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Sparkling Bolton spring season


Mina Anwar and Les Dennis in Spring and Port Wine at Bolton. Pictures: Natasha Merchant and Nicky Johnston
Mina Anwar and Les Dennis in Spring and Port Wine at Bolton. Pictures: Natasha Merchant and Nicky Johnston


The Octagon Theatre has announced a packed new spring season with a European premiere, a world-premiere musical adaptation, brilliant northern comedies and adaptations of classic novels.

The first offering for 2023 will be the final production of the autumn/winter season, Bill Naughton’s 1960s classic, Spring and Port Wine (February 3–March 4).

This touching and funny drama has delighted audiences for over 50 years and will feature recently-announced stars Mina Anwar and Les Dennis.

The Octagon will then present the hugely-popular Northern comedy Ladies’ Day (March 8-April 1) in a co-production with the New Vic Theatre. Four women bet on friendship as they head for a day at the races in Amanda Whittington’s heart-warming comedy.

Next up is Original Theatre's riotous retelling of HG Wells’ classic novel The Time Machine (April 12-22). The show comes from the same people who produced the Octagon’s 2021 hit comedy The Hound of The Baskervilles and is a fast-paced, wise-cracking adaptation.

This will be followed by a revival of the Regency farce Quality Street (April 25-May 6) presented by Northern Broadsides and the New Vic Theatre. School mistress Phoebe Throssel must adopt a flirtatious alter-ego to win back her old flame, who has been away in the Napoleonic wars. Only time will tell if she can juggle both personas without causing a scandal in this wonderful comedy from the writer of Peter Pan – and yes, the show did lend its name to the popular chocolates.

The season also includes the European premiere of Lauren Gunderson’s award-winning play The Book of Will (May 17-June 3) in a new co-production with the Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch and the new Shakespeare North Playhouse on Merseyside. This fast-paced, funny play follows Shakespeare’s acting troupe, The King’s Men, as they race to gather the Bard’s scattered masterpieces and save his words before they are lost forever.

Lauren Gunderson is one of the USA’s most celebrated and widely-performed playwrights, most recently responsible for the adaptation of The Time Traveller’s Wife (seen at Storyhouse, Chester). The production of The Book of Will coincides with the 400th anniversary of the publication of the First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays in 1623.

Next summer you can journey back to the 1940s when Alan PLater's delightful musical play The Blonde Bombshells of 1943 (June 9–July 1) returns to the Octagon in a lavish new co-production with the Stephen Joseph Theatre and Theatre by the Lake.

The most glamorous all-girl swing band in the North has an important BBC job in the offing – and needs new musicians fast! Plater’s warm and witty work is filled with glorious live 1940s classic music.

The Octagon is already looking ahead to next Christmas with the announcement of their festive show, a new musical adaptation of Jules Verne's classic adventure tale Around the World in 80 Days (November 16, 2023-January 13, 2024).

The adaptation, which follows Phileas Fogg on a race around the globe to win a bet, will be written by Kate Ferguson and Susannah Pearse - the team behind previous Octagon festive titles Treasure Island and A Christmas Carol.

The season will also include a variety of one-night events with the very best in comedy, live music and spoken word, including the return of the sell-out Octagon Comedy Club in the theatre studio on the last Friday of each month.

Full details of the one-nighters can be found on the theatre's website here

Octagon artistic director Lotte Wakeham, said: “I'm particularly excited to be directing the European and UK premiere of The Book of Will, having been a huge fan of playwright Lauren Gunderson’s work for many years. With the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s First Folio coming next year, this is the perfect time for it. The play has been performed countless times in the USA, and I’m thrilled audiences in Bolton will be among the first in Europe to see it."

The theatre offers season ticket packages, priority booking for which will be available from today. Single-show tickets go on sale from December 5.