Manchester Theatre Awards

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

What's on

Currently running

Jubilee Debtors Club

Greater Manchester Fringe Festival
01 July 2018 to 31 July 2018

Solo performance Jubilee Debtors Club comes to the UK for the first time this summer as part of the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival.

Liza leads audiences through a journey of self-help seminars and last-ditch solutions in an effort to get out of the red. It's the currency of love and forgiveness. A refreshing, original and darkly comic performance that talks about dad, Deuteronomy, baseball cards, raspberry tart … and what we owe and to whom.

David Upton

Greater Manchester Fringe

01 July 2018 to 31 July 2018

The seventh Greater Manchester Fringe opens on July 1 with Story Time with Mama G at 1pm and 2.30pm at Tribeca in the heart of Manchester's gay community.

Combining panto, drag and the traditional art of story-telling: Mama G will be sharing tales with children and their families.

Petite Pantos is a theatre company that specialises in pantomimes with a social conscience - championing LGBTQ+ issues, feminism and positive representation of race and gender.

Story Time with Mama G stars Robert Pearce, who played Bungle in Rainbow Live, shared the stage with Tommy Steele and memorably played a tree on a rural tour of Scotland.

Maisie Adam will be presenting her show Vague on July 1-2 at 7.30pm at the King's Arms in Salford.

A Surgeon's Photograph, July 1-3 at Footlights in Media City, is a premiere of a new LGBT musical.

Details of these and many more shows at:

David Upton

Pretty Evil

53Two Manchester
04 July 2018 to 28 July 2018

Hivemind Theatrical Solutions’ new short comedy, Pretty Evil, debuts at the Greater Manchester Fringe.

It's the Chester-based company's first performances in Manchester and is at 53two on July 4, 27 and 28.

David Upton

Aspects of Love

Hope Mill Theatre Manchester
05 July 2018 to 09 August 2018

An intimate revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s romantic classic Aspects of Love, opens at Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester from July 5 to August 9.

A company of 10 will be bringing it to life under the direction of Hope Mill favourite Jonathan O’Boyle.

It’s the third of five in-house musicals in 2018 from the collaboration between Joseph Houston and William Whelton, co-founders of Hope Mill and producer Katy Lipson, from Aria Entertainment, resident producer and co-artistic director.

Aspects of Love features the iconic song Love Changes Everything, which became a huge hit for Michael Ball, who starred in the original production in London and on Broadway.

It tells the story of passion, love and loss across three generations of a family and their artistic companions, against a background of 1940s France and Italy.


David Upton


53Two Manchester
18 July 2018 to 28 July 2018

Death By Pie's Westernized stars ITV's Benidorm star Hannah Hobley ans runs from July 18-28.  

The production takes place in a marquee outside 53two in Manchester making this performance the first of its kind as part of the GMFringe.


David Upton

Refract: 18

Waterside arts centre, Sale
19 July 2018 to 28 July 2018

Following the success of its first ever Refract festival last summer – Sale’s Waterside arts centre has an eclectic line-up for Refract:18.

Performance, live music, comedy, theatre and family events take place at Trafford’s arts venue from July 19-28.

Kicking off Refract:18 is PanGottic’s evening of clowning, contraptions, comedy and courage in Long Shot while later in the festival Cabaret From The Shadows sees the theatre transformed into a pop-up cabaret club for one night only to present a sexy and unnerving show.


David Upton

The Fishermen

HOME, Manchester
19 July 2018 to 28 July 2018

New Perspectives present the world premiere of The Fishermen at HOME in Manchester from next Thursday to July 28.

Adapted from Nigerian author Chigozie Obioma’s 2015 Man Booker Prize-shortlisted novel, this allegory of brotherhood, vengeance and fate is set in a small Nigerian town, where a pair of brothers slip away to fish at a forbidden river along with their two older brothers.



David Upton

Fame - The Musical

Palace Theatre Manchester
20 July 2018 to 28 July 2018

Keith Jack, Mica Paris and Jorgie Porter star in the new UK Tour of Fame - The Musical opening at Manchester’s Palace Theatre for a brand new 30th anniversary tour.

