by Aimee Belmore Saddleworth Independent
(original published by Saddleworth Independent 22/6/22)
THE curtain is rising on a new season of theatre, drama, music, films and thrilling entertainment at the Millgate Arts Centre in Delph.
A Season Preview evening unveiled what lies in store for audiences, and also marked the launch of the Millgate Golden Jubilee Celebrations.
Saddleworth Players, which was launched in 1927, moved into the theatre 50 years ago after previously being based in the building opposite. Since then, they have repaired and updated the semi-derelict venue gradually over the years into a modern and stylish theatre and thriving hub for local arts groups. Its most recent improvements include 160 new seats for the audience, and a foyer and box office that were revamped during the COVID lockdowns.
And to celebrate their fifth decade there, they are opening the doors to welcome visitors to some special events in the coming year, including a show next Autumn.
They hope the events will allow them to reconnect with everyone who has been involved over the 50 years and hear their stories and memories.
But first they have an exciting 22-23 season, all put on by their host of volunteers covering sets, costumes, stage management, sound and light, and production.
Highlights include the epic ‘Ben Hur’ in November, starring just four actors, and ‘Bette and Joan’ next February about two of the most prolific actresses in Hollywood.
The next generation – Saddleworth Players Youth (SPY) – are performing ‘DNA’ in July, exploring contemporary issues through a teenage view.
The 12 young actors and actresses, who are also training on the technical aspects of theatre as well, are led by director Rebecca Wood who launched the group last April.
Also providing a packed line-up is Saddleworth Live, bringing fantastic touring productions to the area.
There are three shows over the summer: The American-ish Songbook on June 25 bringing classic Broadway hits, Julie Madly Deeply on July 1 and Looking For Me Friend: The Music of Victoria Wood on July 2.
Then their new season launches in September with the popular Millgate Night at the Proms, which offers rousing songs and show tunes by Saddleworth leading talents. Other events include comedy ventriloquist Steve Hewlett, The Magic of Science and Mike Sweeney’s 60s Classics.
A special showing of ‘Julie: The Musical’ by Uppermill-based Abey Bradbury will be on stage in October following a tour of the UK. It tells of the life and adventures of historical LGBTQ+ icon Julie D’Aubigny from the 17th century, with a cast of just five.
September also sees the start of Saddleworth Film Society’s season, bringing ten films (yet to be confirmed) to the big screen.
There will be fun and laugher for all the family as the Christmas pantomime returns in December, with sensational sets, costumes and of course the panto dame.
This year’s performance is ‘Aladdin’ by Big Tiny Productions, who were nominated for Best Panto (Under 500 seats) at the UK Panto Awards for last year’s showing of Dick Whittington.
Saddleworth Concerts Society’s season runs from October to March with four events, offering entertainment from young professional musicians of a very high standard. Their 2022-23 season will bring a Jazz Quartet, String Quartet, Wind Quartet and pianist to the theatre.
A full orchestra and chorus will be in the house for Saddleworth Musical Society’s production of The Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan in October.
And there is more music on the programme in March as the English Jazz Orchestra, based in Uppermill, returns with some Big Band Jazz after a break due to the COVID pandemic.
• Find out more about all the groups and their productions or events online: millgateartscentre.co.uk