Manchester Theatre Awards

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

MTA chairman Kevin Bourke (left) hands the Production and Special Achievement trophies to David Thacker (centre) watched by awards show host Justin Moorhouse, Credit: Ant Robling

Octagon Theatre shapes up to a haul of awards

One of the country’s most distinguished theatre directors, and the first-ever Professor of Theatre at Bolton University, David Thacker was honoured with a Special Achievement trophy at the Manchester Theatre Awards.

... and the winners are: Actor in a Leading Role

The four outstanding nominations here are divided equally between the Royal Exchange and Octagon Bolton, whittled down from a list several times that size, indicating just how strong the competition is this time around.

Actress in a Leading Role

Over the past few years the panel has genuinely struggled to pare down the size of this category, which reflects the strength of performances and breadth of female roles offered.

What's on

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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A season set to STUN!

Manchester’s Sustained Theatre Up North present a season of shows by national and international BAME artists this Black History Month.

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Starry murder mystery for Opera House

A classic whodunnit murder mystery written by the creators of Columbo and Murder She Wrote comes to Manchester Opera House from October 10-15 starring a cast of television performers.

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Blood Brothers for Lowry return

Blood Brothers is set to visit Salford's Lowry from November 15-19.

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Cast a dice for homeless drama

An all-female cast has been announced for an innovative new play, which tours the North of England this autumn, co-produced by Black Toffee and Harrogate Theatres.

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Emergency and Divergency for city

Manchester’s Word of Warning kick off their autumn season with two marathon-style performance events: Emergency (October 1), and Divergency (October 6).

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China ballet company for Salford

The Lowry is set to host the prestigious National Ballet of China November 22–26 with a run of one of the most enduring love stories in Chinese literature, The Peony Pavilion.

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Ballet premiere set for The Lowry

New Adventures stage the world premiere of Matthew Bourne's The Red Shoes at The Lowry from November 29 to December 3.

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Winter's Tale for Bolton

Octagon Theatre Bolton and the University of Bolton present Shakespeare’s epic The Winter’s Tale, marking the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death.

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Pop-up theatre with political edge

A new interactive pop-up theatre night in Manchester offers alternative perspectives on political issues

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Ayckbourn hit back at the Lowry

Relatively Speaking, Alan Ayckbourn’s first great West End success, stars Robert Powell and Liza Goddard at the Lowry in Salford from October 17-22.

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Dirty Dancing back in the city

Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story Live on Stage mambos its way back to the Palace Theatre, Manchester from October 10-15.

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Another Peake performance for Exchange

The combination of actress Maxine Peake, and Tennessee Williams’ steamy drama A Streetcar Named Desire, have already ensured Manchester Royal Exchange tickets sold fast.

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Amaluna opens at Trafford venue

Cirque du Soleil bring its most successful show ever to Manchester

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Mockingbird revival for Octagon

The Octagon Theatre’s new season begins with Harper Lee’s powerful To Kill a Mockingbird, a stage adaptation of the award-winning novel that captures the delight and mysteries of childhood as well as the fight for justice.

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Bruntwood winner showcased at Exchange

Wish List, Katherine Soper’s 2015 Bruntwood Prize winning play, has its world premiere this autumn at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre before transferring to The Royal Court, Jerwood Theatre Upstairs in January.

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Premiere for Giselle at Palace

English National Ballet presents the world premiere of Akram Khan’s Giselle at the Palace Theatre, Manchester this month.

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Small Faces show for city

The new musical All Or Nothing tells of four charismatic young kids from East London who became The Small Faces.

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Jumpers for Goalposts in Oldham

Oldham Coliseum Theatre will be presenting Tom Wells’ romantic comedy Jumpers for Goalposts this October, marking the main stage directorial debut of associate director Chris Lawson, who joined the company from London’s Almeida last year.

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Things I Know To Be True for Lowry

Andrew Bovell’s Things I Know To Be True, an international co-production between Frantic Assembly and State Theatre Company of South Australia comes to the Lowry in Salford from November 8-12.

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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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Rio's silver star in dance show

Fresh from winning a Silver Medal at the Rio Olympics, gymnast and Strictly Come Dancing champ Louis Smith is to guest star in Keep Dancing at the Palace Theatre, Manchester, October 4-8 - a new show celebrating the world of Ballroom and Latin dance.

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Parisian style for RNCM Opera

Glitz and glamour head to the Royal Northern College of Music when RNCM Opera presents Offenbach’s La Vie Parisienne.

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Vertigo's third revival of Porno Chic

One of Manchester’s most successful fringe theatre companies Vertigo will be bringing back for a third time the award winning Porno Chic to The Kings Arms, Salford this October.

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HOME team reunites for The Emperor

Actress Kathryn Hunter, director Walter Meierjohann, and playwright and screenwriter Colin Teevan reunite following their hit Kafka’s Monkey for a world premiere production that comes to HOME in Manchester in September.

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Gatiss stars in Boys In The Band revival

Mart Crowley’s ground-breaking play, The Boys in the Band, will be revived at The Lowry in Salford in November, starring Olivier Award winner Mark Gatiss alongside his husband Ian Hallard.

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Matthew kelly for Pride & Prejudice

Casting is announced for Regents Park Open Air Theatre’s production of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, at The Lowry October 11-15.

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Third Brassed Off for Oldham

Oldham Coliseum Theatre is presenting Brassed Off this September, featuring live music from four brass bands from Saddleworth and Oldham.

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Ghost the Musical haunts city again

A new production of Ghost the Musical comes to the Palace Theatre, Manchester, in October starring Girls Aloud singer and actress Sarah Harding as Molly and former Hollyoaks star Andy Moss as Sam.

