Monday, 14 April 2008

Special Event Announcement

In advance of the launch of our Autumn Winter 2008 programme, we are delighted to announce to the readers of this blog, a new event. Yup, you heard it here first!
On Friday 5 September, Jason Manford will be appearing in the Main Auditorium. That's him above. Here's the blurb:

'Very funny'
Peter Kay
'Hilarious' Johnny Vegas

Phil McIntyre Entertainment presents the multi-award winning comedian and star of 8 out of 10 Cats, Live at the Apollo, and XfM. In his first live national tour, this exciting and hilarious show will have audiences begging for more.

Performance Time: 7.30pm
Ticket price: £16 (£14 concessions)
Space: Main Auditorium
Booking: Call the Octagon Ticket Office on 01204 520661 or click here to book online.

Friday, 11 April 2008

Meet the Mukherjees - Casting News

Meet the Mukherjees is a witty and exhilarating new romantic comedy, which proves that love may conquer all but your in-laws!

‘You have met a boy – yes? Your mother found him naked in your wardrobe.’
‘You heard about that?’
‘Every last detail; down to the boy’s birth mark.’

The Octagon Theatre continues its 40th Anniversary Season by presenting the World Premiere of Meet the Mukherjees by Tanika Gupta, the multi-award winning playwright whose work has been staged on radio, television, and throughout the UK.

Mark Babych, the Octagon’s Artistic Director comments: “I’m delighted that we are presenting the fourth world premiere of our 40th anniversary season. It’s a treat to work on new plays and I’ve enjoyed developing the play with Tanika. There is a real sense of fun and purpose about the writing, great characters, an interesting subject matter and a vibrant and confident theatricality that will delight our audience.”

At thirty, Anita is a successful solicitor living with her friend in a flat and enjoying her life as a single woman. She is under pressure from her mother to get married who thinks her daughter is past her sell by date.

When they meet for the first time Aaron falls head over heels for her but Anita isn’t interested in him due to his reputation as a ladies-man. However, Aaron is persistent and the couple fall for each other. As their relationship deepens they begin to plan a future together; But Anita and Aaron have to face reality and introduce their parents to each other. Facing opposition to their union, will the couple survive the test?

The cast includes Wyllie Longmore, a patron of the Octagon’s 40th Anniversary Season, who was nominated for an MEN Theatre Award, 2005, as Best Actor in a Leading Role in I Just Stopped By To See The Man, Rokhsaneh Ghawam-Shahidi and Pooja Ghai, who both appeared in Rafta, Rafta in the recent National Theatre tour. Ayesha Gwilt, Anni Domingo, Mark Springer, Keeley Forsyth and Nicholas Khan complete the cast.

Tanika Gupta’s work has been staged extensively for theatre, radio and television. For television she has written for EastEnders, Grange Hill, Flight, A Suitable Boy, Crossroads, The Bill, London Bridge and All About Me. She has won many awards, and has been nominated for Olivier and EMMA Awards, and was the winner of The John Whiting Award for Best New Play for The Waiting Room.

Spring and Port Wine - The Movie!

The title of the post does not refer to the movie featuring James Mason, but a short promo of the Octagon's current production.

I think it's lovely and having watched it a member of staff, who shall remain nameless, has admitted to feeling a certain amount of nostalgia for this production, even when the run isn't yet half way through.

If watching this has reminded you to book tickets, then this piece of info may interest you. I have mentioned on a few occasions that tickets are selling like hot cakes, so much so that we have decided to put on an extra performance! There will be an additional matinee performance taking place on Saturday 26 April (at 2pm). We are taking bookings for it now so don't miss your chance to see it - call the Ticket Office on 01204 520661.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Spring and Port Wine - What's Being Said....

Audiences seem to not only have flocked to buy tickets for Spring and Port Wine but seem to be enjoying it too. We've had some lovely comments from audience members so I thought I would include some of them below:

'It took me right back to the old days'
'There's nothing like a good old northern play to kick the pride back into Bolton'
'I've been coming here for 10 years and that was the best production I have ever seen'

Rave reviews from our audiences indeed. If you have something to say why not post your own comments or a review below. It's always nice to hear from you! As for tickets, we still have a few left (mainly single seats) and we have a waiting list for practically every remaining performance. So if you want to see it, call Ticket Office now on 01204 520661. You won't be sorry!

