Manchester Theatre Awards

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

What's on

Currently running

Funny Girl

Palace Theatre
11 August 2017 to 19 August 2017

Funny Girl – starring Sheridan Smith - and which enjoyed acclaimed and sold-out runs at Manchester Palace Theatre earlier in the year, returns to the venue next week to complete its national tour. Playing opposite Sheridan Smith is Darius Campbell as Nick Arnstein.

The show brought global fame to Barbra Streisand 50 years ago and boasts some of the most iconic songs in film and theatre history, including People and Don’t Rain On My Parade. The musical tells the story of Fanny Brice, whose vocal talents and comedic ability see her rise from Brooklyn music hall singer to Broadway star.

Sheridan Smith reprises her performance in the role of Fanny Brice. Her other theatre work includes A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hedda Gabler, Flare Path, Legally Blonde, Tinderbox, The People are Friendly and Into the Woods. For television, credits include The Moorside Project, Blackwork, The C Word, Cilla, The Widower, The 7.39, Dates, Mr Stink, Mrs Biggs, Accused, Scapegoat, Little Crackers, Jonathan Creek, Gavin & Stacey, Larkrise to Candleford, Grown Ups, Love Soup, Two Pints of Larger and a Packet of Crisps, The Royle Family and Wives and Daughters; and for film, The Huntsman, Powder Room, Quartet, Tower Block and Hysteria.

It runs from Monday to August 19.

Details: www.atgtickets.com/manchester

David Upton

We Were Told There Was Dancing

Royal Exchange Theatre
16 August 2017 to 20 August 2017

Manchester Royal Exchange’s award-winning Young Company present We Were Told There Was Dancing, a show that takes its audience underground in a promenade production through the basement of the Exchange building.

Directed by Matt Hassall and developed to mark the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act, which began the decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales in 1967, this production charts the attitudes to gay rights across time, generations and countries.

It runs from August 16-20.

Details: www.royalexchange.co.uk

David Upton

The Railway Children

Octagon Theatre
17 August 2017 to 19 August 2017

After last year’s young people’s summer project, The Secret Garden, the Octagon Theatre Bolton is kick-starting the venue’s 50th Anniversary Season, with a full-scale summer project production of E. Nesbit’s The Railway Children.

A hundred young people aged 8 to 21, and young people with additional needs aged up to 25, have started rehearsals, surrounded and supported by the Octagon’s artistic team, including artistic director Elizabeth Newman.

The Railway Children is playing at the Octagon from August 17-19.

Details: www.octagonbolton.co.uk

David Upton


Coming up

Pippin

Hope Mill Theatre
25 August 2017 to 23 September 2017

Pippin, premiering at Manchester’s Hope Mill Theatre from next Friday, brings audiences a revival of the award-winning Broadway musical. It will run until September 23.

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.

 The Tony Award-winning musical was written by Roger O. Hirson and features a score from composer Stephen Schwartz, who composed hit musical Wicked.

Now the show comes to Manchester as the fourth collaboration from Hope Mill Theatre and Aria Entertainment, who first joined forces in January 2016 to spearhead the arts venue as a platform to showcase, revive and bring new musical theatre to the North.

The 150-seater Ancoats venue has since won numerous awards and two of the previous productions, Hair and Yank achieved London transfers.

Details:  www.hopemilltheatre.co.uk

David Upton

Murder at Warrabah House

Kings Arms, The Met, Bolton Little Theatre
29 August 2017 to 02 September 2017
(Press Night: 30 August 2017)

A Bolton based theatre company is bringing the English premiere of an Australian play to Greater Manchester from August 29 to September 2.

Murder at Warrabah House is an Australian twist on the grand tradition of country house mysteries, in the style of Agatha Christie. The play is a one-woman show, but in which a total of eight characters are portrayed on stage.

Anne-Louise Fortune, artistic director of Truly Outrageous Productions says the production will be staged at three venues. On August 29-30 at The Theatre at The Kings Arms on Bloom Street in Salford. On August 31 it moves to The Met in Bury. On September 1 the show is staged at Bolton Little Theatre on Hanover Street in Bolton town centre, before returning to The Kings Arms in Salford for closing night.

The show will star Rebecca Derrick, a stalwart of the small-scale Manchester theatre community.

