A YEAR of dedication and talent both on and off the theatre stage was celebrated at a prestigious awards ceremony in Bolton on Friday night.

More than 200 people applauded and cheered on fellow amateur theatre group members as they picked up certificates and trophies at the Bolton Amateur Theatre Society (BATS) Awards.

The Octagon Theatre’s artistic director, David Thacker, the new patron of BATS, joined the society’s chairman Paul Cohen to hand out awards in 14 categories at the Last Drop Village.

Chairman of Bolton Little Theatre, Elizabeth Tatman, who has been involved with amateur dramatics for 45 years, was awarded the prestigious Michael Rodgers Award.

The grandmother-of-seven and mother-of-three, from Astley Bridge, whose husband Michael received the accolade last year, spoke of her delight and surprise.

She added: “People accept you for what you are; that’s the thing about the theatre.

“It’s enjoyable, it’s fun, you do it and make great friends.

“You wouldn’t do it if you didn’t enjoy it. It gives you a chance to do things you wouldn’t do in your job.”

The Marco Players scored a double victory for their production of Tennessee Williams' 1947 Pulitzer Prize-winning play, A Streetcar Named Desire.

It was named Best Drama and Westhoughton GP Julie Hall was awarded Best Actress in a Drama for her role of Blanche DuBois.

The mother-of-one, aged 44, who lives in Lostock, has been involved with The Marco Players for eight years.

She said: “I’m delighted. It was an intense role but I loved every minute of it.

“I’ve never played a part as big as that. I spent six months learning my lines.

“I’m so made up.

“Everyone has done really well. It’s a chance for everyone to dress up and celebrate theatre in Bolton – it’s just amazing.”

Best Newcomer was given to Elliot Longworth, from BCMCS, for his turn as the Pharaoh in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Best Actor in a Drama went to Stephen Stubbs for his portrayal of writer Mark Styler in modern psychological thriller Mindgame, at Bolton Little Theatre.

The Best Musical trophy was awarded to St Paul's Players for Annie, Best Comedy to Phoenix Theatre Company for Noble Spaniard, Best Pantomime to St Joseph's Players for Beauty and the Beast and Best Youth Production went to CATS Youth Theatre for Cats.

Before he presented the awards, Mr Thacker said: “We all love doing plays. Everyone in this room, I’m sure, wants to do it because it helps us understand what it’s like to be human beings.

"This is a night for you. It’s a night to celebrate the range of achievements, the dedication, the commitment, the talent, the enthusiasm, the hard work you all put in.”

A team of reviewers, from The Bolton News and BATS, watched a host of shows — from comedies to dramas, pantomimes to operettas and musicals to thrillers — throughout the 2013/14 season which kicked off last September.

Three runner-up certificates were also handed out in each category and guests enjoyed a three-course meal before the awards were presented, followed by a disco.

Mr Cohen said: “There have been different winners this year which is always good to see.

“People are raising standards and realising, although it’s not a competition, they have got to keep them up.

“The atmosphere has been really good.”

Full list of winners

Best Drama
A Streetcar Named Desire
The Marco Players

Best Actor in a Drama
Stephen Stubbs in Mindgame
Bolton Little Theatre

Best Actress in a Drama
Julie Hall in A Streetcar Named Desire
The Marco Players

Best Newcomer
Elliot Longworth in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Best Musical
St Paul’s Players

Best Actor in a Musical
Dan Sheader in Jesus Christ Superstar
Adlington Music and Arts Society

Best Actress in a Musical
Louisa Watson in Hot Mikado

Best Comedy
Noble Spaniard
Phoenix Theatre Company

Best Actor in a Comedy
Peter Haslam in Carry on Camping
The Marco Players

Best Actress in Comedy
Margaret Speakes in Humble Boy
Tyldesley Little Theatre

Best Pantomime
Beauty and the Beast
St Joseph’s Players

Best Youth Production

Barbara Holt Award for Best Choreography

Best Set & Costume Design
Out Of Order (set)
Bolton Little Theatre

Michael Rodgers Award
Elizabeth Tatman

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