As Bolton’s much loved Octagon Theatre prepares to close to undergo major redevelopment, it seems fitting that, as part of its current 50th anniversary season, it has chosen to produce a site-specific production of the classic 1960’s feel-good musical film, Summer Holiday.
The Octagon Theatre and Summer Holiday have much in common: They are both products of the 1960’s, still enjoy mass audience appeal and in their own ways are significant icons of popular culture. It is a clever move therefore on Artistic Director, Elizabeth Newman’s part to have chosen, prior to the Octagon closing, an optimistic and upbeat musical which has at its heart the story of a group of friends embarking on a summer adventure. If Newman is to keep her audience with her whilst the Octagon is closed she needs to encourage them to join her on a new adventure and there is no better way of asking them to do this than inviting them to literally accompany her on a fleet of red double-decker buses.
Audiences will begin their adventure at the Bolton Interchange bus station where a short scene will take place after which, accompanied by actors from the show, they will board six double-decker buses and travel on to Victoria Square near Bolton Town Hall. After disembarking, audiences will witness another short scene before entering the nearby Albert Halls to watch the remainder of the performance.
Of this exciting and bold venture for the Octagon, Newman says, “As the Octagon building closes we wanted to offer our audiences some exciting and fun experiences and since producing Singin’ in the Rain we’ve been keen to create another joyous musical – so Summer Holiday is the perfect show to begin our adventures! It will be an ambitious staging of the musical, with talented actor-musicians singing, dancing and playing musical instruments in locations across Bolton.”
Full casting will be announced in the coming weeks when the burning question of who will play the roles immortalised on film by Cliff Richard, Melvyn Hayes, Una Stubbs, Ron Moody and The Shadows will be answered.
The Octagon’s production of Summer Holiday will be jointly directed by Elizabeth Newman and Associate Director, Ben Occhipinti, designed by Amanda Stoodley and will see the return of musical director, Richard Reeday who was responsible for overseeing the Company’s award-winning production of Singin’ in the Rain. Based on the 1963 film, Summer Holiday the production will features songs by Peter Myers and Ronald Cass.
Summer Holiday is playing at Bolton Travel Interchange and the Albert Halls Bolton from Thursday 31 May to Saturday 23 June.
Richard Hall | Image: Contributed