‘A dream play for an actor’ by Mark Rosenthal

Mark Rosenthal plays the Landlord in Two by Jim Cartwright

So, this started out as a bit of fun over Zoom! It was during one of my many bored evenings in lockdown one that the idea of trying to rehearse a play first entered my head. One night, Kate and I were equally bored and after a very short conversation, the cast were in place. We decided that it would be fun to get a director on board and approached Verity. Luckily, she was as bored as we were.

Rehearsals at that time were challenging. Three laptops, three different venues, three internet speeds. The lines ‘you’re on mute’ and ‘you’ve frozen’ were heard many times!

Fast forward many months and we’re now two weeks away from opening night at Millgate Arts Centre. What started out as a bit of fun has now got serious. It’s been the most unusual rehearsal period but amazing fun. And I can’t wait to get back on stage in front of an audience.

This play is a dream for an actor – getting to play so many diverse characters and being able to appear on stage with my really good friend (if Kate doesn’t say anything nice about me in her blog I’m taking this back!). Just hope we do it justice and that we get to look out to a full theatre after such unprecedented times.

Mark Rosenthal plays the Landlord in Two by Jim Cartwright


‘Two’ by Jim Cartwright will be performed at the Millgate Arts Centre from Saturday 25th September to Saturday 2nd October 2021. Tickets available from TicketSource or call our telephone booking line 01457 874 644 (phone booking charged at £1.80).

‘Two’ by Jim Cartwright – Director’s Preview

Verity Mann, Director of Two

For many of us actively involved in Community Theatre, the lure of the tinsel dust is hard to ignore.  We may stagger away from the remains of the last night supper exhausted, crying “Never again!” but mere weeks later we’re back pouring over scripts and being seduced by another great story.

The very first lockdown took us by surprise.  We’re used to being out three nights a week in rehearsals, not sitting on a sofa binge watching box sets and of course, once the novelty of not bolting dinner down in time to make it to the theatre wore off, we found we missed the fun, the creativity, the teamwork, the joy.  Right when we needed it most, amidst all the gloom and fear, the stage was off limits to us.

I was rather pleased then, when Kate Davies and Mark Rosenthal contacted me last Autumn and asked if I’d direct them in Jim Cartright’s ‘Two’ via Zoom.  They too were missing theatre land and thought it would be good fun to have a project.  With the aid of technology we could set up a regular rehearsal schedule, and stick to it regardless of where we were – in bedrooms, living rooms, and home offices.  Mark (being so method) even built his own bar – and there we were, doing what we loved and enjoying every minute.  

In the heady days before Christmas we were fairly confident that theatres would reopen sometime in January, and we could, maybe, put on a couple of nights with a socially distanced audience – just for the sheer fun of it.  We’d worked on the characterisation, had all the moves, and the sterling cast  were even pretty word perfect.   What could possibly go wrong?

Of course, Coronavirus had other plans and here we are now, finally ready to start the Season and adapting our small screen version of Two to the full sized stage.  I have to say, it’s an amazing experience.  We’ve started with both actors off book (all lines learnt and retained – that must be a Saddleworth Players’ first!) with the stage set built (thank you Keith and Mike) and, thanks to a timely session with the Spy Theatre group, all the costumes sorted.  We are now in the joyous position of being able to refine and improve rather than start from scratch, and are really looking forward to laughing and crying with you as we bring our northern pub regulars to life.

Verity Mann, Director of ‘Two’

‘Two’ by Jim Cartwright will be performed at the Millgate Arts Centre from Saturday 25th September to Saturday 2nd October 2021. Tickets available from TicketSource or call our telephone booking line 01457 874 644 (phone booking charged at £1.80).

Annual fundraising lunch announced

The Saddleworth Concerts Society is holding its Annual Fundraising Lunch at the White Hart, Lydgate on Sunday 27 February 2022. 

Entertainment will be by Olivia Tringham / alto & Christopher Pulleyn / accompanist 

Both soloists have been engaged courtesy of the Royal Northern College of Music 

Further information and booking details by phone from Brenda Roberts on 01457 875917.

