Hope Mill Theatre
Now this is quite a special one and needs to be shouted about as much as humanly possible. Hope Mill Theatre, situated in an Ancoats warehouse is the love child of Joseph Houston and William Whelton, whom literally spent all of their money creating a musical theatre that could feature up and coming talent, both on the stage and behind it. Hope Mill have cemented their reputation in the city with some rather fantastic productions over the last couple of years, and look set to continue into the future in the same vein.
Hope Mill Theatre, 113 Pollard St, Manchester M4 7JA
0161 275 9141
Royal Exchange Theatre
Quite possibly the most stunning theatre in the city, the Royal Exchange has a history as dramatic as the productions it puts on. Once one of the world’s centres for cotton trade until 1968, it was later turned into a theatre in 1976 and you can still see the trading board in the main hall. The building was damaged in the Second World War and then devastated by the IRA bombing in 1996. Only thanks to £32m raised by a lottery fund to repair the damage was the theatre reopened in 1998.
Royal Exchange Theatre, St Anns Square, Manchester M2 7DH
0161 833 9833
Probably the most iconic there is in Manchester, the Palace has undergone many face lifts in its time but it’s is still as regal as they come. Now home to the majority of the big West End shows that come to town, you can see the likes of Wicked, The Lion King and The Book of Mormon in here if you’re lucky. The first production in the Palace goes all the way back to 1891, with the ballet production of Cleopatra. Naturally it played to a packed out audience.
Palace Theatre, 97 Oxford St, Manchester M1 6FT
Oldham Coliseum Theatre
One of the region’s oldest theatres, the Oldham Coliseum has seen the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Ralph Fiennes and Dame Thora Hird tread the boards here, as well as a few suspicions looking ghosts apparently. In terms of productions, they are always top-notch, with usually the best pantomimes in Greater Manchester, some fantastic comedy and a few shows – brimming with local talent – that will quietly blow your socks off.
Oldham Coliseum, Fairbottom St, Oldham OL1 3SW
0161 624 2829
Comprising a theatre, art galleries, studios and workspaces, Sale Waterside is an important regional hub for both performance and visual art with an understandably packed out calendar throughout the year. A quick look at what they have on uncovers a wealth of community-led projects alongside larger production companies working their magic. You’re guaranteed to find something that takes your fancy here, and the shows are usually well worth the tram trip.
Waterside Arts Centre, 1 Waterside, Sale M33 7ZF
0161 912 5616
3 Minute Theatre
Located in Affleck’s, the 3MT is an independent, DIY arts venue that aims to showcase local talent, as well as offer an invaluable space for actors, performers and comedians. Another place that is always open for anyone looking to showcase some of their skills, if you’re looking to get your name out there, try something out or just create a bit of a buzz – you can’t go wrong.
3MT, Afflecks Arcade, 35-39 Oldham Street, M1 1JG
0161 834 4517
One of the younger theatres in the city, but certainly one of the most impressive, HOME aims to bring you the best in new wave, art house and all things alternative when it comes to their productions. Their theatre shows will usually attempt to go against the grain of what you’d expect to see and experience, as shown with the recent production of Jean Genet’s infamous The Maids and the upcoming Iman Qureshi’s The Funeral Director.
HOME, 2 Tony Wilson Place, Manchester M15 4FN
Manchester Opera House
I’m not going to lie, I once saw the worst production ever of ‘Beyond the Barricade’ in here, where even my poor old granny wanted to leave at the interval, but I imagine most other things they put on is good. It must be said that they always try to squeeze a wide variety of productions and shows into the calendar – clearly some are better than others. Originally opened as the New Queens Theatre, it was renamed in 1920 and is now a Grade II listed building.
Manchester Opera House, 3 Quay St, Manchester M3 3HP
This amazing Art Deco building on Oxford Road is home to about 100 different dance classes and a theatre that showcases those dance classes, as well as offering unique cinema experiences and a place for bands to play. The calendar at the Dancehouse is certainly eclectic, with live comedy shows, recitals, ballet, pantomimes and everything else in between.
Dancehouse, 10A Oxford Rd, Manchester M1 5QA
0161 237 9753
Opened by the Queen in 2000, The Lowry Theatre is a registered charity that’s committed to supporting local talent, which is how all theatres should be really. There are two theatres in here, the larger Lyric and the Quays, both of which play host to a wide variety of productions, comedy and theatre. It’s quite common for some of the smaller West End productions to head here for short runs, but you’ll also find some more local talent treading the boards too.
The Lowry, Pier 8, The Quays, Salford M50 3AZ
0843 208 6000
Taking over an old car showroom a couple of years back, 53Two is a versatile arts venue with room for exhibitions, events, rehearsals, gigs and of course – theatre. There’s two spaces in here, both of which have hosted a wide variety of shows in the past, including the recent (and fantastic) WWI drama The Glasshouse, which just blew me away.
53two, Lawrence House, 8 Albion St, Manchester M1 5LN
The Kings Arms
The kind of theatre space that you’d expect to find in Edinburgh during the Fringe, the King’s Arms have a brilliant calendar of amateur and local theatre productions on an almost daily basis, offering up a space and audience for many of the city’s budding actors, writers and directors. If you’re looking to get a project off the ground, this is the perfect place to start.
The Kings Arms, 11 Bloom St, Salford M3 6AN
0161 832 3605