Manchester Theatre Awards

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

Julie Hesmondhalgh: leading actress, Credit: Jonathan Keenan

Manchester Theatre Award winners

Manchester’s Royal Exchange theatre had a bumper haul of trophies from the Manchester Theatre Awards, revealed at a star-studded event at the city’s HOME venue.

Actor in a leading role

Three of the panel’s most admired performances this year came from actors breathing new life into classic, but always daunting, roles.

Actress in a leading role

The past few years have seen an increasing number of strong female roles on the Manchester stage and as a panel we’ve seen this reflected in the incredible talent showcased in this category.

What's on

Housing issue at HOME

Rebecca Biscuit and Louise Mothersole’s show Letters to Windsor House which looks at the UK housing crisis is coming to  Home, Manchester as part of an extensive tour that follows a two week sold out London run at the Soho Theatre.

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Boris drops in on Fringe

Greater Manchester Fringe is back July 1-31 with a wide range of drama, comedy, live music, dance, politics, poetry, local stories and variety.

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Collective response at the Coliseum

Manchester collective Actors, Directors & Producers, are teaming up with The Oldham Coliseum main-stage in May to produce What The Dickens?

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Twelfth Night for Exchange

Shakespeare’s comedy of gender, identity and love storms into Manchester Royal Exchange next month.

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Trapped at the Kings Arms!

Trapped debuts at The Kings Arms, Salford, on March 24, and April 9-10.

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Opera in its infancy

The follow up to Scottish Opera’s BabyO performances, BambinO is a pioneering and unique piece of music theatre for infants aged 6 to 18 months.

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Suppliant Women for Exchange

Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre stages one of the world’s oldest dramas on its unique stage.

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Wheeling the Grease into city

An all-new tour of the musical Grease opens at the Palace Theatre, Manchester this week with an all-star cast.

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Yank! musical opens in city

A 12-stong cast stage the international premiere of wartime love story Yank! which opens in Manchester this week.

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Soccer story set to music

The team behind 2015's smash-hit Oldham-based musical, Dreamers, return to Oldham Coliseum Theatre with another brand new musical.

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Shrek set for a giant return

Shrek The Musical will be returning to Manchester next January.

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Five get a break in Salford

The Lowry has announced the 2017 cohort of its artist development programme.

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Etta James show for RNCM

At Last - The Etta James Story, stars Vika Bull.

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Commitments for Corrie's Kevin

Coronation Street legend Kevin Kennedy stars as Jimmy’s Da in the UK tour of The Commitments which comes to the Palace Theatre, Manchester, from March 27 to April 8.

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New Tenant for Bolton Octagon

Octagon Theatre Bolton and York Theatre Royal present a brand new adaptation of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

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Nadia at home with Jane Eyre

Manchester actress Nadia Clifford takes the central role of Jane Eyre and Tim Delap is Rochester when Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece, Jane Eyre coms to the Lowry from April 8-15.

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Spooky bonus in Salford

Following the performance of Susan Hill’s The Woman In Black at The Lowry in Salford on  March 24 theatregoers will be invited to continue their evening with a spine-chilling late-night experience contacting the spirits that haunt nearby Ordsall Hall.

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Bat Out Of Hell for Manchester

The world premiere of Jim Steinman’s Bat Out Of Hell – The Musical, previews at Manchester Opera House.

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Six by Sick for Salford

Premiering six productions on disability, religion, sexism, drugs, mental health and loneliness - Sick! Festival returns to The Lowry in Salford in March.

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Ghost re-appears at Lowry

Bill Kenwright’s production of Ghost - The Musical, will extend its current UK tour with a visit to The Lowry, Salford from April 24-29.

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Musical premiere for Bolton

Watford Palace Theatre are to stage the world premiere musical I Capture the Castle, based on the iconic novel by Dodie Smith, and co-produced with the Octagon Theatre Bolton and Kevin Wallace Limited, in association with Deborah Ward.

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Dancers offered a Turn

North West dancers and dance-makers (aged 18+) are invited to submit proposals of short pieces of work, works-in-progress or extracts of longer works for inclusion in an annual event.

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More scares ahead for Salford

Stephen Mallatratt’s adaptation of Susan Hill’s novel The Woman in Black has terrified more than 64,400 theatregoers in seven visits to The Lowry. With an eighth visit planned from March 20-25 the terror total is set to rise. 

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Theodora first for RNCM

Royal Northern College of Music Opera will present Handel’s Theodora between March 24 and April 1 at the college.

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New comedy from Sandi Toksvig

English Touring Theatre have confirmed casting for the world première of Sandi Toksvig’s new comedy Silver Lining, a co-production with Rose Theatre Kingston.

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Wicked on its way back

Wicked, the West End and Broadway musical that tells the story of the Witches of Oz, will return to the Palace Theatre, Manchester next year.

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Audiences pay by results

The Lowry in Salford present four shows where audiences won’t have to purchase a ticket in advance.

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Fairytale trio for Lowry

Opera North celebrates classic fairy tales with three brand new productions on stage at The Lowry in March: Rimsky-Korsakov’s rarely-performed The Snow Maiden, Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel and Rossini’s Cinderella.

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Running Wild in Salford

The first UK Tour of Running Wild by Michael Morpurgo in an adaptation by Samuel Adamson, comes to Salford’s Lowry April 18-22. 

