Manchester Theatre Awards

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

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Currently running

Get Well Soon

Various venues
21 April 2018 to 20 October 2018

Mikron Theatre present Get Well Soon, Ged Cooper’s new play celebrating 70 years of the NHS from April  to October.

Following their productions of In at The Deep End and Best Foot Forward, the award winning Mikron start a national tour at The Square Chapel Centre for the Arts in Halifax on April 21 and then around the UK by road and river until October 20.

Seventy years ago, Nye Bevan gave us free healthcare for all. Can his dream survive the demands and pressures of the 21st century? Can Nurse Danuta save the day with her Polish pastries and proverbs?


David Upton

Long Day's Journey Into Night

HOME, Manchester
10 May 2018 to 26 May 2018

Eugene O’Neill’s masterpiece Long Day’s Journey Into Night, comes to HOME, Manchester from May 9 –16.

It delves into the private lives and failings of the conflicted Tyrone family and due to the intensely personal nature of the play O’Neill refused for it to be performed in his own lifetime. When it was finally staged in 1956, it won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a Tony Award for Best Play.

George Costigan, best known for portraying Bob in Alan Clarke’s 1987 film Rita, Sue and Bob Too, leads a cast of five in the role of the embittered washed-up actor and negligent father, James Tyrone.


David Upton

Week 53 Festival: re-exit

The Lowry, Salford
17 May 2018 to 28 May 2018

As part of the 12-day Week 53 festival at Salford’s Lowry arts centre theatre company Access All Areas present re:exit – an immersive piece examining the experiences of five artists with learning disabilities and their isolation from society.

This production will also be the first major event at Barton Arcade’s new underground venue which plans to bring innovative events to central Manchester.

Learning disabilities, fatherhood, growing up in the care system, retro technology and middle age are just some of the Coming of Age experiences conveyed by new work for Week 53, from May 17-28. 

The second edition of the biennial cross arts festival, sees contemporary performance, visual arts, sound and theatre combine in unexpected spaces around the venue and beyond. The programme already announced includes the stage adaption of Nigel Slater’s Toast.

The theme celebrates 18 years since the opening of The Lowry, now the most visited cultural destination in the North West.


David Upton

The God Delusion

Chorlton Arts Festival
18 May 2018 to 26 May 2018

Chorlton Arts Festival are bringing Richard Dawkins’ best-selling book The God Delusion to the stage for the first time this May.

Thomas Moore, whose previous experience was creating and running Northern Rep until appointed director of Chorlton Arts Festival said: “The only way to describe the show is a light hearted journey through the sound reasoning the book so brilliantly details. It’s somewhere between an atheist support group and watching a stand up comedian.”

The festival runs from May 18-26.


David Upton

Festival of New Writing

Stockport Garrick Theatre
20 May 2018 to 27 May 2018

Stockport Garrick Theatre is undergoing a flurry of activity as it heads towards the end of its current season.

Between May 20-27, Britain’s longest-running Little Theatre will be hosting a Festival of New Writing.

Suzanne Bell of Manchester Royal Exchange will host a talk on the role of the dramaturg; Becky Prestwich who has written for the BBC, will explain how to spot a good idea and adapt it for different formats; Janys Chambers, from Bolton Octagon, will demonstrate how plays are “workshopped.

There will be performance readings of four different plays which have received further development at the Garrick and playwrights Alistair McDowall and Stockport’s own Simon Stephens will talk about their work.


David Upton


The Lowry, Salford
22 May 2018 to 02 June 2018

Samuel Newton is to portray food writer Nigel Slater in the stage adaptation of his best-selling memoirs.

A Week 53 commission, Toast has world premiere run at The Lowry in Salford.

Newton (Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, UK Tour) will appear opposite Lizzie Muncey playing Mum, and Stephen Ventura playing Dad.

Recreating suburban England in the 60s, Slater’s childhood is told through the tastes and smells he grew up with. To reflect this, audiences will be offered samples of the dishes and tastes.

Toast runs at The Lowry from May 22 to June 2.


