Manchester Theatre Awards

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

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?

It's a large-scale public celebration of Manchester that sees local people walking a specially created runway in Piccadilly Gardens for audiences of thousands both live and online; followed by Manchester music legends New Order performing at Old Granada Studios in an environment designed by  artist Liam Gillick.

 MIF continues until July 16 and features 25 new commissions and special events including:

True Faith, a major exhibition exploring the legacy of Joy Division and New Order

Fatherland, a new show created by Simon Stephens, Karl Hyde and Scott Graham

Party Skills for the End of the World, apocalyptic theatre from Shunt’s Nigel & Louise

Jane Horrocks’ Cotton Panic!, the story of Manchester’s cotton famine

A rare Thomas Ostermeier world premiere outside Berlin, Returning to Reims

Yael Bartana’s What if Women Ruled the World?, directed by Vicky Featherstone

A celebration of Manchester hero Friedrich Engels by artist Phil Collins

New work from double Oscar-winning director and activist Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy

Specially-commissioned music for public places with Music for a Busy City

Themes of migration explored by artists including Samson Young and Susan Hefuna

One-off gigs from artists including Sampha, Arcade Fire, Bonobo, Ride

MIF’s first game commission from Portland-based designer Nina Freeman

Sufi stars Sanam Marvi and Harshdeep Kaur performing together for the first time

Refit of MIF’s hub Festival Square by designers Paloma Gormley & Nick Henninger

So far more than 4000 local people have participated directly in MIF17, including around 500 taking part in MIF commissions.

Details: www.mif.co.uk

David Upton

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.

All their favourites songs feature, such as: Mrs Robinson, The Boxer, The Sound of Silence, Cecilia, Feelin’ Groovy, Homeward Bound, Bridge Over Troubled Waters and many more.

Details: www.thelowry.com

David Upton

Sophie's Branded an alien

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

Branded is the follow up to last year’s debut On Record for which she garnered a Chortle Best Newcomer nomination. The show went on to complete a hugely successful nationwide tour.

Sophie has had a lifetime of being branded by others. Branded by her unusual childhood with a heroin addict mother who still can’t even boil an egg, branded by her working class background, by her gender, her fearless ambition, even by her unapologetic 'Northerness’.

In this new hour, she explains why she feels like a well-travelled alien.

Details: www.contactmcr.com

David Upton

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.

Gutted is also at this year’s Edinburgh Festival, August 2-13. 


Liz Richardson shares her real life experiences of living as a 20-something with ulcerative colitis. A shameless tale of love, laughter and lavatories, it becomes a pastiche of the many people Liz has met on her journey, from hospital staff to complete strangers, patients to friends.

Gutted wasfirst seen at HOME in May 2016, and is an engaging investigation into how we think about illness and the boundaries created.

Details: info@homemcr.org

David Upton

Hope Mill attractions

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

Performed in complete darkness, The True History of the Tragic Life and Triumphant Death of Julia Pastrana, the Ugliest Woman in the World, is a play that tells the true story of a 19th Century South American Indian who was sold by her family. From July 3-9.

As part of Greater Manchester Fringe Festival LS Theatre Productions presents The Salford Belles, July 17-22. Living on the breadline in the backstreets of Salford was never destined to be glamorous but after a lifetime of cooking, cleaning, caring and conspiring, Queenie, Mary and Martha are at their wits end.

Details: www.hopemilltheatre.co.uk

 

David Upton

Choose between Straight & Queer

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

The show comes in two forms, a ‘Straight’ performance (where males play males and females play females) and a ‘Queer’ performance (where males play females, and females play males).

When a group of students go camping, they’re pretty sure that they’re in for a nice, relaxing break. It’s a camping trip, right, what could possible go wrong? But when Tom discovers Nick lying dead in the middle of the camp-site, the trip takes a turn that none of them could have expected.

Details: www.boxedintheatre.com/wood 

David Upton

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.

Joining the previously announced Alexandra Burke as ‘Deloris Van Cartier’ will be Joanna Francis as ‘Michelle’, Joe Vetch as ‘Eddie’, Karen Mann as ‘Mother Superior’ and Liz Kitchen as ‘Sister Mary Lazarus’. At matinee performances, ‘Deloris’ will be played by Joanna Francis.

Based on the movie starring Whoopi Goldberg and Maggie Smith, Sister Act tells the story of a disco diva whose life takes a surprising turn when she witnesses a murder. Under protective custody she is hidden in the one place she won’t be found – a convent!

Details: www.atgtickets.com/manchester

David Upton

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.

