Manchester Theatre Awards

> Independent informed reviews by the region’s most experienced critics

Sir Antony Sher with his MTA trophy, Credit:

Oh what a knight for Manchester Theatre Awards

  • Sir Antony Sher receives trophy
  • 3 awards for venue - before it opens
  • 2 big winning shows set to return
  • Stars turn out for annual ceremony

Best Actor

So, five of them, and, to be frank, any one could have received the final accolade, so closely did they run against each other in the panel’s discussions.

Best Actress

One of the year’s most memorable achievements was the Octagon’s two-hander double of Duet For One and Separation, with Clare Foster outstanding as both the cellist with multiple sclerosis (based by writer Tom Kempinski on the real life story of Jacqueline Du Pre) and a crippled actress.

What's on

Car Man parks at Lowry again

Matthew Bourne’s acclaimed dance thriller The Car Man steers its way back to Salford’s Lowry arts centre next week on its first tour in eight years

Judy garland show for Palace

A new musical show, Judy - The Life And Music Of A Hollywood Legend, arrives at the Palace in Manchester from next Thursday to Saturday

Confirmation class at Exchange

Manchester Royal Exchange associate artist Chris Thorpe brings Fringe First award-winning show Confirmation to The Studio from Tuesday to Saturday

5 Soldiers on parade in city

No sooner has Manchester’s new cultural centre HOME opened than one of its productions moves out of the venue and into a site-specific performance space in the city

Last Dance for the Kings Arms

One of Manchester’s premiere fringe companies, Vertigo Theatre Productions - recently nominated for three awards at the Manchester Theatre Awards for the hit play Watching Goldfish Suffocate - bring a powerful new drama, Last Dance, to the Kings Arms in Salford from next Tuesday to Saturday

Butterfly Catcher for Salford

Lilaloka Productions presents The Butterfly Catcher a new play by Victoria May at Salford Arts Theatre from June 3-6

All-new musical for Coliseum

A brand new all-female musical with a mix of original songs and ‘90s classics, Dreamers tells the story of small town nights with big hearts and glorious female friendships

More Haste for the Lowry

Award-winning Haste Theatre presents Beyond Cragporth Rock – a dark comedy of six sisters living on the edge in The Studio at The Lowry on June 19

Manchester all set for Flare15

Flare15 has announced its six day programme of new, radical theatre from across the UK, Europe and Australasia

Healthy comedy for Joshua Brooks

Death By Pie presents Health Under Fire by Nathan Smith as part of Greater Manchester Fringe at Joshua Brooks in the city from July 23-25

Scoundrels back at Opera House

The critically-acclaimed Best New Musical of 2014, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, returns to Manchester Opera House next week

Pub play for the Lowry

Not Too Tame bring their immersive theatrical experience Early Doors to Salford on their UK tour

Four chosen for 24:7 weekend

After submissions, adjudications, mentoring sessions and re-drafts, Manchester’s 24:7 Big Festival Weekend have announced the four plays chosen for this year's event:

Gary – A Love Story by James Harker; Madness Sweet Madness by Georgina Tremayne; The Plant by James Kerr; and We Are The Multitude by Laura Harper

RAW theatre for city pub

Following the success of debut production Equal Partners (nominated Best Newcomer at the Manchester Fringe 2014) and then Alan Ayckbourn's Time Of My Life Troublehouse Theatre’s production of RAW by Chris O'Connell is at the Joshua Brooks in Manchester from June 2-6

Noises Off marks Thacker's stage exit

Concluding the Octagon Theatre’s current season of plays is Noises Off, the farce that reveals the backstage shenanigans of a theatre company in the throes of ‘putting on a show’

Familiar face takes over festival

Manchester International Festival’s new CEO and artistic director is to be John McGrath, currently artistic director and chief executive of National Theatre Wales but familiar to Manchester folk as the man who helped re-invent the city’s Contact venue

Ghost Train pulls into Exchange

The Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester and Told by an Idiot continue their collaboration with a new production of Arnold Ridley’s The Ghost Train – they previously worked together on You Can’t Take It With You and Too Clever By Half

