Manchester Theatre Awards

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

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The Producers

Royal Exchange Manchester
30 November 2018 to 26 January 2019

Manchester Royal Exchange’s seasonal production of The Producers is based on Mel Brooks’ wickedly funny, outrageous love letter to the Broadway musical  the show aims to build upon the Exchange’s reputation for reinventing celebrated musicals for its unique in-the-round theatre.

The Producers features show-stopping songs such as Springtime for Hitler and When You Got It Flaunt It. 

Theatre Producer Max Bialystock has a string of failures in his wake. But his downtrodden accountant Leo Bloom thinks that could be a good thing, a producer could make more money with a dud than a hit. They set out to find the worst script, the worst director and the worst actors in the industry. What could possibly go wrong? 



David Upton

The Rocky Horror Show

Opera House, Manchester
09 January 2019 to 26 January 2019

Coronation Street legend Beverley Callard stars as The Narrator for the Manchester tour dates of The Rocky Horror Show which opens at Manchester Opera House.

The revival of the musical will also include West End star Stephen Webb as Frank, Strictly Come Dancing Champion Joanne Clifton as Janet, A1’s Ben Adams as Brad and Kristian Lavercombe will be reprising his role as Riff Raff, following more than 1300 performances around the world.

The show features all of the musical numbers which have made Rocky Horror a huge hit for more than four decades, including Sweet Transvestite, Science Fiction/Double Feature, Dammit Janet and, of course, timeless floor-filler, The Time-Warp.

Since it first opened in London in June 1973 at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show has been performed worldwide for 46 years in more than 30 countries and translated into more than 20 languages. This new production returns for a 12 month UK tour which started at Theatre Royal Brighton last month.

The stage show famously combines science-fiction, horror, comedy and music while encouraging audience participation by way of outrageous fancy dress.

Many stars including Russell Crowe, Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Jerry Springer, Jason Donovan and Meatloaf have appeared in The Rocky Horror Show in the past.


David Upton

PUSH Festival

HOME Manchester
11 January 2019 to 26 January 2019

HOME’S annual PUSH festival in Manchester runs until January 26.

It has become one of the region’s key arts festivals and events, showcasing a range of creative talent in north west England.

As well as presenting new performances - including five commissioned especially for the festival - screenings, and exhibitions, PUSH features a series of workshops and informal seminars.

Tomorrow’s opening night party has extracts from selected performances including a special dance and spoken word performance of The House of Ghetto and Gemma Parker’s The Hidden Pin Up, followed by a set from electronica DJ Andrew James Brooks, playing a mix of music inspired by some of the themes explored in the festival.

The five new works are Cuts of the Cloth, in which a Muslim woman has been archived in a museum in the not-too-distant future; Learning to Swim on an Ironing Board, a show about getting better at ‘not getting better’; Dance Away the Spiders, a physical piece presented by Sheba Arts; Unpacking, an exhibition of oil paintings shedding light on migration, family and identity; and Yes Man, a download of a choral work on gender identities, home and belonging.

Other highlights include three Propel scratch performances in HOME’s Theatre 1 space, and a large number of workshops and discussions for creative professionals, including a session with documentary film-maker Aaron Dunleavy, a talk by photographer Paul Herrmann from Redeye Photographers’ Network and a talk from actor and director Cheryl Martin including an extract from her new show One Woman.

The events programme provides ideal networking opportunities.


David Upton

The Band

The Lowry, Salford
16 January 2019 to 26 January 2019

The Band returns to the region, after its premiere in Manchester two years ago.
It’s at the Lowry from next Wednesday until January 26 and features the music of Take That.

It’s written by the Olivier Award winning writer Tim Firth, and stars AJ Bentley, Nick Carsberg, Curtis T Johns, Yazdan Qafouri and Sario Solomon as The Band – winners from BBC talent hunt Let It Shine.

Alongside them are Rachel Lumberg as Rachel, Alison Fitzjohn as Claire, Emily Joyce as Heather, Jayne McKenna as Zoe, , Faye Christall as Young Rachel, Katy Clayton as Young Heather, Rachelle Diedericks as Debbie, Sarah Kate Howarth as Young Claire, Lauren Jacobs as Young Zoe, Martin Miller as Jeff and Andy Williams as Dave.
The music includes Never Forget, Back for Good, A Million Love Songs, Greatest Day, The Flood, Relight My Fire, Shine and Rule the World.


