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Manchester Theatres

The Royal Exchange Theatre

St Ann’s Square/Cross Street, Manchester M2 7DH
. Box Office Tel: 0161-833 9833.

Royal Exchanmge Theatre Manchester
The Theatre inside the original Royal Exchange building.Photo ©
courtesy of Andrew C Theokas

A novel and exciting
solution to the problem of what to do with an old historic building
which has outlived its function – build a theatre inside!
The Royal Exchange Theatre is a futuristic metal and glass hi-tech
structure sitting inside what was described as “the biggest room in
the world” – the Great Hall of Manchester’s old Cotton Exchange, which
ceased trading in December 1968.
It seats around 800 and is the world’s largest theatre in-the-round.
The theatre company produces plays 48 weeks a year, attracting top
billing names from British and international theatre circuits, as
well as hosting regular midday concerts, literary and other special
events. It also offers a good caf�, exhibition space, theatre bookshop
and Craft Shop.
In June 1996, the Exchange was virtually at the epicentre of a terrorist
lorry bombing
which severely damaged it, as with other buildings
around. Although Marks & Spencers and the Royal Insurance buildings
opposite had to be demolished, fortunately the old Exchange’s massive
strength withstood the impact, though it sustained considerable damage.
Meanwhile the theatre troupe moved into temporary quarters at the
old market hall in Liverpool Road, Castlefield. Reopening of the Royal
Exchange building took place earlier in the year 2000, along with
extensive other inner city developments which have been made in the
former bomb zone.

See also:

Contact Theatre Company

Manchester University Contact Theatre

Devas Street/Oxford Road,
Manchester M13
Box Office Number: 0161-274 600. General: 0161-274 3434. Website:
Attached to Manchester University, and totally renovated in 1999, this
is one of the most innovative of theatres, staging mostly modern works
for young audiences. Parking nearby. Disabled access and toilet facilities,
Caf� on site, special facilities for the hearing impaired, party groups
catered for (by prior arrangement please). Guide dogs admitted.

Library Theatre

Library Theatre, ManchesterLibrary Theatre beneath the Central Reference
Library in Manchester

Currently Closed for Theatre Refurbishment

Central Reference Library, St Peters Square, Manchester M2. Tel: 0161-236
A well established theatre with high reputation dealing with all types
of dramatic production from Shakespeare to modern masters. The only
theatre housed within a library in the United Kingdom. Many premieres
begin life here before moving on to London. Owned by Manchester City

Palace Theatre

Palace Theatre, Manchester

Oxford Street, Manchester
M1. Tel Bookings: 0870 401 3000. Stage door: 0161-245 6600
A major venue for the big West End musical ( -“Les Miserables”,
“Cats”, “Miss Saigon” -, etc), with notoriously
long and successful runs. The Palace made its grand opening on 18th
May 1891 to a capacity audience who were treated to the ballet -“Cleopatra” –
– however, its initial ‘highbrow’ presentations failed to gain popular
support and it struggled to make a profit for several years. Then, bowing
to the inevitable economic pressures, it introduced a less elitist repertoire
and broadened its scope to include more popular performers, which was
a resounding success.
During the earlier part of the 20th century it presented artists such
as Danny Kaye, Gracie Fields,
Charles Laughton, Judy Garland, Noel Coward and Laurel & Hardy. In the
1970s, it suffered a nationwide depression, like the nearby Opera House,
failing to attract audiences as television spread into most people’s
Constantly threatened with closure, the Palace and the Opera House were
saved in 1979 by Raymond Slater’s company Norwest Holst, who carried
out considerable internal refurbishment and created an enlarged stage
facility. Then the Arts Council began to back productions in the 1980s.
The charitable trust, Norwest Holdings, runs it today. It is now one
of the best equipped and popular theatres outside London.
The Palace is a well established Manchester venue, and tickets need
advance booking – for popular shows several months ahead is recommended.
It also produces Christmas Pantomimes, (a Great British tradition),
with famous television personalities in leading roles, and also invites
major celebrities to present shows (the likes of Victoria
, Les Dawson and
Morecambe & Wise have
appeared there). It also stages operatic and ballet performances.

The Green Room

54-56 Whitworth Street
West, Manchester M1 5WW. Telephone Booking Line: 0161-615 0500.
Website: Hire Email:
A major experimental theatre established in 1983 to develop and present
local, national and international performance at venues across Manchester.
Situated an old converted railway arch in the city centre beneath Oxford
Road Railway Station, the Green Room has a growing international reputation
for the difficult, weird and more marginal plays.
The securing of a major capital award via the National Lottery in 1995
has led to a fundamental refurbishment of the premises to now seat an
audience of 166 and full extension into the next door arch and the addition
of extra ‘workspace’ for rehearsal, project development and visual installations.

The Green Room has a long, creative association with numerous Manchester
events and festivals including “Queer Up North”, Manchester
International Arts, Manchester Poetry Festival, Commonwealth Film Festival,
the Manchester Jazz Festival and others.
The Green Room offers special children’s activities and adult workshops
– visit their website for details and to see what’s on currently. There
is a café bar offering light refreshments.

The Opera House

Manchester Opera House

Quay Street, Manchester.
Opera House booking line: 0870 401 9000. Stage door line: 0161-828 1700.
One of Manchester’s biggest venues for large theatrical productions,
opera, dance and modern West End musicals. This is a very elegant old
building, seating 2000. Disabled facilities.
Initially it was named the ‘New Theatre’ when it opened on Boxing Day
in 1912, and after 5 years being known as the ‘New Queens’, it took
on its present title in the 1930s under new ownership. It was always
a celebrated theatre. In its time, its shows featured such great actors
as Sir John Geilgud, Peter Ustinov, Vivienne Leigh and Sir Alec Guinness.
It has hosted such shows as “Oklahoma!”, “Kiss Me Kate”, “South Pacific”,
and “My Fair Lady”, as well as Gilbert & Sullivan operettas,
and in more recent times Andrew Lloyd Webber’s record-breaking musical
“Phantom of the Opera”. Suffering a similar fate to many theatres
and cinemas, its audiences declined in the 1970s, preferring to stay
at home to watch television.
Fortunately, a renaissance in interest and a great deal of petitioning
to save the Palace Theatre from a similar fate resulted in both the
Palace and the Opera House being saved in 1979 by Raymond Slater’s company
Norwest Holst, who carried out considerable internal refurbishment and
created an enlarged stage facility. Then the Arts Council began to back
productions in the 1980s. The charitable trust, Norwest Holdings, runs
it today and thanks to a lively and commercial business approach, it
is a most successful theatre.

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This page last updated 22 Nov 12.