THE stage is being set for the return of Bolton's vibrant amateur dramatic societies.

From open-air productions, to social distancing in auditoriums, the borough’s popular and much-loved theatre groups are determined ‘the show will go on’

Theatres may have gone dark because of the pandemic ­— but behind the scenes the award-winning societies are busy looking to the future where the people of Bolton can once again enjoy a night out to the theatre.

Paul Cohen, chairman of Bolton Amateur Theatre Societies (BATS), said: “We had our annual meeting recently and it was very well attended. We had 30 people on the call representing 29 societies.

“There was a determination and enthusiasm amongst everyone to get back.

“It was very much a case of 'the show will go on', societies thinking differently on how they can do things ­— not one said they thought they would have to give up, they were all looking forward.”

Ideas to bring back plays include staging open-air productions to self-contained theatres, such as Bolton Little Theatre, looking at staging social-distanced seating and putting on plays that require a maximum cast of two and three with reduced capacity in the auditorium.

Paul said theatre societies were determined to overcome challenges so they could go back to doing what they loved safely for themselves and their audiences.

He said: “The youth arm of the Bolton Catholic Musical and Choral Society and CATs Youth Theatre are continuing to rehearse online with their singing.

“The feedback we received on the night was that BCMCS were looking at putting on a open air production. I felt elated after the meeting, it was so positive, with everyone wanting to get back to entertaining the people of Bolton.

“It was very much ‘the show will go on’.”

Those missing Bolton’s vibrant theatre scene can continue to support the societies by visiting BATS Facebook page to see what the different societies were up to and enjoy any online performances they were putting on.

The societies will gather this September ­— if it is safe to do so ­— for their annual awards night and in lieu of the awards they will use the night to launch their new season.