Funfair opening for HOME

The creative team behind last year’s acclaimed Romeo & Juliet in Manchester reunites for the city’s debut production in its new £25m city centre HOME venue

Double Olivier award-winner Simon Stephens relocates The Funfair from the 1929 Oktoberfest to North West England and draws striking parallels with the political tensions and social uncertainties of early 21st century Great Britain

A ive band, video projections, and an evocative set design will transport the audience to the colour and chaos of the funfair when HOME presents the world premiere as its first production in its brand new home at First Street

Gender balancing act for fringe fest

Greater Manchester Fringe Festival is redressing the balance in July

Circus dates for city stadium

The Moscow State Circus is bringing its brand new spectacular production Seven Wishes to the UK and will be performing at Manchester Etihad Stadium from May 27-31

Touring at Lightspeed

Award-winning theatre production company Organised Chaos Productions bring their latest collaboration of North West talent with the successful script from their script call last year: Lightspeed by Clem Haran

Wicked's last tour dates

Wicked, the West End and Broadway musical that tells the untold story of the Witches of Oz, will conclude its multi record-breaking UK and Ireland tour at The Lowry in Salford from June 3

June dates for new play

Lass Productions' new upcoming mystery thriller East of Heysham finds the 50th anniversary of the death of matinee idol James Dean as the catalyst for more than one rebel without a cause

Call for Young Directors

The Regional Theatre and Young Directors Scheme and the Octagon Theatre, along with theatres in Birmingham, Newcastle, Northampton, Salisbury, Leicester, Derby, Liverpool, Bristol and Coventry, are currently looking for upcoming and innovative directors to take part in the scheme! Successful candidates will have the unique opportunity to work with leading producing theatre companies, be mentored by their Artistic Directors, assist on productions, programming, artist development, and even produce work themselves

Boarding for Boeing Boeing

Boeing Boeing is the next production at Oldham’s Coliseum Theatre from May 15 to June 6

Mica to star in Manchester

Mica Paris will star as Sylvia in the UK and Ireland tour of Love Me Tender - the new musical inspired by and featuring the music of Elvis Presley – and which will open on June 5 at Manchester Opera House

Date with Gary for Calendar Girls

Gary Barlow and Tim Firth are the creators of the new musical, The Girls, based on the true story, the film and award-winning play Calendar Girls, which will be given its world premiere at The Lowry in Salford and the Grand Theatre, Leeds next year

Buxton Festival 2015

Watch out for women in politics! That is the key to the 2015 Buxton Festival, according to Artistic Director Stephen Barlow

Curious set for Salford return

The National Theatre’s production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time will return to The Lowry in November

Lowry keeps Five Feet in Front

Edinburgh Fringe favourites, The Letter Room, have joined forces with The Lowry on its latest production, Five Feet in Front

Mamma's happy returns

Mamma Mia! returns to the Palace Theatre, Manchester in 2016

Manchester's International Festival line-up

Manchester International Festival has this year lined up world premieres, unique concerts and one-off events, and a number of free attractions

Hyde and seeking new work

The 24 Hour Plays at Hyde Festival Theatre in September is a one-day event that brings together 24 actors from both amateur and professional theatre

Panto date for Ted Robbins

Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs comes to Stockport Plaza from December 4 to January 10

Mack, Mabel and Michael Ball

Direct from its premiere at Chichester Festival Theatre, a major new production of classic Broadway musical Mack & Mabel will embark on a UK & Ireland Tour in Autumn 2015, starring double Oliver award-winning Michael Ball as Mack Sennett and will be at Manchester Opera House, October 12-24

Ring Cycle for Lowry next year

Opera North’s highly-anticipated full performances of The Ring Cycle: Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen will come to Salford’s Lowry arts centre from June 13-18 next year

Christmas musical for Manchester

Alexandra Burke will reprise her West End starring role when the hit musical The Bodyguard comes to the Palace Theatre Manchester next December