David Upton

Kerry Ellis

Waterside arts centre, Sale
22 May 2018

West End, Broadway and recording star Kerry Ellis comes to Waterside, Sale as part of her 20th anniversary UK tour on May 22.

She will sing songs from Ed Sheeran to Shirley Bassey as well as her musical hits, telling stories from her career to date. Kerry made her West End debut in 1998 in the musical My Fair Lady at Theatre Royal Drury Lane.


David Upton

Brighton Rock

The Lowry, Salford
22 May 2018 to 26 May 2018

Manchester actor Chris Jack will star in a new adaption of Brighton Rock as part of The Lowry’s Week 53 festival from May 22-26.

Bryony Lavery’s new adaptation of Graham Greene’s iconic 1938 novel of sin and redemption, follows two 17-year-olds Pinkie and Rose as they become involved in a gang war.

The police are impassive - but the courageous and life embracing Ida Arnold wants the truth.

Written in 1938,  Greene's classic novel of good and evil was first adapted for the stage at the Garrick Theatre with Richard Attenborough playing Pinkie, a role he resumed in the iconic 1947 film version. In 2010 Greene’s novel was remade, setting it in 1964, with Sam Riley, Andrea Riseborough and Helen Mirren.

There will be a limited allocation of Pay What You Decide tickets for all Week 53 productions, more details to be announced.


David Upton

You've Got a Friend

The Lowry, Salford
22 May 2018 to 02 June 2018

Off the back of success with The Simon & Garfunkel Story, Maple Tree Entertainment are to present a new concert-style show based on the friendship and musical relationship of Carole King & James Taylor - You've Got A Friend.

Featuring classic hits the cast includes Kyla Brown as King, singer-songwriter Steffan James as Taylor, and a cast of actor-musicians.

It’s at The Lowry in Salford from May 22 to June 2


David Upton

Coming up

Happy Days

Royal Exchange Manchester
25 May 2018 to 23 June 2018

Royal Exchange associate artist Maxine Peake takes on the role of Samuel Beckett’s enigmatic heroine, Winnie, in a new production of Happy Days.

This 20th century classic examines the complexity of a rapidly changing world, from everyday struggles to the epic issues of humanity.

David Crellin joins in the role of Willie in a show that runs in the theatre from May 25 – June 23.


David Upton

A Taste of Honey

Oldham Coliseum
25 May 2018 to 09 June 2018

Oldham Coliseum Theatre transforms into 1950s Salford with a new production of Shelagh Delaney’s A Taste of Honey.

Recognised as a precursor to Coronation Street and one of Morrissey’s lyrical inspirations, it’s a gritty play about a mother and daughter trapped in a destructive and resentful love-hate relationship.

Delaney was Britain’s first working-class female playwright. She wrote A Taste of Honey when she was just 18, in 1958. The play premiered at Theatre Workshop, Stratford East and transferred to the West End the following year. In 1961 it was adapted into a film starring Rita Tushingham and Dora Bryan.

The cast here features Gemma Dobson as Jo, who made her professional stage debut as Sue in the reinstated run of Rita, Sue and Bob Too at the Royal Court, London earlier this year; and Kerrie Taylor, best known as Beth Enright/Beresford in ITV’s Where The Heart Is, as Helen.    

It runs from May 25 –June 9.



David Upton

Revolting Women

Various venues
26 May 2018 to 13 October 2018

From May 26 to October 13, Mikron Theatre Company mark the 100th anniversary of women in the UK being allowed to vote, with the premiere of Revolting Women - Vashti Maclachlan’s new play about the suffragette story as seen through the eyes of the political activist and campaigner for women’s rights Sylvia Pankhurst.

The new play will start its national tour at the Lawrence Batley Theatre and then around the UK by road and river until October 13.

Full of political satire, song and more suffrage societies than you can shake a stick at, Revolting Women unravels a contentious and momentous movement in history.

Based in the village of Marsden, Mikron tour for most of the year on board a vintage narrowboat.


David Upton


Palace & Opera House
26 May 2018 to 30 June 2018

The Palace and Opera House theatres in Manchester present a range of events in May and June.

