Players’ new recovery season designed to show laughter is best medicine

IF laughter really is good for the soul then Saddleworth Players’ new recovery season starting in September should definitely hit the spot.

When Jim Cartwright’s Two has its opening night at Delph’s Millgate Arts Centre on September 25, it will be 19 months since the Players’ ensemble previously trod the boards.

But as lockdown lifts so does the Millgate curtain on a series of five plays designed to deliver a feelgood factor to audiences again.

With Saddleworth Live having already announced its new programme and Saddleworth Concerts Society preparing their own schedule, a return of top class entertainment is just round the corner.

Saddleworth Players actor and director Verity Mann said: “I must confess to initially enjoying evenings spent at home during the first lockdown.

“I soon realised that I’m definitely happiest in a theatre and definitely not when faced with an array of box sets.

saddleworth players
Stuart, Carol Davies, Verity Mann, John Tanner

“I have missed the camaraderie, the creativity, the teamwork, the buzz of rehearsals, the exhilaration of show nights, the delving in boxes for costumes, the set painting, the read through. In fact, pretty much everything that is involved in a production.

“And reaction to our recent launch indicates audiences are itching to get back to see live shows in our creative community theatre with annual subscriptions and show tickets selling fast.

“Our play choices are deliberately light and comedic with the Farndale Farce thrown in for good measure.

“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 season ends with the premiere of a play written by our own Carol Davies along with novelist Livi Michael, telling the real-life story of the first women given permission to sing in a Christian choir.”

Audiences can support the recovery season and save money for themselves by becoming a subscriber: five shows for the price of 4 four costs only £40.

Tickets and subscriptions are available via www.millgateartscentre.co.uk or on a new phone booking service 01457 874644 open 9am-5pm (telephone booking fee applied of £1.80).

New season:
Two by Jim Cartwright (September 25-October 2):
A sharp, salty, quickfire 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.

This is a perfect reintroduction to Northern pub culture for those who currently only have a distant memory of packed nights out, stag dos, jukeboxes, pints of lager and packets of crisps.

The Farndale Christmas Carol (November 20-27):
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.

Pastimes by Brian Jeffries (February 12-19)
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 40 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.

Nobody’s Perfect by Simon Williams (April 2-9):
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. In high heels and lipstick our hero is caught in a hilarious dilemma of cross-dressing and cross-purposes.

Across the UK, Europe and Australia, Nobody’s Perfect is acclaimed as a classic feelgood romantic comedy, within the fertile tradition of Some Like It Hot, Tootsie, and Mrs Doubtfire.

Singers not Sinners by Livi Michael and Carol Davies (June 2-9):
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.

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