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

Heartbeat brought back to life

The long-running television drama series Heartbeat is brought to life on stage at the Opera House, Manchester this week

Dissection of the Lowry

The anatomy of The Lowry’s 1,700-seat Lyric Theatre will be dissected, and an audience of only 200 invited to explore the auditorium and stage as an international cast of dancers and musicians present Clod Ensemble’s celebration of the structure of the human form

New Me for Royal Exchange

Following highly successful runs in Edinburgh and London, Made In China’s Tonight I’m Gonna Be The New Me opens in The Studio at Manchester Royal Exchange from next Thursday to Saturday

Origins of murder at Lowry

Retracing the bloody steps of the world’s first murderer; Manchester based physical theatre company Animikii Theatre premiere Origins in The Studio at The Lowry, next Thursday and Friday

Based on the story of Cain and Abel, it follows a killer as he confronts life’s most primeval questions: faith, death and immortality

Oddity on a regional odyssey

Rose van Leyenhorst and co-director Chris Hill have teamed up to create The Oddity, a contemporary exploration of The Odyssey introducing ​Tilly​,​ a girl lost between ancient fiction and modern reality

Blooming May at Lowry

The Lowry in Salford has plays, musicals and family productions in May, including new festival Week 53 from the start of the month

Psycho-comedy for Salford

Psychopathy & The Single Girl is a new stage play for Manchester

On Parade from May 13

The revival of classic musical Parade at Hope Mill Theatre in Ancoats runs from May 13

From RNCM 'pupil' to President

Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music has announced that Sir John Tomlinson CBE has been appointed the next president, starting in January

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

Contact stuck on Glue

Glue by Louise Wallwein is at Contact Flying Solo,  May 10- 11

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

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

A+ to Z-Arts

Z-arts in Manchester have a brand-new season of family entertainment for summer featuring digital storytelling, a giant bear hunt and a post van in the park

Pygmalion to open at Coliseum

Oldham Coliseum Theatre is staging George Bernard Shaw’s classic provocative comedy, Pygmalion

Pinter's Birthday Party in Oldham

London Classic Theatre come to Oldham Coliseum Theatre in May, as part of their 37 venue tour of Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party

Contact Flying Solo again

Manchester Contact’s annual Flying Solo Festival returns from May 5-14

Jackie turns over new leaf in city

Jackie the Musical heads to the Opera House, Manchester, in May

Two world premieres for Lowry fest

Week 53 – a major new cross arts festival at The Lowry, Salford runs from April 28 to May 8

Relationships made real at Exchange

Following runs in Edinburgh and London, Made In China’s Tonight I’m Gonna Be The New Me opens in The Studio at Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre from April 28-30

Show your colours with Chameleon

Company Chameleon is calling out for young people, age 11 to 18, with raw dance talent and a desire to dance, to join Chameleon Youth, its new youth dance company for Manchester

LazyTown tour for Manchester

Children’s show LazyTown is back, celebrating its 10th anniversary in the UK with a nationwide tour of a new stage show which comes to Manchester Opera House on June 24-25

Singin' in the Rain in Bolton

Salisbury Playhouse are staging iconic musical Singin’ in the Rain as a brand new actor-musician production in a co-production with Octagon Theatre Bolton and New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme

Garland musical for Opera House

West End and Broadway hit End of the Rainbow is at the Opera House, Manchester, from May 3-7, as part of a major new UK tour, starring Lisa Maxwell as Judy Garland

First Break fest for Oldham

First Break Festival returns from May 11-14, showcasing an eclectic mix of new work from artists and companies from across the North West in the Oldham Coliseum Theatre Studio

Avenue Q parks up again

Avenue Q returns to the Palace Theatre, Manchester, from May 3-7

First of five world premieres

Sarah Waters’ evocative novel The Night Watch has been adapted for the stage by Olivier-nominated writer Hattie Naylor and commissioned by Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre as the first of five world premieres this season

A mighty Lear for Manchester

Michael Buffong and Don Warrington bring an epic new version of King Lear to Manchester Royal Exchange until May 7

Looking Back in Bolton

Octagon Theatre Bolton present a 60th anniversary production of Look Back in Anger, John Osborne’s ground-breaking classic, which changed the face of British theatre in the mid-1950s by presenting the voice of the Angry Young Man

