I’m a freelance journalist and published poet, based in Manchester.
And the winner is
The Oscars of the Manchester theatre world will take place on Friday 17th March. The nominations, for productions in 2016, have been announced and the city's Royal Exchange theatre is in pole-position. The theatre which is celebrating its fortieth anniversary this year has twenty nominations.
Justin Moorhouse will again present the awards,https://homemcr.org/event/manchester-theatre-awards-2017/
Last year the Bolton Octagon had most to celebrate when the awards were announced. The theatre's Artistic Director, David Thacker, won the Special Achievement award and An Enemy of the People, by Henrik Ibsen, which he directed, won the award for best production
The Octagon's production of Noises Off, by Michael Frayn, won the prize for ensemble performance.
In addition, Colin Connor won the prize for Actor in a Leading Role, for A View From The Bridge at the Octagon and Barbara Drennan won the award for Actress in a Leading Role, for the same production. Natasha Davidson made it a hat-trick by being named best actress in a supporting role. Not only that but David Birrell won the prize for Actor in a Supporting Role, for An Enemy Of The People.
This year the theatre has ten nominations, including Rob Edwards for best actor in To Kill a Mockingbird and Marc Small for best supporting actor in the same play.
Some categories are a straight contest between the Royal Exchange and the HOME arts venue (where the awards ceremony takes place).
The best actress result is one of the hardest to predict, as it is includes distinguished names in outstanding performances. The nominations are Niamh Cusack for Ghosts at HOME; Kaisa Hammarlund for Sweet Charity at the Royal Exchange; Julie Hesmondhalgh for Wit at the Royal Exchange and Kathryn Hunter for The Emperor at HOME.
The strength of the category is reflected by the fact that Maxine Peake is not nominated for her widely-praised performance as Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire.
At the same time last year David Neilson was on stage at HOME as Hamm in Samuel Beckett's Endgame. This actor is most famous for playing Roy Cropper, in ITV's Coronation Street, where Julie Hesmondhalgh played Roy's wife - Hayley, until 2014. David Neilson is nominated for best actor for his performance in Endgame. The category is also graced by the regal presence of Don Warrington, for his performance as King Lear at the Royal Exchange.
2016 - David Neilson presents the Best Fringe Production Award to Ryan Kay and James Baker for The Rise and Fall of Little Voice
Lisa Maxwell is nominated in the Best Actress in a Visiting Production for her portrayal of Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow at the Opera House. The actress chose 'The Life and Works of Judy Garland' as her specialist subject when she appeared on BBC1's Celebrity Mastermind in December 2015.
The award ceremony will again be hosted by comedian, actor and radio DJ, Justin Moorhouse. Last year he satisfied the requirement of being the life and soul of the party whilst also countering any dangers of pretentiousness or too much self congratulation - in a theatrical world which is not always best known for its understatement.
The Manchester Theatre Awards continue an initiative first created by the Manchester Evening News. They have been a fixture on the North West entertainment calendar since 1981. The winners are decided by an 10-strong panel of critics.
A limited number of public tickets are now on sale at HOME for the awards.