Bringing 25 multi-disciplinary artists of local and national acclaim, SPARK celebrates their stories and achievements and aims to raise visibility and positive representation of the community.

Details: www.sparkfestival.co.uk

David Upton

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.

The Amleida Theatre's production will open in the West End before visiting three venues. 

The production will visit  The Lowry from April 17-21.

Schiller's political tragedy takes audiences behind the scenes of some of British history's most crucial days. Playing both Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart, Juliet Stevenson and Lia Williams trade the play's central roles, decided at each performance by the toss of a coin.

Details: www.thelowry.com

David Upton

Parked up at 53Two

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

It’s a play about one of the most controversial kings of England, Richard III. But add a drop of Monty Python, a dash of Blackadder and a sprinkle of Spike Milligan and you have a new comedy.

Details: www.greatermanchesterfringe.co.uk

David Upton

Three new monologues for Octagon

The winning monologues of the Octagon Theatre Bolton’s first National Prize, Blue, Being Amazing, and Nobody Can Never Get Us Back will be performed by three actors, including Preston’s Tupele Dorgu.

Selected from hundreds of submissions they are poignant, moving, and hopeful in equal measure.

Returning after starring as the feisty Rita in Educating Rita, Jessica Baglow will be taking on the role of Amber in Charlotte Josephine’s Blue.

After his role of the young farmer Gilbert in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Michael Peavoy returns to the Octagon to perform in Ian Townsend’s Being Amazing as Leon.

Tupele, who played Kelly Crabtree in Coronation Street and recently starred as Lori Fletcher in BBC’s The Coroner, will be making her Octagon debut as Yolanda in Shauna Mackay's Nobody Can Never Get Us Back.

These brand new monologues will be being performed from June 21 to July 8 alongside the Octagon’s main auditorium production of Alan Bennett’s legendary Talking Heads.

Details: www.octagonbolton.co.uk

David Upton

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..

Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic mystery is bought to life in Northern Rep’s new production, which launches their intimate Manchester city centre performance space, The Reading Room.

This inventive comedy mystery features two actors playing every role in two hours as Holmes and his sidekick Dr Watson journey from the streets of London to the Devonshire Moors.

 Thomas Moore, artistic director says: “We've been working hard over the past few months converting a secret corner of The Great Northern Warehouse into an intimate 30 seat theatre.

Details: www.northernrep.co.uk/thebaskervilles

David Upton

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.

Taylor, stars as André in a French drama phenomena that has been performed internationally to great acclaim.

André is a charming elderly gentleman who once had a glittering career as a tap dancer. He lives with his daughter Anne and her husband Antoine in a chic Parisian apartment. Or was he once an engineer whose daughter Anne moved to London with her new partner Pierre? The trouble is, he can’t quite remember, and he can’t find his watch…

It’s a powerful and moving black comedy about the devastating impact of dementia on one man and the people in his life.

The Father runs to July 1 and at Harrogate Theatre from July 4-8.

Details: www.coliseum.org.uk

David Upton

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.

The tour has taken over £10million since it hit the road last August and more dates have been added, including return visits to Manchester, Blackpool and Liverpool.

It stars Katie Eccles as Baby Houseman and Lewis Griffiths as dance instructor Johnny Castle.

Details: www.atgtickets.com/manchester

David Upton

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.

Each of the original plays will be judged anonymously by a team of readers with the final 10 plays announced on October 24  before being read and debated by a panel of industry figures. The total prize fund of £40,000 will be awarded to four winners at a ceremony at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester on November 13.

David Upton

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.

Refract:17 brings together a curated programme that includes performances inside a giant bird’s nest and inspirational theatre on a trampoline, thought-provoking and intimate shows inside a static caravan and interactive gaming on a mega scale.

Complementing the theatre offering is a series of genre-defining live music gigs from acclaimed artists and festival favourites.

Details: www.watersideartscentre.co.uk

David Upton

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.  

They can join in and enjoy features from the TV series along with brand new songs by BAFTA award-winning composer, Mani Svavarsson.

Teletubbies Live has been created and adapted for the stage by Richard Lewis, who has also created and directed the hugely successful Peppa Pig Live shows.

Featuring full-sized Teletubbies characters, bright colours, puppetry, movement, songs and actions, Teletubbies Live introduces young children to the fun and magic of theatre.

Details: www.Teletubbieslive.com

David Upton

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’.

Over the next 12 months he will receive a bespoke package of support as part of The Lowry’s award-winning Developed With The Lowry scheme in Salford. This will include funding and support for professional development that extends well beyond the life of this project.

