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November 2017 Newsletter

This month the Coliseum opened our pantomime for 2017-18, Dick Whittington, to rave reviews. We also launched our new Spring-Summer 2018 season and announced a new partnership with Rifco Theatre Company.

Read more about these – plus even more updates on what’s going on behind the scenes here at the Coliseum – below.

Kevin Shaw



See you in the stalls,

Kevin Shaw
Chief Executive & Artistic Director.



Dick Whittington: it’s the cat’s whiskers!

We opened our annual traditional family pantomime last weekend to rave reviews from critics and cheers of joy from audiences young and old.

A perfectly pitched traditional panto experience
The Stage

Dick Whittington and his feline friend, Tom the Cat, travel to London to seek fame and fortune. When they get there, they find that the streets aren’t actually paved with gold – but with rats instead! With Tom’s high-flying rat-catching skills Dick lands himself a job at Alderman Fitzwarren’s shop, but the evil King Rat has other ideas…

A colourful, swashbuckling magical adventure
Manchester Theatre Awards

With a live soundtrack to rival any pop concert, laugh-out-loud gags and a generous helping of IT’S BEHIND YOU!, Dick Whittington has all the trimmings of a proper traditional pantomime – OH YES IT DOES!


The perfect production to share with all of the family this Christmas
Upstaged Manchester

Fine Time Fontayne is back on the Coliseum stage making a triumphant return as Saucy Sarah Suet, joined by more panto favourites Richard J Fletcher as Silly Billy, Simeon Truby as King Rat and Liz Carney  playing a fairy, a ship’s captain and a Sultana, plus, new to Oldham’s audiences – Nina Shadi as the fine young chap Dick Whittington, Shorelle Hepkin as Alice Fitzwarren, Ralph Birtwell as Sir Ivo Fitzwarren and Miley Rose as Tom the Cat.

Dick Whittington runs until Saturday 13 January 2018 and tickets are selling fast – if you haven’t got yours yet, book online here.

If you’re planning ahead for Christmas 2018 we’ve got great news – next year’s pantomime, Cinderella, is now on sale! The most popular dates like Christmas Eve and Boxing Day always sell out quickly so we advise panto fans to book early to avoid disappointment. Learn more and book tickets here.


Coming up next: The Kitchen Sink

Sushi for Christmas dinner, a hip hop fanatic Gran and a revealing painting of Dolly Parton; this show has everything including the kitchen sink. An irresistibly funny and touching play, written by Tom Wells (Jumpers for Goalposts) and starring Sue Devaney (Our Gracie; Dinnerladies, Casualty, Coronation Street).

Kath (Sue Devaney) has got her hands full. She’s working two jobs and experimenting in the kitchen, and her family’s aspirations aren’t going to plan. Pieces of Martin’s milk float are dropping off as quickly as his customers, Billy doesn’t think his Dolly Parton painting is good enough for art school and Sophie has shattered her chance of becoming a Ju Jitsu teacher by punching her Sensei in the face.

The Kitchen Sink is a modernisation of classic kitchen sink realism famously used by John Osborne (Look Back in Anger) and Shelagh Delaney (A Taste of Honey). It explores the anxieties of modern life through one family as they navigate their way between reality, drama, dreams and dirty dishes.

An affectionate portrait of family life
The Guardian

One of the best plays I have seen anywhere this year… I cannot recommend it too highly


The Kitchen Sink runs from Friday 9 – Saturday 24 February. Click here to learn more and book tickets.


Spring-Summer 2018 now on sale

The Coliseum’s Spring-Summer 2018 season features not one, but two world premieres, plus home grown productions of popular West End hits across comedy and drama.

Whisky GaloreThe season opens on Friday 16 March with a new adaptation of Compton Mackenzie’s comedy classic Whisky Galore. The islanders of Great and Little Todday are dismayed to find their whisky supply dwindling as the government diverts the precious stuff to the Americans. When a 50,000 bottle cargo shipwrecks close by, welcome relief seems to be at hand, until stuffy Paul Waggot of the Home Guard takes it upon himself to prevent the thirsty islanders from taking advantage of their good fortune.

