Manchester Theatre Awards

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

MTA chairman Kevin Bourke (left) hands the Production and Special Achievement trophies to David Thacker (centre) watched by awards show host Justin Moorhouse, Credit: Ant Robling

Octagon Theatre shapes up to a haul of awards

One of the country’s most distinguished theatre directors, and the first-ever Professor of Theatre at Bolton University, David Thacker was honoured with a Special Achievement trophy at the Manchester Theatre Awards.

... and the winners are: Actor in a Leading Role

The four outstanding nominations here are divided equally between the Royal Exchange and Octagon Bolton, whittled down from a list several times that size, indicating just how strong the competition is this time around.

Actress in a Leading Role

Over the past few years the panel has genuinely struggled to pare down the size of this category, which reflects the strength of performances and breadth of female roles offered.

What's on

Mousetrap sprung at Opera House

Agatha Christie's classic murder mystery The Mousetrap returns to the Opera House, Manchester, this week.

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Save The Last Dance at Palace

Save the Last Dance for Me – at Manchester Palace Theatre this week - swings back through the music of the early 60s.

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Ride a Mighty Walzer in Manchester

The comic writing of Howard Jacobson is brought to the stage in a world premiere adaptation of his best-selling novel The Mighty Walzer at the Royal Exchange in Manchester starting this week.

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Ross & Rachel for one night only

Ross & Rachel, a play by James Fritz that has already received glowing reviews in Edinburgh, London and New York comes to the Lowry in Salford for one night this week.

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Comedy homage to sci-fi drama

Bootworks Theatre’s all-action comic homage to one man’s obsession with classic sci-fi action movie Terminator 2, Now Listen To Me Very Carefully, was nominated for a Total Theatre Award in 2015

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Forest drama on the city fringe

In the first UK production of In a Forest, Dark and Deep outside of London, newly-formed theatre company Stuffed Horse, team up with director David Chafer to bring the drama to the Manchester Fringe programme.

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Space adventure for Sale

The House at the Edge of the Universe is a punk-rock, post-man space adventure for ages 6+ and families at the Waterside centre in Sale, Greater Manchester.

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Northern debut for Littlewood play

Conscious Theatre's production Joan, Babs and Shelagh Too has its northern debut at Three Minute Theatre in Manchester July 14-15.

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Wedding Singer musical for Manchester

A new production of The Wedding Singer will play the Opera House, Manchester, from May 15-20.

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Physical comedy on the Fringe

Winners of Best Comedy Show at The Greater Manchester Fringe 2015, Buckle Up Theatre introduce: Journeys, fast-paced, physical comedy at this year's Manchester Fringe.

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Camping out in Manchester

Participants of Hope Street Ltd’s Emerging Artists Programme 2016 have set up camp in a Manchester city centre office block and invite anyone to come and join them to discuss important immigration and homelessness.

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Contacting the world

For one week in July, Manchester Contact’s Contacting the World festival will celebrate collaboration between six young companies from five countries.

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Politically provocative in Oldham

Turtle Key arts come to Oldham Coliseum Theatre’s Studio performance space from July 11-13 with politically provocative play, Love, Bombs and Apples, the latest work from award winning playwright Hassan Abdulrazzak (Baghdad Wedding, The Prophet).

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Royal Exchange on a roll

Manchester Royal Exchange’s autumn/winter 2016 season has already proved to be the theatre’s fastest selling season ever.

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Queen's award for 24:7 creators

Manchester’s 24:7 Theatre Arts Network has been given the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. 

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Rufus Hound for musical premiere

Comedian, actor and presenter Rufus Hound will star as lovable menace Mr Toad for the world premiere of the new musical adaptation of The Wind in the Willows by Julian Fellowes.

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Kevin's commitment to musical

Coronation Street legend, Kevin Kennedy is to star as Jimmy’s Da in the UK tour of the musical The Commitments written by Roddy Doyle, which comes to the Palace Theatre, Manchester, from March 27 to April 8.

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Justin gives Edinburgh preview

Justin Moorhouse: People and Feelings, on  July 3, at the King’s Arms, Salford, is a preview of his Edinburgh Fringe show.