Details: www.trulyoutrageousproductions.co.uk

David Upton

Jungle Book

The Lowry
29 August 2017 to 02 September 2017
(Press Night: 29 August 2017)

Matt Knight, known for his performance on BBC’s Let it Shine, will star as Akela in a new urban version of Jungle Book at The Lowry in Salford at the end of August.

The re-imagining of Kipling’s classic will also star some of the UK's leading dancers and circus performers.

Award-winning Metta Theatre’s new version uses street dance, circus and spoken word. It is a contemporary urban jungle of skateboarding wolves, street dancing monkeys, a beat-loving bin man Baloo and graffiti artist Bagheera.

It runs from August 29 to September 2 with Thursday and Saturday matinees.

Details: www.thelowry.com

David Upton

The Addams Family

The Lowry, Salford
29 August 2017 to 09 September 2017

Samantha Womack, Les Dennis and Carrie Hope Fletcher  star as Morticia, Fester and Wednesday Addams in the UK and Irish premiere of The Addams Family, a musical comedy,

at The Lowry in Salford from August 29 until  September 9. 

Samantha Womack will take on the role of Morticia Addams fresh from leaving BBC1’s EastEnders after nearly a decade as Ronnie Mitchell.

Les Dennis spent the last three years playing burglar-turned-Romeo, Michael Rodwell, in ITV’s Coronation Street.

Carrie Hope Fletcher’s recent theatre credits include Eponine in Les Misérables.

Wednesday Addamshas fallen in love with a sweet, smart young man from a respectable family! Now, Gomez Addams must do something he’s never done before — keep a secret from his beloved wife, Morticia.

Details: www.thelowry.com

David Upton

Freak

53two
31 August 2017 to 09 September 2017

Freak was written by Bruntwood prize winner Anna Jordan and first performed in 2014. MAP Productions are now bringing it to Manchester venue 53two with a perspective on how we, as a society, view women.

It runs from August 31 to September 9.

Details: www.53two.com/freak

David Upton

Mr Darcy Loses the Plot

The Lowry
06 September 2017 to 09 September 2017
(Press Night: 06 September 2017)

Celebrating 200 years of Jane Austen, Manchester comedy duo LipService start their new UK tour of Mr Darcy Loses the Plot at The Lowry in Salford from September 6-9.

The comedy stars award-winning local performers Sue Ryding alongside Maggie Fox.

They play an array of characters, moving from frock to frock coat in their inimitable style . . . on an entirely quilted set.

Details: www.thelowry.com

David Upton

Rita, Sue and Bob Too

Octagon Theatre
06 September 2017 to 23 September 2017
(Press Night: 11 September 2017)

Octagon Theatre in Bolton has announced the cast for Max Stafford-Clark’s new production of Rita, Sue and Bob Too, the 1982 play about two teenage friends who embark on an affair with a married man.

A co-production with Octagon Theatre, Out of Joint and The Royal Court Theatre, the production will open in Bolton in September and then tour the UK until February 2018.

Rita will be played by Taj Atwal, who was widely acclaimed for her performance in East is East at Trafalgar Studios in the West End, and who starred as Rita in Educating Rita for Hull Truck. Atwal’s co-star from In The Club on BBC 1, Gemma Dobson, will make her professional stage debut as Sue.

Bob will be played by James Atherton, who played Will Savage in Hollyoaks, as well as recently playing Jamie Bowman in Coronation Street. 

Returning to the Octagon is Sally Bankes (Mother) who has also appeared in four productions for the RSC and worked with Taj Atwal in the West End production of East is East.

Max Stafford-Clark directed the premiere of Rita Sue and Bob Too in 1982 at the Royal Court.

Details: www.boltonoctagon.co.uk

David Upton

The Band

Opera House
08 September 2017 to 30 September 2017
(Press Night: 26 September 2017)

The Band opens its UK tour at Manchester Opera House next month.

The new musical – penned by award-winning playwright Tim Firth and featuring the music of Take That – begins in Manchester on September 8.

For five 16-year-old friends in 1992, ‘the band’ is everything. Twenty-five years on, we are reunited with the group of friends, now 40-something women, as they try once more to fulfil their dream of meeting their heroes.

The Band is being played by young stars AJ Bentley, Nick Carsberg, Curtis T Johns, Yazdan Qafouri and Sario Solomon, who, as Five to Five, won BBC’s Let It Shine.

