January is a time for new beginnings and we’re starting a new monthly newsletter to keep you updated on what’s going on behind the scenes here at Oldham Coliseum Theatre.
The cast of Sleeping Beauty took their final bow of this pantomime season earlier this month after a phenomenal run of fun, frolics and fairies. This year was one of our most successful pantomimes, with 35,000 people coming along to join in the fun.
Sleeping Beauty had a surprise twist for everyone involved when our beloved regular Dame, Fine Time Fontayne, had to step out of his colourful Doc Martens after an accident in rehearsals. His shoes were filled triumphantly by Simeon Truby who took to the role of Nanny Nutty like a fish to water.
Simeon is no stranger to the Coliseum panto; he became regional news in 2015 while playing Squire Grabbit in Mother Goose. Squire Grabbit was a tram spotter (like a train spotter, but somewhat less glamourous) and he sang a delightful ditty that mentioned all 92 stops on the Metrolink network. It was no small feat and his praise was well deserved! Simeon was joined on stage by a mix of new faces and pantomime favourites including Justine Elizabeth Bailey, Richard J Fletcher, Demi Goodman, Sara Sadeghi, Liz Carney and David Westbrook, plus three chorus teams of talented young ladies, and we think you’ll all agree that everyone did a fantastic job.
“Real, heart-warming, festive family fun”
– Oldham Evening Chronicle
“Year after year, the Coliseum delivers everything a great pantomime should be.”
– The Reviews Hub
We’d like to thank our pantomime sponsors: AWC Windows and Home Improvements, George Hill Timber and Building Supplies and JD Williams, and the pantomime’s Educational Partner Oldham Hulme Grammar School, who supported our pantomime and helped us provide pantomime workshops for pupils with additional needs from New Bridge School so that they could get closer to the magic. The theatre’s Christmas spirit lives on long after Boxing Day and we were delighted to welcome the pupils from New Bridge to our first ever relaxed performance, which was specially altered for people with additional needs, on Thursday 5 January.
We’re in week two of rehearsals for our first production of 2017, Patrick Hamilton’s psychological thriller Gaslight, directed by Robin Herford. The play opens on Friday 3 February.
Robin is one of our favourite visiting directors; he’s directed no fewer than 12 previous Coliseum productions including: Boeing Boeing (2015), Bedroom Farce (2014) and Sugar Daddies (2013), but it’s for his expertise in bringing thrillers to the stage that we’re writing about him today…
Robin started his career as an actor and joined The Stephen Joseph Theatre Company in Scarborough in 1976, under the Artistic Directorship of Olivier and Tony Award winning playwright Alan Ayckbourn. He was appointed Associate Director in 1979 and was Artistic Director from 1986 – 1989. It was during this time that he commissioned and directed Stephen Mallatratt’s phenomenally successful adaptation of The Woman in Black.
Based on the novel by Susan Hill, The Woman in Black has been sending chills down audience’s spines on the West End for 27 years and has completed 12 national tours. Robin has also directed productions of the play internationally: in Toyko (in Japanese), America, India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand.
On to Gaslight, and without giving away the plot, there promises to be an eerie atmosphere throughout as tensions build between the characters on stage. First performed in 1938, the play was so impactful that it inspired the psychological term ‘gaslighting’.
(Trivia) Gaslight was Alan Ayckbourn’s directorial debut in 1961 at the Library Theatre, Scarborough.
The Coliseum’s February 2016 production of Lee Hall’s The Pitmen Painters has been nominated for Best Ensemble and Best Design at the Manchester Theatre Awards. The MTA panel announced their nominees on Monday 16 January and winners will be announced at the ceremony at Manchester’s HOME on Friday 17 March, hosted by comedian Justin Moorhouse.
The Pitmen Painters is based on the true story of The Ashington Group; down-to-earth Northumberland miners who inadvertently carved themselves a niche in the art world after taking Art Appreciation classes at their local Workers Educational Association. Lee Hall’s play follows them from their very first class to their international renown, showing their friendships develop and their confidence grow.
“The whole piece is permeated with wry humour and some uproarious moments”
– Manchester Theatre Awards
“Warm-humoured, thought-provoking picture of working class empowerment through art”
– The Stage
The Coliseum’s Ashington Group: Jim Barclay, Micky Cochrane, Luke Morris, James Quinn and Simeon Truby were joined by Cliff Burnett, who played their tutor Robert Lyon, Helen Kay, who played wealthy art collector Helen Sutherland and Maeve O’Sullivan, who played Susan, a life model and art lover.
Our production of The Pitmen Painters was designed by Foxton, one of our favourite designers. Foxton has worked on over 20 productions for the Coliseum, most recently he designed our September 2016 hit production of Brassed Off.
Oldham Coliseum Theatre will be moving to a new state-of-the-art building on Union Street in 2020. We’ve been working towards creating a new home for the Coliseum for some time and we’re very excited to be moving forward with designs for our new theatre.
