Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

East Side Story: How an Old Mill Became a Mecca for Musical Theatre Fans Inside

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

East Side Story: How an Old Mill Became a Mecca for Musical Theatre Fans Inside

Article excerpt

TRIO TRANSFORM 'STORAGE SPACE' INTO VENUE ATTRACTING SELL-OUT AUDIENCES FROM a disused cotton mill to a boutique venue - Hope Mill Theatre has come on leaps and bounds in the last three years. LUCY ROUE meets the co-founders who have turned their dream into a reality to find out what's next in their musical march onwards.

SOMETIMES the best things are found in the unlikeliest of places.

This is certainly true of Hope Mill Theatre which you would be lucky to stumble upon in the postindustrial back streets of Ancoats. The former throng of factory workers has been replaced by the razzmatazz of musical theatre, thanks to two actors with a big dream.

Married couple Joseph Houston and Macclesfield-born William Whelton met during a tour of Pirates of Penzance in Australia after working on the West End.

Having both trained in musical theatre in London they took a punt on moving back up north with grand ideas for their own venue.

And what was advertised as 'storage space' has now become a 120-seat boutique theatre attracting top talent performing to sellout audiences.

I met the personable and passionate pair alongside co-artistic director Katy Lipson.

Speaking of the first viewing Houston said: "We thought it sounded quite wacky and cool and then when we walked in we just fell in love with the space.

"We had already started to fall for the city because we hadn't anticipated how trendy it was.

"Living in the London bubble you think it is the be-all and endall of the arts scene." Once the lights went up and they saw the potential of the Pollard Street space they had to have it, but candidly admit they 'had no savings or funds to open a theatre.' .

Excitedly strolling back down the canal towards Piccadilly they decided to take a chance and ring the estate agent.

"It was crazy because we had no money," beams Glaswegian Houston.

The pair received £10,000 in funding from Business Finance Solutions and set about transforming the space. …

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