David Upton

Club Mex

Hope Mill Theatre Manchester
17 January 2019 to 10 February 2019

Club Mex, a part-immersive, part-musical clubbing experience, will get its world premiere at the Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester, from January 17 - February 10.

It’s the second new musical from Global Musicals, the producers of current West End production, Six by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, about the six wives of Henry VIII, at the Arts Theatre.

In Club Mex audiences are on the dancefloor in the heart of the action, joining Mel and her two best mates as they experience the highs, lows and hangovers of Cancun in a coming-of-age comedy.

As well as traditional casting, producers are offering digital open auditions for Club Mex. Applications will be via Instagram, with further details on Club Mex’s website:


David Upton

Coming up

The Rise and Fall of Little Voice

Albert Halls, Bolton
24 January 2019 to 02 February 2019

Octagon Theatre Bolton continue their season of offsite shows in 2019 with a new production of Jim Cartwright’s Rise and Fall of Little Voice.

Originally written for the National Theatre in 1992, associate director Ben Occhipinti will direct the production in Bolton’s Albert Halls.

Little Voice escapes her dreary life through singing stunning impersonations of her favourite hits. In fear that her mother might blow a fuse, LV escapes in her attic room through her father’s old vinyl collection.

Katie Elin-Salt who performed as Little Voice in the Octagon 2012 production, returns to the role.

Mari, will be played by Sally George recently seen in the National Theatre’s People, Places & Things. Stage and screen actor Mark Moraghan (Emmerdale, Coronation Street) will play Mari’s opportunistic boyfriend, Ray.

Night Club owner Mr Boo, will be played by Ted Robbins and Sue Vincent will play Mari’s best friend Sadie. Akshay Gulati returns to the Octagon after East is East and The Family Way, in the role of kind hearted Billy.

The production will run from  January 24 –February 2. 


David Upton

Gypsy Queen

Moss Side Fire Station Boxing Club
27 January 2019

Unconventional love story Gypsy Queen returns to Manchester in January for a  one-offer date – but with a difference.

Set in the competitive world of boxing, Gypsy Queen is a tale of love and boxing in the most unusual circumstances. The cast are swapping treading the boards of the theatre for the canvas of an actual boxing ring for a site-specific performance on  January 27.

Moss Side Fire Station Boxing Club will host the play for two performances with the show being performed within the ropes of the boxing ring. There will be a family friendly performance at 3pm, followed by the full production at 7pm.

The immersive performances come just a week before Gypsy Queen embarks on a four-week UK tour. 

Gypsy Queen is the story of ‘Gorgeous’ George O’Connell, a bare-knuckle fighter from a traveller family, a hero to his people and a self-proclaimed Gypsy King. George enters the world of professional boxing which puts him on a collision course with his roots, his fears and his very identity.

In the opposite corner, Dane ‘The Pain’ Samson, the young pretender and son of a boxing legend. He is fighting his own battles that lead to a tragedy that neither could predict.

Gypsy Queen  explores LGBTQI visibility in sport, faith, sexuality, and the notion of masculinity. The two-hander production playing nine characters between them, has comedy, drama and physicality in equal measure.

Written by and starring Rob Ward, the production also features John Askew. It is directed by Adam Zane and produced by Max Emmerson.



David Upton

Trial by Laughter

The Lowry, Salford
29 January 2019 to 02 February 2019

After the success of The Wipers Times in the West End and across the country, Ian Hislop and Nick Newman take inspiration from real life events for their new play Trial by Laughter, based on their BBC Radio 4 drama.

Trial by Laughter is at The Lowry from January 29 until February 2.

In 1817 bookseller, publisher and satirist William Hone stood trial for parodying religion, the despotic government and the libidinous monarchy. The only crime he had committed was to be funny. In 2018, Hislop and Newman rediscover this hero of free speech and ask if just over 200 years later our press has any greater freedom.


David Upton

Jersey Boys

Palace Theatre
29 January 2019 to 16 February 2019

A further 12 dates have been announced for the second UK & Ireland tour of the Tony, Olivier and Grammy Award-winning musical Jersey Boys, including the Palace Theatre Manchester from Tuesday 29 January to Saturday 16 February 2019, taking the tour through to March 2019.

David Chadderton

A Different Way Home

Oldham Coliseum
31 January 2019 to 09 February 2019

Oldham Coliseum is presenting a revival of its hit 1998 production starring Roy Barraclough, A Different Way Home, early next year.

The Coliseum’s new production of Jimmie Chinn’s tragi-comedy will be designed by the same designer as the original production, Celia Perkins, will star the original director, Kenneth Alan Taylor, and be directed by BAFTA Award winning Noreen Kershaw.

It runs from January 31 – February 9.

Two monologues from a brother and sister tell a powerful story from two wildly different perspectives. Leslie, who has lived with his mother all his life, tells of the events leading up to her death. Feeling betrayed and rejected by her family, Maureen tells a different story of grief and isolation.


David Upton

Spring season

Royal Exchange Manchester
01 February 2019 to 30 June 2019

Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre have created a spring season of work that reflects the complexity of a 21st century city, from stories of industry and productivity to rivalry, family and community obligations.

In April artistic director Sarah Frankcom directs West Side Story with choreography from Aletta Collins. Inua Ellams’ Barber Shop Chronicles kicks off its UK tour and writers Tanika Gupta and James Yeatman reimagine key moments in Manchester’s unique journey in Hobson’s Choice and There Is A Light That Never Goes Out: Scenes From The Luddite Rebellion.


David Upton

Queer Contact Weekender

Various venues
01 February 2019 to 09 February 2019

The  Queer Contact Weekender, February 8-9, marks LGBT History Month 2019.

Breaking from  the tradition of a week-long festival, this year’s celebration will run as a compact weekender in various venues across Manchester, featuring some of the best-loved elements of the annual festival, concluding with the Manchester Vogue Ball.

As a trailblazer event, Bristol-based theatre company Ad Infinitum bring their latest hilarious and thought-provoking play, No Kids to The Lowry on February 1, exploring the social anxieties of same sex parenting.


David Upton

Mother Courage and her Children

Royal Exchange, Manchester
08 February 2019 to 02 March 2019

A new version of Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children, at the Royal Exchange in Manchester from February 8-March 2 is a co-production between Headlong and the Exchange.

Julie Hesmondhalgh returns to the stage in the title role and will be joined by a team of actors including Rose Ayling-Ellis, Simeon Blake-Hall, Hedydd Dylan, Conor Glean, Colm Gormley, Kevin McMonagle, Tachia Newall, Nick Pynn and Guy Rhys. 
Headlong associate director Amy Hodge directs this new adaptation by Anna Jordan. It exposes the absurdity of political conflict and the all-encompassing world of war and is brought bang-up to date. 

David Upton


Opera House, Manchester
09 February 2019 to 16 February 2019

Annie will embark on a UK tour opening at Manchester Opera House on February 9-16, 2019.

Set in 1930s New York during The Great Depression, brave young Annie is forced to live a life of misery and torment at Miss Hannigan’s orphanage. Determined to find her real parents, her luck changes when she is chosen to spend Christmas at the residence of famous billionaire, Oliver Warbucks. Spiteful Miss Hannigan has other ideas and hatches a plan to spoil Annie’s search…


David Upton


The Lowry, Salford
13 February 2019

Theatre companies Extant and Yellow Earth have joined forces to present an ambitious new play Flight coming to The Lowry in Salford on February 13.

It features four blind performers and is inspired by the tradition of the Japanese Goze - where blind female performers travelled around medieval Japan making a living from telling epic tales.

Moving between tradition and modernity Flight weaves together personal stories of themselves as artists from Japan, Nigeria, USA and Australia - a multi-media, story-telling circus production that combines aerial, music, narrative and creative audio description that uses new sound technology.


David Upton


The Lowry, Salford
15 February 2019 to 18 February 2019

Twirlywoos – as seen on CBeebies – will be brought to life on stage for the first time next year.

Toodloo, Great BigHoo, Chickedy, Chick and Peekaboo will set sail around the UK in a theatrical adventure, playing at The Lowry in Salford from February 15 – 18.

Featuring all the characters from the hit TV show, and with inventive puppetry, Twirlywoos Live! aims to be a laugh-out-loud treat for little ones.

It is recommended for ages 1+, with babes in arms welcome. The running time is 55 minutes with no interval.


