The Manchester Theatre Awards, the Oscars of the north
PUBLISHED: 14:35 15 February 2012 | UPDATED: 16:41 12 February 2016
Over the past 30 years the Manchester Theatre Awards have become the most important prize-giving for theatrical achievement outside London - Manchester’s very own Oscars.
In fact, long before Kate Winslet kept her date with an iceberg, Andy Serkis became Hobbit forming and Andrew Garfield spun into action as Spiderman, they were first acclaimed at the Manchester awards.
In previous years some of the biggest names in British showbusiness have attended the presentation ceremonies – Sir Ian McKellen, Bob Hoskins, Michael Sheen, Sir Peter Hall and National Theatre director Nicholas Hytner have rubbed shoulders with Julian Clary, Jim Davidson, Nicholas Parsons, Dave Spikey and Jason Manford.
It’s been a memorable mix, one that prompted Bob Hoskins two years ago to declare them ‘the guvnor of awards ceremonies’ – and he’s been to a few!
Now, the awards have been re-modelled and re-launched, attracting the backing of the region’s theatres, business leaders and many more.
Acclaimed international producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh, the man behind Phantom Of The Opera and Les Miserables, Bill Kenwright, whose shows include Blood Brothers and Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Sir Howard Bernstein, chief executive of Manchester City Council, are just three of the luminaries who are giving enthusiastic support to the Awards.
Robert Robson, artistic director of The Lowry says: ‘The awards have made a great contribution to promoting Manchester’s dynamic and diverse theatre scene over the years. Manchester theatre deserves to be recognised and celebrated.’
Sir Cameron Mackintosh says: ‘These Awards are without doubt the most prestigious outside London and I am very glad to have been a proud recipient in the past. I would like to take the opportunity of wishing the organisers increased support and success for this major highlight of the Manchester calendar that is so essential to showcase the city’s vibrant theatre scene.
While Sir Howard Bernstein added: ‘Manchester has the highest concentration of theatres outside London. It’s known as a city of imagination and innovation, and increasingly is becoming somewhere works are premiered before going on tour nationally.
‘Our theatres make an enormous contribution, not just to Manchester’s cultural life but also to our economic life, helping attract visitors.
‘It’s only right that we celebrate the artistic excellence of our theatres. The Manchester Theatre Awards have been doing so for years and I’m delighted that it continues to do so.’
We at Cheshire Life and Lancashire Life are delighted to be involved, Roger Borrell, Editor in Chief says: ‘Local theatre is a subject that is close to the hearts of many of our readers so when we were invited to support the Manchester Theatre Awards we jumped at the chance. We aim to keep our readers up-to-date with the work of the awards panel, nine leading regional theatre critics from print and on-line media, their nominations and the eventual winners of the awards.’
The panel attends scores of productions throughout the region each year and their awards are given out to national as well as home-grown performances.
Principal theatres covered in their deliberations include Manchester’s Royal Exchange, The Library, Palace and Opera House, The Lowry in Salford, Bolton Octagon and Oldham Coliseum but many more productions, ranging from studio performances to the glossy Manchester International Festival, also come under their scrutiny.
The critics have set up a website www.manchestertheatreawards.com which gives an insight into their deliberations, and arguments, throughout the judging process.
Renowned theatre critic Alan Hulme, who founded the awards 30 years ago said ‘Manchestertheatreawards.com is delighted that with the enthusiastic backing of Cheshire Life and Lancashire Life we can help showcase the very best of the region’s live theatre.’
North west producers, actors, councillors and business leaders on the importance of the Manchester Theatre Awards
For more info on the Manchester Theatre Awards 2012 go to