Manchester Theatre Awards

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

Sir Antony Sher with his MTA trophy, Credit:

Oh what a knight for Manchester Theatre Awards

  • Sir Antony Sher receives trophy
  • 3 awards for venue - before it opens
  • 2 big winning shows set to return
  • Stars turn out for annual ceremony

Best Actor

So, five of them, and, to be frank, any one could have received the final accolade, so closely did they run against each other in the panel’s discussions.

Best Actress

One of the year’s most memorable achievements was the Octagon’s two-hander double of Duet For One and Separation, with Clare Foster outstanding as both the cellist with multiple sclerosis (based by writer Tom Kempinski on the real life story of Jacqueline Du Pre) and a crippled actress.

What's on

Hofesh feeling quite at HOME

Manchester’s new centre for international contemporary art, theatre and film - HOME – may only be weeks opening from opening but there’s something of a house warming next week

New Cartwright play for Octagon

Continuing its longstanding relationship with award-winning playwright Jim Cartwright, the Octagon in Bolton presents the world premiere of The Ancient Secret of Youth and the Five Tibetans, starring Denise Welch, Tom Mannion, Eric Potts, Lauren Drummond and Matt Tait

Landing on Forbidden Planet

Return to the Forbidden Planet returns to Manchester’s Palace Theatre from May 5, 14 years after its last UK tour,

Inspired by Shakespeare’s The Tempest and packed with rock n’ roll classics it features a cast of actor-musicians, a mad scientist, a green-tentacled monster and a roller-skating robot – so what’s not to like?

Founding member of Queen and rock god Brian May will appear via video projection as the Newscaster

Second play from city collective

Stripped down and intimate Almost The Same But Not Quite is a new play from Manchester-based 1121 Collective

Platform change for Ghost Train!

Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester and Told by an Idiot continue their collaboration with a new production of Arnold Ridley’s The Ghost Train – they previously worked together on You Can’t Take It With You and Too Clever By Half

Stella's Star is rising again

Following a successful mini autumn tour in 2014 - and an award nomination - Stella Productions is staging a new UK tour for its theatre production, The Rise And Fall of a Northern Star

Boarding for Boeing Boeing

Boeing Boeing is the next production at Oldham’s Coliseum Theatre from May 15 to June 6

Touring work for Exchange

Bristol-based company Sleepdogs present their new touring work The Bullet and the Bass Trombone at The Studio of Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre May 1-2

Rutter's Lear for the Lowry

Barrie Rutter, artistic director of Northern Broadsides plays King Lear, alongside a local cast, with direction from Jonathan Miller at the Lowry in Salford from May 5-9

Rites looks at FGM issue

A Manchester Contact and National Theatre of Scotland co-production, Rites explores the complex issues around Female Genital Mutilation

Prize play rolls into Exchange

Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre next week stages the world premiere of Chris Urch’s Bruntwood Prize winning play The Rolling Stone

Mica to star in Manchester

Mica Paris will star as Sylvia in the UK and Ireland tour of Love Me Tender - the new musical inspired by and featuring the music of Elvis Presley – and which will open on June 5 at Manchester Opera House

Salford students on stage

Graduating students will be finishing their degrees in style with the Next Level Theatre & Film Festival at the University of Salford as emerging artists, theatre-makers and filmmakers will be embarking on a journey of experimentation

Parents at heart of play

Parents Without Children will be shown at the 3MT Theatre in Manchester May 20-22

Len Johnson back in the fight

Award-winning play Len Johnson Fighter returns this May – reworked and with a brand new score by Mark Simpson

24:7 weekend gets green light

After losing their regular funding, Manchester’s 24:7 Theatre Festival announces that this year’s Big Festival Weekend 2015 will go ahead, thanks to strong support from Manchester’s theatre scene, past participants and audiences, Manchester City Council and Arts Council England

Size 13 for JB Shorts

After 12 sell-out seasons, Reallife Theatre Company returns to its Joshua Brooks pub theatre site in Manchester this week with JB Shorts 13

MTA winner comes 'home'

Best New Musical of 2014, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, returns to Manchester Opera House from May 20-30 – the theatre where it premiered last year and where it won a Manchester Theatre Award for Katherine Kingsley

Spring Reign at the Lowry

Benedict Power Productions perform Spring Reign at The Lowry on May 19

Word is out for So It Goes

So It Goes, a true story of love and loss that was an Edinburgh Fringe 2014 sell-out theatre hit comes to the Lowry in Salford on May 15

Flare lights up the world

The Manchester-based Flare15 festival has been inundated with 270 applications from 47 different countries in response to its open-call for submissions, more than double the 121 applications it received for its first festival in 2011

Date with Gary for Calendar Girls

Gary Barlow and Tim Firth are the creators of the new musical, The Girls, based on the true story, the film and award-winning play Calendar Girls, which will be given its world premiere at The Lowry in Salford and the Grand Theatre, Leeds next year

Buxton Festival 2015

Watch out for women in politics! That is the key to the 2015 Buxton Festival, according to Artistic Director Stephen Barlow

Curious set for Salford return

The National Theatre’s production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time will return to The Lowry in November

Brand new shows for Contact

Summer season 2015 at Contact in Manchester includes a run of brand new performances produced and commissioned by the venue, working with national partners

Lowry keeps Five Feet in Front

Edinburgh Fringe favourites, The Letter Room, have joined forces with The Lowry on its latest production, Five Feet in Front

Anna Karenina opens at Exchange

Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre launches its new season with Olivier-nominated Ellen McDougall directing Jo Clifford’s stripped-back adaptation of Tolstoy’s classic novel Anna Karenina

