Manchester Theatre Awards

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Dick Whittington

Oldham Coliseum
11 November 2017 to 13 January 2018
(Press Night: 11 November 2017)

Oldham Coliseum Theatre’s family pantomime this year is Dick Whittington.

Poor young lad Dick Whittington and his rat-catching cat set off to find fame, fortune and adventure in to London. But the path to happily-ever-after isn’t always that easy and King Rat hatches an evil scheme to get Dick out of his city. Are the streets paved with gold? Can the cat catch the rat? Will Dick finally get his happy ending?

The Coliseum’s Pantomime Dame, Fine Time Fontayne, returns to the Coliseum stage following an accident in rehearsals in October 2016 which meant he was unable to perform last Christmas. He’s joined on stage by more panto favourites including pantomime 2016’s hero of the hour Simeon Truby, who triumphantly stepped into Fine Time’s Doc Martens, everyone’s favourite silly billy, Richard J Fletcher and top singing fairy, Liz Carney.

David Chadderton

Guys And Dolls

Royal Exchange Manchester
01 December 2017 to 27 January 2018

After the success of last year’s musical theatre production, Sweet Charity, Manchester’s Royal Exchange are staging Guys and Dolls through to January 27.

A musical fable of Broadway based on the story and characters of Damon Runyon it’s set in 1939 Harlem for the UK’s first all-black cast production of this iconic show.

Ray Fearon is the charming Nathan Detroit leading a cast that includes Ashley Zhangazha, Abiona Omonua and Lucy Vandi. The reimagined Guys And Dolls is developed with the award winning hip-hop dancer and choreographer Kenrick ‘H20’ Sandy.

With unforgettable songs including Luck Be A Lady, Sit Down You're Rocking The Boat and the infectious title number, this high-energy production captures the secrecy and romance of living on the edge.



David Upton

Around the World in 80 Days

The Lowry, Salford
05 December 2017 to 07 January 2018

New Vic Theatre’s celebrated production of Jules Verne’s Around The World in 80 Days returns to the region at The Lowry in Salford for Christmas, to January 7.

Theresa Heskins’ production had a successful season at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester in 2014, nominated for both the UK Theatre Awards Best New Production and the Manchester Theatre Awards Best Show for Children and Families.

An ensemble cast of eight play over 125 characters in an imaginative and physically inventive high-spirited escapade including six trains, five boats, four fights, three dances, two circus acts and an elephant!

The mysterious Phileas Fogg wagers his life’s fortune that he can circumnavigate the globe in just 80 days. Join him as he voyages from the misty alleys of Victorian London to the exotic subcontinent and the Wild West in a race against the clock.

David Upton

Massenet’s Cinderella

Royal Northern College of Music
06 December 2017 to 16 December 2017

RNCM Opera presents Jules Massenet’s enchanted Cinderella (Cendrillon) directed by Olivia Fuchs and conducted by Martin André featuring students from the School of Vocal Studies and Opera with set and costume design by Yannis Thavoris.

Based on Charles Perrault’s fairytale, in this opera, Cinderella has a stepmother and two stepsisters and a Fairy Godmother who helps her to go to the palace ball. However, after midnight, the opera takes a different turn from the original tale: upset by the hateful suggestions of her stepmother and stepsisters, Cinderella runs away from home. Feverish, she arrives in the Fairy Godmother’s magic forest and meets the Prince once more. He recognises the beautiful, mysterious girl from the ball and offers her his heart.

Months later, when we catch up with Cinderella again, her father has convinced her that it was all a dream. But, when the Prince is travelling the length and breadth of the country to find the owner of the glass slipper, he recognises Cinderella and she returns his love.

David Chadderton

The Bear by Raymond Briggs

Waterside Arts Centre
07 December 2017 to 06 January 2018
(Press Night: 07 December 2017)

Following other successful Christmas shows Waterside in Sale announces this year’s Christmas show: The Bear by Raymond Briggs.

Ever wondered what it would be like to sit on a polar bear's lap? Or ride on its back? Have you ever tried to give a bear a bath? Looking after a bear is exhausting stuff.

