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My Coliseum: Sean and Julie Connolly

Updated: Jan 25

So many people have been affected by the closure of the beloved Fairbottom Street Theatre in Oldham. From those working in the arts across the country, to the local residents. In this series, we look at peoples' stories, connections and memories of Oldham Coliseum as people from all walks of life come together to try to save it.

Sean Connolly at the Oldham Coliseum 16 years ago
Sean Connolly at the Oldham Coliseum

Sean Connolly, 28, donned a striking Captain Hook costume as the Panto flash mob paraded through the streets of Oldham back in November, whilst his mum Julie, 61, joined in the fun wearing a panto cow costume.

However, though the day was awash with colour, noise and positivity, there was a sad undertone as the realisation of what they were missing out on hit residents.

Sean grew up in Oldham and has spent a lot of time at the Coliseum both on stage and off it.

"I've been associated with the theatre for a long time now. I performed on the stage numerous times as a member of the youth steering group and I've worked on the bar. A lot of my friendship groups have come from the theatre, and it just holds a massive part of my life."

The Coliseum has been a constant in the lives of his family members through the generations as Sean recalls: "My Grandmother, who is in her 80s has been watching shows there ever since they sung the national anthem in the 40s and 50s."

However, being a part of the theatre since age 9, Sean has seen first hand how the building and its staff united a community that was once very much divided: "I think the history of the theatre is so important, but also how much it encompasses the community. I think that's really the main thing - they brought so many cultures together. We were a family, and we can't let it go."

His mum Julie has memories as a child going to the theatre with her grandparents. It is like a family heirloom passed down through the generations of Oldhamers: "I've been going to the theatre since I was a child in the 60s. I've been going with my grandparents, my parents, and then obviously my niece and Sean, my son."

The Coliseum panto was world renowned and was a part of many residents Christmas traditions.

Julie said: "One of my favourite memories was walking home with my parents and my little brother on Christmas Eve, looking up to see Father Christmas in the sky."

She continued: "The best memory was when Sean was main stage. He had quite a big part and everybody came from work, the family came and I just felt a lot of pride."

The Connolly's story will be a familiar one for many families across the borough and that is why, as a collective, we need to fight to save that Fair Bottom Street site that holds so many happy memories.

Want to share your memories of the Coliseum? Get in touch now!

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