Based on the 1980  film, Fame - The Musical follows the lives of students at New York’s High School For The Performing Arts as they navigate their way through the highs and lows, the romances and the heartbreaks and the ultimate elation of life.

A bittersweet but uplifting show explores issues that confront many young people today: prejudice, identity, pride, literacy, sexuality, substance abuse and perseverance.

Keith Jack, playing Nick Piazza, is best-known as runner-up on BBC1’s Any Dream Will Do.

Mica Paris who joins the cast as Miss Sherman is one of the UK’s most respected female singers with top 10 hit singles and albums worldwide spanning her 30 year career.

Jorgie Porter, playing Iris Kelly, is best known for her role as Theresa McQueen in the Channel 4 drama serial Hollyoaks.


David Upton

A Different Way Home

Guide Bridge Theatre, Audenshaw & Kings Arms, Salford
21 July 2018 to 25 July 2018

A Different Way Home by Jimmie Chinn plays this year’s Greater Manchester fringe at the Guide Bridge Theatre, Audenshaw, July 21-22 and on July 25 at the Kings Arms.

Audiences hear from two members of a family from a small, close knit Northern town, tell a story from two different perspectives. Leslie who has lived with his mother all his life, relays the events leading up to her death. In Act Two we hear her side of the story.

The play started life as a short radio play, was subsequently televised by Granada in front of a small studio audience, and found new life as a two-act play at Oldham Coliseum with Roy Barraclough.

David Upton

Big Dumb Cats

Crown & Kettle, Manchester
22 July 2018 to 26 July 2018

A one-man show aimed at anyone over 18 who has a parent is coming to the Greater Manchester Fringe. Big Dumb Cats centres around New Zealand comedian Daniel John Smith finding out his mother has cancer one afternoon while at work. From this a number of anecdotes explore the theme of acceptance - when do we need to just accept something for what it is and when can we change things for the better - and what does either approach do to us as people?

Smith has performed at the New Zealand International Comedy Festival (2015 Best Newcomer) and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with his show Children & Other Mistakes.

Big Dumb Cats will be at The Crown & Kettle, July 22-26.


David Upton

Coming up


The Lowry Salford
24 July 2018 to 28 July 2018

Dusty, the landmark new musical about the life of legendary singer Dusty Springfield will run at The Lowry in Salford from next Tuesday to Sunday.

Joining Katherine Kingsley (Piaf, Singin’ in the Rain) in the title role will be actor, comedian and presenter Rufus Hound (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Wind in the Willows) as Dusty’s manager Billings and Roberta Taylor (The Bill, EastEnders) as Dusty’s mother Kay. 

With a script from BAFTA and Olivier nominated writer Jonathan Harvey (Beautiful Thing, Coronation Street), Dusty features many of the singer’s soulful pop hits, including I Only Want to Be with You, Son of a Preacher Man and You Don't Have to Say You Love Me.  

London-born Dusty Springfield’s career started in the late 1950s. She became known across the world for her soulful voice and iconic look with hits spanning four decades. Dusty was recently voted one of the most influential women of the last 100 years in a poll by BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. Her 1969 masterpiece Dusty In Memphis is considered one of the greatest albums of all time and Dusty has been inducted into both the US Rock and Roll and UK Music Halls of Fame. 

The show draws on the memories of her close friend, manager and authorised biographer Vicki Wickham, her lifelong personal assistant Pat Rhodes, and friend and record company executive Tris Penna. 

Box office: 0843 208 6005 or

David Upton

Love Lab

Kings Arms Salford
24 July 2018 to 25 July 2018

S’Animate, as part of the Manchester Fringe, are introducing a new show - Love Lab.

The play is about the quest for love in a digital age. How are reality TV, dating apps and social media affecting relationships and the ability to make meaningful new ones?

It’s at The Kings' Arms, Salford July 24-25.


David Upton

Romeo & Juliet

Heaton Park, Manchester
25 July 2018 to 12 August 2018

After their successful Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2017 award-winning theatre company, Feelgood Theatre Productions, return to Heaton Park, Manchester, to stage Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet.

