As the multi-million pound redevelopment of the Octagon nears completion, we are excited to announce our autumn-spring season, ahead of the building re-opening this summer.

We are thrilled to present a programme of bold, adventurous and popular theatre for the debut season in our new building.         

Two world premieres, a Linbury Prize-winning regional premiere, a Dickensian classic adaptation, and a hilarious smash-hit comedy all form part of the autumn-spring offering.

Opening the season is the sensational hit comedy ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS (Thu 3 September – Sat 3 October 2020). Richard Bean’s much-loved modern farce, an adaptation of the classic A Servant of Two Masters, promises a riotous mix of slapstick, hilarity and music. Recently fired Francis Henshaw soon finds himself juggling not one, but two new jobs – watch the chaos unfold as he tries to keep his two guvnors apart. Mistaken identity, murder and mayhem ensues in this side-splittingly funny, brand new production directed by the Octagon’s Artistic Director, Lotte Wakeham.

We will then present the world premiere of the inspirational true story, MARVELLOUS (Wed 7 – Sat 31 October 2020) in this co-production with New Vic Theatre. Originally a novel, then made in to a BAFTA award-winning BBC film starring Toby Jones, this new stage adaptation tells the life affirming, uplifting account of the life of Neil ‘Nello’ Baldwin, a person who refused to accept the label of learning difficulties. Theresa Heskins directs this heart-warming story about how to realise your dreams – even when society tries to limit you.

Audiences can expect a joyous musical extravaganza with the Octagon’s festive production of A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Thu 19 November 2020 – Sat 16 January 2021). From the writers of last year’s rip-roaring Treasure Island, Lotte Wakeham directs this brand-new musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic tale about old miser Ebenezer Scrooge. Go on an exciting journey through yuletides past, present and future in this heart-warming and uplifting tale of redemption, filled with toe-tapping live music, festive fun and a good splash of magic.

The season continues with Vinay Patel’s critically acclaimed play AN ADVENUTURE (Thu 28 January – Sat 20 February 2021) as the Octagon present the regional premiere of this epic love story. A moving and compelling story following the journey of Indian husband and wife Rasik and Jyoti, spanning seven decades and three continents, as they navigate political tensions in 1950s Kenya and the turbulence of first-generation life in Britain in the 1960s and beyond. An Adventure will be directed by Kash Arshad and Lotte Wakeham and designed by 2019 Linbury Prize winner, TK Hay. The Linbury Prize is the UK’s most prestigious award for Stage Design – providing a unique opportunity for graduating designers to work with professional theatre, dance and opera companies.

Bringing the season to a sensational close is the world premiere stage adaptation of Marcus Zusack’s worldwide best-selling novel THE BOOK THIEF (Fri 12 March – Sat 10 April 2021).  Written by award-winning and best-selling author Jodi Picoult and Timothy Allen McDonald, this hauntingly beautiful tale set in 1930s Nazi-Germany follows courageous young orphan Liesel as she enters a dangerous game of book thievery.  A superbly crafted new musical premiering in Bolton, with music and lyrics by Elyssa Samsel and Kate Anderson.

Jodi Picoult said of the upcoming production: “The Book Thief, as a novel, was a blockbuster that sold over 20 million copies and deeply moved readers all over the world.  Having the chance to bring it to life three-dimensionally in a world premiere musical at the Octagon is a dream for us!  

“The story of a foster child in Nazi Germany — who learns the power words have to both hurt and to heal — feels painfully relevant today.  We hope that Liesel’s journey will inspire audiences to take a stand in the face of adversity, and to be agents of change in ordinary ways that just might change the world.”

The new season will also include an exciting programme of events in the venue’s brand-new purpose built studio.

The hugely popular FIRST BITE series makes a welcome return. The “script-in-hand” readings give audiences an opportunity to see actors perform four new plays, followed by a Q&A session. The upcoming series includes: INDIA PALE ALE (Fri 21 August 2020) by Jaclyn Backhaus; BROWNBALLED (Fri 11 September 2020) by Adam Kotwal; OR, (Fri 9 October 2020) by Liz Duffy-Adams; and FAKE (Fri 6 November 2020) by Robert Hudson.

More classic children’s stories will be brought magically to life with the return of the family favourite STORYMAKERS series, featuring: TEDDY BEARS’ PICNIC (Fri 28 & Sat 29 August 2020); SNOW WHITE (Fri 30 & Sat 31 October 2020); THE ELVES AND THE SHOEMAKER (Fri 11 & Sat 12 December 2020); and THE FROG PRINCE (Fri 19 & Sat 20 February 2021). All read aloud by a professional actor, with live music and creative craft activities.

Other highlights across the season will include SPOTLIGHT ON - a new series of interactive behind-the-scenes events, plus the launch of a brand new monthly quiz night LET’S GET QUIZZICAL.

Ahead of the first production in the autumn, we will mark the opening of the building with a number of unmissable celebratory events throughout the summer.

We will host a fun-filled weekend of activities to officially open the building with our opening weekend HOUSEWARMING PARTY (Sat 18 – Sun 19 July 2020). It will provide the public a first look at the newly reimagined Octagon offering a wonderful array of activities including backstage tours; lighting and sound demonstrations; storytelling sessions; drop-in craft activities; and lots more - promising a whole host of fun for all the family.

The opening weekend will also include the performance of a brand new, specially commissioned one-act play. ONE NIGHT IN BOLTON (Sat 18 – Sun 19 July 2020) by local playwright Becky Prestwich tells the stories of Julie and Ray - two fictional Octagon audience members. It follows their story from the opening night of the original theatre in 1967 through to present day. This celebratory and uplifting show will be performed by the Young Octagon Company, alongside a community choir.

The Octagon invites everyone to get creative this summer with the launch of a brand new festival, GET CREATIVE (Mon 17 – Sun 30 August 2020) offering a huge selection of activities for all ages to enjoy. Over the two weeks participants will have the opportunity to take part in an assortment of creative workshops, from drama to stage combat to writing to musical theatre. Plus a wide selection of play readings, storytelling sessions, backstage tours and much more.

Artistic Director Lotte Wakeham commented: “It is a very exciting time for us as we prepare to open our new building, and I am delighted to reveal our new season which promises to appeal to audiences of all ages. We have a stellar line-up featuring some truly spectacular new works with captivating drama, wonderful family musicals, hilarious comedy and our annual festive production. I am confident there is something for everyone on our stage, and we look forward to welcoming you to the brand new reimagined Octagon this autumn.” 

Octagon Chief Executive Roddy Gauld added: “Our 2020/2021 season offers a bold and exciting line-up and will be a real chance for us to showcase the brand new Octagon in all its glory. There is a wonderfully diverse selection of entertainment on offer which I am certain will appeal to all and I am very excited to welcome audiences, new and existing, through our doors.”

The Octagon autumn 2020 season will go on sale on Mon 9 March at 9am, with priority booking available for members from Wed 26 February. For more information or to book tickets visit octagonbolton.co.uk or call the Box Office on 01204 520661.





Fri 5 Feb 2021

First Bites: Brown Balled

Fri 8 Jan 2021

First Bites: India Pale Ale