Manchester Theatre Awards

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

News: 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.

Niamh Cusack led the cast of Ibsen’s intense drama, Ghosts at HOME with an emotional realism that was heart-wrenching and expertly timed. 

Kathryn Hunter continued to challenge theatrical boundaries in The Emperor at HOME. Taking on an astounding variety of highly-individual characterisations, with little or no costume change, she proves to be a real-life shape-shifter.

Kaisa Hammarlund’s performance as Charity Hope Valentine in the Royal Exchange’s Christmas show, Sweet Charity sparkled with a star quality that had the audience mesmerised.

We turn to the Royal Exchange again for our winner. It takes a special talent to give the central character, Vivian Bearing the life she deserves in Wit. Casting Julie Hesmondhalgh was a triumph. It felt like one of those career-defining moments which will no doubt be as memorable for all who saw her performance, as her Hayley Cropper character was for fans of Coronation Street.

Carmel Thomason
17 March 2017