This site-sympathetic piece transforms the venue into the set for the two young star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately reconcile their feuding families.

Performed by a cast, many of whom are returning from the 2017 Dream, the show is fused with stunning music from Gounod to the Stone Roses, with sword fighting and dance by graduates

from the Northern Ballet School and a special glimpse inside the closed Heaton Hall.

It runs from July 25 to August 12.

Suitable for Ages 8+; accessible for wheelchair users (strong pusher over grass!); and

most scenes are between 10-20 minutes long with an easy walk between scenes.


David Upton


Kings Arms Salford
26 July 2018 to 28 July 2018

Motherlogues – Telling Stories From The Women Of Manchester sees Forked Theatre return for the fifth edition of their hit show for The Greater Manchester Fringe 2018 at The King's Arms July 26-28.

It’s a verbatim style show that gathers stories from women across the globe on the subject of 'motherhood'.


David Upton

What The Ladybird Heard Live

Lowry, Salford
01 August 2018 to 26 August 2018

What The Ladybird Heard Live is at the Lowry in Salford from August 1-26.

Based on the best-selling picture book by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks, it stars two crafty robbers, one tiny ladybird and a farmyard of fun.

This action packed 55-minute adventure has original songs, live music, puppetry, audience participation and laughs for families with children aged three and up.


David Upton

An Officer and a Gentleman - The Musical

Opera House, Manchester
13 August 2018 to 18 August 2018

Casting for the world premiere of An Officer And A Gentleman - The Musical includes Emma Williams as Paula Pokrifiki, Jonny Fines as Zack Mayo, Ray Shell as Foley, Ian Macintosh as Sid Worley and Jessica Daley as Lynette Pomeroy.

The production will open at Leicester’s Curve, before coming to Manchester Opera House August 13-18 as part of the UK and Ireland tour.

Four-time Olivier Award nominee Williams’s previous credits include Truly Scrumptious in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Mrs Henderson Presents and Love Story, all in the West End. This year Emma won the What'sOnStage Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical for playing Helen in Cameron Mackintosh's revival of Half A Sixpence at the Noel Coward Theatre.

Jonny Fines will play the iconic made famous by Richard Gere in the ‘80s film. Jonny most recently played the role of Rooster in the West End production of Annie at The Piccadilly Theatre.  Other theatre credits include the UK Tours of The Sound of Music and Avenue Q.


David Upton

Madagascar the Musical

Palace Theatre Manchester
14 August 2018 to 18 August 2018

Matt Terry – winner of 2016’s X-Factor is to play Alex The Lion in a stage adaptation of Madagascar – The Musical which opens on July 16 prior to a UK Tour and lands on the Palace Theatre Manchester from August 14-18.

He will be joined by a cast including Antoine Murray-Straughan, Timmika Ramsay, Jamie Lee-Morgan, Shane McDaid, Laura Johnson, Jessica Niles, Victoria Boden, Matthew Pennington and Darren John.

Based on the animated motion picture, the show follows animal friends as they escape from their home in New York’s Central Park Zoo and find themselves on an unexpected journey to King Julien’s Madagascar.

Irt’s brought to life by Selladoor Family, the producers behind James And The Giant Peach, Seussical and The Owl And The Pussycat.


David Upton


Hope Mill Theatre Manchester
14 August 2018 to 23 August 2018

Closets was originally a short BAFTA accredited film starring Julie Hesmondhalgh and  has been adapted to a full-length stage musical production premiering this summer at Hope Mill Theatre Manchester.

An all star cast includes Natasha Hamilton (Atomic Kitten, Rent, Fat Friends Musical) Lloyd Daniels (X Factor, Joseph tour)  and Sam Retford (Ackley Bridge) .

The musical features 12 original songs taking the audience on a musical journey through four different decades, with original songs influenced by artists such as Madonna, Oasis and Abba.

It runs from August 14-23.


David Upton

Ockham's Razor: Tipping Point

Upper Campfield Market Hall, Manchester
15 August 2018 to 19 August 2018

Contact in Manchester kicks off the second half of its’ In the City season with aerial circus sensation Ockham’s Razor.