Mamma's happy returns

Mamma Mia! returns to the Palace Theatre, Manchester in 2016

Last Dance for Manchester

Vertigo Theatre Productions in Manchester are staging Last Dance

Writers in the frame

An exhibition of new photographs by Simon Annand of some of Britain’s leading playwrights will open at the Royal Exchange in Manchester in April, to mark the 10th anniversary of The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting

Manchester's International Festival line-up

Manchester International Festival has this year lined up world premieres, unique concerts and one-off events, and a number of free attractions

Hyde and seeking new work

The 24 Hour Plays at Hyde Festival Theatre in September is a one-day event that brings together 24 actors from both amateur and professional theatre

Panto date for Ted Robbins

Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs comes to Stockport Plaza from December 4 to January 10

Mack, Mabel and Michael Ball

Direct from its premiere at Chichester Festival Theatre, a major new production of classic Broadway musical Mack & Mabel will embark on a UK & Ireland Tour in Autumn 2015, starring double Oliver award-winning Michael Ball as Mack Sennett and will be at Manchester Opera House, October 12-24

Ring Cycle for Lowry next year

Opera North’s highly-anticipated full performances of The Ring Cycle: Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen will come to Salford’s Lowry arts centre from June 13-18 next year

A created for MIF

Commissioned by Manchester International Festival, National Theatre and the Théâtre du Châtelet wonder

Christmas musical for Manchester

Alexandra Burke will reprise her West End starring role when the hit musical The Bodyguard comes to the Palace Theatre Manchester next December


Latest reviews

Swanhunter: Rebecca Afonwy-Jones, Matthew Hargreaves, Suzanne Shakespeare, Christopher Diffey 
Richard Davenport/Opera North The Spalding Suite
 Ellie Simpson
Louise Olley (l) and Anna Campkin with the cast
Darren Bell Poster for Dragged Up
John Catterall and David Crellin having a Coalition Nightmare
Tom Hibberd as Shmuel
Richard Gibbons Charlie Brooks, Sam Jackson and Thomas Law
Glenn Carter and the company of Jesus Christ Superstar
Pamela Raith Image for The Lady’s Not for Walking Like an Egyptian
Field and McGlynn


Jonathan Dove and Alasdair Middleton
Opera North and The Wrong Crowd at The Lowry
(reviewer: Robert Beale)

The Spalding Suite

Inua Ellams
Fuel Theatre at The Contact Theatre, Manchester
(reviewer: David Cunningham)

Shooting with Light

Grace Chapman, Sophie Cullen, Nathan Parkinson, Ellie Simpson, Julian Spooner and Kate Stanley
Idle Motion - Grace Chapman, Sophie Cullen, Ellie Simpson and Kate Stanley at The Lowry, Salford
(reviewer: David Cunningham)

Dragged Up

Stevie Helps
Paul Kenney for New Live theatre at The Eagle Inn Theatre, Salford
(reviewer: David Cunningham)

JB Shorts 13

Various writers
Reallife Theatre Comapny at Joshua Brooks, Manchester
(reviewer: David Upton)

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

From the book by John Boyne, adapted by Angus Jackson
Children's Touring Partnership at The Lowry
(reviewer: David Chadderton)

Beautiful Thing

Jonathan Harvey
Nottingham Playhouse, Curve Theatre with Tom O’Connell for QNQ at The Lowry, Salford
(reviewer: David Cunningham)

Jesus Christ Superstar

Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber
Bill Kenwright at Palace Theatre
(reviewer: Alan Hulme)

Youth panel reviews


Jackie Kay and Royal Exchange Theatre Young Company
Royal Exchange Theatre Young Company at Royal Exchange Studio
(reviewer: Lizz Clark)


Devised by Contact Young Actors Company and Aqueous Humour
Contact Young Actors Company at Contact Theatre
(reviewer: Lizz Clark)

The Last Word

Christina Maiden
Oldham Coliseum Theatre Learning and Engagement at Oldham Coliseum
(reviewer: Lizz Clark)


Francesca Waite
The Lowry Young Actors Company at The Lowry
(reviewer: Georgina Wells)

The Wardrobe

Sam Holcroft
Lowry Young Actors Company at The Lowry
(reviewer: Evie Tucker)

A Letter to Lacey

Catherine Johnson
Lowry Young Actors Company at The Lowry
(reviewer: Evie Tucker)

Latest articles

Forthcoming Attractions: The Lowry Showcase

Not content with attracting productions to its theatres The Lowry is also playing an active role in their development. A recent Showcase gave companies the chance to pitch their proposals to potential patrons.

David Cunningham

The Film’s The Thing: Hamlet on Film

The film of the Royal Exchange’s recent sell-out run of ‘Hamlet’ is something different. A stage to screen version of a classic that is not content to simply reproduce the stage version but aspires to be a film in its own right

David Cunningham

John, I'm not only dancing

"I have probably a fatal attraction towards trying to talk about the things other people don’t want to speak about," says DV8"s artistic director Lloyd Newson about his company's new show John, opening at The Lowry. 

Kevin Bourke

YEN for adventure

There’s surely little doubt that the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting has changed - and very much for the better - the world of new writing for the theatre. Anna Jordan, who won the Bruntwood Prize in 2013 and whose winning play YEN currently has its World Premiere at the Royal Exchange’s Studio, says it has changed her whole world.

Kevin Bourke

Fringe On Film

Some of the best of this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe is coming to a cinema near you.

Kevin Bourke

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