This wintry tale is brought to you by Pins and Needles - the team behind the hugely successful Father Christmas – now bringing to life another of Raymond Briggs' much-loved storybooks.


David Upton

Dick Whittington

Opera House, Manchester
09 December 2017 to 07 January 2018

John Barrowman and The Krankies head the cast of Dick Whittington which runs to January 7 at Manchester Opera House.

 Barrowman stars in the title role and as a higely popular showman has enjoyed an acclaimed and hugely varied career including music, presenting and writing with performances on television and film, in the West End and on Broadway.

Legendary double act The Krankies play Councillor and Jimmy Krankie. Having entertained audiences with their slapstick for more than 50 years, Dick Whittington marks the couple’s seventh pantomime season playing alongside John Barrowman.

The show will also include a 3D sequence, which will see audiences travel on a special adventure alongside Dick and his trusty cat!


David Upton

Christmas shows

HOME, Manchester
11 December 2017 to 01 January 2018

As you might expect from Manchester’s HOME arts venue, there’s an eclectic mix of Christmas entertainment on the menu over the next few weeks

Briefs Factory’s award-winning all-singing all-dancing music and cabaret show Hot Brown Honey is a celebration of our similarities and differences; Australian singing sensation and cabaret performer Meow Meow presents her one-woman show Feline Intimate; Grammy-nominated Godfathers of alternative cabaret, The Tiger Lillies, return with their new album, A Cold Night in Soho; and children’s theatre specialist company Little Angel also return with Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, a re-working of the timeless tale.


David Upton

The Gruffalo

The Lowry Salford
11 December 2017 to 07 January 2018

The hit musical adaptation of the picture book The Gruffalo began its winter run at The Lowry in Salford this week and continues until Sunday January 7.

The most fearsome creature that never was - but is - takes to the stage in this enchanting production combining songs, laughter and storytelling theatre with just the right amount of scary fun. It’s aimed at three-year-olds upwards and runs for 55 minutes without an interval.

Set to a catchy score with original music and lyrics, The Gruffalo entertains audiences the world over.


David Upton

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical

Palace Theatre, Manchester
12 December 2017 to 06 January 2018
(Press Night: 13 December 2017)

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical heads to Manchester Palace Theatre for a short Christmas run.

The award-winning show, which tells the story of the hugely talented American singer-songwriter, continues until Saturday January 6.

Bronté Barbé, a finalist in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s BBC1 television series Over The Rainbow, plays the title role, and will be joined by Kane Oliver Parry as King’s husband and songwriting partner Gerry Goffin; Amy Ellen Richardson as songwriter Cynthia Weil; Matthew Gonsalves as songwriter Barry Mann; Carol Royle as King’s mother Genie Klein; and Adam Howden as music publisher and producer Donnie Kirshner. At certain performances, Carole King will be played by Leigh Lothian.

The show has its Broadway premiere in January 2014 at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre where it continues to play to packed houses


David Upton

Coming up

Queer Contact Festival 2018

Contact Manchester
27 January 2018 to 25 February 2018

December sees Manchester’s Contact theatre begin a £6.75million transformation of its building on Oxford Road, expanding and refurbishing to create more opportunities for communities across the region.

While its home is transformed, Queer Contact Festival 2018 joins Contact’s In the City programme, at venues across Greater Manchester, for four weeks of live performances (27 Jan – 25 Feb) and three months of exhibition days (4 Feb – 15 Apr) celebrating LGBT+ arts and culture, and marking the festival’s 10th anniversary.


David Upton

Nina - a story about me and Nina Simone

Lowry, Salford
30 January 2018 to 03 February 2018
(Press Night: 30 January 2018)

The story of legendary artist and activist Nina Simone will take to The Lowry stage in Salford from January 30 to February 3 in Nina.

Starring Josette Bushell-Mingo and a live band, Nina – a story about me and Nina Simone is a theatre piece inspired by the life and music of the performer.  

Taking in her political acts as part of the Civil Rights Movement in 1960s America as well as the struggles in her personal life, Josette Bushell-Mingo finds a parallel with the persisting inequality in today’s society, and questions how far we’ve really come. 


David Upton

Strangers On a Train

Manchester Opera House
05 February 2018 to 10 February 2018
(Press Night: 05 February 2018)

Visiting Manchester Opera House from February 5-10, Strangers on a Train is from the team behind the successful tour of Patrick Hamilton’s Gaslight.

Casting is led by John Middleton (Detective Arthur Gerard) who left Emmerdale earlier this year in a deeply moving storyline, having played the village’s vicar for more than 20 years.

Christopher Harper – currently appearing on Coronation Street as Nathan Curtis - plays the charismatic Charles Bruno, a psychopathic playboy who has a chance encounter with a troubled stranger, Guy Haines (played by Jack Ashton, Call The Midwife).

Hannah Tointon, as Guy’s fiancé, Anne Faulkner, is famed for her roles in Mr Selfridge (alongside her sister, Kara), The Inbetweeners and Hollyoaks.


David Upton

Flashdance the Musical

Palace Theatre, Manchester
12 February 2018 to 17 February 2018

Flashdance the Musical will tour to Manchester Palace Theatre from February 12-17.

Having played the lead role since August, Joanne Clifton is joined on stage by cast Ben Adams, Colin Kiyani, Rikki Chamberlain, Garry Lee Netley, Carol Ball, Sia Dauda, Hollie Ann Lowe, Simeon Beckett, Rhodri Watkins, Demmileigh Foster, Emily Kenwright, Ameila Rose Fielding, Alex Christian, Matt Concannon, Verity Jones, Ross Meagrow and Sasha Latoya.

Flashdance - The Musical tells the story of 18-year-old Alex, a welder by day and ‘flashdancer’ by night, who dreams of going to the prestigious Shipley Dance Academy and becoming a professional dancer.


David Upton


Octagon Theatre, Bolton
15 February 2018 to 10 March 2018

David Ricardo-Pearce is cast as Hamlet in Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy, Hamet, in February 2018..

After directing The Winter’s Tale at the Octagon Theatre David Thacker returns to direct the production.

David recently performed as the Lorax in the Old Vic’s production of The Lorax, and as Oberon and Theseus in a Barbican international tour of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He also starred as the lead role of Alfie in Alfie in Bolton in 2012 and Romeo in Romeo and Juliet in 2011 both also directed by David Thacker. 

Jessica Baglow is Ophelia. Margot Leicester, who played Paulina in The Winter’s Tale is Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude. Brian Protheroe, who recently has performed in Twelfth Night at Sheffield and The Merchant of Venice and Othello at the RSC, returns to work with David Thacker as  Claudius.


David Upton

The Importance of Being Earnest

Opera House, Manchester
13 March 2018 to 17 March 2018

Gwen Taylor will star as Lady Bracknell in a 2018 UK tour of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance Of Being Earnest, alongside Susan Penhaligon as Miss Prism.

The show stops off at Manchester Opera House from March 13-17.

Taylor is best known for playing the title role in the ITV sitcom Barbara, as well as Anne Foster in Coronation Street

Susan Penhaligon is currently appearing in Rufus Norris’s production of Cabaret alongside Will Young and Louise Redknapp. She has a wide range of TV credits to her name, including Upstairs Downstairs.

Oscar Wilde’s much loved comedy follows Jack Worthing’s endeavours to marry Algernon’s cousin, the beautiful Gwendolen. But first he must convince the fearsome Lady Bracknell of his respectability. Details:

David Upton

Fat Friends – the Musical

Opera House
19 March 2018 to 24 March 2018

Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff is to make his stage debut in Fat Friends – the Musical

The cricket legend will play Kevin for seven dates of the UK tour including Manchester Opera House

He joins an all- star cast for the world premiere of Kay Mellor’s Fat Friends - the Musical which is in Manchester from  March 19-24.

The award winning TV drama has been adapted for the stage by its creator and one of the UK’s most prolific writers, whose television credits include hit series of Band of Gold, The Chase, The Syndicate, In the Club and whose stage credits include A Passionate Woman. Freddie joins the award winning Jodie Prenger and X-Factor winner Sam Bailey with further casting to be announced.


David Upton

Miss Saigon

Palace Theatre
21 March 2018 to 12 May 2018

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.


David Upton

Of Mice & Men

Opera House
09 April 2018 to 14 April 2018

Selladoor Productions in association with The Marlowe Theatre Canterbury, will undertake a 10-week UK Tour of the Steinbeck classic Of Mice and Men opening at Marlowe in January.

The play visits Manchester Opera House from April 9 – 14.

It tells the story of George and Lennie, two migrant ranch workers who dream of owning their own ranch.  With nothing but the clothes on their back and a dream, the wily and bright George aspires to independence, to be his own boss and most importantly to be ‘somebody’. Gentle Giant Lennie aspires to be with George and join him in his Eden.

Casting is to be announced.


David Upton

Mary Stuart

The Lowry
17 April 2018 to 21 April 2018

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.


David Upton

War Horse

The Lowry
13 June 2018 to 30 June 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.


David Upton

The Last Ship

The Lowry, Salford
03 July 2018 to 07 July 2018
(Press Night: 03 July 2018)

Jimmy Nail is to star in Sting’s debut musical The Last Ship at the Lowry in Salford next year.

The show is to premiere in the UK in Newcastle in March. The production will tour to The Lowry, Salford from July 3-7.

The production, initially inspired by Sting's 1991 album The Soul Cages and his own childhood experiences, tells the story of a community amid the demise of the shipbuilding industry in Wallsend, Tyne and Wear, with the closure of the town's Swan Hunter shipyard.

David Upton

An Officer and a Gentleman - The Musical

Opera House, Manchester
13 August 2018 to 18 August 2018

The world premiere of An Officer And A Gentleman - The Musical will open at Curve next April before playing at theatres across the UK and in Ireland including Manchester Opera House in August. 

It’s based on the 1982 Oscar-winning film starring Richard Gere which tells the story of Zack Mayo training to become a US Navy Pilot. When Zack rolls into boot camp with a bit too much of a swagger, drill Sergeant Foley doesn’t make life easy for him.

The musical includes the hit song from the movie Up Where We Belong along, with 80s classics such as Alone, Don’t Cry Out Loud, Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Toy Soldiers and Material Girl 

Joining director Nikolai Foster on the creative team are choreographer Kate Prince, musical supervisor Sarah Travis and designer Michael Taylor.


David Upton

Matilda The Musical

Palace Theatre
18 September 2018 to 24 November 2018

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.


David Upton


Manchester Palace Theatre
04 December 2018 to 05 January 2019

Wicked, the West End and Broadway musical, flies back into Manchester in December.

It will star Amy Ross (Elphaba), Helen Woolf (Glinda), Aaron Sidwell (Fiyero), Steven Pinder (The Wizard and Doctor Dillamond), Kim Ismay (Madame Morrible), Emily Shaw (Nessarose), Iddon Jones (Boq) and Nikki Bentley (Standby for Elphaba) when it returns to the Palace Theatre, from December 4 to January 5.


David Upton

Doctor Dolittle

The Lowry, Salford
11 December 2018 to 05 January 2019

A new stage production of Leslie Bricusse's Doctor Dolittle heads to The Lowry for Christmas next year.

Doctor Dolittle will spend the Christmas season at The Lowry, Salford opening on December 11 2018 and running to January 5, 2019.

Featuring puppetry, this new production, with the book reworked by Leslie Bricusse, will be part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the original film starring Rex Harrison and will feature the same songs, including the Academy award-winning Talk To The Animals. Casting to be announced.


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


Oldham Coliseum Spring Season

Oldham Coliseum

Oldham Coliseum Theatre’s Spring-Summer 2018 season features two world premieres, plus hom grown productions of popular West End hits across comedy and drama.

The season opens on March 16 with a new adaptation of Compton Mackenzie’s comedy classic Whisky Galore.

Following a three-week run at the Coliseum it will embark on an eight venue national tour

From April 20 –May 5 the Coliseum presents Alan Ayckbourn’s first play and West End hit, Relatively Speaking. Then Salford comes to Oldham from May 25 – June 9 in Shelagh Delaney’s landmark play A Taste of Honey.

Award-winning television and theatre writer Ian Kershaw takes audiences back to 1912 in Bread & Roses from June 22 –July 7.

David Upton