Manchester Theatre News & Reviews
Our guide to helping you decide which shows to go to in 2023!What's On in Manchester
Karen Ryder looks at the tough challenge most of us are having at the moment - there are so many events on in Manchester and the local region, how do we decide which ones to go to?
How lucky we are to live in a city that celebrates the arts in such a diverse and brilliant way! A Manchester audience is a special thing to be a part of, whether you love musicals, plays, magic, sport, a tribute artist or the real deal, live music, DJ sets, an audience with, comedy, spoken word, lectures, drag, sing-a-longs, or concerts by candlelight. But with a city bursting with ways to entertain you, your senses can be flooded with their dazzling lights, celebrity status, and with each show or event promising to be the best thing you’ll see this year, how on earth do you choose?
We were already lucky enough to be gifted an overwhelming amount of choice in Manchester, but as theatres and venues have re-opened since covid, there has been a back log of top notch shows, all hustling to make up for lost time. This has meant that, more than ever before, the sheer volume of top West End and Broadway shows, as well as impressive new musicals and plays, has been unprecedented. There has been a new show strutting its way into the city every single week. This impressive turn over has meant that the choice we have had at our fingertips has rivalled the likes of London, and with so many theatres and venues to choose from in Manchester, it doesn’t look set to slow down any time soon.
Life of Pi takes centre stage at The Lowry this Christmas
For theatre lovers, this is a double-edged sword. It means that we are beyond spoilt for choice and have access to the very best of everything. But the trouble of having access to the very best of everything is that you want to go and watch everything, and for most of us, particularly with the current cost of living situation, this is impossible.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is coming to the Palace Theatre in June
So, if you’re on a limited budget, how on earth do you choose what to watch with a big budget musical or three flying into town every week?
- RESEARCH & PRIORITISE
As much as I want to, even this theatre loving nerd can’t see everything. I would spend a cosy January night curled up on the sofa with a glass of my favourite tipple and those left over Christmas chocolates, browsing ManchesterTheatres.com and discovering what shows were visiting throughout the year. I’d know how much I could afford to spend each month, then throw the budget away in disgust as it wouldn’t even touch the sides of all I wanted to see, so stuff had to get real. Shows would be broken down into categories;
- I will turn into a showzilla mutant zombie if I don’t get to see this show
- I may annoy friends by grumbling a little if I don’t see this show
- I want to see this show but have already seen it 4 times so maybe I can give it a miss this time (then hate myself and whisper apologies to the God of Jazz Hands)
Are you one of the lucky ones who has seen Disney's The Lion King? A production you could watch many times over and it still feels so special!
So, I now have my list of must see shows. I can budget which ones I can afford, which ones I can request as birthday and Christmas presents, and which ones I need to sell a kidney to attend. I now know I’ve got the biggies sorted, and anything else along the way is a Brucey Bonus!
- READ REVIEWS & FOLLOW SOCIALS
There are so many ways to check out shows these days with the world of social media as we all love to share our experiences, both positive and negative, so check out what the general opinion seems to be on the shows you have chosen. We have a jam-packed reviews page where we try and offer an overview of the production we have seen and these can prove vital. The show you want to watch no doubt has its own social feeds too, so check them out, watch their promo videos and see if you get the tingles. Don't forget to follow us on our socials too as we updated throughout the day, every day! (scroll to the bottom of this page to see our socials)
- SPECIAL OFFERS
At Manchester Theatres, we love a good deal! By joining our free mailing list, you will receive a multitude of special offers, mainly exclusive ones, that will help your budget stretch even further.
More money = more shows = more jazz hands = more happy days (well that’s my equation any way. Yours may look slightly different but you get my drift.)
We have many exclusive offers including Head Over Heels, a new musical comedy at Hope Mill Theatre with money off preview performances from today!
- SINGLE SEATS
This is a recent new discovery for me and I was beside myself with glee when I found out. On some of the larger shows, where a single seat has been left unallocated in an otherwise pretty much sold-out show, these can often be HUGELY discounted. I recently bought 3 single seats (all fairly near each other) for £20 each when they would otherwise have been £75! So, if you don’t mind not sitting directly next to your friends or family - and let’s face it, this can sometimes be a bonus! Ha ha! – and are willing to put a little bit of time into finding the single seats, you can really be onto a winner!
- LARGE GROUP DISCOUNTS
Of course, the opposite end to the single seat is the large group. I’d say most shows offer deals if you book for 10 or more people. This can often be along the lines of the tenth ticket is free, but when you then average the price across the ten of you, it can really bring it down on those higher end shows. For instance, it can bring a £75 ticket down to £67.50 each so it’s definitely worth checking out these group deals. If you don’t know 9 other people who want to see the same show as you, the likelihood is that the 3 you do know will know someone and so on. It works.
- WORK OR VOLUNTEER AS AN USHER
Some venues offer great volunteer schemes where if you work as an usher, you can see the show for free. Others, the usher role is a paid job so more defined but can still offer unprecedented access to “be in the room where it happens” so to speak.
There are some great productions coming to HOME. Will Young stars in Song From Far Away. Tracy-Ann Oberman will lead in The Merchant of Venice (1936)
- FIND A FRIEND WHO REVIEWS
I now work as a reviewer and my friends have never been happier! Many press nights include an additional ticket for the press reviewing the show, so see if you know anyone because we are everywhere!
- ONE NIGHT ONLY SHOWS
I have quite a few of these ‘ONE NIGHT ONLY!’ shows booked already. They are usually cheaper than the big international or national touring shows, but no less impressive or full of talent. By booking these shows, I already have a mix of dance, tribute artist, and cult musical films to look forward to. These shows are so varied, diverse and accessible price wise, that there really is something for everyone.
- THEATRE ROULETTE
If you are happy to be spontaneous then this could be a life changer. I love theatre roulette and thoroughly recommend this approach. It was something that started on a whim when I was at university and has since been extended to something I do with my parents quite frequently. When we have been out for the day and don’t want to go home, we often turn up at the nearest theatre or venue, throw caution to the wind and attend whatever is on. We have seen some absolute corkers that we would never have attended in a million years otherwise.
So make 2023 a year of celebration, of experiencing the best entertainment that Manchester has to offer, and of flooding your body with adrenalin at the sheer joy and exuberance of live performance. Be bold, indulge, and use this list to book your tickers wisely. Whether you strut, high kick, shimmy, bop, or pirouette your way down to the theatre or venue of your choice, enjoy yourselves and we’d love to hear about the shows you visit on our socials.
Make 2023 the year of Manchester theatres!
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