David Upton

Take On Me

Broughton Leisure Centre, Salford
15 February 2019 to 17 February 2019

Dante or Die are on the road with a new staging of their 80s-inspired show Take On Me, offering an intimate insight into the goings on at a local leisure centre.

This unique production will tour to Broughton Leisure Centre, Salford from February 15-17.

Beauty and loneliness collide in Andrew Muir’s surreal play, seen through the lens of an everyday fitness and leisure centre. It follows a lonely woman at the gym for the first time and a lifeguard who has never saved anyone.


David Upton

Rough Crossing

The Lowry, Salford
18 February 2019 to 23 February 2019

Bill Kenwright presents the return of Rough Crossing by Academy, Tony and Olivier award-winning writer Tom Stoppard at the Lowry in Salford February 18-23.

The cast is led by John Partridge, winner of this year’s Celebrity Masterchef and best known as Christian Clarke in EastEnders.

Joining him is one of musical theatre’s upcoming stars, Olivier-award nominee Charlie Stemp.

They are joined by West-End star Issy van Randwyck (Fascinating Aïda), comedy TV favourite Matthew Cottle (Game On, The Windsors), Holby City’s Rob Ostlere and Simon Dutton who portrayed Simon Templar in The Saint.

Two famous but desperate playwrights are stuck in an ocean liner headed for New York, feverishly trying to rehearse their latest show before reaching land, and opening night. But they are constantly distracted by their delicate composer’s attempts to end it all, having overheard his lover confess her feelings to the leading man.

A typically Stoppardian string of absurd events.


David Upton

Les Miserables

Palace Theatre, Manchester
19 February 2019 to 30 March 2019

Killian Donnelly is to play Jean Valjean in the UK and Ireland tour of Les Misérables, arriving at Manchester Palace Theatre February 19 –March 30, 2019.

Donnelly is currently playing Valjean in the West End production. Prior to this he played the Charlie Price in Kinky Boots on Broadway, a role he originated at the Adelphi Theatre in the West End in 2015, for which he was nominated for an Olivier.


David Upton

The Life I Lead

The Lowry, Salford
22 February 2019 to 24 February 2019

Stand-up comedian and actor Miles Jupp will tour the UK with the world premiere of The Life I Lead by James Kettle, directed by Selina Cadell, coming to The Lowry in Salford February 22-24.

It celebrates an actor best remembered for playing Mr Banks in Mary Poppins and Professor Emelius Browne in Bedknobs and Broomsticks. David Tomlinson was renowned for playing the classic English gent: forthright, proper, and a loveable fool. The Life I Lead sees Jupp bring Tomlinson’s remarkable story to life. A richly comic and moving tale of fathers and sons across the generations.


David Upton

Motown the Musical

Opera House, Manchester
26 February 2019 to 23 March 2019

Edward Baruwa will play the leading role of Berry Gordy, Karis Anderson will play Diana Ross, Nathan Lewis will play Smokey Robinson and Shak Gabbidon-Williams will play Marvin Gaye when Motown the Musical comes to Manchester Opera House from February 26 – March 23, 2019.

Baruwa’s previous credits include the West End productions of Motown at The Shaftesbury Theatre, Les Misérables at the Queen’s Theatre, Five Guys Named Moe at the Marble Arch Theatre and the UK Tour of Sister Act.

Details: ATGTICKETS.COM/Manchester

David Upton

Noughts and Crosses

The Lowry, Salford
26 February 2019 to 02 March 2019

Pilot Theatre present the premiere of Sabrina Mahfouz's new adaption of Malorie Blackman’s award-winning novel Noughts and Crosses at The Lowry in Salford from February 26-March 2.

Told from the perspectives of two teenagers, it’s a love story set in a volatile, racially segregated society and explores themes of love, revolution and what it means to grow up in a divided world.

It follows Pilot Theatre’s Brighton Rock which was part of The Lowry’s Week 53 festival in 2018.

Sabrina Mahfouz is a British Egyptian poet, playwright, performer and writer from South London, England. Her recent plays have included 'Offside' (co-written with Hollie McNish); 'With a little bit of luck' (Paines Plough) and she has also published work includes poetry, plays and contributions to several anthologies.


David Upton


53Two, Manchester
27 February 2019 to 01 March 2019

Jamie and Katie are a young couple in a period of uncertainty in their lives, forced to re-evaluate everything they think they know about themselves and their relationship.

