New season means new aims as Millgate turns 50

HOPES are high Delph’s Millgate Arts Centre can break more records with the 2023/24 season that has just been announced.

Volunteers at the venue were left stunned when recent show Silver Lining played to 94 per cent full houses, leaving them wondering if similar may have happened before things were logged on computers.

But as its 50th anniversary approaches, with special celebrations planned around the date on November 4 and some returning faces from 1973, things are going bigger and better.

Guests were invited to take a special tour behind the scenes at the Millgate

“In 1973, Saddleworth Players had its first show here, The Italian Straw Hat,” said Ian Perks.

“This season is about commemorating 50 years. Some people who performed in that very first show will be performing in this season.”

Saddleworth Players will be staging five shows, starting with the aptly named Curtain Up from September 30 until October 7.

Alice, according to Carol Davies, sees the story of Alice In Wonderland set in Sheffield and will combine some of the ‘originals’ with members of Saddleworth Players Youth Theatre.

There is an exciting line-up for the 2023 season

Murder, Margaret and Me follows Glorious before Lizzy, Darcy and Jane, set around Jane Austen writing Pride and Prejudice, rounds off their calendar.

Among the productions over the course of the coming season is panto Rumpelstiltskin, which producers The Big Tiny hope will be even bigger.

After the closure of Oldham’s Coliseum, this will be the only show in town this year.

Ben Richards revealed over the course of the last production, a combined 4,500 people came through Millgate’s doors for a production ‘built for Saddleworth.’

Guest of honour for the evening was Civic Mayor of Oldham, Cllr Zahid Chauhan

This year, both he and production partner Will Cousins hope to attract 6,000 between December 9 and 31.

And partner Will Cousins revealed the casting call proved popular, saying: “We’ve just come back from London, where we casted the show.

“For this year, 2,500 actors applied for just six roles!”

As well as Saddleworth Players’ activities and the panto, Saddleworth Concerts Society announced its first event as a jazz night on October 18, while from October 24-28, Saddleworth Musical Society will have the venue reverberating to the sounds of composer Jerry Herman with Showtune.

Vernon Cressey, of the group, said: “It’s a complete change for us, a collaboration with one of Broadway’s finest.

“The show will feature songs from productions like Hello Dolly, Mack and Mabel and Les Cages Aux Folles.”

Behind the scenes in the costume department

Saddleworth Film Society will confirm the first half of the productions it will be screening in August, as Millgate’s Andrew Mann explained: “It’s a case of waiting and seeing what happened over the summer as it’ll mean they can show the most up to date films.

“The society is also investing a lot of money in a new projector and all new technology that will really improve the quality of the films shown.

“In all, there are more than 100 performances in total and we hope to get upwards of 10,000 people through the theatre over the course of the season.

“I think we’re going to bring back Dobcross Brass Band for a performance too.”

*FOR full details of the forthcoming season at Delph’s Millgate arts Centre, you can click on its website at www.millgateartscentre.co.uk.

3 Replies to “New season means new aims as Millgate turns 50”

  1. We’ve had at least one very enjoyable evening out recently, at the Millgate and anticipate more in the future. The Millgate is a pleasant, well supported and accessible venue that stages interesting, lively and entertaining productions that normal people actually want to go to see, (if sometimes a bit heavy on nostalgia.)

    If the Coliseum had ever been that well managed as interesting and as well supported as The Millgate it might still be in business; but as things stand few people are really going to miss it, (seriously mean how many people really want sit through a play about the experiences of an asylum on their way to UK?) and the fact that there are a number of other theaters in Oldham of which the Millgate is consipcuous is one reason why not.

  2. The panto is not the only one in town. Jack and the Beanstalk is at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in Oldham, presented by Anton Bensom productions. This is the third year panto has been produced there.

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