I sat down to write this blog a few days ago but didn’t have chance to publish it before the awful events that took place in Manchester on Monday 22nd May. Our thoughts are with all of the people and families that were affected by the attack; those who have lost loved ones and those who are still receiving treatment. We are extremely proud to be part of a City that has showed such a strong sense of community and love and hope to be so for many years to come.
Where on earth does the year go? One minute we’re all returning from a well-deserved Christmas break, ready and raring to go for the year ahead, and next thing you know it’s the middle of May and we’re already halfway through our 2017 season. Time flies when you’re having fun!
The majority of early 2017 for us was dominated by ‘Yank!’; our third in house production alongside the wonderful Katy Lipson of Aria Entertainment, who we announced as our Resident Producer last year, and Ben Millerman of Mr Millerman Presents. Those of you who visit us regularly will know that we are committed to producing a strong programme of musicals, with a particular focus on musicals which have never been performed in Manchester before. We were particularly excited to produce ‘Yank!’ because, not only had it never been performed in Manchester before, it had never been performed in Europe before! That’s right. We were going to host the European premiere of this Off-Broadway hit and both writers (brothers David and Joseph Zellnick) were going to join us at various stages throughout the rehearsal process and run. No pressure then.
‘Yank!’ is a World War Two love story which follows Stu, Mitch, Artie and the men of Charlie Company as they are thrown into war and begin to explore what it means to be a man and to fall in love in a time and place where the odds are stacked against you. Manchester audiences fell in love with our squad, as did the critics who awarded it 4 and 5 stars across the board. Throughout the four week run we proudly supported The Albert Kennedy Trust, a charity that works to support LGBT homeless young people in crisis, and were very pleased to welcome the former Lord Mayor of Manchester Carl Austin-Behan, who popped in on the last night of the show to congratulate the cast and crew on a fantastic run and share his own personal experiences with us. We were all extremely sad to see the squad leave but we didn’t need to be too downcast for too long as a few weeks after it closed here in Manchester, we confirmed that it would be transferring to London’s Charing Cross Theatre in July!
Since ‘Yank!’ we’ve been lucky enough to welcome some really exciting shows to Hope Mill Theatre. ‘Moth’, produced by Manchester based theatre company Ransack Theatre, earned a well deserved four star review from The Stage and Jason Manford himself joined us a couple of weeks ago for ‘Manford’s Comedy Club’. We also welcomed the City of Manchester Opera for our very first Opera and ‘Yank!’ leading lady Sarah Louise Young just couldn’t stay away and returned with her own show, ‘Julie Madly Deeply’.
So what’s coming up next? Play With Fire Productions return with their third production here, ‘Herding Cats’ by Lucinda Coxon and Dreamshed Theatre return with ‘Shalalalalalee’. We’re continuing to support up and coming Northern writers through our Powerhouse Plays season, which is running throughout the year. The next Powerhouse Play, ‘Bosie’ by Rik Barnett, runs from 8th – 9th June.
On top of the day to day running of the theatre and our ‘Yank!’ transfer, we are also preparing for the London transfer of ‘Hair’, which runs at The Vaults from 4th October – 3rd December. We’re also continuing to run our Play Reading Club once a month, the Engine Room Café is open from 12pm-4pm Monday – Friday and we’ve got our upcoming in-house production of ‘Pippin’ to start thinking about, which our Executive Producer, Will, is also choreographing.
Oh and Will and Joe are getting married in July. So not too busy at all!