Curtain up on Manchester Theatre Awards

Published: 8 January 2016
Reporter: David Upton

NOMINATED: Maxine Peake in The Skriker Credit: Jonty Wilde

Manchester Theatre Awards winners will be revealed on March 4 at a celebrity event, to be held this year at the city’s new HOME venue. Tickets for the occasion go on sale next week.

Nominations across 20 categories are chosen by a panel of 10 of the region’s leading theatre critics. For the second year there is also a Youth Panel award, chosen by a team of young city theatre enthusiasts.

Yet again Manchester’s Royal Exchange and Bolton’s Octagon Theatre dominate the leading categories, for Best Actor and Best Actress, as well as Best Supporting Actor and Actress. But it is Salford’s Lowry arts centre that is already out in front with 16 nominations across a range of categories.

Among several famous names shortlisted for awards are stage and TV actress Maxine Peake—a previous winner—who this time is nominated as Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance in The Skriker, performed at the Royal Exchange as part of last summer’s Manchester International Festival. Her own play Beryl, about the life of unsung champion cyclist Beryl Burton, is also nominated as Best New Play and Best Visiting Production, at the Lowry.

The city’s Opera House and Palace Theatre venues share the nominations for Best Musical with several of the shortlisted shows again making their première here, as part of Ambassador Theatre Group’s Manchester Gets It First policy.

Michael Ball, who starred in Mack & Mabel at the Opera House, is also nominated as Best Actor in a Visiting Production, while Lucy O’Byrne—the former theatre usher who last year was runner-up on TV’s The Voice—is on the shortlist for her role as Maria in The Sound of Music at The Lowry.

Other awards cover nominations for dance and opera performances and there are four nominations in the coveted Best Production category—nearly all of them homegrown in Greater Manchester.

Similarly the city’s highly-inventive fringe and studio theatre scenes are honoured across four categories.

All the nominees are invited to the awards ceremony on March 4 as well as celebrity guests who present the coveted glass trophies. A limited number of audience tickets are also available.

Manchester Theatre Award nominations

Actor In A Leading Role

Actress In A Leading Role

Actor In A Supporting Role

Actress In A Supporting Role

Actor in a Visiting Production

Actress in a Visiting Production

Performance in a Studio Production

  • Alex Austin in Yen at the Royal Exchange Studio
  • Carla Langley in Cuddles at the Royal Exchange Studio
  • Sian Reese-Williams in Lungs at The Roundabout at The Lowry
  • Abdul Salis in Lungs at The Roundabout at The Lowry

Performance in a Fringe Production

  • Ben Bland in Grass at Mumps shop, Oldham
  • Heather Carroll in Raw at Joshua Brooks
  • Colin Connor in Mr. Smith at the Kings Arms, Salford
  • Jeni Howarth-Williams in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice at the Kings Arms, Salford



  • Educating Rita, directed by Iqbal Khan at Oldham Coliseum
  • An Enemy of the People, directed by David Thacker at Octagon Theatre, Bolton
  • Rites, directed by Cora Bissett and Yusra Warsama at Contact
  • A View From The Bridge, directed by David Thacker at Octagon Theatre, Bolton

Visiting Production

  • Beryl from West Yorkshire Playhouse at The Lowry
  • Constellations from the Royal Court Theatre at The Lowry
  • John from DV8 Physical Theatre at The Lowry
  • Twelve Angry Men from Bill Kenwright at The Lowry

Studio Production

  • Cuddles at the Royal Exchange Studio
  • Light at the Lowry Studio
  • Lungs at The Roundabout at The Lowry
  • So Here We Are at the Royal Exchange Studio

Fringe Production

  • Mr. Smith at the Kings Arms, Salford
  • Parents Without Children at the Three Minute Theatre
  • The Rise and Fall of Little Voice at the Kings Arms, Salford
  • We Are The Multitude at 24:7 Theatre Festival



  • 1984 from Northern Ballet at the Palace Theatre
  • Flex’N Manchester for Manchester International Festival at Old Granada Studios
  • Lest We Forget from English National Ballet at the Palace Theatre
  • Tree Of Codes for Manchester International Festival at the Opera House


  • Cosi Fan Tutte at Clonter Opera Theatre
  • Giovanna dArco for Buxton Festival at Buxton Opera House
  • The Marriage of Figaro from Opera North at The Lowry
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream at Royal Northern College Of Music


New Play

  • Beryl by Maxine Peake at The Lowry
  • Nirbhaya by Yael Farber at Oldham Coliseum and Contact
  • The Rolling Stone by Chris Urch at the Royal Exchange
  • So Here We Are by Luke Norris at the Royal Exchange Studio

Special Entertainment

Youth Panel Award

  • On The Town, from RNCM Youth Perform at the Royal Northern College of Music
  • The Shrine of Everyday Things, from Contact Young Company at Contact
  • TaY Talks, from Truth about Youth at the Royal Exchange
  • The Wardrobe, from Octagon Youth Theatre at Octagon Theatre

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