At the Palace, Brian Conley brings his brand-new variety show Still The Greatest Entertainer (In His Price Range) in June as part of a 27-date UK tour.

A former employee of the Palace, comedian Joe Lycett, returns with two nights of his latest tour I'm About To Lose Control And I Think Joe Lycett on  June 2&6.

TV star Jake Quickenden is also set to perform at the Palace, taking to the stage on June 19 with The Dreamboys.


David Upton

Hacked on Classics

The Lowry Salford
28 May 2018

A new live show from digital artist Seb Lee-Delisle comes to The Lowry in Salford as part of their Week 53 festival.

Hacked On Classics (two shows on May 28) is a celebration of all things digital and aimed at anyone who loves technology.

The inner workings of classic retro gadgets will be revealed, including Nintendo light guns, Casio keyboards and the tube televisions that once dominated living rooms. Using his considerable technical prowess, Lee-Delisle will take these classic machines, strip them down, and give them an extreme make-over with cutting edge technology like super-bright LEDs and lasers.

Lee-Delisle comments: “I’ve been a regular guest on geek comedy show Festival of the Spoken Nerd, and perform a lot to nerdy conferences - this full production is a natural extension of those appearances.”


David Upton

The Snail and the Whale

The Lowry, Salford
30 May 2018 to 03 June 2018

Families can join a tiny snail on her trip around the world when The Snail and the Whale comes to The Lowry in Salford May 30-June 3.

The Tall Stories musical production is inspired by the bestselling picture book  by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, published by Macmillan.

The visit to Salford coincides with the 15th anniversary of the publication which is also being marked with a special edition.

A tiny snail longs to see the world, so she hitches a lift on the tail of a humpback whale. Together they go on an amazing journey, experiencing sharks and penguins, icebergs and volcanoes. But when the whale gets beached, how will the tiny snail save him?


David Upton

Things We Want

Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester
30 May 2018 to 09 June 2018

Hope Mill Theatre’s resident theatre company Play With Fire – who launched thre Manchester fringe theatre venue in 2014 with their production of Orphans - is to stage a UK premiere of Things We Want by Jonathan Marc Sherman.

Running from May 30 to June 9 this dark comedy explores the complexities of brotherly love and takes a sweet and sour look at what makes us happy.  The play received its world premiere off Broadway in 2007, directed by and starring Ethan Hawke.


David Upton

Summer Holiday

Octagon Theatre, Bolton
31 May 2018 to 23 June 2018

Octagon Theatre Bolton are to take a unique journey with a site-specific staging of 1960s musical film Summer Holiday

The venue continue their 50th Anniversary season with their first off-site production co-directed by Octagon artistic director Elizabeth Newman and associate director Ben Occhipinti.

This version begins in Bolton’s new interchange before taking a musical bus journey to the  renovated Albert Halls to see the conclusion of Don’s fun-filled summer escapade across Europe.

Featuring songs such as Bachelor Boy, Living Doll, The Young Ones and the title track, this retelling of the classic musical film features a cast of actor-musicians.

Summer Holiday will be playing at Bolton Travel Interchange and Albert Halls, Bolton between May 31-June 23.


David Upton

Director's Cut

The Lowry, Salford
07 June 2018 to 09 June 2018

The Lowry’s associate artist Kill the Beast return to the Salford venue to debut their Hollywood haunting Director’s Cut from June 7-9.

The live feed comedy horror theatre show debuts here before going on a UK tour including Edinburgh Fringe.

A lead actress takes her revenge from beyond the grave, determined to stop filming on the final (and truly terrible) movie she ever made. A comedy mixed with live footage, on-stage spectacle as well as a blurring of the two.


David Upton


Salford Quays
09 June 2018

Quays Culture host a one-night only, exclusive outdoor performance, with the world-class dance circus production company, Motionhouse.

Charge is a multi-media show about energy, and for the first time will be re-created as an outdoor spectacular.

It will be performed at 21.30, on June 9, at the MediaCityUK Piazza  – FREE for all to enjoy.

