Musicals not to miss in Manchester this spring and summer
By Jay Darcy
Manchester has been a little lacking in musical theatre as of late – in part because the city’s premiere theatre, the Palace Theatre, has been hosting Disney’s Beauty and the Beast for a 2-month residency. However, we’re now welcoming the return of musical delights, with everything from Sondheim’s Passion, starring West End legend Ruthie Henshall, to the UK tour of the Barbican’s smash-hit revival of Anything Goes, starring another West End legend, Kerry Ellis!
Beauty and the Beast
Palace Theatre (Thursday 31st March until Saturday 4th June)
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
HOME (Wednesday 27th April until Wednesday 11th May)
‘I’m the new Berlin Wall. Try and tear me down!’
“Welcome to a euphoric night on the rock ‘n’ roll rollercoaster with singer Hedwig – a hedonistic genderqueer anti-heroine seemingly hellbent on destruction. This darkly humorous self-love story, powered by a live band, epic rock-inspired music and hard-hitting lyrics, explores gender identity, acceptance and the freedom to be whoever you want to be. Directed by Jamie Fletcher and starring divine drag queen and sensational songstress Divina De Campo, this multi-Tony award-winning musical breaks all the rules – challenging us all to create a world where everyone is valued and everyone is loved.”
Hope Mill Theatre (Thursday 5th May until Sunday 5th June)
“Olivier Award winner and Musical Theatre icon Ruthie Henshall will lead a reimagining of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s multi-award-winning Passion at the Hope Mill Theatre. Directed by Michael Strassen this revival will reenergise the tale of love, sex and obsession in a new dynamic staging.
“Arguably Sondheim’s most lyrical and romantic work, Passion is a legendary musical based on Ettore Scola’s Italian film, Passion d’Amore. Situated in 19th Century Italy, the production tells the tale of a young soldier, Giorgio, who is obsessively pursued by the relation of his superior officer, Fosca – a woman prone to severe melancholy and mania. Exploring the consequences of intense passion and obsessive adoration, Passion is a ravishing and thought-provoking look at the lengths people go to for desire.”
Passion is also based on Passione d’Amore‘s source material, Iginio Ugo Tarchetti’s novel, Fosca.
Singin’ in the Rain
Opera House (Monday 9th – Saturday 14 May 2022)
“High-energy choreography and sumptuous set design (including over 14,000 litres of water on stage every night) combine with the charm, romance and wit of one of the world’s best- loved films. Singin’ in the Rain features the glorious MGM score including Good Morning, Make ‘em Laugh, Moses Supposes and the legendary Singin’ in the Rain. Don’t save it for a rainy day, book your tickets now!”
Frankenstein: How to Make a Monster
Contact Theatre (Tuesday 10th – Saturday 14th May)
“Frankenstein: How To Make A Monster is a critically-acclaimed, Off West End Award Winning gig-theatre production by Battersea Arts Centre and BAC Beatbox Academy, inspired by the original monstrous tale of power and persecution.
“Part electrifying gig, part thrilling theatre, Frankenstein: How To Make A Monster is a powerful and poetic show that pushes the power of the human voice to its expressive, musical and rhythmic limits. Six performers with six microphones take apart Mary Shelley’s original and reimagine a world of modern monsters – from our over stimulated digital age to the pressures to conform – while taking musical inspirations from Pachelbel to The Prodigy.
“The production marks 10 years of nurturing rising talent and pushing the boundaries of sound and music with BAC Beatbox Academy; Battersea Arts Centre’s young performance collective. Frankenstein will leave you asking: Who are the monsters we fear? Who created them? And how the hell did they just do that with their voices?!”
The Barricade Boys – Bring Him Home Tour
Opera House (Sunday 15th May)
“Starring past performers from the global theatrical sensation that is Les Misérables, The Barricade Boys have entertained fans around the world since they formed in 2015 and now, they are back on tour in 2022. The Barricade Boys’ Bring Him Home Tour will feature music from some of the best-loved shows from the West End and Broadway stage, including Phantom Of The Opera, Miss Saigon, Jersey Boys and, of course, Les Misérables, as well as hits from some of pop and rock music’s all-time greats including Queen, Elton John, The Beatles, Ed Sheeran and Adele.
“Blending powerhouse vocal harmonies and slick dance routines with a journey through the decades of musical theatre, the Boys are bound together by their shared experience of performing in the world’s longest running musical. A night at the musicals like no other, The Barricade Boys share anecdotes from the shows they have starred in, including the West End hits Mamma Mia, Wicked, Billy Elliot, The Book Of Mormon, The Sound Of Music and Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to experience a sensational night celebrating the very best of musical theatre interspersed with your rock and pop favourites!”
The Cher Show
Opera House (Tuesday 17th – Saturday 21st May)
“35 smash hits – one pop goddess. Get ready to TURN BACK TIME in this outrageous new musical! Six decades of stardom, over a hundred million records sold. Legend, icon, Queen. She is Cher and this is her show. Music icon turned Hollywood royalty, the Grammy, Oscar, Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning Queen of re-invention has conquered it all. It’s now time to turn back time with this fiercely fabulous kick-ass new musical, from the writer of Jersey Boys.
“Three Chers is better than one! Three West End stars play Cher as we span her iconic career: Millie O’Connell (Six, Rent) as BABE, Danielle Steers (Bat Out of Hell, Six) as LADY, and the Olivier Award nominated Debbie Kurup (The Prince of Egypt, The Bodyguard) as the ultimate diva, STAR.
The Rise and Fall of Little Voice
The Lowry (Monday 6th – Saturday 11th June)
“One of Britain’s greatest modern plays, The Rise & Fall of Little Voice, is embarking on a UK Tour this year. The Olivier Award-Winning comedy-drama from Jim Cartwright has earned international acclaim across the globe, including a Golden Globe winning smash-hit film starring Jane Horrocks and Michael Caine.
“Meet Little Voice and Mari Hoff. A mother and daughter central to the heart of this Northern fairy-tale, but as far apart in character as can be. Little Voice leads a quiet and unassuming life, seeking companionship and joy from music’s most iconic singers, whilst Mari prefers the sound of her own voice, indulging in a life of booze, cheap thrills and seedy men.
“Left to her own devices, LV starts to embody the famous divas she plays on repeat, swapping the grey backstreets of Northern England for the bright lights of Hollywood and Broadway, all from the safety of her own bedroom. When Mari starts dating small-time club owner Ray Say, LV’s astonishing impersonations of Shirley Bassey, Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland to name a few, are thrust into the spotlight. Transformed and sensational, LV might just be Ray’s one and only chance to hit the big time, but what will the consequences be for mother and daughter?
“Starring TV favorite Shobna Gulati (Coronation Street, Dinnerladies, Loose Women), British soap royalty Ian Kelsey (Emmerdale, Casualty) and ‘the girl of a thousand voices’ and two-time Drama Desk Award Nominee Christina Bianco, as Little Voice. Cartwright’s timeless and iconic tale explores the highs and the lows of small-town dreams, family rivalry and finding your voice in a noisy world. With humour, heart and countless powerhouse ballads all performed live on stage, featuring music from Judy Garland, Shirley Bassey, Billie Holliday and many more, this life-affirming production will rouse even the weariest of souls.”
Palace Theatre (Thursday 9th – Saturday 18th June)
“Anything Goes is the ‘musical equivalent of sipping one glass of champagne after another’ (The Times) and as ‘delightful, delicious, and buoyant as helium’ (Evening Standard). The show will star Multi Award Winner Kerry Ellis(Wicked, We Will Rock You)as Reno Sweeney and Olivier Award Winner Denis Lawson (Bleak House, Star Wars) as Moonface Martin. Joining them on board is Oliver Award Winner Simon Callow (Art, Death in Paradise) as Elisha Whitney and Musical Theatre Royalty Bonnie Langford (EastEnders, 9 to 5) as Evangeline Harcourt.
“Featuring a 50 strong cast and ensemble of the finest we have to offer on stage (including tap dancing sailors!) and a full-sized live orchestra, this uplifting production of Anything Goes features heart-warming romance, farcical fun and spectacular show stopping dance routines. Directed by the multi-award-winning Broadway director and choreographer Kathleen Marshall, this gold plated production features Cole Porter’s joyful score, including ‘I Get A Kick Out of You’, ‘You’re the Top’ and the show stopping ‘Anything Goes’.”
Palace Theatre (Monday 27th June – Saturday 9th July)
“Brace yourselves sisters – the habit is coming to Manchester! Don’t miss this eagerly anticipated brand new production of the Broadway and UK smash hit musical Sister Act. This hilarious musical comedy is premiering in Manchester ahead of a major London run.
“All your prayers have been answered this summer with a stunning all-star cast, including national treasure and comedy legend Jennifer Saunders as Mother Superior and The Greatest Showman’s incredible Keala Settle. They are joined by TV and West End legend Lesley Joseph, Olivier Award-winner and star of Tracy Beaker Clive Rowe, West End sensation and Hairspray favourite Lizzie Bea and Emmerdale and Waitress star Sandra Marvin as Deloris, everyone’s favourite nun on the run!
“Disco diva Deloris’ life takes a surprising turn when she witnesses a murder. Placed under protective custody she is hidden in the one place she shouldn’t be found – a convent! Encouraged to help the struggling choir, she helps her fellow sisters find their true voices as she unexpectedly rediscovers her own.”
“Featuring original music by Tony and 8-time Oscar award-winner Alan Menken (Disney’s Aladdin, Enchanted) and songs inspired by Motown, soul and disco, this heavenly musical is joyous and uplifting in equal measures. A musical sent from above, Sister Act is the brilliant, must-see show which raises the spirits and warms the soul time after time.”
Opera House (Saturday 16th – Saturday 23rd July)
“Chichester Festival Theatre’s critically acclaimed, landmark production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific launches in Manchester for 9 performances only in 2022, directly prior to a London season. This powerful love story, set on a South Pacific island during World War ll, is brought thrillingly to life in an epic new five-star production directed by Chichester Festival Theatre’s Artistic Director Daniel Evans (Me and My Girl and Fiddler on the Roof).
With a sensational cast of over thirty led by Julian Ovenden (Bridgerton, Downton Abbey, Merrily We Roll Along and Grand Hotel) andGina Beck (Matilda, Wicked and Les Misérables), and a full orchestra, this ravishing musical is set to be the must-see theatrical event of the year. Boasting one of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s most memorable scores, this much-loved Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical features songs such as ‘Some Enchanted Evening’, ‘I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair’ and ‘Bali Ha’i'”.
Palace Theatre (Tuesday 9th August – Saturday 13th August)
“You Loved Them For A Reason. Now, for the first time, you can see this sensational new musical and relive one of the world’s biggest ever boybands. The Osmonds: A New Musical tells the official story from Jay Osmond about the five brothers from Utah who were pushed into the spotlight as children and went on to create smash hits decade after decade. From their star residency on The Andy Williams Show, to the arrival of Donny and Marie, The Osmonds lived a remarkable life recording chart topping albums, selling out vast arena concerts and making record breaking TV shows – until one bad decision cost them everything.
Directed by Shaun Kerrison and choreographed by Olivier Award winning Bill Deamer, this brand new musical features a chart topping list of anthems including Love Me For A Reason, Crazy Horses, Let Me In, Puppy Love, One Bad Apple, Long Haired Lover From Liverpool, Paper Roses and many more, The Osmonds: A New Musical will take you back to the relive 60s…the 70s…the 80s…. We’re Having a Party and you’re invited to join us for this night of drama and nostalgia.”
Opera House (Friday 2nd September – Saturday 1st October)
“A hilarious and heartfelt story about holding onto your loved ones against all odds, Mrs. Doubtfire is the musical comedy we need right now. Out-of-work actor Daniel will do anything for his kids. After losing custody in a messy divorce, he creates the alter ego of Scottish nanny Euphegenia Doubtfire in a desperate attempt to stay in their lives. As his new character takes on a life of its own, Mrs. Doubtfire teaches Daniel more than he bargained for about how to be a father.
“Taking on the role of Galileo is Olivier Award nominee Ian McIntosh (Beautiful – The Carole King Musical, The Commitments), who will be joined by Elena Skye (Les Misérables, Kinky Boots) in the role of Scaramouche. Playing Killer Queen is Jenny O’Leary (Heathers The Musical, Rent), with Michael McKell (Macbeth, Blood Brothers) as Cliff. Adam Strong (Jesus Christ Superstar, Rock of Ages) will take on the role of Khashoggi, with David-Michael Johnson (We Will Rock You, Germany, Jesus Christ Superstar) reprising the role of Brit and Martina Ciabatti Mennell (Pretty Woman, We Will Rock You) playing Oz.”