Manchester’s Theatre scene is one of the best in the world. The Royal Exchange Theatre is “the” theatre to go to, and there are other venues in town offering their own taste and style to entertain crowds.
The city’s top theatres are:
Royal Exchange Theatre
Royal Exchange Theatre is one of the top theatres in the United Kingdom. The theatre offers one of the most architecturally beautiful buildings in Manchester. The grade II building is in the city centre and was completed in 1921.
The building was greatly damaged in the Manchester Blitz and was the center of a bombing in 1996.
Sarah Frankcom is the main director of current shows and has allowed the theatre to grow and prosper in recent years.
Tickets can be booked online, over the phone or in the Box Office. Tickets start at £10, and there are banquette seats available, too.
The theatre makes it easy to access the Great Hall with an entrance and lift. Guests who want to enter the Theatre Module will find that the area is wheelchair accessible. The theatre offers audio-described performances, with sign language and captioned options available.
Guests can also visit the theatre without a ticket to enjoy the many shops and restaurants inside.
Restaurants and Shopping
There are ample opportunities to get food and drink at the Royal Exchange Theatre. The following options are available:
The Round Restaurant: The Round Restaurant is open daily and offers a quiet experience in a busy area. An eclectic menu is offered, with fresh ingredients, original dishes and seasonal specials.
Great Hall Café: Fresh, seasonal ingredients make the Great Hall Café a great place to eat wholesome sandwiches, salads and stew. Sofas are present to allow for a comfortable place to sit, and there is afternoon tea and coffee served at the café, too.
Craft Shop: The Craft Shop provides you with an opportunity to buy gifts and crafts during your trip to the theatre.
Anyone is able to enter the restaurants and shops even without a ticket.
Seating Style and Plan
Royal Exchange Theatre offers a 750-seat capacity on three levels. The glass domes and towering columns in the building make it the largest theatre in the round in the United Kingdom.
The seven-sided theatre module is suspended on just four columns and every performance has a 360-degree perspective. Each seat offers a different experience, allowing for total immersion when going to the theatre.
Shows and Performances
Some of the biggest names in theatre and acting have graced the stage. Helen Mirren, Maxine Peake, Kate Winslet and even Hugh Grant have performed at the theatre. The theatre puts on:
- Comedy shows
- Music events
- Poetry and spoken events
- Family friendly events
Backstage tours are available as well as group and school bookings.
Opera House Manchester
The Opera House Manchester is on Quay Street and has a 1,920 seat capacity. Opened in 1912, the building is Grade II listed and is one of the main theatres in Manchester. The theatre is the sister theatre of Palace Theatre, which is also operated by Ambassador Theatre Group.
The Theatre originally opened as New Theatre in 1912, changed to Queen’s Theatre in 1915 and became the Opera House in 1920.
The theatre closed from 1979 to 1984.
Access and Accessibility
The Opera House aims to accommodate users of all ages. The venue box offers 2 wheelchair spaces. There are also spaces on street level. There are no lifts in the Opera House, so guests who can’t walk up steps are limited to these seating options.
A sound enhancement system is available for the hearing impaired. Guide and hearing dogs are allowed in the theatre.
Food and Drink
The venue does offer food and drink, but the prices are high, so keep this in mind before you visit. Food is offered during show breaks, and the food is served with fresh ingredients and local produce whenever possible.
Shows and Productions
Shows and productions change every week with some of the best shows in the United Kingdom being put on in the Opera House. The most exciting shows playing at the theatre are:
- The Wedding Singer
- Not Dead Enough
- Crazy for You
- The Crucible
- Out of Order
- Gangsta Granny
- Crazy for You
Group booking options are available with steep discounts when booking as a group. Guests who are booking as a group can reserve their seats ahead of time and pay for their tickets later.
Manchester is a theatre and culture hotspot in the United Kingdom. While these two theatres are the most popular in Manchester, there are several other venues of importance with great shows and venues, including:
- Palace Theatre
- O2 Apollo Manchester
- Manchester Monastery
- The Dancehouse Theatre
- RNCM Theatre
Local productions are available featuring amateur performers trying to make it to the big stage.