Playing the parts of Rachel and Young Rachel will be Rachel Lumberg and Faye Christall respectively. They are joined by Emily Joyce as Heather, Alison Fitzjohn as Claire, Jayne McKenna as Zoe, Katy Clayton as Young Heather, Sarah Kate Howarth as Young Claire, Lauren Jacobs as Young Zoe, Rachelle Diedericks as Debbie, Martin Miller as Jeff and Andy Williams as Dave.

The show runs until September 30.

Details: www.atgtickets.com/Manchester

David Upton

Oh What A Lovely War

Oldham Coliseum
08 September 2017 to 30 September 2017
(Press Night: 12 September 2017)

Joan Littlewood’s Oh What A Lovely War opens at Oldham Coliseum from September 8-30.

Performed as an end of pier show by a troupe of entertainers, it relives the First World War through song, dance and visuals.

First performed in 1963, the musical challenged attitudes towards the conflict by telling the story of the war from the perspective of the soldiers in the trenches. It won a Tony Award in 1965 in its first New York production on Broadway. 

Oldham Coliseum’s production will be performed by an ensemble of actor-musicians, featuring songs It’s A Long Way To Tipperary, Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag, Goodbye-ee, And When They Ask and Keep The Home Fires Burning. 

This year marks the centenary of Passchendaele – The Third Battle of Ypres, which took place from July - November 1917 for control of the land south and east of the Belgian city. The battle became infamous not only for the scale of casualties, but for the mud which eventually became so deep that soldiers drowned. It was one of the major engagements of the First World War with an estimated 325,000 Allied and 260,000 German casualties.

Details: www.coliseum.org.uk

David Upton

How the Other Half Loves

The Lowry
11 September 2017 to 16 September 2017
(Press Night: 11 September 2017)

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

Letters To Morrissey

HOME Manchester
12 September 2017 to 16 September 2017

Award-winning actor and playwright Gary McNair makes his second appearance at HOME on September 12-16 with new show Letters To Morrissey, produced by Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre Company.

Directed by Gareth Nicholls, the theatre’s associate director, Letters To Morrissey follows up McNair’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe First hit A Gambler’s Guide to Dying, which featured in HOME’s Orbit festival in 2016.

McNair’s affectionate one-man show is the final part of a trilogy of often darkly comic works drawing on the joys and struggles of growing up in working class Scotland, explored through letters written to The Smiths’ front-man Morrissey at the turn of the millennium by a conflicted teenager from the outskirts of Glasgow.

Details: www.homemcr.org

David Upton

The Wedding (Gecko)

HOME Manchester
12 September 2017 to 16 September 2017

Physical theatre company Gecko’s new show The Wedding focuses on personal and political marriage date and visits Manchester’s HOME for a limited run (September 12-16).

Gecko’s seventh creation is inspired by the complexities of human nature: the struggle between love and anger, creation and destruction, community and isolation.   

The ensemble of nine guides audiences through a blur of wedding dresses and contractual obligations.

Combining movement, imagery and provocative narratives, The Wedding brings these contracts into question with an emotionally charged performance.

Details: www.homemcr.org

David Upton

Cover My Tracks

The Lowry
14 September 2017 to 16 September 2017
(Press Night: 14 September 2017)

Songwriter and lyricist Charlie Fink, former front man of the band Noah and the Whale, will present Cover My Tracks at The Lowry Sept 14-16.

Playwright David Greig and director Max Webster team up to present a unique production intertwining music and theatre.

A two-hander starring Fink himself, Cover My Tracks tells the tale of an idealistic young songwriter attempting to write a 21st century pop masterpiece, who suddenly vanishes without a trace.

Details: thelowry.com

David Upton

Our Town

Royal Exchange Theatre
14 September 2017 to 14 October 2017
(Press Night: 19 September 2017)

Manchester and its inhabitants have displayed special strengths in recent times, so it is timely that the city’s people are also at the forefront of Our Town in Sarah Frankcom’s new production of Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer winning play at the Royal Exchange in September. On the in-the-round stage this epic exploration of human existence is redefined by designer Fly Davis's set, where audience members can choose to join the actors on stage, in their homes or at their kitchen tables.