The new theatre building will retain the warm welcome that the Coliseum is famous for, and we want to involve our audiences in its development so we actively invite your views. To learn about the project so far and get in touch with us click here.
We want to take the warm welcome of the Coliseum with us to our new theatre on Union Street and we want the new building to be as accessible as possible for all of our audiences.
Come and share your thoughts about improving access for everybody, especially people with mobility and sensory impairments, disabled people and others who find theatres a difficult place sometimes on Saturday 28 January between 1.30pm – 3.30pm.
We can only make the Coliseum right for all our audiences with your help. This will be the first of a series of focus groups and consultations exploring how we can make the Coliseum on Union Street the best it can be for all of our audiences.
Click here for information about our current Access provision.
Tea, coffee and refreshments will be served.
BSL (British Sign Language) interpreted by Rachel Moffatt-Feldman of Manchester Deaf Centre.
Assistance Dog Friendly.
Places are limited and must be reserved.
If you would like to attend, please call Sue Fletcher, Head of Marketing and Communications on 0161 785 7011, text 07775 933643 or email email@example.com with your details and any access needs you have by Thursday 26 January.
The Coliseum’s busy Learning and Engagement Department work with people of all ages across Oldham and beyond, using drama and theatre practise to promote learning, help to build confidence, introduce people to the theatre and have fun.
This month we’ve launched another Children’s Shakespeare Festival in partnership with North West Drama Services. We’re working with 12 schools across Oldham and Rochdale to explore Twelfth Night, leading to a festival of performances on our main stage from Wednesday 12 – Thursday 13 July.
The start of a new year also means the start of work on 2017’s Secondary Education Partnership project and Community Partnership project.
This year the Secondary Education Partnership will be also delivered in Tameside in partnership with Tameside Cultural Services, with students devising and performing responses to Meat Pie, Sausage Roll in March.
The Community Partnership will see groups including K.O.G.S (Keeping Our Girls Safe), Chai Ladies, Somerset House and Wild Things Drama responding to themes from Bill Naughton’s Spring and Port Wine through stories and exhibitions about food, cooking and family life on Monday 24 April.
During the day guests from the housing associations will enjoy a range of activities including: henna hand painting, a tour of the building, design workshops, talks from former Coronation Street star Julie Hesmondhalgh (Hayley Cropper) and noted local journalist Iram Ramzan – all rounded off with a celebratory afternoon tea with a South Asian twist.
Last year’s event was a great success and featured a talk from actress Sue Devaney, who is best known for roles in Casualty (Liz Harker), Dinnerladies (Jane) and Coronation Street (Debbie Webster), and as a regular on the Coliseum stage.
“International Women’s Day is an opportunity for us to take time out for ourselves to and to help women achieve their limitless potential. Following the success of last year’s event, we are proud to be hosting this year’s Group event at Oldham Coliseum Theatre once again.” – Janet Hall, Community Development Officer of New Charter Group.
Introducing Ann-Marie Mason, Oldham Coliseum Theatre’s Box Office Manager and a lover of pugs.
How long have you worked at the Coliseum?
I started work at the Coliseum back in March 2000 as a Box Office Assistant and became Deputy Box Office Manager in 2007. I stepped up to my role as Box Office Manager in November 2016 and I’m looking forward to the challenges that will bring!
What has been your favourite production since working at the Coliseum?
Oooh, I really liked From A Jack To A King back in our 2002 / 2003 season. Brassed Off has always been a favourite and I’ve really enjoyed some of our more classical 20th century drama programming such as Waiting For Godot.
What is your favourite aspect of working at the Coliseum?
My colleagues. I think it’s the people that make an organisation. People make places and they’re all wonderful!
What are you currently working on?
(Laughs) Absolutely loads of stuff. We have a new Deputy Box Office Manager and a new Box Office Assistant, so I’m involved in lots of training. We’re also currently working closely with our Learning and Engagement Department programming lots of workshops and events.
What are you currently looking forward to?
Well now our lovely pantomime has finished, I’m looking forward to Gaslight opening and the change from the hilarity of panto to a dark thriller.
Can you tell us an interesting fact about yourself?
I once played the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz when I was in Sixth Form and accidentally made some of the children cry. Perhaps I was a little too wicked…
We’re recruiting for Board Members to join us at this exciting time of major change.
The role of Trustee is a voluntary position and requires dedication to the Theatre’s development, ensuring that the Company fulfils its charitable purpose for the public benefit. All of our Trustees are ambassadors for our work and community.
Interest in theatre and experience of representing organisations both internally and externally at a senior level is desirable.
For an informal chat about the role or to apply please email your CV and covering letter explaining why the role appeals to you and what particular skills you could bring to firstname.lastname@example.org
Experience Coliseum productions up close, uncover hidden talents in a creative working environment and meet new people.
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.
Customer Experience Volunteers must be 18+ and able to commit to a minimum of three months volunteering with us. No experience is needed as full training is provided.
Oldham Coliseum Theatre gratefully acknowledges funding from: