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22nd September 2021

The Show Must Go On: Where to catch theatre in Manchester

An introduction to Manchester’s most well-known theatres
The Show Must Go On: Where to catch theatre in Manchester
Royal Exchange Theatre. Photo: Gidzy @Wikimedia Commons.

Theatre has returned and The Mancunion theatre team couldn’t be happier!

Whilst The Mancunion hopes to keep the Theatre section diverse and eclectic, we are thrilled that theatres have reopened so that we can do what we do best: cover and review many of the incredible shows that we get to see here in Manchester.

So, here’s where to catch theatre in Manchester…

Palace Theatre and Opera House

Manchester’s most famous and popular theatres are sister theatres, the Palace and the Opera House – both owned by ATG.

These theatres get most of the “big” shows, especially musicals. Their upcoming season includes huge shows, such as Heathers and the new musical adaptation of Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

They will also be welcoming the return of their annual pantomime – starring none other than Alexandra Burke, who last performed in Manchester in The Bodyguard at the Palace.

The Lowry

The Lowry, which is a relatively recent addition to the Mancunian arts and theatre scene, has two theatres: the Lyric Theatre and the much smaller Quays Theatre.

Both theatres welcome a wide array of theatre, from plays and musicals to ballet and opera. The Lowry’s line-up is very diverse. The Lowry is especially good for often underrepresented areas of theatre like ballet and opera.

The Lyric is due to welcome some great shows this Christmas, such as Matthew Bourne’s The Nutcracker and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (starring Samantha Womack, who last performed at the Lowry in The Girl on the Train). The latter show is taking the Lowry’s Christmas residency spot.

Smash hit gig musical Six will be returning to the Quays Theatre this Christmas, where it played in both 2018 and 2019 and was due to play last year before the virus that shall not be named (anymore) shut theatre down. Six seems to be a fixture at the Lowry during the holiday season.

The Lowry also features a studio, which hosts more fringe-type shows.

The Royal Exchange Theatre

Situated in the Royal Exchange building, which was famously bombed not once but twice (first the Manchester Blitz, then the 1996 Manchester bombing) is the futuristic Royal Exchange Theatre.

The Royal Exchange (RX) create their own shows, many of which feature notable actors. Maxine Peake has performed their on a few occasions.

Every Christmas, the RX welcomes a musical, usually a notable one, but this year’s musical will be The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart – which even I’ve never heard of! But having seen plenty of shows at the RX, I’ve no doubts that it will be fantastic.


HOME is Manchester’s centre or contemporary theatre, film, art, music and more. As well as two theatres – a theatre and a studio – HOME hosts cinemas, a restaurant, a bar, a gallery, and more!

HOME welcomes lots of fringe-type theatre as well as smaller professional productions. Their shows are different to most shows across Manchester; they’re often didactic and “alternative”.

Hope Mill Theatre

Located in the old Hope Mill, Hope Mill Theatre “was the dream of couple Joseph Houston and William Whelton”.

Whilst Hope Mill Theatre is one of Manchester’s smallest theatres, they create some “big” productions – elaborate sets, stunning costumes, etc.

Hope Mill Theatre’s shows often feature well-known West End and theatre actors. They also host many smaller and fringe shows.


Contact is “where young people change their lives through the arts, and audiences of all ages experience exciting new shows.”

Contact is the leading national theatre and arts venue to place young people at the decision-making heart of everything.

Whilst Contact’s building – which is located on the University of Manchester campus – has been closed for sometime, they have continued to create and put on some incredible theatre.

2021 is especially exciting for Contact, not just because it sees the return of theatre but also the reopening of Contact’s actual building!

So, there we have it – where to catch theatre in the third best city in the world!

Many of these theatres offer discounted tickets for young people and students that you ought to check out.

Whilst we’ve taken you on a whistle-stop tour of some of the Manchester theatres that The Mancunion works most closely with, there are plenty of other arts and theatre venues located in both the City of Manchester and Greater Manchester!

Jay Darcy

Jay Darcy

Theatre Editor. Instagram & Twitter: @jaydarcy7. Email: [email protected].

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