Oldham Coliseum Theatre today announces its programme for Spring and Summer 2022. The season includes a world premiere, a modern adaptation of a children’s classic, two tours based on true stories and hard-hitting drama from across the pond.
March and April feature two long-awaited events finally running two years after they were cancelled when UK theatres closed on 16 March 2020: the Coliseum’s production of The Jungle Book which was entering its second week of rehearsals, and Box of Tricks Theatre’s The Last Quiz Night on Earth which was due to open in Oldham that evening.
The theatre’s Studio programme also returns after a two-year hiatus as six independent theatre companies present new work in the Coliseum’s more intimate Studio space and Cultivate once again provides an unmissable opportunity for theatre makers with a week-long festival of workshops, talks and opportunities.
Sarah Punshon directs Jessica Swale and Joe Stilgoe’s musical adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book this Easter.
The Jungle Book is the first family show that the Coliseum has produced outside of the festive season for almost 20 years. The theatre is famous for its annual traditional pantomime and is building upon this with another seasonal theatre experience for all ages.
Performed by a cast of seven, The Jungle Book explores the universal themes of family, belonging and identity. The design of the production is a meeting of worlds, set in an ‘urban jungle’ playground upon which the cast will climb and swing throughout the play.
Joining Sarah Punshon on the production are Designer Katie Scott, Musical Director Tayo Akinbode and Movement Director Stuart Bowden.
The Jungle Book runs from Thursday 7 – Sunday 24 April.
Coliseum Artistic Director Chris Lawson directs Maxine Peake’s Beryl, which opens at the Coliseum in May before touring to Theatre By The Lake, Keswick and The Dukes, Lancaster.
When actress Maxine Peake was given cyclist Beryl Burton’s autobiography as a gift she questioned why no one had ever written a play about Britain’s unsung sporting legend, and so she wrote it herself. The result is an inspirational tour-de-force fuelled by rhubarb, northern charm and fierce determination.
Yorkshirewoman Beryl Burton had a heart condition that should have prevented her from strenuous exercise. Beryl had other ideas however and she dominated British cycling in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, winning dozens of championships, breaking British and World records and earning an MBE and an OBE.
Beryl runs at the Coliseum from Saturday 7 – Saturday 21 May. On Monday 16 May, local playwriting community Manchester ADP will also present four new plays in response to Beryl on the set of the Coliseum’s production.
Bruntwood Award winning writer Ian Kershaw teams up with actor Clara Darcy to tell her astonishing real-life story in We Should Definitely Have More Dancing.
Clara Darcy is fit, care-free, happily single and dancing through life, until her world is turned upside down with the arrival of a fist-sized tumour in her head. Performed by the actress herself with friends, We Should Definitely Have More Dancing is a cautionary postcard from the edge of life stuffed full of heart, love and dancing.
Co-directed by Tatty Hennessy and Raz Shaw, We Should Definitely Have More Dancing makes its world premiere at the Coliseum from Friday 17 June – Saturday 2 July, before transferring to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe followed by a national tour in the Autumn.
Oldham Coliseum’s Artistic Director Chris Lawson said: “Our industry has had the most difficult two years in memory and, not unlike other UK theatres, we’ve been on a rollercoaster since reopening the Coliseum last summer. Whilst we’re not out of the woods yet, I’m heartened to announce this ambitious programme which sees us returning to what we do best. The Coliseum is the last remaining professional producing theatre in Oldham and this season sees us not only creating new work for our audiences here in Oldham, but sharing it once again with audiences around the UK.”
The Coliseum welcomes Headlong, Leeds Playhouse and The Old Vic’s co-production of August Wilson’s Jitney from Wednesday 13 – Saturday 16 July.
Regular cabs won’t travel to Pittsburgh Hill District in 1977, so local residents turn to an unlicensed taxi company of ‘jitney’ drivers. Jitney is a ground-breaking modern classic exploring the fragile bond between eight men as they live, love and work in a racially segregated, post-Vietnam America.
August Wilson is one of America’s greatest and most ambitious writers, whose work chronicles the experiences and heritage of the African-American community in the 20th century.
The Coliseum’s Season Ticket deal for Spring and Summer offers multibuy discounts on six shows: The Jungle Book, Beryl, We Should Definitely Have More Dancing and Jitney, plus remaining productions from the Autumn Winter season: The Glee Club and The Ballad of Maria Marten.
Richard Cameron’s raucous comedy The Glee Club arrives in Oldham from Tuesday 15 – Saturday 19 March.
The Glee Club, made up of five hard-working, hard-drinking miners and a church organist, is preparing for the local gala. Though they’re established in the working men’s clubs, they aren’t exactly at the vanguard of a musical revolution. This is the summer of ’62. Britain and music are about to change, so too are the lives of these six men. Will anything ever be the same again?
