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

May dances for the Lowry

Two fairy tales, a tango dance party, a love story and a reunion combine in a season of dance at the Lowry in Salford during May.

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Starry nights on Winter Hill

Octagon Theatre Bolton assemble a starry all-female cast, including Cathy Tyson, Denise Black, Louise Jameson, Fiona Hampton and Janet Henfrey for their world premiere production of Timberlake Wertenbaker’s new play Winter Hill.

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Golden treats for Bolton

Bolton Octagon’s 50th anniversary season sees world premieres, their first ever full-scale park show, and a major new co-production with Out of Joint and the Royal Court Theatre that will revive Andrea Dunbar’s seminal play Rita, Sue and Bob Too.

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Cooney comedy for Opera House

Comedy writer and actor Ray Cooney celebrates his 85th birthday and 70 years in showbiz this year, and to mark the occasion has worked on a brand new season of his classic comedies – including an updated production of his Olivier award-winning Westminster comedy Out of Order.

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Inside the mind of coma victim

Out Of This World, at the Lowry in Salford May 30-31  is set in the mind of a woman in a medically induced coma.

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Shakespeare twist for Fringe

Three Shakespearean plays are given a modern twist by bringing in social media, reality television, Tinder and gaming at this year's Greater Manchester Fringe.

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Cabaret play back in city

After a sell-out world premiere at the Royal Exchange, and straight from a London run at Wilton’s, All I Want is One Night comes to Hope Mill Theatre in Ancoats for nine performances July 2 & 4-9.

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Herding Cats in Manchester

Play With Fire’s next production, Herding Cats by Lucinda Coxon is at Manchester’s Hope Mill Theatre at the end of May.

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Gangsta Granny premiere for city

The cabbage-crunching, criminal mastermind Gangsta Granny is coming to Manchester. Birmingham Stage Company –producers of Horrible Histories, George’s Marvellous Medicine and Tom’s Midnight Garden – are bringing their world premiere of David Walliams’ children’s story to the Opera House from Wednesday June 7-11.

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Ayckbourn revival for Lowry

Fresh from an extended season in London’s West End, casting has been announced for Bill Kenwright’s production of Alan Ayckbourn’s farcical tale of matrimonial mishaps, How the Other Half Loves  at The Lowry in Salford from September 11-16. 

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Nativity Musical for Palace

A world premiere of Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s production of Nativity! The Musical, opening at Birmingham Rep in October, will come to Manchester Palace Theatre from November 29.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Latest reviews

Stephen Billington and Gemma Atkins
Mark Douet The Marked
Samuel Holland as Tom Gradgrind and Tom Michael Blyth as Stephen Blackpool in Hard Times at Oldham Coliseum
Joel C Fildes Heads Up
Jassy Earl Keep Breathing
Good Grief
Steve-Tanner Louise Jameson, Cathy Tyson, Souad Faress, Janet Henfrey and Denise Black
Richard Davenport The Company in La Strada
The Wedding Singer

Not Dead Enough

Peter James (adap Shaun McKenna)
TBO Productions (touring) at Opera House, Manchester
(reviewer: Paul Genty)

The Marked

Dorie Kinnear, Tom Dawze, Bradley Thompson
Theatre Témoin and Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham at The Lowry, Salford
(reviewer: David Cunningham)

Hard Times

Stephen Jeffreys, after Charles Dickens
Oldham Coliseum Theatre at Oldham Coliseum
(reviewer: Robert Beale)

Heads Up

Kieran Hurley
Show and Tell at HOME, Manchester
(reviewer: David Cunningham)

JB Shorts 17

Helen Farrall; James and Aileen Quinn; Peter Kerry; Ian Kershaw; Nick Ahad; Dave Simpson and Diane Whitley
Reallife Theatre Company at 53Two, Albion Street, Manchester
(reviewer: Kevin Bourke)

Good Grief

Jack Rooke and Sicely Rooke
Soho Theatre at HOME, Manchester
(reviewer: David Cunningham)


James Wilton, inspired by Herman Melville’s ‘Moby Dick’
James Wilton Dance at The Contact Theatre, Manchester
(reviewer: David Cunningham)

Winter Hill

Timberlake Wertenbaker
Octagon Theatre Bolton at Octagon Theatre
(reviewer: David Chadderton)

La Strada

Devised by the company, based on the subject and script work by Federico Fellini, Ennio Flaiano and Tullio Pinelli
Belgrade Theatre Coventry at The Lowry, Salford
(reviewer: Kevin Bourke)

The Wedding Singer

Chad Beguelin and Tim Herlihy with music by Matthew Sklar
Dan Looney in association with Paulden Hall Productions, Jason Haigh-Ellery, Tom O'Connell Productions and Tim Lawson at The Opera House, Manchester
(reviewer: David Cunningham)

Youth panel reviews


Matthew Bulgo
The Blue Coat School at HOME
(reviewer: Lizz Clark)


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)

Latest articles

Running Up That Hill

Bolton Octagon's Artistic Director, Elizabeth Newman, and actors Cathy Tyson and Louise Jameson are thrilled to be working on the world premiere of Timberlake Wertenbaker's Winter Hill.

Kevin Bourke

Mirror, Mirror

Rosie Fleeshman, the youngest daughter of much-loved veterans Sue Jenkins and David Fleeshman, has written a brilliantly brave and funny one-woman show, Narcissist In The Mirror

Kevin Bourke

Ellen Kent - back in town

Ellen Kent brings popular opera to Manchester again - this time with added four-footed friends

Robert Beale

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

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