Latest reviews

Post for Cuddles
Katie Moore (Caroline), Ben Batt (Cash), and the company in The Funfair
Graeme Cooper Michael Praed, Carley Stenson, Noel Sullivan and Mark Benton in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
An image used in Spring Reign
Musa Chowdhury  Poster for to Kill a Mockingbird
Callum Finlay as silly ass Teddie ponders his next move...
Poster for 300-1
Laura Doddington's Gloria wonders who these belong to...
Joel C Fildes Fadia Qaraman and Nyla Levy


Joseph Wilde
Ovalhouse and Arch 468 at The Royal Exchange, Manchester
(reviewer: David Cunningham)

The Funfair

Simon Stephens/Odon von Horvath
(reviewer: Kevin Bourke)

Spring Reign

Rob Johnston
Benedict Power Productions at The Lowry, Salford
(reviewer: David Upton)

To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee adapted by Christopher Sergel
The Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre at The Lowry, Salford
(reviewer: David Cunningham)

The Ghost Train

Arnold Ridley
Told By An Idiot at Royal Exchange Theatre
(reviewer: Alan Hulme)


Matt Panesh
Monkey Poet at The Lowry, Salford
(reviewer: David Cunningham)

Boeing Boeing

Marc Camoletti, translated by Beverley Cross
Oldham Coliseum at Oldham Coliseum
(reviewer: Alan Hulme)

Different is Dangerous

Fadia Qaraman and Nyla Levy
Two’s Company at The Lowry, Salford
(reviewer: David Cunningham)


Cora Bissett and Yusra Warsama
National Theatre Of Scotland and Contact at Contact
(reviewer: Alan Hulme)

Youth panel reviews

The Wardrobe

Sam Holcroft
Octagon Youth Theatre at The Octagon Studio
(reviewer: Harriet Mallion)

The Accordion Shop

Cush Jumbo
Buxton Opera House Young Company at The Lowry Studio
(reviewer: Harriet Mallion)

The Accordion Shop

Cush Jumbo
InterACT Youth Theatre at The Lowry Studio
(reviewer: Lizz Clark)

On the Town

Music by Leonard Bernstein, book & lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green
RNCM Youth Perform at Royal Northern College of Music
(reviewer: Elizabeth Allen)


Jackie Kay and Royal Exchange Theatre Young Company
Royal Exchange Theatre Young Company at Royal Exchange Studio
(reviewer: Lizz Clark)


Devised by Contact Young Actors Company and Aqueous Humour
Contact Young Actors Company at Contact Theatre
(reviewer: Lizz Clark)

The Last Word

Christina Maiden
Oldham Coliseum Theatre Learning and Engagement at Oldham Coliseum
(reviewer: Lizz Clark)

Latest articles

Wild In The Country Park

This weekend finds something strange and wonderful happening in Bury as The Lost Carnival mysteriously reappears...

We investigate an exciting new future direction for immersive theatre and open-air arts.

Kevin Bourke

Forthcoming Attractions: The Lowry Showcase

Not content with attracting productions to its theatres The Lowry is also playing an active role in their development. A recent Showcase gave companies the chance to pitch their proposals to potential patrons.

David Cunningham

The Film’s The Thing: Hamlet on Film

The film of the Royal Exchange’s recent sell-out run of ‘Hamlet’ is something different. A stage to screen version of a classic that is not content to simply reproduce the stage version but aspires to be a film in its own right

David Cunningham

John, I'm not only dancing

"I have probably a fatal attraction towards trying to talk about the things other people don’t want to speak about," says DV8"s artistic director Lloyd Newson about his company's new show John, opening at The Lowry. 

Kevin Bourke

YEN for adventure

There’s surely little doubt that the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting has changed - and very much for the better - the world of new writing for the theatre. Anna Jordan, who won the Bruntwood Prize in 2013 and whose winning play YEN currently has its World Premiere at the Royal Exchange’s Studio, says it has changed her whole world.

Kevin Bourke

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