Quays Culture brings this fusion of art and science to the public realm, with a 70-minute production, that has never before been seen at Salford Quays.


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

Maeve Binchy's Minding Frankie

The Lowry Salford
19 June 2018 to 23 June 2018

The world premiere production of Maeve Binchy’s Minding Frankie, adapted for the stage, isd at the Lowry in Salford June 19-23..

A family love story full of Binchy’s wisdom, warmth, and humour, it stars Steve Blount and Clare Barrett.

Noel Lynch is struggling with an alcohol addiction, when he gets a call from Stella, a girlfriend with whom he shared a drunken weekend. Stella is having Noel’s child; she is also dying from cancer. Noel must raise their daughter, Frankie. Social worker, Moira Tierney, has other ideas.


David Upton

Dusty: the Dusty Springfield Musical

The Lowry Salford
24 June 2018 to 29 June 2018

Rufus Hound and Roberta Taylor arevto star in Dusty, the Dusty Springfield musical

They join Katherine Kingsley, previously announced in the title role at The Lowry in Salford from June 24-29.

To celebrate the birthday of Dusty Springfield (born 16 April 1939) further casting has been announced today for DUSTY, the landmark new musical about her life which will run at The Lowry from Tue 24 - Sun 29 July.

With a script from BAFTA and Olivier nominated writer Jonathan Harvey (Beautiful Thing, Coronation Street), Dusty is directed by Olivier Award-winner Maria Friedman (Merrily We Roll Along, Stepping Out) and 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.  

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. 



David Upton


Kings Arms, Salford
28 June 2018 to 29 June 2018

The team behind Oct.O.Pus - a new play about austerity and working class struggles are aiming to raise £1,000 in crowdfunding ahead of their performances at The Kings Arms, Salford on June 28-29.

Oct.O.Pus is currently a self-funded production and the people behind it are looking to the community to donate. They are seeking to raise £1,000 for props, costume, set, PR and rehearsal space. 

5% of performance profits will go towards other independent, community-led, DIY and cultural based projects.

In Oct.O.Pus three generations fight for survival and amongst themselves, amidst a precarious existence in a tiny council flat that’s bursting at the seams with anxiety and unmanageable debt.

Playwright James Ernest blends realism and melodrama to create a bleak yet funny reflection of working class struggles at home and in the workplace.

The cast includes Melissa Johns best known for playing Imogen Pascoe in ITV’s Coronation Street and Sadie in BBC’s The Interceptor. She is co founder of TripleC with fellow Street actor Cherylee Houston. 

TripleC is a disabled led organisation that uses drama and theatre based workshops to enrich the lives of people living with disabilities.

Caroline Wagstaffe trained at East 15 Acting School. Recent theatre credits include Betty in From Heaven to Hell (Manchester Fringe,) Kate in the latest Pensive Federation’s production, Significant Other and Roselyn in Play Cock’s version of As You Like It. 

Anna Swan also trained at East 15. Her credits include Julie in Catnip (Arts Theatre - West End,) Bella in Gas Light (Marine Theatre) and appearances in ITV’s Victoria.

Details: or

David Upton

War Horse (relaxed)

The Lowry, Salford
28 June 2018

The Lowry and National Theatre are to stage a ‘relaxed’ performance of the War Horse on the afternoon of June 28..

The performance is for anyone who would benefit from a more relaxed environment in the theatre, including people with an autistic spectrum condition, people with sensory and communication disorders, and those with learning disabilities.

The tale of Albert Narracott, his horse Joey and their  journey through the First World War is returning to The Lowry following two record-breaking runs in 2013 and 2014.


David Upton

Things We Tell The Hours After Midnight

Salford Arts Theatre
01 July 2018 to 31 July 2018

A 16-year-old schoolgirl from Salford will premiere her debut play at Salford Arts Theatre, as part of Greater Manchester Fringe in July.

Libby Hall, who has been attending the Salford Arts Theatre's Young Performers Company since she was nine, has written Things We Tell the Hours After Midnight.