This 20th century drama is performed by an ensemble cast of 15 with Youssef Kerkour as Stage Manager, Norah Lopez Holden as Emily Webb, Patrick Elue as George Gibbs, Carla Henry as Mrs. Julia Gibb, Nicolas Khan as Dr. Gibbs, Graeme Hawley as Mr. Webb and Wyllie Longmore as Professor Willard. The production opens on September 14 and runs until October 14. 

Details: www.royalexchange.co.uk

David Upton

We’re Not Really Here – A Football Opera

Contact
20 September 2017 to 23 September 2017
(Press Night: 20 September 2017)

We’re Not Really Here – A Football Opera at Manchester’s Contact is a celebration of what it means to be a football fan.

It puts Manchester City fans centre stage, with the audience watching what only the players get to experience.

They hear the personal stories of City fans as they watch a game in real-time from kick-off to final whistle – the highs, the lows, the chants, the banter and the songs – in a   new show created with Greater Manchester people and an international creative team including directors formerly of Belgian company het Kip. It runs from September 20-23.

Details: www.contactmcr.com

David Upton

Aladdin

The Lowry, Salford
20 September 2017 to 23 September 2017
(Press Night: 20 September 2017)

David Bintley’s Aladdin, with live music from BAFTA award-winning Carl Davis performed by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia comes to the Lowry in Salford September 20-23.

Originally created for the National Ballet of Japan in 2008, Aladdin was re-imagined in Birmingham in 2012 as a large and spectacular production, complete with a host of technical tricks, purposefully designed for touring the UK.

The classic story is brought to life with lavish sets and costumes, special effects and beautiful choreography.

Details: www.thelowry.com

David Upton

People, Places & Things

HOME Manchester
22 September 2017 to 07 October 2017
(Press Night: 28 September 2017)

Full casting has been announced on Jeremy Herrin’s UK revival of Duncan Macmillan’s People, Places & Things, coming to HOME in Manchester from September 22 to October 7.

Joining Lisa Dwyer Hogg as Emma are Michael Balogun (Shaun), Trevor Fox (Paul & Dad), Susan Lawson-Reynolds (Jodi), Ekow Quartey (Foster), Andrew Sheridan (Mark), Imogen Slaughter (Meredith), Aimee-Lou Wood (Laura) and Matilda Ziegler (Doctor & Mum).

Following a sold-out season at the National and in London's West End, People, Places & Things will be on a UK tour for Headlong in a co-production with the National, HOME and Exeter Northcott Theatre.

Emma was having the time of her life. Now she's in rehab.  Her first step is to admit that she has a problem. But the problem isn't with Emma, it's with everything else. She needs to tell the truth. But she's smart enough to know that there's no such thing. 

Details: www.homemcr.org

David Upton

Gervase Phinn

Sale Waterside Arts Centre
22 September 2017

Gervase Phinn will be appearing at Sale Waterside Arts Centre on Friday September 22. Affectionately dubbed ‘the James Herriot of Schools’, he will be sharing his tales of life as a schools inspector in the Yorkshire Dales.

Details: www. watersideartscentre.co.uk

David Upton

TitanicDance

Palace Theatre
24 September 2017
(Press Night: 24 September 2017)

The Palace Theatre in Manchester will stage the English premiere of of TitanicDance this September.

The show features the three times Irish Dancing World Champion James Keegan along with a cast of 30 dancers and musicians.

TitanicDance tells the story of the world’s most famous ship from its beginning in a Belfast shipyard to its tragic end in the Atlantic Ocean. It first took audiences in Ireland by storm when it opened at the Odyssey Arena, Belfast in 2014, before enjoying a sell-out run at the Millennium Forum in Derry.

Details: www.atgtickets.com/manchester

David Upton

Son of a Preacher Man

Palace Theatre
26 September 2017 to 30 September 2017
(Press Night: 26 September 2017)

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

Bayadere – The Ninth Life

The Lowry
28 September 2017 to 29 September 2017
(Press Night: 28 September 2017)

Shobana Jeyasingh’s latest dance work, at the Lowry in Salford from September 28-29, gets a bold new stage design from Tom Piper, co-creator of the Blood-Swept Lands and Seas of Red poppy installation for the Tower of London.

The world premiere of Bayadere – The Ninth Life is a radical reworking of the world-famous ballet La Bayadère.