Fusing break-dance and martial arts with acrobatics and trapeze at Upper Campfield Market Hall from August 15-19, Ockham’s Razor present their award winning show - Tipping Point.


David Upton

The Tempest

Abraham Moss School, Manchester
15 August 2018 to 18 August 2018

Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre’s Young Company present their version of The Tempest from August 15-18.

Over 30 performers, aged 15-25, take their audience on a journey through the deserted corridors of Abraham Moss School. Director Nickie Miles-Wildin, whose own version of Miranda was seen at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympics opposite Ian McKellen’s Prospero, makes her Exchange directing debut with this unique production of a familiar text. The production will feature integrated BSL and creative captioning throughout.


David Upton

Gulliver's Travels

Queens Park, Bolton
16 August 2018 to 27 August 2018

Michael Peavoy, Robert Jackson, Alexander Bean and Anne O’Riordan have been cast in Bolton Octagon Theatre’s promenade park production Gulliver’s Travels. 

The retelling of the classic Swift novel will be in Queens Park August 16 – 27.

 Taking the lead role will be a giant puppet of Gulliver that is 8m tall and currently the largest puppet being made in the UK by Handmade Parade in Hebden Bridge.

Throughout the production the cast will be joined by young performers and community companies culminating in the final scene that brings together local choirs from across Bolton.


David Upton


3MT Manchester
23 August 2018

An original new play Burnout debuts in Manchester in August.

It takes place across the course of one night - at a 24 hour gym at midnight after Raf, seemingly the greatest guy in the world, has gone missing. Burnout tackles the stigma surrounding mental health, follows the relationship of a lesbian couple and explores issues of love, loss and suicide.

It’s on August 23 at 3MT Venue, Afflecks Arcade, Manchester.

David Upton

Bolton Octagon on the road

Various venues
01 September 2018 to 31 December 2018

The remainder of this year and next sees the Octagon Theatre Bolton map out a season of dramas, musicals and family shows across locations around the town.

The new Bolton Interchange, Queens Park, Macron Stadium and Bolton’s Albert Halls will all play host to productions whilst the town centre building undergoes a £10 million redevelopment.

Kicking off the new season with And Did Those Feet, Les Smith’s story of the Bolton Wanderers at the 1923 FA Cup Final takes place at the home of the Wanderers, the Macron Stadium.

In December the Octagon will be presenting their yearly festive production The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, at the Premier Suite, Macron Stadium.

They start 2019 with The Rise and Fall of Little Voice by Bolton born Jim Cartwright.

Oscar Wilde’s witty comedy The Importance of Being Earnest runs from June 6-15 in the setting of Bolton’s Albert Halls.

Shows already announced in the season out of the building include the Octagon’s next production Summer Holiday. Starting from Bolton Interchange this promenade production will take audiences on a bus journey to Victoria Square before concluding the story at the Octagon.

Bringing together Bolton’s young people and community choirs, an open-air promenade production of Gulliver’s Travels will take place in Bolton’s Queens Park, August 16-27.

David Upton

Concert performances

Royal Exchange Manchester
02 September 2018 to 23 September 2018

Manchester venue and national promoter Band on the Wall partners with Royal Exchange Theatre to present a series of concerts featuring intimate performances from Mercury Rev, James Holden & The Animal Spirits, Jane Weaver, The Slow Show, The Lone Bellow and Lankum.

The programme commences on September 2 with the return of Brooklyn-based Americana trio The Lone Bellow who performed a stunning sold out show at Band on the Wall earlier this year, followed by folk from across the Atlantic, in the shape of Dublin traditional folk four-piece Lankum on September 23.


David Upton

Porno Chic

Footlights Theatre, Salford Quays
06 September 2018 to 08 September 2018

Winner of Best New Drama at the GMF Awards, nominated for three Broadway World UK Awards, the play about the most successful adult movie of all time is coming back to the region where it premiered with a whole new production ahead of a national tour

Set against the backdrop of the sexual revolution, women’s liberation, Vietnam and Nixon, Porno Chic follows Harry Reems (Richard Allen) on his journey from struggling actor to porn legend and public enemy number one after the release of the adult movie Deep Throat.  