Our ‘Recovery’ Season Preview – Saddleworth Players

Welcome to our 2021/22 season preview. It’s great to be back!

Our play choices for the season are deliberately light and comedic, with the Farndale farce thrown in for good measure, as we wish to give audiences a welcome break from the doom and gloom of the pandemic and our Players an opportunity to come together and laugh once more.

The ‘Recovery Season’ will see the theatre booking to full capacity, with the addition of increased cleaning and sanitising. We will also be mindful of government directives, but are planning a regular season with five Saddleworth Player plays.

Offer! Become a season subscriber and see all five plays for just £40 – saving £10. Buy online with PayPal – visit our Season Subscriber webpage to find out more.

Introducing our season . . .

Our season launches on Saturday 25th September with Two by Jim Cartwright – a sharp, salty, quick fire evocation of the surface gaiety and underlying melancholia of English pub life. In Two we meet the romantics, the drunks, the flirts, the abusive, the poor-but-happy and all manners of drinkers at their local – a perfect reintroduction to Northern pub culture for those of us who currently only have a distant memory of packed nights out, stag dos, jukeboxes, pints of lager and packets of crisps.

Two by Jim Cartwright runs from 25th September – 2nd October. Book tickets on Ticketsource.

Our hilarious second play is The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of A Christmas Carol, which opens on Saturday 20th November. In a festive mood, the ladies of the Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society mount another assault on the classics with their stage version of A Christmas Carol. They enthusiastically portray a dizzy array of characters from the Dickensian favourite (and a few which aren’t), engineer some novel audience participation while bravely contending with an intrusive PA system and, a real Farndale first, wrap their vocal cords and feet around two original, show stopping songs. By David McGillivray and Walter Zerlin Jnr, based on the story by Charles Dickens.

The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of A Christmas Carol runs from 20th – 27th November. Book tickets on Ticketsource.

Next up is Pastimes, a comedy by Brian Jefferies which opens on Saturday 12th February. Sam and Bill, two middle-aged brothers, own and run ‘Cobblers’, a café in a seaside town. Their lives are quiet and uneventful, their high points being board games and speculations concerning their customers. One day, however, their peace is shattered by the arrival of a runaway, Linda, who is after a job, and her grandmother, Connie, who is after Linda. A terrible coincidence is revealed as Connie is brought face-to-face with George, the husband who left her forty years ago and who is now Sam: likewise, Connie’s friend Win finds, in Bill, her errant Arthur. Recriminations and reminiscences abound in this warm-hearted and emotionally astute comedy about men who have spent their lives running away and the indomitable spirits of the women they ran away from.

Pastimes by Brian Jefferies runs from 12th – 19th February. Book tickets on Ticketsource.

Our penultimate play of the season is Nobody’s Perfect a comedy by Simon Williams, which opens on Saturday 2nd April. ‘Love Is All Round’ is a feminist publishing house where Harriet

Copeland is running a competition to find new romantic fiction; their motto is ‘For Women By Women’. To avoid this gender bias, Leonard Loftus is forced to submit his novel under a female pseudonym. So when Lulabelle Latiffa wins the first prize, Leonard begins to have a major problem. He is a bashful statistician lumbered with a spectacular alter ago. With domestic complications from his wayward daughter Dee Dee and Gus, his rascally old father, Leonard tries frantically to keep up the charade of Lulabelle. His problems are made worse when he falls hopelessly in love with Harriet. He is a worried man in the guise of a carefree woman. The happy ending is not going to be easy. In high heels and lipstick our hero is caught in a hilarious dilemma of cross-dressing and cross-purposes. Oh what a tangled web we weave.

Across The UK, Australia and all over Europe, Nobody’s Perfect has been acclaimed as a classic feel good romantic comedy, within the fertile tradition of Some Like It Hot, Tootsie, and Mrs. Doubtfire. This is a play that offers belly laughs galore – four irresistibly loveable characters locked into a hilarious plot. The final scene has been described as a comic masterpiece.

