News: THE FINAL CURTAIN
The curtain has been rung down on the annual Manchester Theatre Awards.
The largest theatrical prize-giving outside London has been a major fixture on the North West entertainment calendar since 1981 and a shop window for the city’s burgeoning cultural appeal.
For the past eight years a panel of some of the most experienced critics in the region continued the initiative first created by the Manchester Evening News.
The Manchester Theatre Awards website carried the critics’ reviews of productions, along with news, what’s on listings and occasional features. Every year the panel then chose winners in a score or more categories, and trophies were presented at a red carpet event held in the city’s various venues.
This year’s occasion, held at the Lowry’s Quays Theatre, saw Sheridan Smith, Danny Mac and Janet Suzman among the winners at an event hosted by comedian Justin Moorhouse.
HOME led the way with five awards, with the rest of the honours largely even among the area’s other venues, including two for Oldham Coliseum, two for the Royal Exchange Theatre and other awards to The Lowry, Palace and Opera House, Hope Mill Theatre, Contact, Royal Northern College of Music and Greater Manchester Fringe festival.
After discussions between the awards panel and several of the venues – whose advertising on the MTA website provided much of the income to fund the trophies and other running costs – it has been decided to end the event.
A spokesman for the awards panel said: “We are naturally disappointed that the city’s annual ‘Oscars’ for its theatrical output – everything from major venues to fringe and studio-sized productions – will no longer enjoy an annual ‘prize-giving’.
“From the outset we received enthusiastic support from the likes of theatrical impresarios such as Sir Cameron Mackintosh and Bill Kenwright, and many stars – whether firmly established or fast-rising – graced the annual occasion either as recipients or as on-stage presenters.
“As a result, leading regional theatres, as well as quite a few visiting performers and companies, boast MTA trophies, but we are particularly proud to have highlighted some of the great work that goes on in Manchester’s thriving fringe theatre scene and, through our separate youth panel, the talent coming out of some of the region’s youth theatre groups.
“We thank the theatres for their generous support in the past and to the panellists and youth panellists for all the time and effort they have given voluntarily in order to make the awards such a success.”
A spokesperson for the theatres involved said: "The Manchester Theatre Awards has been a long-standing institution for the Greater Manchester region and it has recognised and celebrated the talent of actors, directors, writers, dancers, musicians and theatre makers from across the country. The team behind the Awards have been a devoted panel, and we thank them for their dedication to the theatre and their commitment to seeing as much work across as many venues as possible. We wish them luck in all their future ventures and hope that Manchester finds a way to continue to celebrate the richness and diversity of theatre practice in Manchester and our ambitious audiences across the city and beyond."
Meanwhile it is planned to continue the reviews website in a revised form – watch this space!
For any further information contact Alan Hulme on 07941 227175
07 September 2018