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Last chance to catch Maggie play

Liverpool touring company Gerundagula Productions visit Oldham Coliseum Theatre Studio on June 30 with one of the final performances of their acclaimed modern drama, Meet The Real Maggie Thatcher.

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Street demonstration for Salford play

Chapel Street, one of Salford’s main roads, is to be closed for five nights in July as a local performance group re-enact a historic demonstration from the 1930s.

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Memory play for fundraiser

Talking Stock Productions present The Last Memory, a poignant yet positive play about dementia, at Oldham Coliseum Theatre on July 1, as a fundraiser for the Alzheimer Society.

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New chair gets the youth vote

Contact in Manchester has announced Dil Sidhu as the new chair of the board. He takes over from Charles Lauder, who steps down after nine years.

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Lear alone for Manchester

A unique opportunity to experience King Lear, told through the very mind of the man himself, dispenses with the other 29 characters in the original play and can be seen in Manchester at the end of July.

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Sherrie Hewson rings in for Aladdin

Benidorm, Loose Women and Coronation Street favourite, and star of the all-new Are You Being Served, Sherrie Hewson will be appearing as the Genie of the Ring in Aladdin at Manchester Opera House this Christmas.

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Oldham mixes it up for autumn

Oldham Coliseum Theatre’s autumn-winter 2016-17 sees a mix of classic stories from Patrick Hamilton and Terence Rattigan, popular modern comedies from Paul Allen and Tom Wells and a comedy take on classic Jane Austen.

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Youth dancing towards The Lowry

U.Dance, the nation’s annual youth dance festival, takes over The Lowry in Salford this summer

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City's lucky 11 for NYT

The National Youth Theatre has announced that 11 successful applicants from Manchester out of 750 new members from 4,750 applicants are to join in 2016 for the organisation’s 60th anniversary year.

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Deadline looms for Fringe play

A newspaper columnist facing the horror of the blank page and soul-sucking self-doubt takes centre stage in a new drama at Greater Manchester Fringe.

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Extended Bed goes on tour

A Bed of Shards is a new one-act play by Jane McNulty, (Eastenders, Doctors, Our Lady of the Goldfinches) and directed by award-winning Ian Townsend (All the Bens).

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Star names for RNCM honours

The RNCM has announced its 2016 list of honorands, which includes music producer and songwriter Pete Waterman, cellist Alasdair Tait, and composer Gary Carpenter.

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Monsta first for Chester

North West-based Monsta Productions announces their first professional production of Jason Robert Brown’s musical The Last Five Years.

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Going behind the camera

Concrete Jungle, a new play, gives the audience a behind the camera look at the phenomena of observational documentary film-making where journalists go out with one small camera and make films by themselves.

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Giselle premiere in Manchester

English National Ballet will stage the first look of its new production of Giselle by award-winning choreographer Akram Khan at The Palace Theatre, Manchester on September 27, followed by a national tour.

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Fifth year of city fringe fest

Greater Manchester Fringe Festival, from June 24 to July 31, is back for its fifth year with a variety of events for all ages - including drama, comedy, book launches, debates, poetry, puppets, live music a live art battle and children's shows.

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Di play planned for city fringe

Princess Diana faked her own death – according to a new play in this year’s Greater Manchester Fringe Festival.

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Lady's day at Coliseum

An eccentric little old lady is pitted against a gang of ruthless criminals in dark comedy The Ladykillers at Oldham Coliseum Theatre.

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Quays fest promises Broken

Quays Festival returns to Salford Quays this summer with a one-off performance of multi-media stage show Broken – a journey to the centre of the earth.

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Difficult B!RTH for Exchange

B!RTH, at Manchester Royal Exchange in October, is an international theatre festival developed by the Exchange and The Oglesby Charitable Trust to provoke debate on the vast inequality in healthcare across the world.

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Stewart's numbers come up

Stewart McDonald is writer/director of a new comedy play, Millionaires Anonymous, which after a successful run at the Unity Theatre in Liverpool last year, is now heading further afield across the North West.

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Hooked up for panto

John Altman returns to Stockport Plaza to star as Captain Hook this festive season in the Peter Pan’ from December 2 to January 8.

