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

Casanova for The Lowry

Northern Ballet is bringing history’s most notorious lover to Salford this week with its sensual new production Casanova

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Swanning along to apocalypse

Swansong is a post-apocalyptic comedy, performed in a swan pedalo, at The Lowry in Salford from Wednesday to Saturday.

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MK ULTRA dance work for city

Documentary film-maker Adam Curtis collaborates on a production at HOME in Manchester next week to give a wider political and social context to MK ULTRA.

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Talking to animals at HOME

Breach Theatre follow up The Beanfield with Tank, which runs for three nights at HOME in Manchester after four-star reviews at last year’s Edinburgh Festival.

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Ellen Kent triple for city

Opera & Ballet International present three Ellen Kent productions with international soloists, chorus and full orchestra at Manchester Palace Theatre.

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Improv troupe at Lowry

The Noise Next Door are an improv comedy troupe bringing their fourth national tour to the Lowry in Salford on Sunday  with the Really Really Good Afternoon Show at 2pm and their evening show Uproar! at 8pm. Due to demand, an extra show has also been added at 8pm on Monday.

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Access all audiences

Following the sell-out success of its premiere at the Royal Exchange in Manchester Hoax Our Right to Hope comes to Salford at The Lowry on Sunday and Monday.

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Mind you language at Contact

Billed as a ‘fast-paced crash course about bad language’ punk poet Thick Richard presents Swear School at Contact in Manchester from next Wednesday to Saturday.

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Dance collaboration at Whitworth

Siobhan Davies Dance's most ambitious interdisciplinary collaboration to date – entitled material / rearranged / to / be – travels to the Whitworth gallery in Manchester May 6-14, following its premiere at the Barbican, London.

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53two Manchester premiere

Married. But Lonely premieres at 53two in Manchester on June 16-17 before touring.

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Trainspotting stage show for Lowry

Fresh from success on a world tour, the immersive theatre production of Irvine Welsh and Danny Boyle’s iconic, generation-defining Trainspotting comes to The Lowry June 6-10.

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Murder mystery for Opera House

Bill Ward, who left ITV’s Emmerdale in a murderous exit, is taking to the stage an adaptation of Peter James’ Not Dead Enough at the Opera House, Manchester, from May 22- 27.

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Thoroughly Modern Millie for Manchester

Strictly Come Dancing’s Joanne Clifton  stars in the lead role in hit musical Thoroughly Modern Millie at the Palace Theatre Manchester, from May 23-27.

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Modern Persuasion for Exchange

Jeff James, one of the UK’s most original young theatre makers, adapts and directs a retelling of Jane Austen’s final masterpiece Persuasion at the Royal Exchange in Manchester from May 25 to June 24.

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Schrödinger show for Contact

Reckless Sleepers return to Contact in Manchester, following the success of Negative Space, with their work Schrödinger on May 24-25.

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YANK! transfers to London

YANK!, the musical production which received its UK première at Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester, is to transfer to London this summer.

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Wonderland reaches Manchester

Wonderland, a  musical adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, reaches Manchester next week on its current UK tour.

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Ghost makes its last appearance

Bill Kenwright’s current production of Ghost - The Musical closes its UK tour with a visit to The Lowry in Salford next week.

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Musical world premiere

The Octagon Theatre  in Bolton stages a world premiere of  I Capture the Castle, based on the iconic novel by Dodie Smith, from next week.

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Bruntwood winner at Exchange

Alan Harris’s How My Light Is Spent, winner of the Bruntwood playwriting competition Judges Award in 2015, is the latest work to have its premiere at the Royal Exchange in Manchester next week.

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Mexican revenge thriller

Theatre Ad Infinitum's show Bucket List centres on poverty in Mexico and will be at the Lowry in Salford next Wednesday and Thursday.

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Jason's Million Dollar date

Jason Donovan stars in Million Dollar Quartet – when the Tony-winning Broadway musical and West End hit embarks on its first UK tour visiting Manchester Palace Theatre from May 15-20.

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Hysteria breaks out in Oldham

London Classic Theatre come to Oldham Coliseum with their production of the Olivier Award winning comedy Hysteria.

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Starry nights on Winter Hill

Octagon Theatre Bolton have cast their forthcoming world premiere production of Timberlake Wertenbaker’s new play Winter Hill.

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Fringe benefits for Manchester

Rosie Fleeshman explores internet dating, a quarter life crisis and her “sexy mind” at this year’s Greater Manchester Fringe, at the King's Arms in Salford, July 15-16

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Century of Shorts in city

JB Shorts 17, at Manchester’s 53two venue from May 22-27  will include the 100th-ever short play from this popular event

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Inventive work at Lowry

One of Europe’s most inventive artists James Thierrée visits The Lowry in Salford for the first time on May 10-11 with his latest production The Toad Knew.

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Dance spotlight in Salford

The Lowry in Salford will present work from five of the world’s acclaimed dance companies in May.

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Matilda for Manchester

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Matilda The Musical will embark on a UK and Ireland tour next year which includes a 10-week run at Manchester Palace Theatre from September 18 to November 24.

