BOLTON’S thriving and acclaimed amateur dramatic scene took centre stage as the red carpet was rolled out to celebrate all those who bring drama, comedy and music to the town.

Bolton Amateur Theatre Societies (BATS) held its annual dinner and awards night to recognise the quality of productions staged in the town over the last year.

The evening, which also doubled up as a celebration of BATS 30th anniversary, had all the glitz and glamour of the BAFTAs - and the sense of anticipation was just as dramatic as the winners and the nominees are not revealed until the actual evening.

More than 80 awards were handed out and judging is said to get more difficult year-on-year as the quality of already high standard productions continue to get even better.


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Chairman of BATS Paul Cohen said: “This year there has been a lot of competition in terms of dramas, there have been a lot of really good dramas, The Crucible, Breaking the Code.

“So it was a really difficult decision. Musicals, it was the same again, the standards are high, and do not drop.

“Theatre in Bolton is alive and kicking and again we have a lot of young people here tonight, who are the future.

Paul encouraged people to be part of the scene.

He said: “People see it and think ‘I can’t dance, I can’t act’ but it is not about that for me, it’s about the opportunity it provides, come and join us, come and get involved. You don’t have to be on the stage you can make a cup of tea, you can knock a nail in a piece of wood. For those who want to try acting, singing and dancing then please come and do it.

“Also come watch what we do, because you will be amazed and it is affordable.”

Winners on the night included Margaret Speake who won the Michael Rodgers Award for Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Theatre.

Margaret, a popular and long-serving member of Tyldesley Little Theatre who acts and works behind the scenes, said: “I am very surprised and I think a lot of people deserve this more.

“I just love everything about theatre, it’s brilliant, I go and see the productions of other theatre societies and I love the social aspect.”

Marco Players celebrated a huge victory with Breaking the Code.

Natalie Crompton, won best director and Christian Brabin best actor in a drama.

Natalie said: “Winning this award was the icing on the cake, this was such a personal project because I have wanted to do it for so long and did it with the perfect cast. I had Christian, and the whole production was such a team effort.”

Christian said: “I was thinking about leaving the am-dram scene and this part came up and Natalie was so supportive.

“Playing this role is an opportunity of a lifetime – winning the award, it hasn’t sunk in.”

Best actress in a drama went to Pauline Nevell of St Joseph’s Players for her role in An Ideal Husband.

She said: “I was shocked and delighted, I have been acting for many years and this is my first award.

“I like being part of BATS because it is being part of a family and a chance to be creative.”

St Paul’s Players Adlington won Cinderella.

Orla O’Beirne, who played Prince Charming, said: “It is really nice to be recognised, pantos for directors can be quite hard, especially the dancing rehearsals but there is always a good atmosphere throughout.”

Elizabeth Newman was presented with the lifetime achievement award for her contribution to theatre in Bolton as she prepared to take up a new post in Scotland.

Patron of BATS David Thacker, collected the award on her behalf.

Speaking about the awards’evening, he said: “It is one of my favourite days of the year, I love coming here. I think the range of talent is just amazing. I hope the people of Bolton understand what an incredible thing it is, there are so many companies and more than 70 productions. I don’t think there is another town in the country where that happens.”

Winners and runners-up

Best Choreography: Katherine Farrington for Cats (BCMCS Youth Theatre)

Runners-up:Katherine Farrington for The Dream (BCMCS Musicals)

Lorraine Robinson for Cinderella (St Paul's Players Adlington)

Jennie Miller for Curtains (Adlington Music & Arts)

Best Set and Costume Design: Funny Money set design (Bolton Little Theatre)

Runners-up: Cinderella set design & costumes (St Paul's Players Adlington)

Orpheus in the Underworld (The Three Towns Operatic Society)

Snow White costumes (Stagedoor Productions)

Best Actor in a Comedy:Robin Thompson - Albert Nobbs (Farnworth Little Theatre)

Runners-up:Peter Scofield - Funny Money (Bolton Little Theatre)

Mark Leigh - Dick Barton (Farnworth Little Theatre)

Carl Bottomley - All in Good Time (Five Saints in association with St Paul's AODS)

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy: Howard Clare - Out of Focus (St Vincent's Dramatic Society)

Runners-up: Ben Kilburn - All in Good Time (Five Saints in association with St Paul's AODS)

Joe Cunliffe - Run for your Wife (Phoenix Theatre Company)

Paul Ward - Dick Barton (Farnworth Little Theatre)

Best Actress in a Comedy: Alison Whittaker - Funny Money (Bolton Little Theatre)

Runners-up: Joyce Smith - Albert Nobbs (Farnworth Little Theatre)

