Theatres across the Greater Manchester area will be going head to head in the annual Manchester Theatre Awards shortlist.
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 premiere 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.