Wednesday, 23 December 2009

The hollyoaks and the ivy...

I have just had news that stage door and ticket office employee extraordinaire and actress, the very lovely Tara, will be appearing in Hollyoaks soon. You can see her in action on the spoiler promo below (she plays a nurse) or tune in to the box on Monday.

If you can't view the video above you can also see it here. Many congratulations lady. Here's looking at you kid...

Tuesday, 22 December 2009


What with all that is going on in the auditorium with our production of Oliver Twist taking us back to Victorian London, it seems that the weather is getting in on the act with a scene outside the theatre that could be a Victorian Christmas Card...if you ignore the cars of course!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Please sir, can we have some!

Due to popular demand (you know who you are) I have uploaded some more photos of Oliver Twist. We are lucky enough to have two teams of youngsters playing the role of the 'urchins' in the production so it was only fair I uploaded some images of the team not featured previously. So this is their chance to shine...

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Who did it first?

I mean't to post about this a while ago and then promptly forgot. I am sure that most of you will be aware that Bolton's own Peter Kay did the single for this year's Children In Need. I am just wondering if he used the image for our upcoming production of A Midsummer Night's Dream as his inspiration for the singles cover artwork. Or perhaps Bolton folk have a thing for Beatles album covers.

A Midsummer Night's Dream...

Children in Need

So who copied who? You decide. I just have to add here we launched our Season Brochure complete with image back in April so, as Peter would say, think on!

The Enemies Within - the reviews...

"The use of the actual language of the miners, their wives and the police — many of whom would admit to buying houses on the back of the strike — by writer Ron Rose works brilliantly and brings out the emotion and true depth of feeling that still resonates in the affected communities. People lost jobs, respect, dignity, families and lives, and the enormous significance comes across in emotive speeches magnificently delivered." THE BOLTON NEWS Read more here...

"Thacker and his cast are obviously utterly, passionately, devoted to the piece and the performances are all absolutely exceptional. It’s a truly brilliant ensemble that quite rightly got a standing ovation. *****" MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS Read more here...

"A quarter-century on, current affairs may have become modern history, but the issues remain, and the characters leap up alive as ever...the whole group play with utter conviction..It’s essential history, and riveting carries with rhetorical force the underlying point of protest." REVIEWSGATE. Read more here...

The Enemies Within - production photos

As promised here are a few photos from The Enemies Within. I have been hearing nothing but excellent things about the show from audiences and colleagues. I can't comment personally as I am yet to see it but I am hoping to later in the week. I am ashamed to admit I don;t see nearly enough of our studio work so I am hoping this kicks me into more direct action.

Since reading about this show, it has tuned me in to industrial relations. Namely, the situation with Royal Mail and their hardworking posties (in this techno capable day and age we have forgotten the valuable and often essential service these people offered in times gone by and still today) and the action by British Airways cabin crew that could scupper many a festive holiday plan. So, although it is 25 years since the Great Miner's Strike, it is extremely relevant right now.

Anyway, here are the photos...

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

MEN awards - photos

A few photos of Octagon folk at the MEN awards have been published on their website. Here are a few...

The very beautiful Kosha Engler (Oleanna and nominee for Best Actress in a Leading Role) and our own and equally glamorous Parvati Pindoria (nominee and dare I say it winner of Best Smile). Kosha won the Octagon Theatre award for the Best Shoes of the night. It was a very discerning panel and the decision was unanimous!

Winner of Biza award, Vanessa Kirby, and her boyfriend Christian Cook aka The Beautifuls. Oh and then there was this...the dapper John Blackmore Adams less good looking relation!

If that hasn't scared you off you can see more photos and also read the Twitter stream from the awards here.

The Enemies Within - Now Showing...

The Enemies Within opened in our Studio last night. It seems to be going down really well with audiences. Here are just a few comments from our front of house reports:

"Very good how they managed such long speeches."

"Everyone was captivated even though it was only a small audience."

"It was almost as powerful as when it was actually happening."

"Very moving."

"Very poignant."

"Emotionally draining. The actors must be exhausted!"


I will be posting some production photos in due course. You can see the photos of the 1985 production here.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Manhunt at the Octagon

We have these people coming to the Octagon tomorrow from BBC Radio Manchester. Emma will be talking to some of the cast of Oliver Twist and they will be taking her through her paces on the stage. I hope she likes gruel!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

MEN awards

I think I have only just calmed down enough to compose something about the MEN awards yesterday. I haven't been to the awards myself before having to satisfy myself with living vicariously through the texts sent back so I can update the blog with news as it happened. But this year I was there with bells on hence, the delay in posting.

It was a truly great day. Not just generally for theatre in Manchester which not only seems to be surviving these challenging times but is positively flourishing, but specifically for the Octagon. We were not only nominated for 11 awards, we managed to bag a fair few too. The highlights of the day for me were:

Kevin Bourke (and the MEN panel)
Kevin received a wonderful response from the assembled crowd and I think his (and the rest of the panels) efforts and their monumental support of the regions theatre scene is just wonderful.

Aled Jones
Prior to presenting his award his shameless plugging of the Lowry's Christmas Show, White Christmas, was brilliantly pitched and rather hilarious. Still a bit disappointed that there wasn't a rendition of Walking in the Air....

