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

City's international festival opens

Manchester International Festival, now established as one of the most prominent of its kind in the world, opens  on Thursday with What is the City but the People?

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Simon & Garfunkel show at Lowry

Simon & Garfunkel Through The Years, at the Lowry in Salford next Wednesday combines live performance and film to celebrate the music of the duo in style, with a brand new show for 2017.  It’s all performed with a live string quartet, featuring original movie and interview footage of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel with a personal touch of narration taken from Victoria Kingston’s book Simon & Garfunkel The Definitive Biography.

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Sophie's Branded an alien

Sophie Willan returns to Contact in Manchester next Wednesday to Saturday with her highly anticipated second show.

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Gutted back in Manchester

A one-woman show based on her struggle with chronic illness comes to Manchester’s HOME venue from July 19-22.

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Hope Mill attractions

Amongst shows coming up at Manchester’s Hope Mill Theatre:

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Choose between Straight & Queer

BoxedIn Theatre bring a piece of Queer Theatre to the Manchester Fringe, from July 4-17.

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All-new Sister Act

Curve’s all new production of musical comedy Sister Act, directed and choreographed by Strictly’s Craig Revel Horwood opens at Manchester Palace Theatre July 24-29.

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SPARK ignites new festival

SPARK is a brand-new transgender arts festival, curated by pioneering Manchester based trans theatre company Trans Creative runs from July 3-7.

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Stars reprise Stuart roles

Juliet Stevenson and Lia Williams reprise their roles in Mary Stuart when the play visits Salford’s Lowry arts centre next year.

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Parked up at 53Two

Car Park King will be back at 53Two in Manchester July 5-6 as part of the Greater Manchester Fringe.

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Hound let loose in new venue

The Hound of the Baskervilles at Great Northern Warehouse in Manchester promises fast-paced, farcical fun through to September 16..

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The Father for Coliseum

Oldham Coliseum are presenting the North West premiere of Moliere, Olivier and Tony award-winning play The Father, starring the venue’s own living legend, Kenneth Alan Taylor, who has appeared in more than 320 productions at the theatre since his first role in 1959.

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Dirty Dancing back in city

The new UK production of Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage, is at Manchester Palace Theatre from July 18-22.

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Bruntwood entries close

The 2017 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting has inspired 1,898 writers to submit their plays to Europe's largest prize for playwriting - which closed for entries on June 5.

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Waterside's summer of fun

Waterside in Sale, Greater Manchester, launch a brand new ten day summer programme from July 21, with experiential performance, music and events to challenge visitors of all ages.

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Teletubbies on their way to town

TV’s Teletubbies, who this year celebrate their 20th anniversary, are to star in their first-ever live theatre show, Big Hugs, created especially for the youngest audience.  

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Fat Roland's happy birthday

Following a national open call for submissions, Manchester performer Fat Roland develop a new show responding to the theme ‘coming of age’.

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Ladyboys hit city again

The Lady Boys of Bangkok are back in town – or Manchester at least – with their latest show Who Runs The World.

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Elf casting at Lowry

Elf: The Musical  will run for a limited season at the Lowry in Salford this Christmas.

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Danny Mac stars in Sunset Boulevard

Danny Mac is to star as Joe Gillis in the forthcoming UK and Ireland tour of Curve’s production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s award-winning musical Sunset Boulevard. Ria Jones is to play Norma Desmond and the show is to be directed by Nikolai Foster.

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Fox on the run in Salford

Roald Dahl’s classic Fantastic Mr Fox comes to the Lowry in Salford from July 5-9.

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Red Shoes stepping back

The Red Shoes will return to The Lowry in Salford from July 11-15. The production sold out at the venue last November.

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Musical revival premieres in city

The revival of an award-winning musical has its Manchester premiere at the city’s newest theatre.

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Musical duo's HOME break

HOME in Manchester adds to its talent development programme, with the launch of a new project, the T1 Commission which after a nationwide call out welcomes London’s energetic musical duo, Bourgeois & Maurice, George Heyworth and Liv Morris, as its first T1 Commission.

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Cabaret dates for Lowry

Kander and Ebb’s musical Cabaret at the Lowry in Salford from November 7-11 will star Will Young and Louise Redknapp.

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Dusty musical set for Palace

New show Son of a Preacher Man has announced that X-factor finalist Diana Vickers will create the role of Kat for the 2017 tour.

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Two-handed Trolley Girls

Trolley Girls is a two-hander devised, directed and performed by Jessica Forrest (from Hollyoaks) and Olivia Nicholson and is at the Kings Arms in Salford on June 30.

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Our Town redefined for Exchange

The Royal Exchange in Manchester promises a new autumn season which brings together theatre makers from across the UK to make work that celebrates the similarity found in our differences.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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

The Hound of the Baskervilles 
Jessica Baglow
Tristram Kenton What If I Told You
 Lizzie Coombes Jodie Prenger as Shirley Valentine
Kerry Peers and Kenneth Alan Taylor in The Father
Joel C Fildes Bears
La Cage Aux Folles
David Birrell, Sue Wallace and Cathy Tyson in Talking Heads
Ian Tilton The Ladyboys of Bangkok

The Hound of the Baskervilles

Arthur Conan Doyle adapted by Thomas Moore
Northern Rep at The Reading Room, The Great Northern Warehouse, Manchester
(reviewer: David Cunningham)

First Words

Charlotte Josephine, Shauna Mackay and Ian Townsend
The Octagon Theatre at The Octagon Studio Theatre, Bolton
(reviewer: David Cunningham)


Devised by Ben Duke and the Barely Methodical Troupe
The Barely Methodical Troupe at The Lowry Quays Theatre, Salford
(reviewer: David Cunningham)

What If I Told You

Pauline Mayers
The Mayers Ensemble and West Yorkshire Playhouse at The Royal Exchange Studio, Manchester
(reviewer: David Cunningham)

Shirley Valentine

Willy Russell
Adam Spiegel Productions at Lowry Lyric Theatre
(reviewer: Carmel Thomason)

The Father

Florian Zeller trans. Christopher Hampton
Oldham Coliseum Theatre at Oldham Coliseum
(reviewer: Robert Beale)


Josh Coates, Emma Geraghty, Ross McCaffrey, Hannah Mook and Jake Walton
Powder Keg at The Royal Exchange Studio, Manchester
(reviewer: David Cunningham)

La Cage Aux Folles

Harvey Fierstein music and lyrics by Jerry Herman
Bill Kenwright at The Lowry, Salford
(reviewer: David Cunningham)

Talking Heads

Alan Bennett
Octagon Theatre Bolton at Octagon Theatre, Bolton
(reviewer: David Upton)

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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