There are three performances only at The Footlights Theatre, Salford Quays on Sept 6-8.

It is not suitable for under 16s as it contains nudity, scenes of sexual nature and strong language.


David Upton


Ordsall Park
06 September 2018 to 09 September 2018

Local actor Katherine Pearce will star in Roundabout pop up theatre when it comes to Ordsall Park from September 6-9.  

Hailing from Newton-Le-Willows Katherine plays eight characters across three new plays; Island Town by Simon Longman, Sticks And Stones by Vinay Patel, and How To Spot An Alien by Georgia Christou.

Roundabout which last year popped up at Little Hulton Goes Large festival is presented by Paines Plough and Theatr Clwyd in association with The Lowry.

A line up of Local community events sitting alongside is yet to be announced.


David Upton

Return of the Soldier/A Christmas Story the Musical

Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester
06 September 2018 to 01 December 2018

Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester and Aria Entertainment announce their final two productions of 2018 – a new British musical The Return of the Soldier, adapted from Rebecca West’s 1918 novella (September 6-29) and the UK premiere of Broadway hit, A Christmas Story The Musical – written by the songwriting duo behind The Greatest Showman – October 26 - December 1

This year has seen Hope Mill  named 2018 Fringe Theatre of the Year by The Stage and the recent critically-acclaimed London transfer of their production of Pippin.


David Upton

Autumn/winter programme

HOME, Manchester
10 September 2018 to 28 February 2019

HOME in Manchester has a new theatre programme, celebrating international artists and emerging talent, as well as developing original work in two theatre spaces.

At the heart of the new season are two fresh takes on classic texts. Premiering this September is OthelloMacbeth, a fusion of two of Shakespeare’s works in a new ensemble production. Next, a new spin on Genet’s radical, subversive and playful modern classic, The Maids, explores the complex relationship between servant and employer.

HOME continues to curate an international programme featuring companies from around the world. Hofesh Shechter Company, who sold-out their February 2018 run at HOME, bring their brand-new production SHOW to Manchester for the first time. Ground-breaking theatre company 1927 also return, with their landmark production The Animals and Children Took to the Streets blending theatre and animation.

HOME continues to offer entertainment for all ages at Christmas. For 2018 it’s the music spectacular Släpstick for families and adults, and White, a playful show for 2 – 4 year-olds.


David Upton

Royal Exchange autumn/winter season

Royal Exchange Manchester
14 September 2018 to 02 March 2019

Epic change is at the heart of Manchester Royal Exchange’s 2018 autumn/winter season.

New plays sit alongside translations and reinterpretations of classic texts, whilst an ambitious approach to travelling theatre brings new plays directly into communities that inspired them.

Queen Margaret is a new play that draws on original language from Shakespeare. Dangerous and determined she was a monarch, politician, and mother who resolved to secure the crown for her son. The production runs in the Theatre from September 14 –October 6.

The Mysteries is a contemporary cycle of new plays that explore how the places and landscapes in which we live shape us. Each hour-long play will be created and presented in the place that inspired it (touring from September 10 – October 21) before returning to the Exchange October 25 – November 11.

Following his performance of King Lear, Don Warrington returns to the Exchange to play Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s Death Of A Salesman. Playing in the Theatre from October 11 – November 17.

The Producers, over Christmas, builds upon the Exchange’s reputation for reinventing celebrated musicals in its in-the-round theatre.

And in a Royal Exchange co-production with Headlong, actor Julie Hesmondhalgh returns to the stage in Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage And Her Children. February 8 – March 2.


David Upton

Matilda the Musical

Palace Theatre Manchester
18 September 2018 to 24 November 2018

The UK and Ireland tour of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda the Musical has announced that Craige Els will extend his contract and play Miss Trunchbull at Manchester’s Palace Theatre from September 18 to November 24.

Liverpool-born Els played the rolein the West End for three years between 2014 and 2017 before joining the tour when it opened in March. He will be joined by Carly Thoms (Miss Honey) and Sebastien Torkia (Mr Wormwood), as well as former West End cast-mate Rebecca Thornhill (Mrs Wormwood).

