Manchester Theatre Awards

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

WINNER: Antony Sher in Henry IV, Credit:

Oh what a knight for Manchester Theatre Awards ceremony

  • Sir Antony Sher honoured in city
  • 3 awards for venue - before it opens
  • 2 big winning shows set to return
  • Stars turn out for annual ceremony

Best Actor

So, five of them, and, to be frank, any one could have received the final accolade, so closely did they run against each other in the panel’s discussions.

Best Actress

One of the year’s most memorable achievements was the Octagon’s two-hander double of Duet For One and Separation, with Clare Foster outstanding as both the cellist with multiple sclerosis (based by writer Tom Kempinski on the real life story of Jacqueline Du Pre) and a crippled actress.

What's on

Buxton Festival 2015

Watch out for women in politics! That is the key to the 2015 Buxton Festival, according to Artistic Director Stephen Barlow

Jodie cracks the whip at Palace

Jodie Prenger stars as the whip-cracking, sharp-shooting Calamity Jane in a brand new production of the classic musical coming to Palace Theatre in Manchester next week

Conti stars in 12 Angry Men

Multi-award winning star of stage and screen Tom Conti stars in 12 Angry Men at The Lowry next week following its record-breaking West End run

Ballet classics for city

Moscow City Ballet returns to Manchester next week with two of their most famous and best loved classical ballets Giselle and Swan Lake

Exchange Young Company on the Brink

Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre is to stage the world premiere of Brink - a collaboration between award-winning writer Jackie Kay and the theatre’s Young Company – in The Studio from next Thursday to March 29

Private Lives for Bolton

The Octagon Theatre is staging Noël Coward’s fashionable comedy of manners, Private Lives, starting next week

Sexual Perversity in Salford

1956 Theatre’s production of David Mamet's Sexual Perversity in Chicago is at Salford Arts Theatre next week

Taking another Turn at Contact

Pirouetting and spinning, Turn lands at Contact in Manchester for its fourth year

Bruntwood winner's premiere

Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre is set to stage the world premiere of Chris Urch’s Bruntwood Prize winning play The Rolling Stone

FLARE15 festival for city

FLARE15 brings together award-winning companies from across the UK and Europe in a week-long festival from July 13-18 in Manchester

Another round of JB Shorts

After 12 sell-out seasons, awards, and nomination for the Manchester Theatre Awards Reallife Theatre Company next month returns with JB Shorts 13

Curious set for Salford return

The National Theatre’s production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time will return to The Lowry in November

Brand new shows for Contact

Summer season 2015 at Contact in Manchester includes a run of brand new performances produced and commissioned by the venue, working with national partners

Storming of the Cornerhouse

The Storming (Part 1 & 2), will be the final artwork at the iconic Cornerhouse in Manchester before the move to HOME in May

Lowry keeps Five Feet in Front

Edinburgh Fringe favourites, The Letter Room, have joined forces with The Lowry on its latest production, Five Feet in Front

Crossed words at Exchange

The Lady’s Not For Walking Like An Egyptian – commissioned by Ovalhouse and presented by innovative theatre makers Mars

Anna Karenina opens at Exchange

Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre launches its new season with Olivier-nominated Ellen McDougall directing Jo Clifford’s stripped-back adaptation of Tolstoy’s classic novel Anna Karenina

Mamma's happy returns

Mamma Mia! returns to the Palace Theatre, Manchester in 2016

Dragged Up in Salford

New Live Theatre's latest production is Dragged Up, written and directed by the audience-voted winning director of the Manchester Theatre Showcase 2014 and acting coach at MH Drama Stevie Helps

Last Dance for Manchester

Vertigo Theatre Productions in Manchester are staging Last Dance

Cirque Surreal moves indoors

After touring under canvas, Cirque Surreal, Europe’s largest new circus, is appearing on stage for the first time at The Lowry this Easter with their show Voyagers

Writers in the frame

An exhibition of new photographs by Simon Annand of some of Britain’s leading playwrights will open at the Royal Exchange in Manchester in April, to mark the 10th anniversary of The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting

On-line drama experiment

A live, online drama experiment accompanies Rule 35, a performance devised and performed by refugee and asylum seeker women, some of whom have experienced the UK’s detention practices

Time to organise those scripts

Organised Chaos Productions have launched their seventh annual script call

Manchester's International Festival line-up

Manchester International Festival has this year lined up world premieres, unique concerts and one-off events, and a number of free attractions

Elizabeth Newman to head Bolton Octagon

The Octagon Theatre in Bolton has appointed Elizabeth Newman as its next artistic director when David Thacker, artistic director since 2009, steps down to become Professor of Theatre at the University of Bolton

Jason Donovan in King's Speech

Directed by Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s artistic director Roxana Silbert, The King's Speech, arrives at The Opera House, Manchester from March 30 to April 4

Two dates for Secret Diaries

Art with Heart presents Secret Diaries at the Lowry in Salford as well as the Met in Bury