Nobody’s Perfect by Simon Williams runs from 2nd – 9th April. Book tickets on Ticketsource.

Our closing play of the season is Singers not Sinners by Livi Michael and Carol Davies, which opens on Friday 3rd June. The year is 1701. Elias Hall, the choir master at St. Mary’s Parish church, Oldham, has disbanded his discordant choir and needs to urgently replace them in time for the Easter service. His quest brings him in contact with angelic voices from across the parish, but unfortunately for Elias, the voices belong to women, and women are banned from singing in church. Elias’ determination brings him in conflict with key figures in the parish as he and his new choir risk everything to change the course of history and have women, for the very first time, raise their voices in song during church services. “We are not beasts, to be stricken dumb – we are singers, not sinners – who can lift up our voices to God!”

Singers not Sinners by Livi Michael and Carol Davies runs from 3rd – 11th June. Book tickets on Ticketsource.

We look forward to welcoming you back to the Millgate for our 2021/22 season. See you soon!

Find out more about the Saddleworth Players at the Millgate Arts Centre, Delph.

Meet the cast of Deathtrap

Ira Levin’s classic comedy-thriller Deathtrap comes to the Millgate stage from 28 March to 4 April.

The action takes place in a writer’s study, which is a classy stable conversion, attached to an old Colonial house in The East Hamptons, USA, belonging to Sidney and Myra Bruhl.

The Cast . . .

David Noble – Sidney Bruhl

He is a sophisticated, articulate, clever man who was previously a highly successful playwright but is currently a failing one, desperately trying to get back into the theatrical limelight which he craves.

Chris Richardson – Clifford Anderson

This visitor is the self effacing, polite, eager ex-student of Bruhl’s who has written a play and seeks the critique and hopefully approval  of the playwright.

Sarah Carroll – Myra Bruhl

She is Sidney’s beautiful, sophisticated and supportive wife, who suffers from anxiety and has a debilitating health condition.

Helga ten Dorp – Siobhan Ebden

This spiritual, eccentric psychic is a neighbour, who calls round and, very disconcertingly, picks up on past occurrences and things yet to come.

Andrew Wilson – Porter Milgrim

He is a smart, observant, upper crust barrister, who has known Sidney for years and manages the family affairs.

As the characters mingle, it becomes apparent that everything is not what it seems! Or is it?

Saddleworth Players will perform Deathtrap at the Millgate Arts Centre from 28 March to 4 April. Tickets available from the Millgate website (millgateartscentre.co.uk) or by telephoning the Box Office on 01457 874644, Tuesdays 2pm–5pm, Wednesdays and Thursdays 2pm–7pm, and Fridays and Saturdays from 9:30am–1pm.

Be thrilled, amused and entertained: Deathtrap – Director’s Preview

Deathtrap by Ira Levin. Performed at the Millgate Arts Centre from 28 March to 4 April

April 2020 is thriller time and I am happy to be directing Ira Levin’s classic: Deathtrap. 

Written in 1975, it still holds the record for the longest running comedy-thriller on Broadway, was made into a film starring Michael Caine in 1982, was revived in the West End in 2010 and thoroughly deserved its ongoing popularity.

It is set in America, in The Hamptons and is a masterclass in thriller writing, ingeniously constructed, with a skilful blend of thrills, shocks and laugh out loud moments.

The premise is: How far will someone go to have a hit play? It seems that all 5 characters have evil intent: Sidney Bruhl, a famous but failing writer; Myra, his wife; aspiring writer, Clifford Anderson; nosey neighbour, psychic Helga and even Bruhl’s attorney, Porter Milgrim.

All the basics of a thriller are there but just when you think you have things sussed, Levin pulls the rug from under your feet. He offers clues which are almost gift wrapped but … which are the real ones and which are red herrings?

Add to this a huge dollop of laughter and a thoroughly enjoyable evening is on the cards, so please come along. Be thrilled, amused and entertained.