Manchester based spoken word performer Fat Roland said; “I’ll be celebrating my 45th birthday next year. As a result, I’m looking forward to developing a new show themed on 45rpm records and metaphors around music’s digital coming of age for Week 53 Festival.

David Upton

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.

It’s a celebration of the fair sex performed by 16 of Thailand’s most alluring Lady Boys at the specially created  Thai Pavilion, thgis time pitched near Deansgate Station.

The entertainment never lets up as the glitz of Las Vegas meets the traditions of classic British music hall. With more songs and big-scale musical production numbers than you could pout a painted lip at, the Lady Boys pay tribute to a host of stars ranging from Beyonce,  Rhianna, Nikki Minage, and Fifth Harmony to Gloria Gaynor, Boy George, Pitbull, Tom Jones and Queen Latifah.

All performed by male Thai nationals...... apart from Trevor who comes from Lancashire and is known to audiences up and down the country as “the little guy.”

Details: www.ladyboysofbangkok.co.uk

David Upton

RNCM auditions

Open Mic UK will be holding music competition auditions on Sunday August 20 at The Royal Northern College of Music Studio 4, in Oxford Road, Manchester.

Auditions will be hosted at 14 regions across the UK and the competition will be searching to find the UK’s best singers, singer songwriters, rappers and vocal groups.

It’s a chance for aspiring singers and musicians to perform to music industry judges who are at every stage of the music competition from the auditions to the Grand Final. Judges in the past have included representatives from three major record labels, festival organisers, national radio DJs, regional press and BBC Introducing.

Details: www.openmicuk.co.uk

David Upton

Elf casting at Lowry

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

TV and West End star Ben Forster will reprise the key role of Buddy the Elf, a role which he originated in the UK première in 2014 in Plymouth and continued to perform throughout the 2015 Christmas run in the West End. 

Other confirmed cast members include Joe McGann as Walter and Jessica Martin as Emily Hobbs, roles they both performed during the London run.

Details: www.thelowry.com

David Upton

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.

It will open at Curve on  September 16, before coming to Manchester Palace Theatre from October 23 – November 4.

Mac made it to the final of BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing and this month stars as Gabey in On The Town at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. His other musical theatre credits include Wicked and Legally Blonde.

Details: www.atgtickets.com/manchester

David Upton

Fox on the run in Salford

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

 Greg Barnett plays Mr Fox, with Richard Atwill (Rat/Bean), Raphael Bushay (Badger/Boggis), Jade Croot (Kit), Sandy Foster (Rabbit), Lillie Flynn (Mrs Fox), Gruffudd Glyn (Mole/Bunce), Kelly Jackson (Mouse), and Edward Hole and Tanya Shields completing the ensemble, alongside actor-musicians, Patrick Burbridge, Anna Fordham and Richie Hart.

A juicy tale of greed, pride and the power of friendship, this flagship production for the Roald Dahl centenary celebrations, promises live music and songs for the whole family.

Details: www.thelowry.com

David Upton

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.

Based on the film by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, and the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale with music by Bernard Herrmann it was an instant crowdpleaser.

The role of Victoria Page, the girl who dreams of being a great dancer, immortalised on screen by Moira Shearer, has been created by New Adventures star, Ashley Shaw. Rising star and fellow Aurora, Cordelia Braithwaite, also plays the role, along with Sleeping Beauty favourite Katrina Lyndon in her principal role debut (at certain performances).

Detaills: www.thelowry.com

David Upton

Musical revival premieres in city

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

Pippin is the latest collaboration between Hope Mill Theatre and Aria Entertainment and will run from  August 25 to  September 23 in the 150-seater Ancoats venue.

It tells the story of a young prince, the heir to a throne, and his journey to find meaning to life - only to discover true happiness is more complicated than he thought.

Details: www.hopemilltheatre.co.uk

David Upton

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.

The unique commission includes a bespoke two-year residency with training, shadowing opportunities, practical R&D and mentoring from HOME’s creative team alongside international industry professionals.

David Upton

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.

Young, reprises his Olivier Award-nominated performance as the enigmatic Emcee alongside musician and presenter Louise Redknapp, who makes her stage debut as Sally Bowles in Rufus Norris’s multi-award winning production.  

Details: www.thelowry.com

David Upton

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.

Featuring the music of Dusty Springfield, with a book by Warner Brown and directed and choreographed by Craig Revel Horwood, Son of a Preacher Man embarks on a national tour starting at Bromley’s Churchill Theatre from September 4. It will be at Manchester Palace Theatre from September 26-30.