Hyde and seeking new work

The 24 Hour Plays at Hyde Festival Theatre in September is a one-day event that brings together 24 actors from both amateur and professional theatre

Team right at HOME for debut

The creative team behind the critically-acclaimed Romeo & Juliet reunites for HOME’s debut production in its new £25m city centre venue in Manchester

Double Olivier award-winner Simon Stephens relocates The Funfair from the 1929 Oktoberfest to North West England and draws parallels with the political tensions and social uncertainties of early 21st century Britain

Panto date for Ted Robbins

Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs comes to Stockport Plaza from December 4 to January 10

Mack, Mabel and Michael Ball

Direct from its premiere at Chichester Festival Theatre, a major new production of classic Broadway musical Mack & Mabel will embark on a UK & Ireland Tour in Autumn 2015, starring double Oliver award-winning Michael Ball as Mack Sennett and will be at Manchester Opera House, October 12-24

Ring Cycle for Lowry next year

Opera North’s highly-anticipated full performances of The Ring Cycle: Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen will come to Salford’s Lowry arts centre from June 13-18 next year

A created for MIF

Commissioned by Manchester International Festival, National Theatre and the Théâtre du Châtelet wonder

Christmas musical for Manchester

Alexandra Burke will reprise her West End starring role when the hit musical The Bodyguard comes to the Palace Theatre Manchester next December


Latest reviews

Image from Giselle
Ony Uhiara as Anna Karenina
Jane in a spot of bother
Company Andrew Lancel being held back by the cast of Twelve Angry Men
Pamela Raith Puck and Bottom - Charlotte Christensen and James Fisher
RNCM Caroline Bowditch in Falling in Love with Frida
Ashley Day as Curly and Charlotte Wakefield as Laurey in Oklahoma
Pamela Raith Jason Manford and Cory English with ensemble
Manuel Harlan Image from Nirbhaya


Adolphe Adam
Moscow City Ballet at The Opera House, Manchester
(reviewer: David Cunningham)


Bush Moukarzel and Dead Centre
Matthew Smyth at The Lowry, Salford
(reviewer: David Cunningham)

Anna Karenina

Leo Tolstoy adapted by Jo Clifford
The Royal Exchange and West Yorkshire Playhouse at The Royal Exchange, Manchester
(reviewer: David Cunningham)

Calamity Jane

Fain, Webster, Freeman, O'Hanlon
Jamie Wilson and others of a Watermill Theatre Production at Palace Theatre, Manchester
(reviewer: Paul Genty)

Twelve Angry Men

Reginald Rose
Bill Kenwright at The Lowry
(reviewer: David Chadderton)


Benjamin Britten/Britten & Pears, after Shakespeare
Royal Northern College of Music at RNCM Theatre
(reviewer: Robert Beale)


Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein
Music & Lyrics with Royal & Derngate, Northampton at The Lowry, Salford
(reviewer: David Upton)

The Producers

Mel Brooks
Adam Spiegel and partners at Palace, Manchester
(reviewer: Alan Hulme)


Yael Farber
Assembly, Riverside Studios and Poorna Jagannathan at The Contact Theatre, Manchester
(reviewer: David Cunningham)

Youth panel reviews


Devised by Contact Young Actors Company and Aqueous Humour
Contact Young Actors Company at Contact Theatre
(reviewer: Lizz Clark)

The Last Word

Christina Maiden
Oldham Coliseum Theatre Learning and Engagement at Oldham Coliseum
(reviewer: Lizz Clark)


Francesca Waite
The Lowry Young Actors Company at The Lowry
(reviewer: Georgina Wells)

The Wardrobe

Sam Holcroft
Lowry Young Actors Company at The Lowry
(reviewer: Evie Tucker)

A Letter to Lacey

Catherine Johnson
Lowry Young Actors Company at The Lowry
(reviewer: Evie Tucker)

Latest articles

The Film’s The Thing: Hamlet on Film

The film of the Royal Exchange’s recent sell-out run of ‘Hamlet’ is something different. A stage to screen version of a classic that is not content to simply reproduce the stage version but aspires to be a film in its own right

David Cunningham

John, I'm not only dancing

"I have probably a fatal attraction towards trying to talk about the things other people don’t want to speak about," says DV8"s artistic director Lloyd Newson about his company's new show John, opening at The Lowry. 

Kevin Bourke

YEN for adventure

There’s surely little doubt that the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting has changed - and very much for the better - the world of new writing for the theatre. Anna Jordan, who won the Bruntwood Prize in 2013 and whose winning play YEN currently has its World Premiere at the Royal Exchange’s Studio, says it has changed her whole world.

Kevin Bourke

Fringe On Film

Some of the best of this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe is coming to a cinema near you.

Kevin Bourke

Whispers Of War

Manchester independent theatre icons Feelgood Theatre Company and 24:7 Festival join forces

Kevin Bourke

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