Summer Holiday – Octagon Theatre Bolton – Review

The team at Octagon Theatre, Bolton are going on a Summer Holiday – an extended one actually – as the theatre closes for a multi-million pound renovation to mark it’s 50th anniversary. For this reason, over the next year or so, productions will continue in local landmarks – beginning with this “site specific” offering of the popular Cliff Richard musical.

For a theatre so entwined with it’s home town, renowned for celebrating it’s roots, this production felt exceedingly natural, humble yet totally exciting as it moved through the town that they are so proud to call home.

The show starts in the new Bolton Interchange, to inspiring effect. There’s not many shows that start off in a bus terminal and you’d be right to have your reservations, but the cast brought unbelievable energy and excitement and utilised the space perfectly. Here you meet the characters before following one onto a double decker bus to move to the next location. The short trip is as fun as it sounds, with cast members entertaining passengers and encouraging a sing along.

It has to be noted at this point that a commendable support of the local arts by Transport for Greater Manchester and especially the Vision Bus company helped to bring this exceptional part of the show to life – true leaders in improving the lives of the communities they serve.

Next stop was the steps of Bolton Town Hall. A breath taking backdrop for the next part of the story, where we meet our broken down pop group, who join the bus party. This section also worked really well as the Octagon team continued to rise to their technical challenges.

Into the auditorium for the rest of the show, where a vibrant 60’s set is the backdrop for the remainder.

A talented cast of actor-musicians continue to bring the show to life as the popular plot continues to grow. There was no weak link in this cast and all were tremendous but there we’re a few notable highlights. Michael Peavoy is a perfect casting as Don – his charisma leads the show extraordinarily well bringing a depth to his character that’s so often missing in this show. As did Greg Last and Barbara Hockaday – hilarious from start to finish as the child-star’s parents – a joy to watch. Eleanor Brown was also endearing and charming as child-star Barbara. Roles that are so important to get right were absolutely played so very well.

Octagon Theatre Bolton has hit a sweet spot. They consistently produce outstanding theatre led by their exceptional Artistic Director Elizabeth Newman and manage to combine with the community without compromising quality. This one feels particularly special – the early parts of the show in the bus terminal were genuinely some of this years theatre highlights.

You can’t help but enjoy this production which is better than the national tour by far. From it’s depth to it’s delivery of the iconic soundtrack. This is the one and it’s worth travelling for.

Tickets are available – Click here to order yours.

About Author /

Rob Stanway is the Founder of At The Theatre. He has reviewed the UK's best touring theatre (and much of the west end) for this website since 2005.

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