We’ve always had a soft spot for Manchester: it’s the musical capital of the UK and has produced some of the world’s most iconic bands like Oasis and Joy Division; it’s home to Manchester United, the world’s first railway line and the world’s first canal; it puts on one of the best Pride celebrations in the country; and not many things can beat drinking a cold glass of white wine on Stevenson Square in the summer.


As well as all of this, Manchester puts on brilliant theatre productions. The city’s two main theatres, Opera House and Palace Theatre, host some of the UK’s top touring productions, such as Disney’s The Lion King, Dirty Dancing, Annie, and the more recent Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons. The two theatres are based in the heart of Manchester, with the Opera House located in Spinningfields, and Palace Theatre in the Gay Village.

Unlike with West End shows, the plays and musicals in other UK cities don’t run for quite as long. In London, some productions stay at the same theatre for years, such as Disney’s The Lion King and Phantom of the Opera, with no sign of slowing down. Whereas the productions we’ve listed below are at the Opera House or Palace Theatre for about one week.

If you’ve stayed up to date with our best West End shows piece, you’ll know the RadioTimes.com team love putting together guides of the top plays and musicals we know you’ll enjoy. From family-friendly productions, such as Matilda, to more adults-only and hard-hitting limited-time runs, like A Little Life. This Manchester guide is no different. We’ve also selected shows that are available on ATG Tickets: a trusted site which endeavours to help you find the cheapest theatre tickets possible.

Let’s take a look at some of the best shows performing in Manchester in 2023.

Check out our guide on how to get cheap theatre tickets, and if you're travelling from elsewhere to Manchester, here's how to get cheap train tickets.

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Best theatre shows in Manchester at a glance

Best Manchester theatre shows, musicals and plays to see in 2023

We've picked out our recommendations for the shows you need to see in Manchester this year.

Best plays, musicals and shows at Manchester's Palace Theatre

My Fair Lady

my fair lady best manchester theatre show
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Following its critically-acclaimed West End run, the My Fair Lady production is heading up north to Manchester’s Palace Theatre for two weeks only. Adapted from George Bernard Shaw’s play and Gabriel Pascal’s motion picture, Pygmalion, My Fair Lady follows the character Eliza Doolittle, a cockney flower girl, as she takes speech lessons from Professor Henry Higgins in the hope of passing as a lady.

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My Fair Lady will run from Wednesday 22nd March to Saturday 1st April.

Buy My Fair Lady tickets from £13 at ATG Tickets

If you're based in Manchester you're in luck. One Direction star Niall Horan's 2024 UK and Ireland tour is coming to the city and we have all you need to know about getting tickets.

The Bodyguard

the bodyguard best manchester theatre show
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With an all-star cast, including multi-platinum Grammy-nominated Pussycat Doll Melody Thornton as Rachel Marron and Emmerdale and Hollyoaks star Ayden Callaghan as Frank Farmer, The Bodyguard at Manchester’s Palace Theatre is guaranteed to be a great evening out.

If you’ve seen the iconic film starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner, you’ll know the plot centres around former Secret Service agent-turned-bodyguard Farmer, who is hired to protect singer Marron from a stalker. The unexpected happens, however, when the pair fall in love... You can see The Bodyguard from Monday 3rd April to Saturday 15th April.

Buy The Bodyguard tickets from £22.50 at ATG Tickets

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The King and I

the king and i best manchester theatre show
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The King and I is the first theatre production one of the RadioTimes.com writers remembers seeing live. Granted, it was at a tiny theatre in Mansfield, but it was brilliant nonetheless.

Following a sold-out run at The London Palladium, the four-time Tony Award winning musical, The King and I, is touring the UK and heading to Manchester’s Palace Theatre from Tuesday 9th May to Saturday 13th May. Book tickets now to hear iconic songs such as Whistle a Happy Tune and Shall We Dance live on stage.

