Curtain up on actor couple’s theatre dream
AN actor couple have realised their dream of opening their own theatre.
William Whelton, 26, and his fiancé Joseph Houston, 25, who live in Wincle, have opened Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester after spotting the potential for a quirky theatre space.
The pair, who met while touring in shows across Australia and have worked in London’s West End, came up with the idea to open a space in Manchester after seeing the success of similar spaces in London.
Former All Hallows High School student William, who moved to London to pursue his acting career and has now moved back to Wincle with Joseph, said: “It has always been a dream to open my own theatre.
“I used to see small venues and think how good it would be to be able to open up a small theatre and I wouldn’t have to wait tables in between acting jobs.
“I did a couple of pantos at Clonter Opera and it gave me a bit of a bug for putting on shows and being creative and the seed was planted. It was only when we did a UK tour that we headed to Manchester and thought it was something we could really do, so we just thought we’d go for it.”
The pair spotted Hope Mill, on Pollard Street, on Gumtree and have now transformed it into 120150 seater theatre with the ‘Engine Room’ cafe bar, which also doubles up as a wedding venue, with plans to apply for a civil wedding licence.
William said: “It’s hard work. We are doing pretty much everything ourselves at the moment, but it’s great.
“We’ve had some great reviews and sold out shows, and we’re 90 per cent full for the rest of the year.”
Joseph added: “We came up to Manchester not knowing what it was going to be like and there’s so much happening – it’s so busy and has so much creativity.
“It’s hard to get your foot in the door in London with something like this, but coming up here we can find opportunities to really be part of it.”
The theatre space opened last week with a performance of Andrea Dunbar’s Shirley (Rita, Sue And Bob Too) in aid of local homeless charity Mustard Tree.
Other productions lined up include Tony Award winning Broadway favourite Parade, which William and Joseph are co-producing.
For more information go to hopemilltheatre.co.uk.
Inside the theatre, which opened last Wednesday
●● Joseph Houston (left) and William Whelton outside the theatre