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Music and more at RNCM

Between September and December Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music hosts everything from classical music, big band and opera to conversations with Margaret Atwood and Vivienne Westwood as part of the Manchester Literature Festival (October 7-21).

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Hair set for Manchester revival

Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester’s new independent theatre and event space, is to stage its second in-house musical theatre production Hair in November, following the success of Parade.

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Sans Merci for Hope Mill

Sans Merci by Johnna Adams opens at Manchester’s Hope Mll Theatre in September. 

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Box of Tricks celebrate 10th anniversary

Manchester-based theatre company Box of Tricks celebrates ten years of new play making by bringing back three acclaimed productions and commissioning three brand new plays.

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Full Monty makes a quick return

The stage version of The Full Monty is coming back to Manchester in October with an all-star cast.

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Funny Girl headed for Manchester

The new West End production of Funny Girl embarks on a major national tour in 2017 and opens at the Palace Theatre, Manchester from February 20, before touring to venues around the UK.

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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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Rufus Hound for musical premiere

Comedian, actor and presenter Rufus Hound will star as lovable menace Mr Toad for the world premiere of the new musical adaptation of The Wind in the Willows by Julian Fellowes.

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Kevin's commitment to musical

Coronation Street legend, Kevin Kennedy is to star as Jimmy’s Da in the UK tour of the musical The Commitments written by Roddy Doyle, which comes to the Palace Theatre, Manchester, from March 27 to April 8.

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Sherrie Hewson rings in for Aladdin

Benidorm, Loose Women and Coronation Street favourite, and star of the all-new Are You Being Served, Sherrie Hewson will be appearing as the Genie of the Ring in Aladdin at Manchester Opera House this Christmas.

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Extended Bed goes on tour

A Bed of Shards is a new one-act play by Jane McNulty, (Eastenders, Doctors, Our Lady of the Goldfinches) and directed by award-winning Ian Townsend (All the Bens).

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Difficult B!RTH for Exchange

B!RTH, at Manchester Royal Exchange in October, is an international theatre festival developed by the Exchange and The Oglesby Charitable Trust to provoke debate on the vast inequality in healthcare across the world.

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Hooked up for panto

John Altman returns to Stockport Plaza to star as Captain Hook this festive season in the Peter Pan’ from December 2 to January 8.

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Billy bound for city

Not soon enough for many people Billy Elliot the Musical will come to Manchester Palace Theatre from November to January.

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Latest reviews

Giselle and Albrecht - Akram Khan's Giselle
Company The Time Machine
Mandela Trilogy
The Lowry A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer
Mark Douet All Genius All Idiot
Our Carnal Hearts
The Moor's Pavane
Andrew Ross Mary Hooton, Rebecca Fenwick, Adam Urey and Joel Parry in That Golden Age
Rob Johnston Adler and Gibb

The Time Machine

HG Wells adapted by Robert Lloyd Parry
Nunkie Productions at The Lowry, Salford
(reviewer: David Cunningham)

Mandela Trilogy

Michael Williams, Peter Louis van Dijk & Mike Campbell
Wales Millennium Centre and Cape Town Opera at The Lowry
(reviewer: Robert Beale)

A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer

Bryony Kimmings and Brian Lobel with music by Tom Parkinson
Complicite Associates and The National Theatre with HOME Manchester at HOME, Manchester
(reviewer: David Cunningham)

All Genius All Idiot

Tom Brand, Santiago Ruiz Albalate, J. Simon Wiborn and Ben Smith
Svalbard Company at The Lowry , Salford
(reviewer: David Cunningham)


Rosie MacPherson
SBC Company and City of Sanctuary at The Lowry, Salford
(reviewer: David Cunningham)

Our Carnal Hearts

Rachel Mars
Abby Butcher at The Royal Exchange, Manchester
(reviewer: David Cunningham)

That Golden Age

Rob Johnston
Breathe Out Theatre at The Swan, Dobcross and touring
(reviewer: Kevin Bourke)

Adler and Gibb

Tim Crouch
Tim Crouch and The Royal Court Theatre at The Lowry, Salford
(reviewer: David Cunningham)

Youth panel reviews

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)


Janne Teller. Adapted by Amanda Dalton
Royal Exchange Young Company at Royal Exchange
(reviewer: Georgina Wells)

What's Done Is Done

Martin Stannage and CAN Young Artists
CAN Young Artists at HOME
(reviewer: Georgina Wells)

How To Be Better

Contact Young Actors Company/ Common Wealth at Contact Theatre
(reviewer: Georgina Wells)

Latest articles

Voice of The Nation(al)

The MTA eavesdrops while Rufus Norris, director of the National Theatre chats to Julia Fawcett OBE, Chief  Executive of The Lowry about his career and the relationship between the two theatres.

David Cunningham

Little Sister, don't you cheat on me

For the World Premiere of Little Sister at the Royal Exchange, artist Mark Storor has been visiting the Exchange over eighteen months to work with community participants from Tameside Women and their Families Centre, The Royal Exchange’s Progression Group and City of Sanctuary’s Conversation Club (for refugees and asylum seekers), as well as a professional clown, an aerialist, and a classical cellist who plays the saw.

Kevin Bourke

King Lear at The Opera House

Michael Pennington, one of the great Shakespearian actors of his generation, has brought his version of King Lear to Manchester. What is the enduring appeal of the play, does he think?

Kevin Bourke

Feelgood Return To Heaton Park

An exciting cross-arts collaboration based on stories about Heaton Park and the Hall there mark the return of Feelgood Theatre Company to the home of their promenade triumphs.

Kevin Bourke

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