Winner of more than 85 international awards, Matilda The Musical will open for a ten week run before continuing on tour. The West End production continues to play at the Cambridge Theatre, where it is now in its seventh year and booking until October 2019.

The production will be accompanied by Change My Story, a new nationwide education programme inspired by Matilda The Musical, to engage children in the Greater Manchester area.


David Upton

Oldham Coliseum season 2018/19

Oldham Coliseum
24 September 2018 to 12 March 2019

Oldham Coliseum’s award-winning home-produced drama sits alongside co-productions with, and tours from, companies from across the country in their next programme.   

The season opens on September 24 with a week that brings the new and often daring work seen in the Studio theatre to the Coliseum’s Main Stage. Highlights include the Coliseum’s Pick of the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival; Manchester theatre company, Play With Fire; and Manchester Theatre Award winner The Narcissist in the Mirror by Rosie Fleeshman.

From October 2-13, the Coliseum presents Dishoom!, a new play by Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, in co-production with Rifco Theatre Company as part of a three-year partnership. Set in the summer of 1978, it follows teenagers, Simon and Baljit, who are inspired by the Bollywood classic film, Sholay.

Manchester’s own award-winning comedy duo LipService are back with their cult Brontë spoof Withering Looks to mark the 200th anniversary year of Emily Brontë’s birth.

English Touring Theatre returns to Oldham from October 23-27 with their Othello - one of Shakespeare’s most startlingly contemporary plays.  

Highlight of the festive season is the Coliseum’s renowned traditional family pantomime, which this year is Cinderella. from November 10 – January 12.

In the New Year the Coliseum presents a home-grown production of Martin McDonagh’s A Skull in Connemara, opening on February 22.

Opening on March 12, Middle Ground Theatre Company present Barry Reed’s best-selling courtroom thriller The Verdict, made famous by the Oscar nominated film with Paul Newman and James Mason.

David Upton

Rock Of Ages

Opera House, Manchester
25 September 2018 to 29 September 2018

The UK and Ireland tour of musical Rock Of Ages arrives at the Opera House Manchester from September 25-29.

Kevin Kennedy will play Dennis, Zoe Birkett is Justice, Jodie Steele is Sherrie, Luke Walsh is Drew, Lucas Rush is Lonny, Andrew Carthy is Franz, Vas Constanti is Hertz and Rhiannon Chesterman Regina.

The show is an LA love story ‘lavished’ with 25 classic rock anthems and features  

We Built This City, The Final Countdown, Here I Go Again, Can’t Fight this Feeling and I Want To Know What Love Is.


David Upton


The Lowry, Salford
29 September 2018 to 06 October 2018

The National Theatre will open a tour of Rufus Norris's Macbeth at The Lowry in Salford in September.

Casting is to be announced.


David Upton

The 19th Emergency

Z Arts Manchester
06 October 2018

The 19th Emergency takes place on Saturday October 6, noon-10pm, in Manchester's Z-arts (incl. STUN Studio), with the callout for proposals open until August 15.

Artists working in live art and contemporary performance are invited to submit proposals of short pieces of work, works-in-progress, or extracts of longer works for inclusion in this event. Proposals are also encouraged for durational, one-to-one and limited capacity work, as well as performance installation and intervention-based works in-and-around the spaces available.       

Emergency is a pay-what-you-decide, public micro-festival + open submission platform; an opportunity for artists to meet, show, and peer-review work; a selection event for a number of small Works Ahead commissions.

David Upton

Everything that happened and would happen

Mayfield, Manchester
10 October 2018 to 21 October 2018
(Press Night: 10 October 2018)

Everything that happened and would happen, by German composer and artist Heiner Goebbels, will receive its world premiere in Manchester from October 10–21.

The work integrates live music, performance and large-scale multimedia installations and will take place in Mayfield, an historic former railway station.

It’s being presented with Manchester International Festival as a pre-Factory event for its new world-class arts space being developed in Manchester.

Goebbels’ new work is inspired by contrasting source materials of European history from the First World War to the present day.