After the success of their debut production Flushed by Catherine Cranfield, the original 53two FOUNDation award winners, Theatre Unlocked, returning to the venue with their new production.

Zucchini is a new play that explores 21st-century approaches to sexuality, identity and what happens when a relationship doesn’t suit . . .
Since the initial run of Flushed, the production ran at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018, receiving Voice Magazine’s Pick of the Fringe. 
It’s at 53Two from February 27 to March 1.


David Upton

The Last Yankee

Bolton Library Lecture Theatre
28 February 2019 to 16 March 2019

David Thacker directs Arthur Miller’s The Last Yankee at the Bolton Library Lecture Theatre.

Thacker, head of the BA (Hons) Theatre and Performance Degree at the University of Bolton and former artistic director at the city’s Octagon Theatre, is renowned for having worked with the legendary writer.

The Last Yankee will run from February 28– March 16.

Thacker says: “The Last Yankee is not one of Miller’s best known works but it is so relevant to issues high on the agenda. It puts mental health and perceptions and understanding of the issue at the forefront and it has huge contemporary relevance. I believe it is even more important now than it was in 1993. Like all of Arthur Miller’s work, it is a prescient, funny and moving play.”


David Upton

In The Night Garden Live

The Lowry Salford
28 February 2019 to 03 March 2019

In February, In the Night Garden Live begins a first ever tour of UK theatres with a brand-new show and will play at The Lowry from February 28 until March 3.  

It’s a musical theatre experience for the entire family. Children’s favourite CBeebies stars - Igglepiggle, Upsy Daisy, Makka Pakka and friends - are all brought to life in new story using full-size costumes and puppets with music and dancing.


David Upton


Hope Mill Theatre Manchester
02 March 2019 to 16 March 2019

Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester start their new season on March 2 with the UK premiere of a new version of the Stephen Schwartz musical Rags.

From September 27, Tracie Bennett will star in the title role in Jerry Herman’s musical Mame, and the season will be completed by a new musical, The Astonishing Times Of Timothy Cratchit, from November 22.


David Upton

Glengarry Glen Ross

Opera House, Manchester
25 March 2019 to 30 March 2019

David Mamet’s play Glengarry Glen Ross will embark on a nationwide tour from February 14 visiting Birmingham, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Glasgow, Richmond, Brighton and Cardiff with further tour dates to be announced.

Taking on the roles of salesmen Shelley ‘The Machine’ Levene and the ruthless Ricky Roma are Mark Benton (Waterloo Road, As You Like It, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Hobson’s Choice) and Olivier award-winning Nigel Harman (EastEnders, A Chorus of Disapproval, Shrek the Musical) respectively, with further casting to be announced.

Pitched in a high-stakes competition against each other, four increasingly desperate employees will do anything, legal or otherwise, to sell the most real estate. As time and luck start to run out, the mantra is simple: close the deal and you've won a Cadillac; blow the lead and . . .

It will be at Manchester Opera House March 25-30.


David Upton

The Girl On The Train

The Lowry Salford
01 April 2019 to 06 April 2019

Samantha Womack stars in a new production of The Girl on the Train, the thriller based on the the best-selling novel by Paula Hawkins and the Dreamworks film.

It comes to The Lowry April 1 - 6.

Womack plays Rachel Watson who longs for a different life. Her only escape is the perfect couple she watches through the train window every day, happy and in love.  Or so it appears.

She has starred extensively in television, film and theatre and is best known for playing Ronnie Mitchell in BBC1’s EastEnders.


David Upton

Die, Mommie, Die!

Kings Arms, Salford
16 April 2019 to 21 April 2019

Alex Reid is joining the UK premiere cast of the off-Broadway Charles Busch comedy/melodrama Die, Mommie, Die! At the Kings Arms in Salford in April.

Reid will join the cast as Hollywood lothario Tony Parker who has a BIG secret, and will be joining Dale Vicker who returns to his role as the fallen star Angela Arden. The cast also features Emma Morgan (Noir) as Bootsie, Anna Hickling (Porno Chic) as Edith, Benjamin Gray (Fake News) as Lance with more cast to be announced.

Die, Mommie, Die! takes audiences to 1960s Hollywood to meet fallen star Angela Arden and her dysfunctional family. Angela is trapped in a hateful marriage to film producer Sol Sussman, bored with her life, she finds herself a little plaything, Hollywood wannabe Tony Parker.