From writer Philip Goulding (Our Gracie) this adaptation is a tribute to the feisty, fearless all-female touring companies of the post-war years. Under the direction of the redoubtable Flora Bellerby, witness the Pallas Players as they play all the hilarious characters from Mackenzie’s tale in an innovative and beguiling play that breathes fresh life into a well-loved masterpiece.

Following a three-week run at the Coliseum Whisky Galore will embark on an eight venue national tour, visiting Haymarket Theatre, BasingstokeYork Theatre RoyalHull Truck TheatreNew Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-LymeTheatre Royal, Bury St EdmundsCast, DoncasterBelgrade Theatre, Coventry and Salisbury Playhouse.


Relatively SpeakingFrom Friday 20 April – Saturday 5 May the Coliseum presents Alan Ayckbourn’s first play and West End hit, Relatively Speaking. This comedy of misunderstanding involves two couples, one young and co-habiting and one older, married and fraught. A hilarious combination of twists, turns and confusion, plus a smattering of infidelity occurs when inexperienced Greg finds a pair of strange slippers under the bed and decides to follow his girlfriend.

Relatively Speaking  will be directed by Robin Herford, who spent his early career working with Alan Ayckbourn at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, and whose long line of productions for the Coliseum includes: GaslightBedroom Farce and Sugar Daddies.


A Taste of HoneySalford comes to Oldham from Friday 25 May – Saturday 9 June in Shelagh Delaney’s landmark play A Taste of Honey. Recognised as the precursor to Coronation StreetA Taste of Honey was one of the most controversial plays of its time. Jo is a teenager who is abandoned  by her alcoholic mother. She becomes pregnant by a sailor and befriends  a gay art student, with whom she makes a temporary home. Bruised by rejection, the two find comfort in each other.

Written by Delaney when she was just 18, A Taste of Honey took the West End by storm and was later made into a film starring Rita Tushingham and Dora Bryan.


Bread & RosesWriter Ian Kershaw (Star-Cross’d – ★★★★ – The Independent) takes us back to 1912 in Bread & Roses from Friday 22 June – Saturday 7 July.  Packed full of songs and laughs, heart and soul, this brand new musical tells the gripping real life story of the huge mill workers’ strike in the town of Lawrence Massachusetts.

20,000 immigrant workers from more than 30 different nationalities were led in strike mainly by the female workforce who fought not just for the bread for their daily existence, but also for the roses, a symbol of dignified conditions, in order to enrich their lives. The heroine, Lucy-Rose Atkins uses her strong heart and fierce intelligence to navigate a testing journey of love, loss, lies and deceit, taking her from unskilled worker to impassioned leader. Bread & Roses features music from the time of the strike – songs that rouse rabbles, shake houses and lift roofs.


Whisky GaloreRelatively Speaking, A Taste of Honey and Bread & Roses form the theatre’s Season Ticket offer for Spring-Summer 2018, giving audiences the opportunity to see all four productions for as little as £50.

Last, but certainly not least, the Coliseum also hosts a fantastic array of special events including: treats for the young and young at heart with Sing-a-long-a Beauty and the Beast and The Tiger Who Came To Tea, musical treats with tributes to Buddy HollyElvisQueen and Sir Elton John and a special performance from Bernard Wrigley and the celebrated Rivington & Adlington Band in Brassed Off, A Brass Band & Bernard.

All shows coming to the Coliseum are available to view and book on our website here


Learning and Engagement: TheatreLAB

TheatreLAB, the Coliseum’s youth theatre group for 13-21 year olds, explore a range of performance styles and produce both scripted and devised work. From January, they’ll be working towards staging a condensed version of the Broadway musical; 13: The Musical.

Working with Ben Hallworth, Learning and Engagement Officer: Young People, the group will use various performance elements to tell the hilarious coming-of-age story about what it really means to be ‘cool’.

TheatreLAB runs on Tuesday evenings6pm – 8pm, at £3 per session or pay what you can. Rehearsals will take place at the Coliseum on the following Tuesdays in 2018:

  • 9 January
  • 16 January
  • 23 January
  • 30 January
  • 6 February
  • 20 February
  • 27 February
  • 6 March
  • 13 March

The performance will be at 7.30pm on Tuesday 20 March 2018. Tickets can be booked for £3 via Box Office on 0161 624 2829.