Vanessa Kirby
Because it took as all by surprise (not because she was undeserving but because we didn't know the award existed) and her reaction, the moment Vanessa was given an award and a lump of cash for Up and Coming talent was a delight. As well as being a future star (and being beautiful to boot) she couldn't be a nicer girl.

Best Production
Although, I was disappointed not to have won this one, especially seeing as we had two such strong contenders in Oleanna and All My Sons (must.. not.. say... we was robbed!) I am very glad that the award went to Punk Rock, a piece of new writing by a Stockport lad Simon Stephens. It shows that the new writing scene is healthy and there are exciting things happening in Manchester.

The Octagon Love In
The extra special thing for me was how kind everyone one was about the Octagon. Especially Oscar Pearce, Nick Haverson and Tim Healy and how positive their experiences were here. I sat next to Oscar at dinner and it was lovely to hear him talk of how he loved the Octagon, loved David, love the staff, loved the audiences. "Life changing" he said and I couldn't agree more. Working here is an absolute joy and I am so proud to do so. The fact we won a few awards for what we do is just the icing on the cake and I can't wait to see what the next few months bring. To quote Roger Haines, winner of this years Horniman award, "Darlings, I love the theatre".

Talking of winners, and I know I have mentioned a few above, the Octagon winners were:






OSCAR PEARCE, in All My Sons


TIM HEALY, in Looking For Buddy

Congratulations to the award winners and to all those that work here that make it so completely awesome. You're the best....

You can read more about the awards here, here and here.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Audience Feedback

I received a nice email from one of our regluar attenders today. It's always nice when audiences write and tell us what they think and to know that they read this blog.

From: Donald Judge
Sent: 05 December 2009 10:22
To: sally boyd
Subject: RE: Octagon Theatre news - Oliver Twist Reviews

Dear Sally

Thank you for this. I get to most shows at The Octagon, and while occasionally I don't like a play, I'm always impressed with the productions and the acting. Recently, I thought The Merchant of Venice and All My Sons were among the best of the very many productions I've seen in the past year.

I saw Oliver Twist on Thursday afternoon, in the company of a large primary school party - always a measure of how good a show is! Their reactions and concentration in the 'quiet' bits confirmed just how good a version and production this is. I've seen some of Deborah McAndrew's work elsewhere and thought the script was terrific - allowing youngsters to follow the story, and us oldies to see the deeper bits. I thought the violence was especially well done, bearing in mind that many of the audience will be of a tender age. I loved the music, and the way actors switched from role to role was most impressive.

On the train going to Bolton I read Natalie Anglesey's review, and thought I might be a bit disappointed, but not a bit... And while I still rate Oliver! as one of the really great musicals, it was refreshing to see the story presented differently... And with Pantos everywhere, this was a welcome antidote! As a retired teacher, I hope you have many schools through your doors to experience 'real' theatre of such excellent quality.

Thanks also for the link to the blog, which makes very interesting reading.

Looking forward to my next visit to the Octagon.
Best wishes
Donald Judge

Thanks Donald. If any of you kind readers would like to submit your comments you can do so in the comments section of each post.

Friday, 4 December 2009

The Great Miners Strike

There was a nice piece in 24:7 in The Bolton News today on The Enemies Within. They interviewed David and some of the cast. You can read it here...

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Design Mind Meld

You may remember I mentioned a while back the show that is currently in rehearsal The Enemies Within. I talk about it here. Anyway, we went to meet up with the cast the other day to talk about the production.

Firstly, it struck me how passionate they all are about this piece and the subject matter - the Great Miner's Strike 1984 - 85. Now, although I am aware of the strike, I have to plead complete ignorance about the whys and the wherefores. I was not the most politically aware 10 year old so that may explain it.

Secondly, we were going through some of the print and photos from the 1985. Howard had also saved the programme from the original production and I was struck but how similar the original programme was to the print we have produced. Have a look... it seems our designer must have some time travel and psychic design skills

1985 programme..
2009 leaflet...

I have also uploaded a few production shots from 1985. This is how the cast looked back in 1985. They haven't changed a bit....

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Oliver Twist - the movie...

To celebrate what is a truly wonderful festive show we have brought back, possibly for a limited time only, one of the blog''s most popular features the show video promo. Not only can you see some footage from the show, you also get a glimpse of the show in rehearsal and the wonderful and charismatic Josette (Director) talking about the show. So definitely worth a look - go on, you know you want to....

Call For New Scripts for 24:7 2010

And now for a short message from the lovely folk at 24:7.

Although it's cold today, flash forward to next summer! Your show may be one of those participating in 24:7 Season Seven...

From today until 14 January you can submit a script for adjudication. It must be original, unpublished and no longer than 60 minutes. We seek to present premières, so your script must not have been performed in a mainstream context, in any medium. If it has had a rehearsed reading or ‘test’ performances, that may be OK. If you have questions about a specific submission, it would be best to email us before submitting.We can confirm that the reading fee has been maintained at £30 per script submitted.

Full details are available on the website, along with the new online submissions procedure.

If you want to see what you might be up against then four shows from this summer's Festival have been invited as part of the Library Theatre's third Re:Play Festival. Good luck and get scribbling.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Lights, camera, action...

Just a reminder that the wonderful young cast of Oliver Twist will be performing from 6pm at the Bolton Lights Switch On on Thursday 3 December.