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

Royal date for Pennington

Renowned Shakespearean actor Michael Pennington – a four time Olivier Award nominee – takes the title role in King Lear at the Opera House, Manchester, May 31 to June 4, in a new production that marks the first time the RSC regular has played the iconic role in the UK

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

Ballroom drama for Oldham

Kiss Me Quickstep is a brand new play from Amanda Whittington, looking at the world of competitive ballroom dancing – both on and off the dance floor – and the real people behind the sequins, fake tans and fixed smiles

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

Mamma Mia masses in May

Full casting has been announced for Mamma Mia! which comes back to the Palace Theatre, Manchester from May 10 to June 4

Thrones spoof for Lowry

Graeme of Thrones, at the Lowry in Salford on May 10 takes a fun theatrical journey through the Seven Kingdoms with avid Game of Thrones super fan Graeme and cohorts, ex-crush Briony and best friend Paul

You can't keep Vertigo down

Award-winning, critically-acclaimed and three times MTA nominated Vertigo Theatre Productions are back with a new comedy at Salford’s King’s Arms venue from May 4-11

Billy bound for city

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

Dance fest for Salford



Latest reviews

Tell Me On A Sunday
David Lonsdale & Steven Blakeley
Andrew Billington Photography ETO Don Giovanni (Zerlina, Don Ottavio, Donna Anna, Donna Elvira)
Richard Hubert Smith Steven Miller as James I in The James Plays
Manuel Harlan Catherine Carby and female chorus in Iphigenie en Tauride
English Touring Opera Care Takers

Get Carter set wide
Leo Warner NDT2
Johan Persson Kiss Me Quickstep
Andrew Billington

Tell Me On A Sunday

Music Andrew Lloyd Webber and Lyrics Don Black with additional contributions from Jackie Clune
The Watermill in association with Jamie Wilson, Gavin Kalin Productions and Paul Elliott at The Palace Theatre, Manchester
(reviewer: David Cunningham)


David Lonsdale (based on the books and TV series)
David Graham Entertainment/ITV at Opera House, Manchester
(reviewer: Paul Genty)

Don Giovanni

Da Ponte, Mozart
English Touring Opera at Buxton Opera House
(reviewer: Robert Beale)

The James Plays

Rona Munro
National Theatre of Scotland; Edinburgh International Festival; National Theatre of Great Britain at The Lowry, Salford
(reviewer: David Upton)

Iphigenie en Tauride

Guillard and Gluck, after Euripides
English Touring Opera at Buxton Opera House
(reviewer: Robert Beale)

Care Takers

Billy Cowan
Truant Company at The Lowry, Salford
(reviewer: David Cunningham)

Chamaco ("Kiddo")

Abel Gonzalez Melo, translated by William Gregory
(reviewer: Kevin Bourke)

Get Carter

Torben Betts, adapting the novel by Ted Lewis
Northern Stage, Newcastle at The Lowry, Salford
(reviewer: David Cunningham)


Nederlands Dans Theater 2 at The Lowry
(reviewer: Robert Beale)

Kiss Me Quickstep

Amanda Whittington
Coliseum Theatre and New Vic Theatre, Newcastle under Lyme at Coliseum Theatre Oldham
(reviewer: Diana Stenson)

Youth panel reviews


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)


Philip Ridley
Oldham Coliseum Young Rep at Oldham Coliseum
(reviewer: Georgina Wells)

The Wardrobe

Sam Holcroft
Octagon Youth Theatre at The Octagon Studio
(reviewer: Harriet Mallion)

The Accordion Shop

Cush Jumbo
Buxton Opera House Young Company at The Lowry Studio
(reviewer: Harriet Mallion)

Latest articles

Rocking out at the Viva! Festival

The Viva! Festival at HOME gives audiences the chance to check out the development of a hybrid type of theatre. 

David Cunningham

Making 'Contact' : The Contact Theatre's new season is launched

The 2014/15 season was a great success for Manchester’s Contact Theatre with increased attendance, shows undertaking national tours and international and television versions promised for the future. Can the New Year build on the success?

David Cunningham

Mind The Gap

These might seem to be golden years for Manchester theatre, with a thriving Fringe, big touring shows, an international festival and flagship venues where there might once have only been tired rep companies plying their Ayckbourn or Coward. But are we too smug? Is there a whole level missing? Do we need to bridge that gap?

Kevin Bourke

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