In 2015 I started university in Manchester and moved out of the Midlands and up north to settle in the big city, the year the Hope Mill Theatre opened. I openly admit I chose to go to university there because aside from London (which is hugely expensive) it’s the other biggest city that has a huge theatre scene. When I arrived in Manchester I started contacting local theatres to get involved in reviewing their shows and delve into the north west’s culture scene.
In my first week at
I won’t lie – I was sceptical upon arriving at the press launch for Parade as the soaring soundtrack is a challenging piece of musical theatre. However, I was truly blown away. Having heard the cast sing a few numbers and spoken to producer Katy Lipson, director James Baker and the cast, I remember leaving knowing that it was set to be a truly special show.
And it was. And so was every single in-house musical I’ve seen the Hope Mill Theatre create. With London transfers, a multitude of awards and huge success it really is a revolutionary venue that is so desperately needed in the UK’s theatre industry right now.
The hard work Joseph, William and Katy Lipson from Aria Entertainment have put into pushing this theatre to grow is astounding. One-minute Will and Joe are accepting an award at a fancy theatre event in London and the next they’re making pizzas and checking tickets at the Hope Mill which proves how much of their heart they pour into their theatre.
The intimacy of the space gives musicals a whole new meaning, with everything from the emotionally charged Parade, vibrantly immersive Hair, sublimely sung Aspects of Love, moving Little Women to the entirely poignant Spring Awakening (and so much more). Every single musical has touched me in a different way and they just seem to keep lifting the bar and blowing me away.
It changed the way I felt about musical theatre as it brings the audience so close into the action you really feel everything to another level. I’ll never forget seeing Spring Awakening by the most phenomenal young cast, a lot of them doing their debuts, who brought absolutely everything to that story. I lost my best friend last year and I try and keep my grief tucked away to pursue a busy lifestyle and keep myself going, but Darragh Cowley’s performance at the end of Spring Awakening tore me to pieces. The honesty in his eyes as he sang about his grief resonated with me so profoundly and I felt something I really desperately needed to feel.
Theatre has the power to be a cathartic experience as it brings out the emotions in you that you bury away and the Hope Mill Theatre is a venue that really captures that. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, I’ve felt just about everything at this wonderful theatre.
This is a love letter
So Happy Birthday Hope Mill