Buy The King and I tickets from £13 at ATG Tickets

Greatest Days

greatest days best manchester theatre show
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For a jukebox musical that will make your heart Shine, this one, which features some of the best Take That songs of all time, is just the ticket. Greatest Days follows five boyband-obsessed best friends who reunite over 20 years later to see their crushes perform one last time.

When Greatest Days (then called The Band) premiered at Manchester Opera House in 2017, it broke box office records and thrilled audiences across the UK. Greatest Days then embarked on a UK and Ireland tour, and now it’s come back full circle to perform once again in Manchester between Tuesday 16th May and Saturday 27th May.

Buy Greatest Days tickets from £18 at ATG Tickets

Dirty Dancing

dirty dancing best manchester theatre show
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With sing-a-long tracks like Hungry Eyes, Hey! Baby and Do You Love Me?, audiences are bound to have the time of their lives! Dirty Dancing tells the story of Baby and Johnny, two headstrong individuals from different walks of life, who come together for a challenging yet brilliant summer. Dirty Dancing will be delighting Manchester crowds from Tuesday 30th May until Saturday 3rd June.

Buy Dirty Dancing tickets from £13 at ATG Tickets

This would make a brilliant Mother's Day present – and for more inspiration, take a look at the best Mother's Day experiences.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory The Musical

charlie and the chocolate factory best manchester theatre show
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Oompa loompa doompa-de-doo, we have a perfect theatre show for you! Based on the weird and wonderful world of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, this musical from the multi award-winning songwriters of Hairspray is guaranteed to tingle your taste buds.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is at Manchester Palace Theatre from Tuesday 11th July until Sunday 30th July.

Buy Charlie and the Chocolate Factory The Musical tickets from £13 at ATG Tickets

Heathers The Musical

heathers musical best manchester theatre shows
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This musical adaptation is based on the 1989 cult movie of the same name, and stars Winona Ryder. It follows student Veronica as she is accepted into her high school’s popular clique (three girls all coincidentally named Heather...), then gets wrapped up with mysterious bad boy Jason ‘JD’ Dean.

With strong adult themes, Heathers The Musical has a 14-plus age rating. It will be at Manchester’s Palace Theatre from Tuesday 8th August until Saturday 12th August.

Buy Heathers The Musical tickets from £13 at ATG Tickets

Jesus Christ Superstar

jesus christ superstar best manchester theatre show
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In the late 1970s, the Palace Theatre underwent a huge refurbishment and re-opened the following decade with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar. Now, in 2023, Jesus Christ Superstar is back at the theatre for a limited time only run (Monday 11th September to Saturday 23rd September).

Jesus Christ Superstar is the reimagined series of events during the final weeks of Jesus Christ’s life, as seen through the eyes of Judas. Oh, and with a rock ‘n’ roll twist.

Buy Jesus Christ Superstar tickets from £13 at ATG Tickets

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Best Manchester theatre shows at the Opera House

Rock of Ages

rock of ages best manchester theatre show
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It’s goodbye for now — the West End and Broadway musical, Rock of Ages, has embarked on its farewell tour. The jukebox musical is built around classic rock songs from the 1980s, including iconic tracks such as Don’t Stop Believin’, We Built This City, The Final Countdown, Can’t Fight This Feeling and I Want To Know What Love Is, all performed by an incredible live band. Don’t miss out on seeing Rock of Ages in what could be its final Manchester performances (Tuesday 14th March to Saturday 18th March).

Buy Rock of Ages tickets from £13 at ATG Tickets

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Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons

Jenna Coleman and Aidan Turner in Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons.

Unlike a lot of the theatre shows we’ve mentioned, Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons is a contemporary play originally published in 2015, but that by no means makes it any less fantastic.

Aidan Turner (of Poldark fame) and Jenna Coleman (star of The Serpent) play a couple living in a world with a government-imposed 140-word limit per day. It’s a tender and funny romcom, and definitely not one to miss out on. Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons will be at the Opera House in Manchester from Tuesday 21st March until Saturday 25th March.