It spans 120 years of European history with a landscape of 20 performers, dancers, objects and new music.


David Upton

Lisa Pulman Sings Streisand

Bolton Albert Halls
11 October 2018

An evening celebrating Barbra Streisand comes to Bolton Albert Halls later this year.

Liza Pulman Sings Streisand is for one night only on October 11.

With a 6-piece band,  the singer, comedienne and one third of satirical trio Fascinating Aida, celebrates her idol, featuring new arrangements of classic songs The Way We Were, Second Hand Rose, You Don’t Bring Me Flowers, People and more.



David Upton


Manchester Science Festival
13 October 2018 to 16 October 2018

Contagion, a new dance piece by Shobana Jeyasingh Dance, is one of the first events to be added to the Manchester Science Festival 2018 programme in October.

Performed in the setting of IWM North, this work will explore viral infection, reflecting on the First World War and the devastating effect of pandemics.

Parallel warfare (man vs man and virus vs man) will influence the choreography and design.


David Upton

Let It Be

Opera House, Manchester
22 October 2018 to 27 October 2018

Beatlemania is about to Get Back!

Producers of the show have announced that Let It Be will be heading back to venues across the UK – including Manchester.

Let It Be will arrive at the Opera House Manchester from October 22-27 and incorporates a brand new Let It Be Part II into the show.

It sees The Beatles reunite for one night only, set a decade after the group went their separate ways.

After opening in Cardiff, the updated Let It Be show will visit Cheltenham, Liverpool, Nottingham, Hull, Edinburgh, Dartford and Manchester.


David Upton

Orbit Festival

HOME, Manchester
23 October 2018 to 03 November 2018

HOME stages its third annual Orbit Festival, featuring performances from some of the most exciting theatre-makers working in the UK today, from October  23-November 3.

Last year the event looked at our place in the world. This year’s takes it a stage further by presenting new work from theatre-makers across the globe who want to explore how we face the world, our relationship with the past, how we remember, the stories we tell ourselves, and what it is that makes us who we are today.

Festival highlights include performances by celebrated Manchester poet and writer Lemn Sissay reading from his new collection, Gold From the Stone; Selina Thompson’s multi-award-winning salt., about ancestry, home, and being part of a diaspora; and Windows of Displacement, Akeim Toussaint Buck’s vital and timely exploration of the politics surrounding the movement of people.


David Upton

Calendar Girls

The Lowry, Salford
30 October 2018 to 10 November 2018

Gary Barlow and Tim Firth's award-winning musical Calendar Girls will star Fern Britton, Lorraine Bruce, Anna-Jane Casey, Sara Crowe, Ruth Madoc, Rebecca Storm and Denise Welch when it returns to The Lowry from October 30 until November 10. 

The production played a six-month London season at the Phoenix Theatre last year, and, before that, sold-out seasons in Leeds and Salford.   


David Upton

MIF & Warehouse Project

Mayfield, Manchester
05 November 2018 to 10 November 2018

Manchester International Festival are working with The Warehouse Project to stage four specially curated shows taking place across five nights in November. All performances take place at Manchester’s immense Mayfield, a former railway station, where they last came together for the 10 x 10 weekend back in 2015.

Curated with BBC 6 Music’s Mary Anne Hobbs, Special Edition brings a musical offering with shows from across the musical spectrum. The vast space of Mayfield will provide the perfect stage for this world-class line-up, with unique visuals from lighting designer Stuart Bailes.

These shows are part of a series of pre-Factory events, paving the way for the opening of The Factory, a new major arts space being developed in the heart of the city that will be operated by MIF which returns next year. Special Edition will run alongside The Warehouse Project's full 2018 season still to be announced.


David Upton

The Habit of Art

The Lowry, Salford
12 November 2018 to 17 November 2018

The revival of Alan Bennett’s The Habit of Art will come to The Lowry November 12-17.

The play explores friendship, heartache and the motional cost of creativity. It is centered on a fictional meeting between poet W. H. Auden and composer Benjamin Britten.

Bennett wrote it as a play-within-a-play – actors Fitz, Henry, Tim and Donald are rehearsing a play called Caliban's Day under the direction of stage manager, Kay, and in the presence of the playwright, Neil.

