your free WEEKEND WALKABOUT volume 1

Welcome to the first edition of WEEKEND WALKABOUT which picks up all the stories we hadn´t found space for on our daily blog. We are also grateful that Steve Cooke will share with us his UK column so that we will always have something to talk about wherever we meet along the sidetracks and detours, all across the arts.


by Norman Warwick

On our first weekend walkabout we have noticed that Tickets are now available for Manchester Music Festival Season 49!  This summer will see the return of festival-favorite performers, but will also have some fresh faces and new experiences for our audiences to enjoy.

The season kicks off on June 29, 2023, with our Season Opener Mainstage Concert featuring the Emerson String Quartet, (previously mentioned in our daily sidetracks and detours pages) continues through the summer concluding with our Orchestral Evening on August 31, 2023, featuring mentioned previously in our daily sidetracks and detours The Knights.  Throughout the summer, don’t miss our special events!  These performances and talks will offer our audience new perspectives and experiences with a number of our renowned guest artists.


Saturday, July 8 • 5:30pm •

Manchester Community Library

This solo salon recital featuring renowned pianist Adam Neiman provides the audience with a unique opportunity to experience an intimate performance of Robert Schumann’s Symphonic Études. A reception will follow, giving attendees a chance to socialize and get to know the artist up close and personal


Monday, July 10 • 5:30pm •

Yester House Gallery, SVAC

A fundraiser celebrating our 49th season, and benefiting the programs of the Manchester Music Festival. Featuring a virtuoso performance of Bach’s Suite No. 1 in G major, and Sollima’s Lamentatio for Solo Cello by cellist Alexander Hersh. Wine bar and savory hors d’oeuvres presented by Southern Vermont Arts Center’s curATE café.

Tickets: $125/adult; space is limited

The End of Classical Music is Vastly Overrated
Tuesday, July 25 • 5:30pm •
Manchester Community Library

In collaboration with Green Mountain Academy for ifelong Learning

Classical music has thrived for centuries and is one of the most powerful, moving, and enriching genres. But many say classical music is now facing its biggest challenges of all time. Join us for a thought-provoking discussion on its place in history and in today’s world.  With Philip Setzer, the hosts of Vermont Public Classical, and students from the MMF Young Artists Program.

Tickets: $22/adult

Friday, July 28 • 5:30pm • Arkell Pavilion, SVAC

A duo recital featuring Tara Helen O’Connor, flute, and Ran Dank, piano. This performance will provide the audience with an opportunity to experience this unique instrumental pairing as our illustrious musicians perform classical masterworks by Liszt, Fauré, and Piazzola. A reception will follow, giving attendees a chance to socialize and get to know the artists up close and personal!

Tickets: $45/adult

all across the arts: presented by Steve Cooke

Sunday 21st May2023


‘A Hilarious Love Letter To The Theatre’

 at the Octagon Bolton.

After the show Bill Ward [Henry Condell] enthused about Lotte Wakeham’s ‘top notch direction’ and the ‘warmth’ the company of actors had developed.

That goes a long way to explaining why The Book of Will at the Octagon is such a delight.

This play American playwright Lauren Gunderson (left) connects with Shakespeare’s universal humanity, reflecting the emotional rollercoaster of life – love, betrayal, triumph, and loss with lots of tears and laughter.

In the 400th anniversary year of the first publication of Shakespeare’s scripts in the First Folio of 1623 The Book of Will transports us back to the time when a group of grieving actors embarked on a project to preserve the words of their departed friend – battling against the odds – “Half the country can’t read; the other half can’t pay.”

The wonderfully talented cast of 10 play 30 different characters, among the many highlights being Andrew Whitehead’s hilarious take on a very drunk Ben Johnson, Zach Lee’s creepy, blind printer/publisher William Jaggard, Jessica Ellis’s loveably salty Alice Heminges and of course the central characters Russell Richardson’s deep-thinking, emotional, John Heminges and the superbly ebullient Bill Ward’s Henry Condell.

The creative team, headed by the Octagon’s Artistic Director Lottie Wakeham, expertly stage The Book of Will in in the round, drawing every member of the audience into the action – transporting us back in time to the world of ‘players’ in 1623.

If you are up for experiencing live theatre at its very best, then don’t miss this ‘Hilarious Love Letter To Theatre’ at The Octagon, Bolton until Saturday 3 June.


RMTC’s GREASE is highly entertaining, engrossing and exhilarating!

REVIEW by Steve Cooke

What a thrill to be among a sell-out audience in the revitalised Champness Hall for the opening night of RMTC’s [Rochdale Musical Theatre Company] magnificent production of GREASE.

Full disclosure – I thought I didn’t like musicals! I am now converted!