Inspired by Shelagh Delaney, who was a working class writer at 19 when her first play A Taste of Honey was performed, Libby wrote and performed a monologue on feminism and women's place in theatre last year. But this will be her first full length play - and the cast are aged between 11 and 16.

The full programme for Greater Manchester Fringe July 1-31 will be revealed on May 1.


David Upton

The Last Ship

The Lowry, Salford
03 July 2018 to 07 July 2018

The Last Ship,  the musical by rock star Sting sails in to Salford Quays from July 3-7 with Richard Fleeshman (Gideon Fletcher), Charlie Hardwick (Peggy White), Joe McGann (Jackie White), and Frances McNamee (Meg Dawson) starring.

Richard is a familiar face on stage and screen having been acting since the age of 12 when he played Craig Harris in Coronation Street. Stage roles include Sam Wheat in Ghost the Musical, a part he originated in the Manchester premiere and played in the West End and Broadway, Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls (UK Tour) and Bobby Strong in Urinetown (original West End production).

Charlie Hardwick played Val Pollard in the soap opera Emmerdale.

Joe McGann, perhaps best known for his lead role as Charlie Burrows in the comedy series The Upper Hand, has had a wide career spanning theatre, television and film.

Frances McNamee appeared alongside Kelsey Grammer in Big Fish (The Other Palace). Other stage credits include Les Misérables 20th Anniversary Gala Performance (West End).

Jimmy Nail, who was to take the role of Jackie White, is no longer performing.

Producer Karl Sydow explains: “After protracted negotiations carried out in good faith we regret to announce the production’s offer of employment to Jimmy Nail has been withdrawn.  All at The Last Ship thank him for his generosity and enormous contribution during what has been an eight year journey.”

The Last Ship, which was 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 Tyne and Wear, with the closure of the Swan Hunter shipyard.


David Upton


King's Arms, Salford
03 July 2018 to 05 July 2018

Award-winning stand-up comedian Nina Gilligan brings you her new play Rescued to the King's Arms in Salford, July 3-5, as part of Greater Manchester Fringe.

Mum-of-two Nina worked for Greater Manchester probation service and in special needs education, until seven years ago when she launched a career as a stand-up. She has also written for children's theatre, but Rescued is her first "grown-up" play.

"Scruffy is the dog that is the real-life inspiration. He came from a rescue centre and now he has got a brilliant c.v. He's been in a film. He has his own production company and he's just taken over a Labour club."

David Upton

Mamma mia!

Palace Theatre Manchester
03 July 2018 to 14 July 2018

Casting has been announced for MAMMA MIA! which comes to Palace Theatre, Manchester from July 3-14 as part of its international tour.

Shona White (Donna Sheridan), Nicky Swift (Rosie), Helen Anker (Tanya), Tamlyn Henderson (Sam Carmichael), Daniel Crowder (Harry Bright), Matthew Rutherford (Bill Austin), Lucy May Barker (Sophie Sheridan), Phillip Ryan (Sky), Leisha Mollyneaux (Ali), Lottie Henshall (Lisa), Matt Jordan-Pidgeon (Pepper) and Michael Nelson (Eddie) will star in the production. At certain performances the role of Donna will be played by Natalie Langston.


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

Love From A Stranger

The Lowry, Salford
10 July 2018 to 14 July 2018

Agatha Christie’s Love From A Stranger  comes to The Lowry July 10-14.

A whirlwind romance with a handsome stranger sweeps Cecily Harrington off her feet and she recklessly abandons her old life to settle in the remote and blissful surroundings of a country cottage. However her newfound love is not all that he seems…

This rarely seen thriller by the crime writer is rediscovered in a brand new production by Lucy Bailey designed by Mike Britton.


David Upton

Guy: GM Fringe

53Two Manchester
11 July 2018 to 13 July 2018

Greater Manchester Fringe returns July 1-31 with Guy, a new gay musical.

From the creators of 2017's The Marriage of Kim K, this new musical is July 11&13, at 53two - and is set Manchester's city centre including Canal Street on Pride, Pure Gym, Kettle Bell in Ancoats and Hope Mill Theatre.