Laura Roberts - The Vicar of Dibley (St Paul's Players Adlington)

Cathryn Megan Hugues - Beyond a Joke (Tyldesley Little Theatre)

Best Supporting Actress in Comedy: Leanne Romney - The Vicar of Dibley (St Paul's Players Adlington)

Runners-up: Andrea Peters - Curtain Up! (Tyldesley Little Theatre)

Pat Hill - Albert Nobbs (Farnworth Little Theatre)

Zoe Unsworth - Teechers (St Joseph's Players)

Best Actor in a Musical: Kit Philips - Rent (HATS)

Steve Benson - Kiss me Kate (Walmsley AODS )

Jack Corrigan - Rent (HATS)

Philip Maxwell - Lucky Stiff (Marco Players)

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical: David Kay- Orpheus in the Underworld (The Three Towns Operatic Society)

Runners-up: Ken Rees - Orpheus in the Underworld (The Three Towns Operatic Society)

Matthew Gavin - Rent (HATS)

Peter Bowden - Pirates of Penzance (New Rosemere)

Best Actress in a Musical: Adrienne Wormald - Kiss me Kate (Walmsley AODS)

Runners-up; Joy Plowes - Sweeney Todd (Adlington Music and Arts)

Eleanor Molloy - Pirates of (New Rosemere)

Irene Smith - Annie (Farnworth Performing Arts)

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical: Clare Unsworth - The Desert Song (The Operetta Company)

Runners-up:Kim Brookfield - Sweeney Todd (Adlington Music & Arts)

Katie Toole - Annie (Farnworth Performing Arts)

Nathalie Haley - Lucky Stiff (Marco Players)

Best Actor in a Drama: Christian Brabin - Breaking the Code (Marco Players)

Runners-up: Glenn Robinson - The Pitman Painters (Bolton Little Theatre

James Haslam - The Crucible (Marco Players)

Ian Taylor - Neighbourhood Watch (Farnworth Little Theatre)

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama: Mark Bloomberg - The Pitman Papers (Bolton Little Theatre)

Runners-up: Matt Owen - A View from the Bridge (Farnworth Little Theatre)

Keith Hindley - A Murder is Announced (St Vincent's Dramatic Society)

Chris Elkes - A View from a Bridge (Farnworth Little Theatre)

Best Actress in a Drama: Pauline Nevell - An Ideal Husband (St Joseph's Players)

Runners-up: June Grice - Agnes of God (Bolton Little Theatre)

Kim Armston - Deal Guilty (Bolton Little Theatre)

Natalie Crompton - The Crucible (Marco Players)

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama: Cathryn Megan Hughes - And a Nightingale Sang (Tyldesley Little Theatre)

Runners-up: Catherine Cropper - A View from a Bridge (Farnworth Little Theatre)

Emilie Fielding - The Crucible (Marco Players)

Carly Lomax - Flamingoland (Phoenix Theatre Company)

Best Director of a Musical or Panto: Hannah Corolan - Pirates of Penzance (New Rosemere)

Runners-up:Nora Howcroft - Follies (Walmsley AODS)

Liz Kenworty - Rent (HATS)

Christian Brabin - Sweeney Todd (Adlington Music & Arts)

Best Director of Play:Natalie Crompton - Breaking the Code (Marco Players)

Runners-up:Glenn Robinson - Agnes of God (Bolton Little Theatre)

Jason Crompton - The Crucible (Marco Players)

Donna Wood - An Ideal Husband (St Joseph's Players)

Best Panto: Cinderella (St Paul's Players, Adlington)

Runners-up: Aladdin (Bolton Little Theatre)

Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs (Stagedoor Productions)

Babes in the Wood (Victoria Hall ADS)

Best Youth Production: Grease (CATS Youth Theatre) Cats (BCMCS Youth Theatre)

Runners-up:Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat (St Philips Junior Workshop)

Robin and the Sherwood Hoodies (Walmsley AODS )

Best Comedy: Albert Nobbs (Farnworth Little Theatre)

Runners-up: Run for Your Wife (Phoenix Theatre Company)

The Vicar of Dibley (St Paul's Players Adlington)

Habeas Corpus (Marco Players)

Best Drama: The Crucible (Marco Players)

Runners-up: Agnes of God (Bolton Little Theatre)

Breaking the Code (Marco Players)

An Ideal Husband (Tyldesley Little Theatre)

Best Musical: Rent (HATS)

Runners-up: Orpheus in the Underworld (The Three Towns Operatic Society)

The Pirates of Penzance (New Rosemere)

Annie (Performing Arts)

Lifetime Achievement: Elizabeth Newman

Michael Rodgers Award: Margaret Speake