The Habit of Art premiered at the National in November 2009, directed by Nicholas Hytner and starring Richard Griffiths, Alex Jennings and Frances de la Tour.  The National then toured the production in autumn 2010 with a new cast led by Desmond Barrit, Malcolm Sinclair and Selina Caddell.

Suitable for 12+


David Upton

Kinky Boots

Opera House, Manchester
12 November 2018 to 01 December 2018

Kinky Boots, winner of every major best musical award, has cast Callum Francis to play Lola; Paula Lane, known for her role as Kylie Platt in Coronation Street, will play Lauren; and Joel Harper-Jackson will play Charlie.

The tour will open at Royal & Derngate in Northampton on September 19, returning to the home of this heart-warming British story, whilst the West End production continues at the Adelphi Theatre until January 12.

The touring production will be at Manchester Opera House November 12-December 1.


David Upton

Raymond Briggs' Father Christmas

Waterside arts centre, Sale
04 December 2018 to 31 December 2018

Following the success of last year’s Christmas show Raymond Briggs’ The Bear, Waterside in Sale, Trafford will this year stage Briggs’ Father Christmas.

It’s from Pins and Needles - the team behind last year’s The Bear – and the Lyric Hammersmith.

Briggs’ grumpy but loveable Father Christmas gets ready for his busiest day of the year: Christmas Eve.  Watch as he prepares his Christmas deliveries, feeds his reindeer and finally takes flight into the snowy night.

It runs from December 4-31.

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


Opera House, Manchester
08 December 2018 to 30 December 2018

Manchester Opera House has announced the first stars joining the line-up for Manchester’s family pantomime this festive season, with Coronation Street bad boys Connor McIntyre and Les Dennis swapping the cobbles for their clutch bags as the Ugly Sisters in Cinderella.

It will again be produced by Qdos Entertainment, continuing their partnership with Manchester Opera House following last year’s production of Dick Whittington, which recently won the Manchester Theatre Award for Special Entertainment.

Further casting will be announced later.

Cinderella plays from December 8-30.


David Upton

Doctor Dolittle

The Lowry, Salford
11 December 2018 to 05 January 2019

Mark Williams will star in the title role when the tour of Doctor Dolittle plays at The Lowry this Christmas.

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. 

Williams’ theatre credits include Fanshen at the National , Doctor of Honour for Cheek by Jowl, Moscow Gold, Singer, A Dream of People and As You Like It.

Doctor Dolittle runs from December 11 -  January 5.


David Upton

The Band

The Lowry, Salford
16 January 2019 to 26 January 2019

Tim Firth's musical The Band, with the music of Take That, which premiered in Manchester last year, retuyrns to the region at The Lowry from January 16-26 next year.

It stars Rachel Lumberg as Rachel, Alison Fitzjohn as Claire, Emily Joyce as Heather, Jayne McKenna as Zoe, AJ Bentley, Nick Carsberg, Curtis T Johns, Yazdan Qafouri and Sario Solomon, collectively known as Five To Five, winners of BBC’s Let It Shine, as The Band, 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.

It’s about what it’s like to grow up with a boyband.  For five 16 year-old friends in 1992, ‘the band’ is everything.  25 years on, they try once more to fulfil their dream of meeting their heroes.


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


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

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

Motown the Musical

Opera House, Manchester
26 February 2019 to 23 March 2019

Motown the Musical will embark on a major tour which will be heading to Manchester Opera House  February 26 –March 23, 2019.

The London production continues to play to standing ovations at the Shaftesbury Theatre where it is about to enter its third year.

With music and lyrics from the Motown catalogue and book by Motown founder Berry Gordy, it features a live orchestra playing 50 Motown tracks including Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, I’ll Be There, Dancing In The Street, Stop! In The Name Of Love, My Girl and I Heard It through the Grapevine and tells the story behind the classic hits.

 Berry Gordy says: “The UK has always been the gateway for Motown to the rest of the world. I’m thrilled we are taking a second production of Motown the Musical to the rest of the UK.”


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