Customer Experience Volunteer team in 2016 to gain experience in a customer facing role and contribute to the theatre. In the autumn of that year he applied for a paid position as one of four Assistant House Managers working on pantomime, where he helped to ensure the 35,000 people who came along to see Sleeping Beauty had a first-class experience at the Coliseum. Dan excelled during pantomime season, and once Sleeping Beauty had awoken for the last time he became a member of the Coliseum’s Bar Staff, serving customers before and after performances and during intervals.

Now, Dan is preparing to embark on a new adventure, working abroad as an entertainer with Live Business / TUI. Before he sets off, we spoke to Dan about his experience at the Coliseum:

The theatre is an amazing place to volunteer, it helped me further my career both front of house and performing, and with guest interaction which is important for my new job as an entertainer.

I love the theatre’s heritage, the atmosphere when you’re here and the high standard of productions. I couldn’t recommend volunteering at the Coliseum enough; just come in, be yourself and let your personality help keep the audiences coming back to this great theatre. Don’t be afraid to ask anyone questions – everyone here is so friendly and welcoming.

Dan has been a joy to work with and everyone here at the Coliseum wishes him the very best of luck in his new career.

We’re always on the lookout for friendly and reliable people to join our team of Customer Experience Volunteers, who help to look after our audiences from greeting them in the foyer, to selling programmes and ice creams, taking them to their seats and much more.

Click here to learn more about becoming an Oldham Coliseum Theatre Customer Experience Volunteer or contact House Manager, Heather Shaw, by phone on 0161 785 7021 or email


Oldham Coliseum Theatre gratefully acknowledges funding from:

Oldham Coliseum Theatre is a Registered Charity, No: 508829.
Oldham Coliseum Theatre Ltd Reg No: 1415547