It’s in Salford April 16 – 21 and move to Upstairs at The Gatehouse Theatre, London from July 16.


David Upton

Beauty and the Beast

Stockport Plaza
18 April 2019 to 22 April 2019

Beauty and the Beast comes to Stockport Plaza for Easter.

The panto version of the fairytale runs from April 18 – 22 and will star Channel 5 Milkshake’s Kiera-Nicole Brennan as Belle.

Trying to win her heart is Philip McGuinness as the brutish Gaston. Lewis Devine will be causing mayhem and mischief as French Frank, while adding extra sparkle will be Sarah Walker as Fairy Rose and Si Foster completes the cast as Potty Polly.


David Upton

The King And I

Opera House, Manchester
26 April 2019 to 11 May 2019

The King And I, after enjoying a record-breaking season at the London Palladium will open a major UK tour at Manchester’s Opera House.

Reprising his Broadway performance as The King will be Jose Llana and performing as Anna will be Annalene Beechey. 

This production will play at the Opera House from April 26– May 11, then goes on to Dublin, Sunderland, Edinburgh, Leeds, Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, Hull, Milton Keynes, Liverpool, Bristol, Woking and Southampton.

A cinema release of the live production from the Palladium, has become the biggest live event in cinemas of 2018.

In the UK, the film reached the number one spot, with more than double the box office of the next film, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.


David Upton

Something About Simon

The Albert Halls, Bolton
27 April 2019

A new show celebrating the life and talent of singer songwriter Paul Simon is heading to Bolton.

Something About Simon comes to The Albert Halls in Bolton on Saturday April 27.

It recently premiered in Liverpool with a two-night pilot run at the Epstein Theatre.


David Upton

The House On Cold Hill

Opera House, Manchester
13 May 2019 to 18 May 2019

The work of author Peter James returns to Manchester’s Opera House from May 13 – 18 with the world premiere of the stage play The House on Cold Hill.

Adapted from his 2015 novel and based on the author’s own real-life experience in a haunted house, the play will star BAFTA nominated actor and winner of BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing 2017, Joe McFadden as Ollie Harcourt.

Joining him, as his wife Caro, will be award-winning actress Rita Simons, who played Roxy Mitchell in Eastenders, as well as award-winning actors Charlie Clements (Bradley in EastEnders) as Chris and Persephone Swales-Dawson (villainess Nico Blake in Hollyoaks) as Jade, making her professional stage debut.


David Upton

Little Miss Sunshine

The Lowry Salford
27 May 2019 to 01 June 2019

Selladoor Productions present Little Miss Sunshine, the off-Broadway hit musical which comes to The Lowry (May 27 - June 1) as part of a UK tour following a European premiere in London.

Based on the Academy Award-winning film it is created by Tony-winning team James Lapine (who collaborated with Stephen Sondheim on Into the Woods and Sunday in the Park with George) and William Finn (25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Falsettos).

The Hoover family has more than a few troubles, but young Olive has her heart set on winning the Little Miss Sunshine beauty contest. When an invitation to compete comes out of the blue, the Hoovers must pile into their rickety, yellow VW camper van.


David Upton

Matthew Bourne's Romeo and Juliet

The Lowry Salford
11 June 2019 to 15 June 2019

New Adventures announces full casting for the world premiere of Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet which will open at The Lowry in Salford on June 11, as part of a UK tour to 13 venues.

Romeo and Juliet will feature emerging male and female dancers from around the UK. The search began last April with a call-out for young dancers currently in training aged between 16 and 19. Attracting more than 1000 applications and following a UK-wide audition tour, Young Cast members will perform at each venue alongside the New Adventures company.

Matthew Bourne says: “As we enter our fourth decade as a company I’m finding the development of young talent ever more important and fulfilling. Our new company features a staggering 98 young dancers making their debuts; some joining as part of their third year of training, others through company initiatives. I have been overwhelmed by the talent we have had and am particularly happy to be working alongside young associate choreographer Arielle Smith.

Joining the full time cast in Salford will be six young regional cast members making their debut with New Adventures: Katie Agarwal, Georgia Collier, Orla Collier, Brandon Hunter, Patrick King and Kayde-Samuél Wright.

