Tonight was the official opening of Hope Mill Theatre, a new 100 seat theatre located in Manchester in a grade two listed building; gaining its name from the buildings previous function as a cotton mill. We were welcomed into the theatre by a red carpet and fairy lights which turned to candle light in the main bar area. The design of the Engine Room Café and Bar had kept all of the former characteristics and charm of the mill but had added shabby chic décor, keeping the industrial feel of the place but giving it a warm atmosphere.

Upon arrival we were greeted by Olivia Wood, a close friend of the creators of Hope Mill Theatre who made us feel very welcome and told us about the space. We were then introduced to the couple behind the new theatre, Joseph Houston and William Whelton. The duo were a complete delight to talk to and their enthusiasm for the place was infectious. After some prosecco and mingling we were welcomed, through song and taken behind plush red curtains into the theatre space. I would hesitate to call it purely ‘a theatre’ as that seems insufficient for this space. The large open area with an apex ceiling is so diverse it could be used for anything, and it is. From art exhibitions, to plays to weddings, the space can really transform into whatever is required.

We were then treated to a very heartfelt speech from Joseph and William thanking all the people who had contributed to the theatre. There was a real sense of collaboration here, from the photographers (Wild Ginger Photography) and website designers (Grizzly Bear Design) being housed in the same building, to the friends and family that had helped to build and create the space, to a plaque on the wall with all the names of the sponsors of the theatre. The care, effort and support that has been put into Hope Mill Theatre already is staggering and having only been open for just over a month I can’t wait to see what is in store for the future. The rest of the speech told us about the new plays coming such as a new musical (80’s PLAY NAME) and we were also teased with the news of something big coming soon regarding new collaborations and new musicals so keep your eyes peeled! As Joseph and William trained in musical theatre it is natural for them to have that genre close to their hearts, however Hope Mill Theatre is to be a varied performance space with all kinds of theatre being shown. As the speech came to a close the entertainment began with Amy Goodwin, Hannah Goodwin, Kate England, Kayleigh Smith, Alexis Cooling and Rebekah Bowman - our performers from earlier in the evening - each taking to the stage to sing a variety of pop and musical numbers, again displaying the variety on offer at Hope Mill Theatre.

It was a pleasure to be introduced to this new creative space and I look forward to watching Hope Mill Theatre develop and grow, beginning with its next play, Orphans by Lyle Kessler opening on 13th January.

Reviewer: Charlotte Green

Reviewed: 5th December 2015

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