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Wonderland set for city date

Following sold out seasons in Tampa, Texas and Tokyo, Frank Wildhorn’s Wonderland receives its UK and European première in a brand new British production, which debuts at the Edinburgh Playhouse next January ahead of a UK tour which brings it to Manchester Palace Theatre.

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Just Like That for fringe fest

The Tommy Cooper Show is coming to Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester, as part of Greater Manchester Fringe July 1-31.

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Billy bound for city

Not soon enough for many people Billy Elliot the Musical will come to Manchester Palace Theatre from November to January.

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Latest reviews

The Mousetrap
Liza Maria Dawson Sarah Emmott
Sam Ryley Olivia Greene in The 39 Steps
Dan Tsantilis Multi Story
Andrew Foster-Williams as Gunther, Mats Almgren as Hagen and Mati Turi as Siegfried in Opera North's Götterdämmerung
Clive Barda Lars Cleveman as Siegfried
Niamh McCann in On Corporation Street
Graeme Cooper Kelly Cae Hogan as Brünnhilde in Opera North's Die Walküre 
Clive Barda Michael Druiett as Wotan
Opera North The Ladykillers - Roberta Kerr, Howard Gray, Christopher Wright, Chris Hannon, Henry Devas, Matthew Ganley and Simeon Truby
Joel C Fildes


Sarah Emmott and Rachel Moorhouse
Art with Heart at The Lowy, Salford
(reviewer: David Cunningham)

The 39 Steps

Patrick Barlow after Buchan and Hitchcock
Fiery Angel and Tricycle Lonodon Productions in association with West Yorkshire Playhouse at The Lowry
(reviewer: Robert Beale)

Multi Story (Reveal Festival, Bolton)

Victoria Brazier, Curtis Cole, Sarah McDonald Hughes, Andrew Sheridan and Eve Steele
Monkeywood Theatre and the Octagon Theatre Bolton at Car Park adjacent to the Octagon Theatre Bolton
(reviewer: David Cunningham)

On Corporation Street

ANU Productions
ANU productions and HOME at HOME, Manchester
(reviewer: Kevin Bourke)

The Lady Killers

Graham Linehan from the screenplay by William Rose
Oldham Coliseum in association with Harrogate Theatre at Oldham Coliseum
(reviewer: Alan Hulme)

Youth panel reviews

It Snows

Bryony Lavery
Octagon Connections at Bolton Octagon
(reviewer: Georgina Wells)

What Are They Like?

Lucinda Coxon
Woodhey High School at Bolton Octagon
(reviewer: Georgina Wells)


Carl Grose
Lowry Young Actors at The Lowry
(reviewer: Lizz Clark)


Snoo Wilson, Gary Kemp and Guy Pratt (adapted from Vladimir Mayakovsky)
Bluecoat at The Lowry
(reviewer: Lizz Clark)

Climate of Fear

Contact Young Company at Contact Theatre
(reviewer: Harriet Mallion)


Janne Teller. Adapted by Amanda Dalton
Royal Exchange Young Company at Royal Exchange
(reviewer: Georgina Wells)

What's Done Is Done

Martin Stannage and CAN Young Artists
CAN Young Artists at HOME
(reviewer: Georgina Wells)

How To Be Better

Contact Young Actors Company/ Common Wealth at Contact Theatre
(reviewer: Georgina Wells)

TaY Talks

Truth about Youth
Kate Reynolds at Royal Exchange Theatre
(reviewer: Lizz Clark)

Latest articles

King Lear at The Opera House

Michael Pennington, one of the great Shakespearian actors of his generation, has brought his version of King Lear to Manchester. What is the enduring appeal of the play, does he think?

Kevin Bourke

Feelgood Return To Heaton Park

An exciting cross-arts collaboration based on stories about Heaton Park and the Hall there mark the return of Feelgood Theatre Company to the home of their promenade triumphs.

Kevin Bourke

First Break

Oldham Coliseum's First Break festival aims to puts its Studio firmly on the map for new writing, says Associate Director Chris Lawson.

Kevin Bourke

Commemorating The Somme

The national commemoration of the Battle of The Somme, the First World War clash that cost a million lives, will be in Manchester on July 1 and you can help.

Kevin Bourke

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