Details: www.atgtickets.com/manchester

David Upton

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.

It’s a coming of age story of two best friends growing up in Lancashire. The story jumps from the girls time together at high school to the present day as they both graft full time at their local supermarket, featuring big musical numbers, multiple comic characters and top bargains in the freezer aisle.

Details: www.kingsarmssalford.com

David Upton

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.

To open artistic director Sarah Frankcom puts Manchester centre stage as she redefines Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize winning story of ordinary people for our city today. Our Town is a celebration of community and humanity and runs from Sept 14 –Oct 14 in the main theatre.  

Details: www.royalexchange.co.uk/bookonline

David Upton

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.

To coincide with the Octagon’s major redevelopment, the final two productions are going to be off site. Summer Holiday will see audiences joining professional actors on a bus for a journey that will take them from Bolton’s new travel interchange, through the town centre, to the newly-renovated Albert Halls. Following this, Queen’s Park will be transformed for the Octagon’s first ever full-scale park show, Gulliver’s Travels. 

Details: www.octagonbolton.co.uk

David Upton

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.

In MadBeth, July 9-12 at the King's Arms Salford, Beth (Chloe McLaughlin) is just one step away from fame as a friend Donna Duncan, the Queen of reality television. Rather than battling over a kingship, they want the most likes and followers.
Following the sold out run of Twelfth Night at last year's Manchester Fringe Festival, Lowhurst Productions return with Much Ado About Nothing at Salford Arts Theatre, July 26-27.
This production features talent drawn from the Royal Exchange and Royal Northern College of Music youth programmes, as well as Xvarian and Loretto Colleges - and Shakespeare's iconic characters meet on Tinder.
Armed with a ukulele, Edward Day is bringing Super Hamlet 64: Parody DLC to the King's Arms in Salford, July 24-26.
Details: www.greatermanchesterfringe.co.uk

David Upton

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.

It’s a play with songs about the life and music of 1930s gay cabaret sensation Suzy Solidor, played by Jessica Walker. It’s produced by Watershed Productions in association with the Royal Exchange. Watershed is also producing The True History of the Tragic Life and Triumphant Death of Julia Pastrana, the Ugliest Woman in the World, July 3-9, at Hope Mill.
Details: www.greatermanchesterfringe.co.uk

David Upton

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. 

The line-up includes stage and TV actor Robert Daws , best known for the hit series The Royal, Outside Edge and Roger Roger opposite Caroline Langrishe who starred in Lovejoy, Holby City and Judge John Deed.
Details: www.thelowry.com

David Upton

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.

St Bernadette’s School have decided to mount a musical version of the traditional Christmas entertainment where teacher Mr Maddens and his assistant Mr Poppy struggle with children and animals.
It’s written and directed by Debbie Isitt with music and lyrics by Nicky Ager and Debbie and is based on the film series franchise.

Details: www.atgtickets.com

David Upton

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.

The wartime gay love story will run at Charing Cross Theatre from July 3 to August 19.

Based on the true, hidden history of gay soldiers it focuses on the life of Stu, a scared Midwestern youngster called up to serve in the forces in 1943 who becomes a reporter for Yank Magazine, the journal ‘for and by the servicemen’.

Details: www.charingcrosstheatre.co.uk

David Upton

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

 Narcissist in the Mirror is a one-woman show, written and performed by Rosie wearing just a dressing gown to examine her character’s flaws and faults.
It’s directed by Rosie’s mum Sue Jenkins, who played Jackie Corkhill in Brookside and Gloria Todd in Coronation Street.
And if you think the Fleeshman name sounds familiar, her brother is Richard Fleeshman, who played Rosie Webster’s boyfriend Craig Harris in Coronation Street. Her dad David Fleeshman is also an award-winning actor and director, who has appeared in Boys From The Black Stuff, Edge of Darkness, Silent Witness - and Coronation Street

Meanwhile Kim Kardashian’s love life has been set to music by classical composer Mozart to create a satirical musical called The Marriage of Kim K – at 53two, as part of the sixth Greater Manchester Fringe in July.
And drama comes to Stockport station with the debut of The Suitcase, The Beggar and The Wind, as part of Greater Manchester Fringe. Using an old disused room, Gare Du Nord Theatre will transport audiences back to the golden age of the railways.

Details: www.greatermanchesterfringe.co.uk

David Upton

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.