Pauline Walsh, Director

Saddleworth Players will perform Deathtrap at the Millgate Arts Centre from 28 March to 4 April. Tickets available from the Millgate website (millgateartscentre.co.uk) or by telephoning the Box Office on 01457 874644, Tuesdays 2pm–5pm, Wednesdays and Thursdays 2pm–7pm, and Fridays and Saturdays from 9:30am–1pm.

Le Grand Return – opening night review by John Rigby

Saddleworth Players’ latest production, at the Millgate Arts Centre, Alan Stockdill’s Le Grand Return, opened last night to a packed and appreciative audience. This play, based on reality, tells the story of an elderly ex-soldier who despite his poor health is determined to return to Normandy to attend the fiftieth anniversary of the D-day landings, and specifically to revisit the French house where his best friend was killed.

The play begins with broad but painful comedy. Tommy Hardaker and his two oppos are bickering away their old age in the day room of the Coldrick Nursing Home, keeping boredom and pointlessness at bay with dominoes, heartless jokes about each other’s infirmities and a last-ditch campaign to thwart their common enemy, Matron. However the script penetrates beneath the Last of the Summer Wine caricature of the three cantankerous old chaps playing daft japes. As the scene unfolds it creates a back story for each man, revealing unexpected elements of wistfulness and regret.

Verity Mann’s production is strong on visual humour, particularly in the dead-of-night scene where the three heroes appear kitted out in wonderfully unconvincing outfits intended to spirit them through customs in the guise of devil-may care golfers. As Matron coldly points out, they would be picked up by social workers before they got to the end of the lane. Yet there is also a constant shift of moods, from farce to pathos, matched by the audience’s response which often moved from non-stop laughter to thoughtful and attentive silence.


The Millgate’s veteran actors carried off their parts with confidence, energy and faultless comic timing. Their different approaches to their roles gave the performance an impressive variety. Ian Perks was outstanding as Tommy Hardaker, moving from the initial impression of the irritable Gimmer with the Zimmer to reveal fresh levels of sensitivity, recalling the terror and exhilaration of the landings: “I was surrounded by death, but I’ve never felt more alive.” He had excellent support from Ian Crickett as Alf the ex-Bevin Boy, who is treated by his pals as the simpleton and weak link in the chain, but is not as daft as he looks, and from John Tanner, the officer-class toff (but only from the Pay Corps) who is the Captain Mainwaring of the trio. Completing the cast was Alayne Whitworth, who did well in the difficult task of sustaining three different parts, metamorphosing from Matron, the dragon with the heart of gold, to the apparatchik in the Belgian customs office, and then, against type, as the French landlady with her own painful memories of the Liberation.

I had wondered how the production would handle the demands of the very different settings of the story. This problem was solved with ingenious simplicity. On stage, there were minimal settings with just a table and a few chairs, while the wartime background was supplied by and ever-changing variety of black-and-white projections on the screen behind, and by atmospheric music of the time.

Overall an intelligent, sensitive and enterprising production which reflects credit on all concerned, and a poignantly appropriate choice for the day after Brexit.

John Rigby

Saddleworth Players will perform La Grand Return at the Millgate Arts Centre from 1 – 8 February. Tickets available from the Millgate website (millgateartscentre.co.uk) or by telephoning the Box Office on 01457 874644, Tuesdays 2pm–5pm, Wednesdays and Thursdays 2pm–7pm, and Fridays and Saturdays from 9:30am–1pm.

Le Grand Return – Director’s Notes

The cast of Le Grand Return

It’s 1994 and the 50th Anniversary of the D-Day landings looms.  Tommy, Alf and Edwin are incarcerated in Coldrick Nursing Home.  In spite of his ever worsening heart condition, D-Day veteran, Tommy, is determined to break out and rejoin his old comrades on the Normandy Beaches and salute the fallen. The friends conspire to escape and, in action that takes them from dining room to Belgian port, to French village and cemetery, they chat, they reminisce, they tease and support each other in this heart-warming tale.

I first came across this play when it was performed by a stellar cast at the Top Room of the Swan in Dobcross.  Alan Stockdill, the playwright, has a genius for warmhearted, humorous characters, pared down settings and stories that will both entertain you and leave you with a lump in your throat. 