The whole experience was highly entertaining, engrossing and exhilarating.

The stunning cast, wonderful production team and superb [live] musicians pulled off a never to be forgotten show.

One excited audience member was heard to exclaim on hitting the cold night air on Drake Street ‘well that were bloody great’.

We were transported back to the 1950s with the timeless story of the Pink Ladies and T-Birds, and the romance between Danny and Sandy. The show-stopping hits kept coming “Summer Nights”, “Greased Lightnin'”, and “You’re The One That I Want” all bringing rapturous applause, fully deserved by this amazingly talented cast.

The audience spanned the generations and included Grease fans in brilliantly created fancy dress.

At the end of the show the whole audience rose as one applauding and whooping.

Wow! What night – can’t wait for the next one!


PREVIEW By Steve Cooke

Coming to the Octagon, IN Bolton, Alan Plater’s warm and witty musical play, Blonde Bombshells of 1943

Coming to the Octagon next month is Alan Plater’s warm and witty musical play, Blonde Bombshells of 1943.

Following the success of 2021’s Home I’m Darling and 2022’s Brief Encounter, the Octagon Theatre Bolton, Stephen Joseph Theatre and Theatre by the Lake are now taking audiences back to the swinging 40s in this production, directed by Zoë Waterman (Jane Eyre, Stephen Joseph Theatre and New Vic Theatre, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, Theatre by the Lake)

Featuring a stellar company of 8 actor–musicians, the full cast includes Verity Bajoria (Tale of a Thousand and One Nights, Dragonboy Productions, Atrocities at Arkham, Tell No Tales Theatre Company); Lauren Chinery (Dreamboats and Petticoats, Bill Kenwright Ltd, Gatsby, Ruby in the Dust); Georgina Field (Gods & Dogs, The Rude Mechanical Theatre Company, Roll Over Beethoven, Belgrade Theatre Coventry).

They will be joined by Stacey Ghent (We are the Best, Live Theatre, When the Long Trick’s Over, High Tide and New Wolsey Theatre); Rory Gradon (The Snow Queen, London Touring Players, Julius Caesar, The Undisposables); Sarah Groarke (The Borrowers, Theatre by the Lake, Jane Eyre, Stephen Joseph Theatre and New Vic Theatre).

Completing the cast are Alice McKenna (Red Sky at Night, Mikron Theatre Company, Girls Don’t Play Guitar, Royal Court Liverpool); and Gleanne Purcell-Brown (Playboy of the West Indies, The Birmingham Rep Company, She Loves Me, Sheffield Crucible). The Blonde Bombshells, the most glamorous all-girl swing band in the North, loses members every time it plays a GI camp. Now there’s an important BBC job in the offing and Betty needs to find new musicians fast!

This lively and lavish musical play is filled with glorious live swing performances of 1940s classics including Glenn Miller, The Andrews Sisters, George Formby, Fats Waller and more, taking audiences on a wonderful journey back to a bye-gone era.

The creative team includes Jess Curtis (designer); Greg Last (musical director); Richard G Jones (lighting designer); Chris Bogg (sound designer); Sundeep Saini (movement director); Howard Gray (orchestrations); Sarah Hughes (casting director); and Ryan McVeigh (assistant director).

Commenting on the casting of the production, director Zoë Waterman said: “I am absolutely thrilled to be directing Blonde Bombshells of 1943. We have got a glorious and terribly talented cast; it is such a privilege to work with performers who are not only stunning actors but also phenomenal musicians. I can’t wait to get into rehearsals and start bringing the characters to life and weaving the music through the show. It is always a joy to make work that celebrates women, and this is no exception – full of hilarious, practical, strong characters who make do and mend as the time dictates and manage to pull an all singing, all dancing performance out of the jaws of an air raid.”

The Blonde Bombshells of 1943 comes to the Octagon Theatre Bolton from Fri 9 June – Sat 1 July.

Tickets start from £15 and are on-sale now.

Find out more and book tickets via the Box Office on 01204 520661 or at

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We look forward to seeing you on our weekend walkabout next Sunday but don´t forget that until there 900 free articles in our easy to negotiate Sidetracks And Detours daily blogs, and we continue to post new features every Monday to Friday. If you are looking for an energy boost, though, order a plate of Hot Biscuits at the Steve Bewick´s jazz radio misx-cloud. Our friend and occasional contributor tells us that this week his show will includes a feature on a CD from Carole Nelson Music. Also included are two guitar pieces from Italia’s Giorgio Serilli Trio. R & B with Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings with Beverley Skeete vocalist putting a spell on us. Allison Neale Trio, Quietly there. Finishing with Wayne Shorter, who speaks no evil so we’re told. If this looks interesting share with friends and catch us at your convenience 24/07 on

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