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Tracie Bennett named first patron of Manchester’s Hope Mill Theatre

Tracie Bennett (centre), in Mrs Henderson Presents at the Noel Coward Theatre. Photo: Tristram Kenton Tracie Bennett (centre), in Mrs Henderson Presents at the Noel Coward Theatre. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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Tracie Bennett has been named the first patron of Manchester fringe venue the Hope Mill Theatre.

The theatre opened at the end of 2015 with a focus on staging musicals.

Last month, it won a prize at the Hospital Club awards, honouring the fact its founders, Joseph Houston and William Whelton, had “taken an empty warehouse on Gumtree” and transformed it into “Manchester’s newest venue”.

Bennett, who starred in Mrs Henderson Presents in the West End, said: “Being from the north myself, it is awe-inspiring to see the true and heartfelt passion and vision of mavericks Joe and Will, and the work they have done in creating Hope Mill Theatre.

“I had been following their work and have admired from afar the creation of this exciting new venue. I have long thought that a project of this ilk was a long time coming to Manchester.”

She said there had been “no question” about her accepting the theatre’s invitation of patronage.

“The work they are doing for regional theatre and musical theatre is extremely exciting not only for the city of Manchester but also the industry itself,” she added.

Artistic director Houston said the theatre was “passionate about becoming known for our in-house musical theatre producing”.

“Having secured Katy Lipson as resident producer, it seems fitting to have someone such as Tracie, who has had such an outstanding career in musicals. Tracie is a northern actress, born and bred, and having someone who is also passionate about the industry in the regions is also a big plus,” he said.

Next month, the theatre will stage the musical Hair.

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