Verity Mann, Director

Saddleworth Players will perform La Grand Return at the Millgate Arts Centre from 1 – 8 February. Tickets available from the Millgate website (millgateartscentre.co.uk) or by telephoning the Box Office on 01457 874644, Tuesdays 2pm–5pm, Wednesdays and Thursdays 2pm–7pm, and Fridays and Saturdays from 9:30am–1pm.

Tommy, Alf and Edwin concoct a ‘great escape’

Alayne Whitworth plays the part of Yvette

This is my third play since joining the Saddleworth Players back in December 2017 and is certainly the most moving and heart-warming so far.

Tommy, Alf and Edwin concoct a ‘great escape’ from their Nursing Home in the hope of travelling to Normandy to attend the 50th Anniversary   D-Day Commemorations and of finding George Penney’s grave. I don’t want to give too much away about the characters I play, other than to say, there are 3 of them and they’re all very different, although Alf does see some similarities! 

The premise of Le Grand Return, a mix of laughter, tears and tales of bravery, has evoked in me, thoughts of a time in our history that was so  terribly shocking, disturbing and utterly heartbreaking for so many people, not only in this country but across the World. It made me think about my dear Grandad who played his part in World War II but, as far as I can remember, never really spoke about it, and my Nanna who lost her beloved twin Brother Andy (W/Sgt Andrew Straiton). I sadly never got to meet him because he died in a Prisoner of War Camp in Italy. He was just 24 years old.              

I hope you all enjoy this wonderful play and I also hope it will re-ignite in you the many reasons why we should NEVER FORGET the sacrifices ordinary men and women made to keep our Country free.

Alayne Whitworth

Saddleworth Players will perform La Grand Return at the Millgate Arts Centre from 1 – 8 February. Tickets available from the Millgate website (millgateartscentre.co.uk) or by telephoning the Box Office on 01457 874644, Tuesdays 2pm–5pm, Wednesdays and Thursdays 2pm–7pm, and Fridays and Saturdays from 9:30am–1pm.

This play will make you laugh and will make you cry

John Tanner plays the Edwin Cooper in Le Grand Return

My name is John Tanner and I am playing the part of Edwin Cooper in the forthcoming Saddleworth Players’ production of ‘Le Grand Return’ at the Millgate Arts Centre. 

During the 2nd World War Edwin was Captain of the Pays Corps, a vital role (paying out wages) but frustrated not to have been a ‘Fighting’ Soldier particularly as he shows a real flare for foreign languages as you will witness during the play!!

This play will make you laugh and will make you cry but it is a poignant reminder of the struggles, hardships and loss of comrades and loved ones to all those who have experienced wartime.

In the play there is a reference to Edwin’s Father being gassed at Ypres during the 1st World War which connects to my own Grandfather, Gilbert Tanner who was at that time a Major in the 7th battalion (West Riding Division of the Duke of Wellingtons). He fought at the battle of Poelcapelle, the 3rdbattle of Ypres in 1917 and was awarded the DSO for his actions in the Battle of Valenciennes fighting alongside Canadian forces at the beginning of November 1918, finally rising to the rank of Colonel.

My Father fought in the 2nd World War and was in both the North African and Italian campaigns serving as Captain in the Territorials.

As I was too young to have been called up for National Service (and obviously too young to be cast in this play !!!!) my only experience of Military Life was in the School CCF – and to escape boring drill I joined the School Military Band which sported a much more colourful uniform – However I couldn’t play an instrument so I was given the task of playing the tenor drum. I never did quite master hitting the drum and marching in time together with disastrous results during a rendition of ‘Hello Dolly’ around the athletics track in front of an amused audience and not so amused parents!

John Tanner

Saddleworth Players will perform La Grand Return at the Millgate Arts Centre from 1 – 8 February. Tickets available from the Millgate website (millgateartscentre.co.uk) or by telephoning the Box Office on 01457 874644, Tuesdays 2pm–5pm, Wednesdays and Thursdays 2pm–7pm, and Fridays and Saturdays from 9:30am–1pm.