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Homeless hotspots for production

Until June 14, Theatre Témoin’s The Marked tours the UK’s regional homeless ‘hotspots’, using mask, puppetry and physical theatre to navigate a haunting, mystical world inspired by real-life stories of homelessness.

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On The Road to Salford

A masterpiece of modern cinema, Federico Fellini's 1957 Oscar-winning La Strada (The Road), will be brought to life on stage in a brand new adaptation at the Lowry in Salford from May 15-20.

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Miss Saigon storms back

Boublil and Schönberg’s legendary musical Miss Saigon will land at Manchester Palace Theatre from March 21 to May 12 next year.

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Holland for Hudd at Lowry

Jeffrey Holland will star as Tom Ballard in the premiere stage production of the BAFTA-nominated Waiting For God which will began a 12-week UK tour this week.  He replaces Roy Hudd, who has withdrawn from the production on medical advice. 

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City shows FLARE again

The deadline is up, and there have been hundreds of artist submissions and counting for FLARE17!

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Take That musical launches in city

Take That have announced the UK Tour of Tim Firth’s new musical, The Band, will begin at Manchester Opera House on September 8.

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Summer Wizard for Stockport

Regal Entertainments host The Wizard of Oz at Stockport Plaza this summer from August 7-12.

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Future view of Oldham Coliseum

The latest vision for the new Oldham Coliseum Theatre has been released ahead of the submission of a planning application.

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New Crucible for Opera House

The Crucible, Arthur Miller's witch-hunt classic arrives at Manchester Opera House from May 8-13.

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Rachel for Z-Arts

Rachel, written and directed by Stevie Helps, and their biggest production to date, will be performing on May 13 at Z-Arts Theatre in Hulme, Manchester.

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Phil Jupitus for city fringe

Greater Manchester Fringe is back for its sixth year with a selection of drama premieres, comedy, Edinburgh previews, poetry, music, clowning and children's shows.

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Janet Suzman at HOME

Janet Suzman makes a rare return to the stage at HOME in Manchester in May for the first UK revival of critically acclaimed play Rose by Martin Sherman following its premiere at London’s National Theatre in 1999.

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Spring & Port Wine for Oldham

The current production at Oldham Coliseum Theatre is Spring and Port Wine by Bill Naughton – a comedy about a family at war in Bolton in the late 1960s – and directed by former artistic director of Manchester’s Library Theatre Company, Chris Honer.

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Sunshine & Showers in Manchester

A dark comedy about a fading variety double act is premiering at Bandit Mugger and Thief, July 20-22, as part of Greater Manchester Fringe 2017.

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Digital feast for Lowry

The Lowry’s 1,700-seat Lyric theatre is set to be taken over by a feast of light, sound, colour and technology.

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City adds its own Twelfth

With Tamsin Greig’s appearance in Twelfth Night in London one of the capital’s hottest tickets, Manchester’s Royal Exchange stage their own take on Shakespeare’s classic comedy.

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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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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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Shrek set for a giant return

Shrek The Musical will be returning to Manchester next January.

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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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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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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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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

Hannah Head as Emma and Chris Berry as Paul in Dark Sky
Bruce Cutts Bucket List
Jack Offord Kerry Ellis as Alice and Stephen Webb as Jack
Wonderland Andy Moss and Sam Ferriday
Matt Martin Offside
Lidia Crisafulli The Lounge
Harry Atwell as Sir Andrew Aguecheek
Jonathan Keenan Running Wild
Children's Touring Partnership The cast of My Country; a work in progress
Sarah Lee Cyrano

Dark Sky

Alan Stockdill
Talking Stock at The Swan, Dobcross, and touring
(reviewer: Kevin Bourke)

Bucket List

Nir Paldi
Theatre Ad Infinitum at The Lowry , Salford
(reviewer: David Cunningham)


Murphy and Wildhorn
Wonderland at Palace Theatre, Manchester
(reviewer: Robert Beale)


Book and Lyrics - Bruce Joel Rubin. Music and Lyrics - Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard.
Bill Kenwright at Lowry
(reviewer: Carmel Thomason)


Sabrina Mahfouz and Hollie McNish
Futures Theatre at The Contact Theatre, Manchester
(reviewer: David Cunningham)

The Lounge

Lucinka Eisler, Giulia Innocenti, Lu Kemp and Ben Lewis
China Plate at Contact Theatre
(reviewer: David Cunningham)

Twelfth Night

William Shakespeare
Royal Exchange, Manchester
(reviewer: David Upton)

Running Wild

Michael Morpurgo and Samuel Adamson
Children's Touring Partnership with Chichester Festival Theatre and Regent's Park Open Air Theatre at The Lowry
(reviewer: Robert Beale)


Edmond Rostand adapted by Deborah McAndrew
Northern Broadsides and New Vic Theatre at The Lowry, Salford
(reviewer: David Cunningham)

Youth panel reviews


Matthew Bulgo
CYGNETS at The Lowry
(reviewer: Georgina Wells)

The Snow Dragons

Lizzie Nunnery
InterACT Youth Theatre at The Lowry
(reviewer: Georgina Wells)

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)

Latest articles

Making Contact

The newly launched Summer season at The Contact shows the theatre playing to its strengths while springing a few surprises.

David Cunningham

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

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