Not many press reviews so far but here's one from The Bolton News and another one from The Stage. We also have been reviewed by Clitheroe Advertiser. Unfortunately I can't find a link to the review on their site so I have included a transcript below:

Director Noreen Kershaw’s production of Bill Naughton’s, ‘Spring and Port Wine’, celebrates the fortieth anniversary season of Bolton’s Octagon Theatre. The playwright’s first play was performed here and he was very much a local lad. Indeed the studio venue is named after him.
Spring and Port Wine is one his most popular and enduring family dramas. The film version starring James Mason was memorable. The action tells of the upheavals of the Cromptons over one emotional and life-changing weekend.

This production benefits from two accomplished stage actors in the leading parts, Russell Dixon as Rafe Crompton, the stubborn and domineering father, and Julie Riley as Daisy, his seemingly submissive wife but loved by her four children, Harold, (Paul Simpson), Florence (Eve Robertson), Hilda (Joanna Higson) and young Wilfred (Des O’Malley). David Crellin plays Florence’s fiancĂ©, Arthur and Mary Cunningham, the feckless neighbour Betty Jane.

The director has chosen to set the play in 1966, a little after it was originally written, but this means that it is, in some ways, a period piece. However, many of the attitudes and emotions still ring true, especially for older members of the audience. According to the programme notes, the first credit card was introduced in 1966 and thus Rafe’s revelations about the disastrous effects of debt on his childhood are tellingly contemporary. The cast extract all the humour and pathos of Naughton’s script and Russell Dixon and Julie Riley bring a lump to the throat in the final scenes as they learn to understand one another and the needs of their children. Dawn Allsopp’s design evokes the period skilfully. This is a modern classic well acted and most enjoyable.

The next production is Meet The Mukherjees, starting on 1 May.
UPDATE: Here's another review from Reviewsgate. When a review ends with the line 'The whole production is a joy from start to finish' you know you are onto a winner! Plus a lovely (4 star) review from The Guardian and a 5 star review in The Metro. No link for this one so here it is transcribed below:
Inspired by Lancastrian comedies such as Hobson's Choice, Bill Naughton's 1967 play is set in the Crompton's household in Bolton. Not the ideal setting for an evening of laughs, you might think, but thanks to committed direction by Noreen Kershaw, the piece has comic punch and tear-jerking moments in spades.
Dad (Rafe, played by a grizzly Russell Dixon) thinks he rules the roost with his good old fashioned values. His four offspring and wife, however, have one foot in the future and are keen to get going. Masters of disguise, they hide their modern ways well, but when Hilda refuses to eat herring for tea one night, the domestic revolution begins.
The conflicts and confessions that unfold take the family to the brink, creating a tangible atmosphere of anxiety, and it's only after Mother (Julie Riley) admits her own white lies to Dad that he goes from bellowing to mellowing. Realising that his unerring quest for the truth has been the very thing that has almost broken up the home, the tension is shattered in true Naughton style - by younger son Wilfred telling Harold to put the kettle on.
As well as fabulous ensemble acting, the set works marvellously, despite the difficulties of being in the round. Kitted out with astutely sourced props, this kitchen-sink drama even has running water. Indeed, the realism is so great that even the kippers are cooked onstage.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Spring and Port Wine - Family Snaps!

Dress rehearsal and opening night for Spring and Port Wine yesterday! A chance for Ian to once again to grab a few photos of the production. Talking of production photos, we have a Bill Naughton themed exhibition in the William Hare Bar during the run of the show. There are production images from previous Octagon productions of Spring and Port Wine (spot which member of the cast appeared in 1992 and is on stge again currently - answers on a postcard please!) and his other plays, plus some other archive pieces. Definitely worth a look if you are in the building....

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Behind the Scenes of Spring and Port Wine

Spring and Port Wine is due to open tomorrow and the cast have been working hard in rehearsals, many of them doubly so as they are appearing in Road in the evenings. Their energy amazes me.