Cur­tain up on ac­tor cou­ple’s theatre dream

Macclesfield Express - - CHARITY ROUND-UP - RHI­AN­NON MCDOWALL

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.

Pic­tures: Ed­die Gar­vey

In­side the theatre, which opened last Wed­nes­day

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●● Joseph Hous­ton (left) and Wil­liam Whel­ton out­side the theatre

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