AN original play about Bolton-born soap tycoon Lord Leverhulme is returning to the stage after its world premiere sell-out run.

Sunlight on the Moors will be performed at Bolton Little Theatre (BLT), Hanover Street, from August 6 to 9.

The play, by Walkden writer Kevan Ogden, was first staged in May and scooped three awards at the Greater Manchester Drama Federation's (GMDF) Full Length Play Festival earlier this month.

Director Peter Scofield admits he was nervous about how Kevan’s script would translate to the stage but is delighted with its success and recent plaudits.

He is now looking forward to giving people a second chance to see it and says it is exciting and unique to have original writing about a Bolton man staged in a Bolton theatre.

Peter, who won the GMDF award for Best Director for the play, said: “It was more than sold out.
“There were waiting lists and lots of disappointed people who couldn’t get tickets.

“It made sense to bring it back.

“It was really exciting, a great challenge because you have no benchmark.

“With a new piece of writing, especially with a piece like Sunlight, there’s a mix of styles and it’s a very original piece of writing.

“Tickets have been on sale almost since the end of last season and they are half sold.

“If you want to see it, get down and get your tickets.”

A warm and witty mixture of fact and fiction, it explores family tensions, the legacy of World War One, the paradox behind philanthropic industrialisation and the nature of art itself.

When Kevan sent a draft of the first act to the theatre, Peter said he did not have high hopes but was pleasantly surprised.

He said: “My initial reaction was it’s going to be a turgid, unplayable piece of pseudo historical drama.

“I had very low expectations. Then I read it and started to appreciate the different styles and what I thought was a genuinely warm and witty script.

“From that point onwards, I encouraged him to write the second act.

“It was a really exciting venture all round, from beginning to end.”

It will be performed with the same cast, including Mike Jeffries as Lord Leverhulme, Daniel Clynes as Eric, John O'Connell as Augustus John and Jennifer Lee as Dorelia.

One of the great businessmen and entrepreneurs of the Victorian age, Lord Leverhulme brought tremendous energy and creativity to the manufacture and marketing of his Sunlight Soap.

He used his wealth to support a variety of charitable causes, was a great believer in education and created a village with materially decent conditions for people working at his Sunlight Soap factory in Wirral.

Peter said: “I think people are proud of Boltonians and he is one of the greatest ever to emerge from the town.

“The introduction of an old age pension was basically down to him.

“Women’s pensions in their own right which he put into place at Port Sunlight.

“I think there’s a legacy of warm feeling.”

Sunlight on the Moors will be at Bolton Little Theatre (BLT), Hanover Street, from August 6 to 9 at 7.30pm. Phone 01204 334400 or 01204 524469 for tickets.