David Upton

Manchester International Festival

Various venues
04 July 2019 to 21 July 2019

Yoko Ono, Idris Elba and Skepta are part of next year’s Manchester International Festival programme, which runs July 4-21.

Each commission is set to offer a distinctive and very personal take on how we relate to today’s world.

Yoko Ono invites audiences to gather in Cathedral Gardens for the opening event; Tree is a journey in search of the soul and spirit of contemporary South Africa; and Skepta hosts a series of intimate and immersive experiences.


David Upton

Red Dust Road

HOME, Manchester
01 September 2019 to 14 September 2019

Scottish writer and poet Jackie Kay’s personal memoir, Red Dust Road, is to play at HOME Manchester in September.

The National Theatre of Scotland and HOME, Manchester presents the world premiere.

Adapted for the stage by Tanika Gupta and directed by Dawn Walton, Red Dust Road will open at the 2019 Edinburgh International Festival, before playing at HOME, Manchester, and touring to the Macrobert Arts Centre in Stirling, and Eden Court Theatre in Inverness, in autumn 2019.

From the moment when, as a little girl, she realises her skin is a different colour from that of her mum and dad, to the tracing and finding of her Highland mother and Nigerian father birth parents, Kay’s journey in Red Dust Road is one of twists, turns and emotions.


David Upton

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Palace Theatre Manchester
25 November 2019 to 30 November 2019

Mark Goucher joins forces with first time producer Jason Donovan to create a new production of hit musical Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

The show makes a perfect vehicle for Donovan to begin his life as a producer, having performed in the cast of the original West End production and two subsequent UK tours.

The production will open in Dartford next September 2019 and will then tour throughout the UK and Ireland, arriving In Manchester on November 25, 2019.


David Upton


The Lowry, Salford
03 December 2019 to 05 January 2020

SIX the musical will return to The Lowry next year for a five week Christmas run.

The musical theatre story of Henry VIII’s six wives is a 75-minute celebration of sisterly heartbreak

Powered by an all-female band and with songs including Ex-Wives, Haus of Holbein and Don’t Lose Ur Head, this musical by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss has been one of the most successful West End shows of 2018.


David Upton

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Opera House, Manchester
06 December 2019 to 29 December 2019

Manchester Opera House will next year stage Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, starring Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood as the Wicked Queen.

He recently returned to his roots as a performer in musical theatre, starring as Miss Hannigan in the West End production of Annie. Craig also choreographed and directed the recent UK tour of Sister Act starring Alexandra Burke, directed and choreographed the new Dusty Springfield musical Son of a Preacher Man, and choreographed the feature film Paddington 2.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs will once again be produced by Qdos Entertainment, continuing their partnership with Manchester Opera House following this year’s Cinderella.


David Upton

How The Grinch Stole Christmas

The Lowry Salford
10 December 2019 to 05 January 2020

Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical - the New York Christmas sensation – is to play Christmas 2019 season at The Lowry.

Featuring songs You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch and Welcome Christmas, Max the Dog narrates the show, as the mean and scheming Grinch, whose heart is ‘two sizes too small’, decides to steal Christmas away from Holiday-loving Whos.

The show broke box office records for two consecutive years on Broadway. The announcement of the tour of the musical comes as a new movie of The Grinch – starring the voices of Benedict Cumberbatch and Angela Lansbury – reaches a new generation at cinemas.

The musical runs from December 10 to January 5.


David Upton

The Bodyguard

Palace Theatre Manchester
10 December 2019 to 04 January 2020

Alexandra Burke will play Rachel Marron in the The Bodyguard when it returns to Palace Theatre, Manchester.

Following its sell out run in 2015, the musical will play a festive season from 10 December 2019 – 4 January 2020.

Burke returns to the role having played it in both the West End and the subsequent sell out 2015/2016 tour. She first rose to fame after winning the fifth series of The X Factor. She will perform the role of Marron at evening performances only.


David Upton

We Will Rock You

Opera House, Manchester
27 January 2020 to 08 February 2020

Following 2010 and 2011 UK theatre tours and 2013 10th anniversary world arena tour, the Queen and Ben Elton musical We Will Rock You has been ‘reimagined’ for 2019 and will embark on a new tour, showing in Manchester from January 27 –February 8, 2020.

It follows hot on the heels of the release of the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody.

Since 2002 more than 15 million theatregoers in 17 countries have seen We Will Rock You.


David Upton