If you have any questions about next term or want to get involved as either performer or part of the creative team, email or call 0161 785 7000.


Give Local Oldham

They say charity begins at home and that’s the principle behind the Give Local Oldham campaign. Give Local is a fundraising campaign showcasing great causes across Oldham and spreading the word in the community about the difference they make to the borough, and how they work together for the benefit of the town. Alongside the Coliseum, there are five other charities involved:

As part of the Give Local campaign the Coliseum will be raising money during the run of this year’s pantomime, Dick Whittington. Thanks to Sir Norman Stoller CBE DL, all money raised for Give Local will be doubled by The Stoller Charitable Trust and split equally between each charity.


Kevin Shaw, Oldham Coliseum Theatre’s Chief Executive & Artistic Director, commented:Give Local is a fantastic opportunity to showcase six wonderful charities that truly benefit, and continue to change the lives of the people of Oldham. We’re proud to join in the fun and help to raise awareness and we hope you’ll join us in helping to change the future of our town.”


New partnership with Rifco Theatre Company

The Coliseum is collaborating with Rifco Theatre Company to bring British Asian Theatre to Oldham.

Over the next three years the Coliseum and Rifco will co-produce and present new main theatre and studio work as well as collaborating on Rifco’s artist development strand – Rifco Associates. The partnership commences next year with a brand new play currently in development for the Autumn-Winter 2018/19 season.


Pravesh Kumar, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Rifco, said:Our audiences in the North West have been asking us to bring our productions to the area and we are thrilled to have partnered up with Oldham Coliseum Theatre to make this happen. Through creating work that is relevant, engaging and accessible we encourage working class communities to experience theatre. Rifco are looking to forward to deepening our relationship with the theatre, artists and the local community through our unique brand of British Asian plays and musicals.”


Rifco have previously toured to the Coliseum with Britain’s Got Bhangra (2011), Break The Floorboards (2013) and Happy Birthday Sunita (2014). The partnership renews Rifco’s relationship with the Coliseum and with audiences in the North West, celebrating British Asian culture and society, giving voice to unheard stories and putting new talent centre stage.


Spotlight on: Jamie Walsh, Marketing Campaigns & Insight Officer


Introducing Jamie, the Coliseum’s Marketing Campaigns & Insight Officer, and a keen traveller.

How long have you worked at the Coliseum?

I’ve been here just over two months and I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s a bit of a change from my previous job at The Lowry and everyone here is lovely.

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

Up ’N’ Under – it was really funny. The audience were getting involved and cheering and the way that they played out the rugby match at the end was really impressive.

What is your favourite aspect of working at the Coliseum?

I like that we’re all working towards the same thing – we’ve got the new building coming up and the whole organisation is forward thinking because we’re looking ahead to moving into a new venue.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on the brochure for our new Studio season and gathering all the information from the new companies that we’ll be working with. I’m also looking into how we can improve our digital presence.

What are you currently looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to seeing my first Coliseum pantomime, which I’ll be watching next week, and working on the new Spring-Summer 2018 season.

Can you tell us an interesting fact about yourself?

Every year I try to go to a different country on holiday. This year it was Turkey and Cuba, and next year it’s going to be Croatia.


Welcome to our new FOH Assistants

Pantomime is the busiest (and most exciting) time of year at the Coliseum. During the 85-performance run the Coliseum brings in a little extra help with a team of seasonal Front of House Assistants.

We’d like to introduce: Ana, Daniel, Mary and Rob, who will be joining two of our former Customer Experience Volunteers: Mohamed and Michael, and Dan, who was a Front of House Assistant for Sleeping Beauty last year. They will be providing our famous warm Coliseum welcome and helping to make sure everything runs smoothly this Christmas (oh yes they will…)


Join us: Customer Experience Volunteers

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.

Click here to learn more about becoming an Oldham Coliseum Theatre Customer Experience Volunteer or contact Heather ShawHouse Manager,  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

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