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A silver Cyrano from Northern Broadsides

Northern Broadsides is to start its 25th anniversary year with a new adaptation of Cyrano De Bergerac by Deborah McAndrew.

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Mikron touring youth hostels

Mikron Theatre are to tour Maeve Larkin’s new play about youth hostelling which will be performed in the UK’s Youth Hostels

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Snapshot of Manchester Festival 2017

Manchester International Festival’s new artistic director John McGrath has offered a snapshot of his first programme, running from June 29 to July 16 next year.

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Season of variety at Oldham Coliseum

Oldham Coliseum Theatre Spring-Summer 2017 season, features triumphant returns, new takes on old classics and comedies, topped off with a glittering Bollywood musical.

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Jodie's Valentine date

A major revival tour, celebrating the 30th anniversary of Willy Russell's Shirley Valentine, and starring Jodie Prenger as the eponymous heroine, comes to the Lowry in Salford next June.

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Babe back on stage at Lowry

Adapted from Dick King-Smith’s much-loved children’s novel which inspired the Oscar-winning 1995 film, Babe, The Sheep-Pig will be brought to life on stage in a new production.

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War Horse re-mounted in 2018

War Horse, the National Theatre’s cash cow, will return to The Lowry in 2018.

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Wendi's Wonderland homecoming

TV and West End star Wendi Peters (Cilla Battersby-Brown in Coronation Street) will headline the 2017 UK tour of Wonderland as Queen of Hearts alongside musical theatre favourite Dave Willetts.

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Wedding Singer musical for Manchester

A new production of The Wedding Singer will play the Opera House, Manchester, from May 15-20.

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Latest reviews

Killing Time 
Darren-Bell Scott Hunter as Stu
Anthony Robling Chris New as Daniel Quinn 
Jonathan Keenan Andrew Polec and the cast of Bat Out of Hell The Musical
Specular The Suppliant Women in rehearsal

Paul Coltas Growing Pains


The Company
Footprint Theatre at The Royal Exchange Theatre
(reviewer: David Cunningham)


Ted Hughes adapted by Kate Papi and Oliviero Papi at The Lowry, Salford
(reviewer: David Cunningham)

Killing Time

Zoe Mills
Word Mills Productions and Dead Letter Perfect at The Lowry, Salford
(reviewer: David Cunningham)


Music by Joseph Zellnik, book and lyrics David Zellnik
Hope Mill Theatre Company at Hope Mill
(reviewer: Alan Hulme)

Paul Auster's City of Glass

Duncan Macmillan, based on Paul Auster's novel
59 Productions, HOME, Lyric Hammersmith at HOME, Manchester
(reviewer: Paul Genty)

The Suppliant Women

Aeschylus, new version by David Greig
Actors Touring Company, Royal Exchange Theatre and Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh at Royal Exchange Theatre
(reviewer: David Chadderton)


Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey
Paul Nicholas & David Ian by arrangement with Robert Stigwood at Palace Theatre, Manchester
(reviewer: David Upton)

Growing Pains

Tom Gill
Battersea Arts at The Royal Exchange, Manchester
(reviewer: David Cunningham)

Youth panel reviews

There is a Light

Contact Young Company/BRIGHTLIGHT
Contact Young Company at Contact Theatre
(reviewer: Lizz Clark)

The Factory

The Royal Exchange Theatre Young Company at Swan Street Studio
(reviewer: Harriet Mallion)

The Secret Garden

Frances Hodgson Burnett adapted by Janys Chambers
Octagon Youth Theatre and Octagon Artistic Team at Octagon Theatre
(reviewer: Harriet Mallion)

It Snows

Bryony Lavery
Octagon Connections at Bolton Octagon
(reviewer: Georgina Wells)

What Are They Like?

Lucinda Coxon
Woodhey High School at Bolton Octagon
(reviewer: Georgina Wells)


Carl Grose
Lowry Young Actors at The Lowry
(reviewer: Lizz Clark)


Snoo Wilson, Gary Kemp and Guy Pratt (adapted from Vladimir Mayakovsky)
Bluecoat at The Lowry
(reviewer: Lizz Clark)

Climate of Fear

Contact Young Company at Contact Theatre
(reviewer: Harriet Mallion)

Latest articles

Alone Again Or

A new play by Caryl Churchill is always an event and, despite its short running time, there's an awful lot going on in her Escaped Alone, opening its tour at The Lowry 

Kevin Bourke

Home Thoughts From The Sea

Narvik, a new play with songs that premieres at HOME, has its origins in the untold wartime stories of writer Lizzie Nunnery's grandfather.

Kevin Bourke

Curiouser and curiouser

It seems we can't get enough of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, and a new touring production premieres this week at The Lowry. Although it's from the National Theatre, it's an uncommonly Manchester-centric production. 

Kevin Bourke

Love Lost and Won

Just a few weeks ago, 'The Rocky Horror Show' directed by Christopher Luscombe was rocking the Manchester Opera House. Now he's back there with an RSC double of 'Love's Labour's Lost' and 'Much Ado About Nothing', set either side of the Great War.

Kevin Bourke

Parallel Lives

Laura Lindsay was part of the MTA-winning ensemble cast of The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice, and this week at Manchester’s Hope Mill Theatre, and then on tour, she’s also demonstrating her writing and production skills with her company Black Toffee's new play, Parallel, addressing the growing problem of homelessness

Kevin Bourke

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