Mabel is having a Ball

Michael Ball
Michael Ball
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The autumn promises virtual wall-to-wall musicals at Manchester’s twin venues, the Palace and the Opera House.

Joining the double award winning Michael Ball in Mack and Mabel, direct from its premiere at Chichester Festival, comes the return of Jersey Boys, following a sell-out visit in 2014.

Annie is another returning musical, this time starring Strictly Come Dancing’s Craig Revel Horwood, while one of the top golden age musicals of them all, Guys and Dolls, starring Sophie Thompson, arrives in the city prior to a London season.

Tommy Steele will bring The Glenn Miller Story to life along with a spectacular 16-piece orchestra, while hit comedy Hairspray is back in the region with Tony Maudsley, Brenda Edwards, Claire Sweeney and Peter Duncan.

For dance fans Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace return with their final-ever theatre tour in The Last Tango. Northern Ballet’s annual visit features The Elves and the Shoemaker designed specifically for children aged three plus, along with their brand new ballet based on George Orwell’s 1984. English National Ballet also return with Lest We Forget, a poignant reflection of World War One and, for something more classical, Romeo and Juliet.

Music events include West Coast – celebrating the music of the Beach Boys, The Rat Pack Vegas Spectacular, Roy Orbison and Friends, Jackson Live in Concert, The Sensational 60’s Experience, Halfway to Paradise – The Billy Fury Story, The Magic of Motown, Caro Emerald, The Johnny Cash Roadshow , Glitz Blitz and 70’s Hits featuring Sweet, Go West and Nik Kershaw with special guest T’Pau and Status Quo in their Accept No Substitute tour.

For festive treats there’s the Musical Miracle on 34th Street or So This is Christmas to get you ready for the festive season.

Wrapping up 2015 is this year’s blockbuster musical The Bodyguard with Alexandra Burke and the annual family pantomime at the Opera House when Torvill and Dean star in their very first pantomime, Cinderella.

Already lined up for 2016 are the Rocky Horror Show, Mary Poppins, Cats, Chicago, Thriller Live and Mamma Mia!

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With audiences at their highest point for more than a decade, Manchester’s Royal Exchange theatre is now planning to stage Sunday performances across the season.

At the heart of their programme is a commitment to promote new and rising talent. Caroline Steinbeis directs in the main space for the first time with Arthur Miller’s masterpiece The Crucible – having previously directed Brilliant Adventures in The Studio; and at Christmas, associate artistic director Matthew Xia will make his Exchange main stage debut with a revival of Sondheim’s classic Into the Woods.

Julie Hesmondhalgh and director Raz Shaw also return to the theatre for the UK première of Margaret Edson’s Pulitzer prize-winning play Wit.

Alongside all this, the company continue their year-long collaborative adventure with audiences through You, The Audience; and continue to expand their recently launched Open Exchange to support the work of local emerging artists. In the past year this has contributed to an almost 10% increase in theatregoers under 26, and a 5% increase in first time bookings.

Artistic director Sarah Frankcom said: “This season presents a series of firsts – with Sunday performances; our first relaxed performance; and the opening of our third performance space at Swan Street Studios, where Matthew Xia will oversee a programme which will support emerging talent.”

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