This electronic-pop musical is about modern masculinity, body image, the hook-ups and downs of dating in the 21st century - and unspoken prejudices.

Doctor Clive Jackson, lead singer of Dr and the Medics, will be appearing in Poezest, Mike Bennett's comic interpretation of Edgar Allen Poe's works, July 18-21 at The Peer Hat in Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

Former Brookside and Coronation Street star Sue Jenkins will be directing two plays this year – From Heaven to Hell by Danny Clifford July 9&14 at Salford Arts Theatre and Peg & Bessie July 18-21 at 53two.


David Upton

Once a Year on Blackpool Sands

Three Minute Theatre & Salford Arts Theatre
11 July 2018 to 21 July 2018

The story of a real-life love affair between two Yorkshire miners is coming to Greater Manchester Fringe July 1-31 - before setting off for a run in New York  off-Broadway at the Davenport theatre and being made into a film.

Once a Year on Blackpool Sands is written by Karlton Parris and presented by Manchester-based theatre company Skint Productions.

Set in Blackpool 1953, before homosexuality was legal in the UK, the comedy focuses on Eddy and Tommy, on their annual wakes week holiday.

It’s at Three Minute Theatre July 11-13 and Salford Arts Theatre July 20-21.

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 - Waterside in Sale, Greater Manchester, is to stage Refract:18 promising days of experiential performance, live music, comedy, theatre and family events.

Refract:18 runs from July 19-28, starting with award-winning PanGottic’s ‘catupultastic’ 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.

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

Fame The Musical

Palace Theatre, Manchester
20 July 2018 to 28 July 2018

A 30th anniversary UK tour of Fame - The Musical opens at Manchester Palace on July 20.

Based on the 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 life.

The show has seen seven West End runs since opening in Miami in 1988 and continues to be one of the best loved musicals across the world.

it will be presented by Selladoor Worldwide, producers of Footloose, Avenue Q , Little Shop of Horrors and Flashdance -  The Musical, with Adam Paulden & Dan Looney. With casting to be announced, Fame will be directed and choreographed by Nick Winston with design by Morgan Large



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

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

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


Ordsall Park
06 September 2018 to 09 September 2018

The portable theatre Roundabout will showcase three world premieres in Ordsall Park from September 6-9.

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. 

With the full programme and casting yet to be announced, local community events will sit alongside.

All three productions will be directed by former Paines Plough associate director Stef O’Driscoll - With A Little Bit Of Luck by Sabrina Mahfouz, Hopelessly Devoted by Kate Tempest, and Blister by Laura Lomas.


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

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
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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


Studio programme

Oldham Coliseum

Oldham Coliseum Theatre’s Studio programme from February to June, sees eight companies present 11 shows running alongside the Coliseum’s main programme.

It opens with Manchester ADP’s production of Finding Alice by Emma Hinds (Saturday and Thursday). ADP is a collective of writers, actors and directors that showcase opportunities for local actors and directors. Finding Alice, set in a Belgian prison in 1918, sees a German officer, Himmel, interrogating prisoners in a desperate attempt to find a spy. 


David Upton

RNCM summer season

Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music has announced its Summer 2018 season. Between April and July the Manchester conservatoire and venue hosts everything from classical, big band and vocal to a collaboration with Manchester Jazz Festival.  

Embarking on the final leg of the RNCM’s year-long French Connections journey, the season continues to explore the music and musicians of France. Forthcoming highlights include Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé at The Bridgewater Hall with conductor Yan Pascal Tortelier, the baritone Roderick Williams singing a Franco-British programme, the French organist-composer-improviser Thierry Escaich providing the soundtrack to the 1927 American silent film Sunrise, and two choral works – Fauré’s Requiem and the Paris-based Italian composer Rossini’s dramatic Petite messe solennelle.

RNCM Young Company, a musical theatre group for young people aged 13 – 18, also returns to the stage alongside performers from The Circus House for a new work of music, dance and acrobatics.


David Upton