Buy Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons tickets from £40 at ATG Tickets

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Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story

the buddy holly story best manchester theatre show
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This sensational jukebox musical first opened in the West End in 1989 and has been thrilling live audiences ever since. It tells the story of American singer-songwriter Buddy Holly, from his upbringing in Texas to international stardom, and ends with his legendary final performance at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, before he tragically died at the age of 22.

Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story’s opening night is Thursday 20th April, and it will run until Saturday 22nd April, so you better be quick if you want to hear songs like Johnny B Goode, Raining in My Heart, and Peggy Sue live on stage.

Buy Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story tickets from £13 at ATG Tickets

The SpongeBob Musical

the spongebob musical best manchester theatre shows
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Head on down to Bikini Bottom and meet SpongeBob SquarePants and his friends, Patrick Star, Squidward, Sandy Cheeks, Mr Krabs, and, of course, the evil recipe-stealing Plankton played by RuPaul's Drag Race legend, Divina De Campo. This all-singing, all-dancing theatre show about one of the best-loved children’s characters is bound to make a splash with audiences, and you can see it at Manchester’s Opera House from Tuesday 16th May to Saturday 20th May.

Buy The SpongeBob Musical tickets from £13 at ATG Tickets

The SpongeBob Musical would be a great show to take your little ones to. For more activities for the whole family, take a look at the best Easter activities and the best steam train experiences.

The Commitments

the commitments best manchester theatre show
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Following a record-breaking run in London’s West End and a subsequent sell-out tour, The Commitments is back to dazzle audiences, and this time, it’s coming to Manchester. Based on the BAFTA award-winning film, which itself was adapted from award-winning author Roddy Doyle’s novel, The Commitments follows Jimmy Rabbitte, an unemployed Dublin lad who decides to put together a jazz band made up of the Irish working class.

Buy The Commitments tickets from £13 at ATG Tickets


Six the Musical cast on stage

With a string of awards under its belt, including two Tony Awards for Best Original Score and Best Costume Design, a Whatsonstage Award for Best West End Show and a gold disc-winning album, Six is a Tudor hit you’d be bonkers to miss! The six wives of Henry VIII take to the microphone to tell their heartbreak woes in this production which is at the Opera House from Tuesday 18th July to Sunday 23rd July.

Buy Six tickets from £28.50 at ATG Tickets

Winnie the Pooh

Winnie the Pooh: The New Musical Adaptation.

Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh, and their best friends Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo, Rabbit, and Owl – oh, and Tigger, too! – are reuniting on stage in Manchester from Monday 24th July to Wednesday 26th July. This production features stunning life-sized puppets, as well as classic songs from the Sherman Brothers and AA Milne to make this tale of Hundred Acre Wood truly magical.

Buy Winnie the Pooh tickets from £13 at ATG Tickets

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Shrek The Musical

shrek the musical best manchester theatre show
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For what might be the first time ever, Shrek is welcoming you into his swamp this August. Follow our unlikely green hero and his companion, Donkey, as they set out to rescue Princess Fiona from a dragon-guarded tower. With sing-along hits like I'm a Believer, this musical is guaranteed to be a Shrek-tacular experience for the whole family.

Buy Shrek The Musical tickets from £13 at ATG Tickets

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annie musical best manchester theatre show
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Every time one of our RadioTimes.com writers went to their friend’s house, he’d make them watch Annie. After the 37th time of sitting through the 1982 film, they swore they’d never watch Annie again. But, when it was on telly last Christmas, they realised their friend was right: Annie is a feel-good classic!

Starring Craig Revel Horwood as Miss Hannigan, this theatre show follows the story of orphan Annie as she spends a magical Christmas with billionaire Oliver Warbucks, but will she get her happy ending? Or will Miss Hannigan get her claws on Annie? Find out from Monday 18th September to Saturday 30th September at Manchester’s Opera House.

Buy Annie tickets from £13 at ATG Tickets


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