Piper has created a series of shifting structures - museum-like vitrines and cages - to frame the nine dancers.

Details: thelowry.com

David Upton

The Charlie Montague Mysteries

Three Minute Theatre
07 October 2017

Tom Taylor brings The Charlie Montague Mysteries to The Three Minute Theatre, Manchester on  October 7.

These one man plays are a revolving gallery of high society dames and eccentric waiters – two murder mysteries for anyone who ever wished Bertie Wooster was a detective.

Details: www.threeminutetheatre.co.uk

David Upton

Under Glass (Clod Ensemble)

The Lowry
18 October 2017 to 21 October 2017
(Press Night: 18 October 2017)

This autumn marks the return of one of Clod Ensemble’s most iconic works, a distinctive promenade production which sits somewhere between immersive installation and staged performance.

It’s at The Lowry in Salford from October 18-21.

Originally commissioned by Sadler’s Wells, Under Glass has been described as a cross between a museum exhibit and a medical laboratory.

Audiences encounter a series of seven glass containers holding eight performers.

Sound and light work together to guide the audience throughout the space.

The Lowry performances will be presented as part of the Manchester Science Festival and accompanied by a season of talks and events to be announced over the summer.

Details: www.thelowry.com

David Upton

Sunset Boulevard

Palace Theatre
23 October 2017 to 04 November 2017
(Press Night: 23 October 2017)

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

Uncle Vanya

HOME, Manchester
03 November 2017 to 25 November 2017

A host of names from theatre and TV will be appearing in Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, which runs at HOME in Manchester from November 3 - 25.

The production, in a version by Australian playwright Andrew Upton, is a highlight of A Revolution Betrayed?, the venue’s season of theatre, film and visual art inspired by the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution.

An ageing, irritable professor returns to his deceased wife’s country estate with his beautiful new young wife, Yelena. The estate has been managed for years by Sonya, the professor’s daughter, and his brother-in-law Vanya, whose self-sacrifice and toil has allowed the professor to enjoy an extravagant lifestyle in the city.

Veteran Manchester actor David Fleeshman plays the professor; the role of Sonya will be played by HOME associate artist Katie West, after appearances in the 2013 Manchester International Festival production of Macbeth, directed by Kenneth Branagh, and as Ophelia in Sarah Frankcom’s Hamlet the following year.

Details: www.homemcr.org

David Upton

Cabaret

The Lowry
07 November 2017 to 11 November 2017

Singer/songwriter Will 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’ multi-award winning production of Cabaret when it comes to the Lowry in Salford in November.

Redknapp rose to fame as a member of the girl group Eternal and most recently entertained the nation with her dancing skills finishing ‘runner up’ in the 2016 series of BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing.

The show runs from  November 7-11.

Details: www.thelowry.com

David Upton

Opera North: Pagliacci, Cavalleria rusticana, L’enfant et les sortilèges, Osud, Trouble in Tahiti, Trial by Jury

The Lowry
15 November 2017 to 17 November 2017

Opera North is returning to The Lowry from November 15-17 with a festival of short operas.

These six new productions are presented in innovative pairings, each a powerful operatic experience in miniature. Love and hate, joy and sadness, courage and fear, trust and jealousy, kindness and cruelty . . .

Audiences can choose from the iconic Italian pairing of Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, the thrilling curtain-raiser for the season, with Mascagni’s gritty Cavalleria rusticana, given an unusual twist by Polish director Karolina Sofulak - or Ravel’s childhood fantasy L’enfant et les sortilèges partnered with Janáček’s rarely-performed Osud (Destiny), both directed by Annabel Arden. Completing the six are two musical theatre classics: Trouble in Tahiti, Bernstein’s stylish satire on the American dream with Canadian mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta as Dinah and Dutch baritone Quirijn de Lang as Sam, and Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury, cast entirely from the Chorus of Opera North and conducted by Oliver Rundell, Opera North Chorus Master.

Details: thelowry.com

David Upton

Cilla the Musical

Palace Theatre
21 November 2017 to 25 November 2017

Following open auditions up and down the country the producers of Cilla the Musical have found their star.

Kara Lily Hayworth has fought off thousands of hopefuls to be named as the girl who will step into the first ever musical about the singing star’s life.

