Top team for a timeless theme

TAODS producers Justine Sutcliffe, left, and Helen Clarkson
TAODS producers Justine Sutcliffe, left, and Helen Clarkson

posters and flyers for TAODS’ musical Rent have now appeared in shop windows all around Todmorden.

And at the helm of the production it is a close team - the joint directors of the show Justine Sutcliffe (Dramatic Director) and Helen Clarkson (Musical Director) have over 50 years of experience between them with the Todmorden Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society, writes Andy Fraser.

They also work together professionally as teachers in the same school as well as in the theatre, so what makes them tick?

Helen said: “The secret to a good working relationship is being best friends. We are God-parents to each other’s children, we see more of each other than we see of our husbands,” and Justine added: “We’ve worked on other shows before. We both directed Footloose last year, which was great and before that we did Alice the Musical and Run Rabbit Run with the youth theatre.”

When asked what appealed to them about Rent, Justine said that although it has a seedy element to it, it is the background to stories of love and friendship. “It’s very beautiful.”

For Helen, the quality of the music shines through, being in turn funny, provocative, moving and uplifting.

Set in New York and based on La Boheme, it is a story much older than the 15-year-old musical, being revived on Broadway this year, and remains relevant, they feel.

Rent runs at the Hippodrome Theatre, Halifax Road, Todmorden, from April 12 to April 16. Tickets are available from Todmorden Tourist Information Centre (01706 818181), online at or at the box office.