Palace Theatre Manchester
The Palace Theatre Manchester is one of the most prominent theatres in Manchester, England. Built in 1891, this theatre has gone through several changes since it first opened its doors. Despite this, the theatre still continues to attract some of the best in entertainment and remains as one of the main theatres in Manchester.
The Palace Theatre Manchester was known as The Grand Old Lady of Oxford Street when it opened in May of 1891. The building was designed by architect Alfred Darbyshire. The cost to build the theatre was an impressive £40,500. The theatre opened to a packed audience with the ballet Cleopatra being the first production to grace the stage. When it first opened its doors, the theatre boasted a seating capacity of 3,675.
In the following two decades, many of the great artists form the Music Hall era graced the stage including Harry Lauder, Marie Lloyd, Little Tich, Lillie Langtry, Charlie Chaplin and Vesta Tilley.
Despite having such a successful opening night, the theatre struggled to make a profit for several years because of many failed initial presentations. Once the theatre began allowing popular performers, it saw immediate success.
The theatre saw great success during the early part of the 20th century with the likes of Judy Garland, Gracie Fields, Danny Kaye, Noel Coward, Laurel and Hardy and Charles Laughton gracing the stage. In 1913, the theatre’s interior was renovated under architect Bertie Crew. Harry Houdini would reopen the theatre seven months later. The renovations reduced the seating capacity to 2,600.
Today, the seating capacity is a mere 1,955 with three tiers of seating: Stalls, Circle and Grand Tier.
Facilities and Amenities
The Palace Theatre Manchester offers many facilities and amenities to help you make the most out of your evening.
The Ambassador Lounge includes special bespoke packages that help make your evening more memorable. These include:
- Red Label: Includes table service in the VIP lounge, access to the Ambassador Lounge, savoury nibbles, a welcome drink and complimentary cloakroom.
- Purple Label: Includes access to the Ambassador Lounge, a box of chocolates, half a bottle of chilled champagne, savoury nibbles and complimentary cloakroom.
Hospitality packages can be booked online directly through ATG Tickets.
The Stage Door Bar is also open for pre- and post-show drinks. Patrons can enjoy a chilled glass of wine or choose from one of the many unique cocktails which are exclusive to the bar. The bar opens at 5PM (12PM on matinee days) and stays open until late. Drink discounts are available during Happy Hour and for theatre-goers after the evening’s performance.
The Palace Theatre Manchester is also available for hire. The main auditorium features a magnificent proscenium arch stage and a seating capacity of 1,955. It’s the ideal venue for conferences, one-off hires and events.
The venue features 4 wheelchair spaces in row R of the circle. Lift access is available from the foyer level. Patrons with limited mobility should enter the theater through the rear circle. An accessible toilet is also available on the circle level.
An infra-red sound enhancement system is installed in the theatre. A headset or induction loop necklace can be provided to amplify the volume of the show. These require a £10.00 returnable deposit and can be collected from the cloakroom. Guide and hearing dogs are welcome at the theatre.
During the 1920 and 30s, the Palace Theatre Manchester featured full-length musicals, fantastic revues and extravagant pantomimes. Stars of the radio hit the stage in the 1940s, while the 50s and 60s saw productions featuring opera, rock and roll, ballet and be-bop. Famous productions, such as Guys and Dolls, Hamlet, Look Back in Anger, and The Dancing Years all made runs at the theatre. Tragically, the theatre was hit directly during the Manchester Blitz in 1940.
Much like other live venues, attendance began to decline in the 1970s, and the theatre was threatened with closure. In the 1980s, the Arts Council supported the theatre, but not before the Palace Theatre would undergo some major renovations in the late 1970s. The renovations included an extension of the stage, more dressing rooms and a restoration of the auditorium and the Front of House. In 1981, the theatre would once again open its doors with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar.
Since this time, the theatre has remained a main touring venue with well-known productions such as Nicholas Nickleby, Les Miserables, Covent Garden Opera, Luciano Pavarotti, Victoria Wood, Saturday Night Fever, King Lear and Beauty and the Beast.
Today, the theatre is known as one of the most popular and best equipped theatres outside of London. The venue attracts major touring musicals and celebrities each year with musicals, opera, ballet, comedy and concert shows being featured.
Other notable performances include:
- Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (2006)
- Mamma Mia! (2006/2007)
- Miss Saigon (2001)
- Marry Poppins (2008-2009)