Cilla - The Musical opens in Cilla’s hometown at the Liverpool Empire from September 7-16 before embarking on a nationwide tour including Manchester Palace Theatre from November 21-25.

Kara queued for four hours at London’s Dominion Theatre to have her chance to audition in the first rounds. She made it through to the final 30 before being chosen to do her final audition at the Cavern Club in Liverpool.

Details: www.cillathemusical.com

David Upton

Noir

The Kings Arms, Salford
22 November 2017 to 02 December 2017

Vertigo Theatre Productions (Porno Chic, Black Ice, Last Dance, Ascension, M, The Great American 80s Soap Opera etc) are back after their recent triumph with Watching Goldfish Suffocate that picked up awards at Greater Manchester Fringe, with their most ambitious play ever, Noir.

Loosely inspired by a modern-day story, Noir relocates it to 1950s America.

Veronica Smart is a beautiful 36-year-old married to her husband for 16 years, always wanting to be a star she’s now grown tired of the marriage and wants out. Meeting a group of teenagers at the school she works sets in motion a plan that will include seduction, passion, lies and manipulation.

Stepping in to the femme fatale lead role is award nominated Emma Morgan as Veronica Smart.

Critically acclaimed actor and star of Porno Chic Richard Allen plays 16-year-old Jimmy Flynn.

Vertigo regular Stu Reeve will play the role of Detective Sal Pelletier.

Award nominated writer Danny Clifford plays the role of doomed husband Cliff Smart.

Grange Hill and Black Ice star Joe Slack plays teen rebel Riff Randell.

Anna Hickling plays the virginal but corruptible Vivian Pierce.

Benjamin Gray plays high school dropout/criminal Barry Vance.

More casting to be announced.

It’s written and directed by multi award winning Craig Hepworth.

Noir opens November 22 at The Kings Arms, Salford and plays until December 2.

Details: www.ticketsource.co.uk/vertigotheatreproductions

David Upton

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.

Details: www.watersideartscentre.co.uk 

David Upton

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical

Palace Theatre
12 December 2017 to 06 January 2018

Bronté Barbé will play Carole King in the UK and Ireland tour of the award-winning Beautiful – The Carole King Musical which heads to the Manchester Palace Theatre from December 12 to January 6.

Barbé was a finalist in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s BBC1 television series Over The Rainbow in 2010. Since then she has appeared on stage in both London’s West End and around the UK. Previous credits include Cool Rider in the West End and Princess Fiona in the UK Tour of Shrek – The Musical.

She 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.

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

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.

Details: www.atgtickets.com/manchester

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.

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

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.

Details: www.atgtickets.com/manchester

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.

Details: www.thelowry.com

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.

Details: www.thelowry.com

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.

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

David Upton


Others

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

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

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

Casting around for Christmas Carol

Octagon Theatre in Bolton are looking to cast 12 young people for this year’s festive production, A Christmas Carol, to play a variety of roles including Tiny Tim, Young Scrooge and Little Fan (Scrooge’s sister).

Acting and singing experience is not essential, but there will be singing involved in the roles. Please note these roles will be unpaid.

The production will run from November 17 to January 13. There will be two teams of six young people for alternate performances.

The rehearsal period will begin on September 23 and, for the first few weeks, rehearsals will take place on Saturday mornings. From mid-October, rehearsals will take place on Tuesdays 4-7pm, Thursdays 4-7pm and Saturdays 10am-1pm.

Two open audition workshops are being held at the Octagon on September 6-7.

For more information and an application pack: www.octagonbolton.co.uk

David Upton

Black Roses book back in print

As the tenth anniversary of Sophie Lancaster’s death approaches, Pomona has brought back into print Simon Armitage’s Black Roses, which went on to become an award-winning radio and stage play.

The book is a poetic sequence written in the voice of Sophie, the 20-year-old who was attacked in a Lancashire park in 2007 and died 13 days later. The ferocity of the assault caused distress and outrage when reported and led to the creation of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, a charity opposed to all forms of hate crime and victimisation.

A third of the book’s profits will go to the Sophie Lancaster Foundation.

The radio broadcast of Black Roses won the BBC Radio Best Speech Programme of 2011 and was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award for Poetry. A subsequent stage production at the Royal Exchange won a Manchester Theatre Award.

The book is available at www.pomonauk.co.uk

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