The Glee Club tours to Oldham presented by Stockroom, Theatre by the Lake, Cast in Doncaster and Kiln Theatre.
From Tuesday 22 – Saturday 26 March Eastern Angles and Matthew Linley Creative Projects present a thrilling retelling of a real-life murder mystery, The Ballad of Maria Marten.
Summer, 1827. In a red barn Maria Marten awaits her lover. A year later her body is found under the floor of the barn in a grain sack and the manhunt begins. But in all this hysteria Maria’s own story gets lost. Until now. Hal Chambers and Beth Flintoff’s spine-tingling retelling rediscovers her story, bringing it back to vivid, urgent life.
Elsewhere in the theatre the Coliseum re-opens its more intimate Studio space presenting new writing from independent theatre companies.
In Parallel present two-act comedy Parallel Lives on Saturday 12 February, four female writers of South Asian descent share striking scripts as part of the Discovery programme with Kali Theatre and the Coliseum on Friday 25 February, Oldham’s Dare to Know Theatre return with a tragic tale of a scared dementia patient, The Forgotten, on Friday 13 and Saturday 14 May, Manchester’s Her Productions present Maz Hedgehog’s Let Me Count The Ways on Friday 20 and Saturday 21 May, Ben Phillips shares the true story of his quest to discover come to terms with an absent father’s inheritance in The Long Way Home on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 June and Little Britain’s Joann Condon presents comedic and inspirational one-woman show Little Boxes on Saturday 2 July.
A short walk from the Coliseum, Oldham’s The Bank Top Tavern welcomes Box Of Tricks’ The Last Quiz Night on Earth on Monday 14 and Tuesday 15 March. The Last Quiz Night on Earth was due to be presented at The Bank Top Tavern on Monday 16 March 2020, the day theatres across the UK closed ahead of the first national lockdown. Returning almost two-years to the day Alison Carr’s pre-apocalyptic comedy is an interactive play-come-pub-quiz, set the night before an asteroid hits the earth.
As part of a long-term project with KaskoSan Roma led charity the Coliseum presents live and lively jam sessions with Richard O’Neill and Juice Vamosi on Saturday 12 March and Saturday 4 June.
Gypsy Jam sessions explore the rich lyrical and performance traditions of the Roma and Romani Gypsy Cultures, welcoming special guests and providing a platform for new Gypsy, Roma and Traveller talent.
Richard O’Neill is a multi-award-winning storyteller, author and playwright born and raised in a large traditional nomadic Romani family whose history in England and Scotland goes back hundreds of years and Juice Vamosi is a Roma (Gypsy) activist, interpreter, film maker, marketing consultant and Gypsy party MC who built the KaskoSan social network in 2010, which now as a charity supports Roma families in Oldham, Bradford and Bolton. Previous Gypsy Jam special guests include world record breaking beatboxer Testament, who joined Richard and Juice in September 2021.
From Monday 18 – Saturday 23 July the Coliseum presents its week-long festival focussed on theatre upskilling, Cultivate. Previous Cultivate festivals have seen workshops delivered by the likes of Frantic Assembly, Box Of Tricks Theatre and renowned director the late Chris Honer. With full details to be announced, 2022 will see the return of Open Auditions and sessions led by top companies and individuals in the industry.
The summer will also see the theatre’s first Khushi South Asian Arts festival showcasing work made and inspired by Oldham’s South Asian communities. Created in partnership with The Women’s CHAI Projects, Khushi will bring artists and communities together through a series of dynamic and creative projects.
Last, but certainly not least, the theatre welcomes its usual mix of special events covering children’s favourites, music, comedy, burlesque and sing a long film screenings.
Following on from Easter’s Coliseum production of The Jungle Book, Julia Donaldson’s The Tiger Who Came To Tea takes a seat on stage on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 August.
Sing-a-Long-a present a double bill of hit screenings for audiences to join in with on Saturday 11 June – The Greatest Showman at 2pm and Dirty Dancing at 7.30pm, the UK’s longest running Burlesque show comes to Oldham on Thursday 9 June and the Coliseum presents its second Queer Cabaret as part of Oldham Pride 2022 on Friday 22 July.
Comedy includes Rich Hall performing his acerbic stand up in his Hoedown Deluxe on Friday 29 April, sought after joke writer Gary Delaney with his brand new show Gary in Punderland on Tuesday 24 May and The Lancashire Hotpots play all their top hits including Chippy Tea and Shopmobility Scooter in their Chips and Giggles Tour on Saturday 30 April.
Plus the theatre welcomes musical tributes to Broadway and West End hits in Beyond the Barricade on Friday 27 May, Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons in Big Girls Don’t Cry on Friday 10 June, The King of Rock and Roll in One Night Of Elvis on Saturday 9 July and the new romantics of the ‘80s in Calling Planet Earth on Wednesday 27 July.