Winner of 85 international awards, including 16 for Best Musical, the RSC’s touring production will open at Leicester Curve, and will also visit Dublin, Sunderland, Milton Keynes, Birmingham and Cardiff with further dates and locations to be announced.
The West End production continues at the Cambridge Theatre, currently booking until December 17 as well as its tours in Australia, New Zealand and North America.
Details: www.atgtickets.com/venues/palace-theatre-manchester

David Upton

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.

It tells the story of the last days of the Vietnam War, when 17-year-old Kim is forced to work in a Saigon bar run by a notorious character known as the Engineer. There she meets and falls in love with an American GI named Chris but they are torn apart by the fall of Saigon. Since its London premiere in 1989, Cameron Mackintosh’s production has become one of the most successful musicals in history.

Details: www.atgtickets.com/venues/palace-theatre-manchester/

David Upton

City shows FLARE again

The deadline is up, and there have been hundreds of artist submissions and counting for FLARE17!

Artists originating from more than 30 countries including Iran, the US, Lebanon, Australia, Russia, Egypt, Brazil, Serbia, Iceland, Georgia and Mexico will be taking part in the Manchester festival hosted by Home, Contact, Royal Exchange Theatre, The Lowry and the Martin Harris Centre.

FLARE17 runs July 4-8, alongside the Manchester International Festival.

David Upton

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.

The Band will be played by AJ Bentley, Nick Carsberg, Yazdan Qafouri Isfahani, Curtis T Johns and Sario Watanabe-Soloman, who, as Five to Five, won BBC’s recent Let It Shine. Playing the parts of Rachel and Young Rachel will be Rachel Lumberg and Faye Christall respectively.  Further casting is to be announced.
Detaills: www.thebandmusical.com

David Upton

Summer Wizard for Stockport

Regal Entertainments host The Wizard of Oz at Stockport Plaza this summer from August 7-12.

The show played at St Helens Theatre Royal last October and former Eastenders’ actress Cheryl Fergison will return to play The Wicked Witch of the West while Charlotte Gallagher returns to the role of Dorothy.
Cheryl is certainly no stranger to pantomime, having also appeared in Cinderella, Jack & The Beanstalk and Beauty and the Beast.
Details: www.stockportplaza.co.uk

David Upton

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.

Bill Cronshaw, who grew up in Openshaw and Wythenshawe, opted for Manchester over Edinburgh to premiere Sunshine and Showers.
The play features three characters and ventriloquist dummies Charlie and Archie Andrews - star of the 1950s television show Educating Archie with Peter Brough.
Bill, who has his own theatre company called Dreamshed, specialises in staging shows at small venues.
Details: www.dreamshedtheatre.co.uk

David Upton

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.

Boris - The Musical, devised in nine weeks post-referendum, will be making its Greater Manchester Fringe debut at Z-Arts in Hulme, July 27-29, before it goes to Edinburgh.
Part biography, part farce, part songtastic satire, Boris is the 5 star musical for people who don't like musicals. It features punk, pop, gospel and even a tango called Me and My Johnson.
 The deadline for writers, theatre companies and performers to register their shows and get in the A4 colour brochure is March 31.
Details: www.greatermanchesterfringe.co.uk

David Upton

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.

A new co-production with Manchester International Festival and Improbable, the show premieres at MIF in July, before travelling to Edinburgh as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe, then to Glasgow for performances in Scottish Opera’s Production Studios.
The show reinvents operatic language and traditions for children at an age when their minds are open to new sounds, images and experiences. Babies are free to explore during the performance, and to interact with the singers, musicians - and each other.
Details: www.scottishopera.org.uk

David Upton

Shrek set for a giant return

Shrek The Musical will be returning to Manchester next January.

Nigel Harman will return as director, having made his directorial debut on the first UK and Ireland Tour. Harman originated the role of Lord Farquaad in the West End production, winning an Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical.
Casting information will be announced in due course.
Details: www.atgtickets.com/manchester

David Upton

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.

One of the most successful productions in the venue’s history, Wicked was previously seen by almost 150,000 people during its engagement from September – November 2013.
Details: www.atgtickets.com/manchester

David Upton

War Horse re-mounted in 2018

War Horse, the National Theatre’s cash cow, will return to The Lowry in 2018.

Speaking at a special In Conversation event with The Lowry’s chief executive, Julia Fawcett OBE, NT artistic director Rufus Norris confirmed the acclaimed production will run at the Salford arts centre from June 13-30.
The dates will coincide with the national centenary commemorations of the end of the First World War.
These follow two previous runs at The Lowry – the first of which, in 2013, was the most popular run of any show in the venue’s history.
Details: www.thelowry.com

David Upton