Manchester Evening News Theatre Awards

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Manchester Evening News Theatre Awards
Awarded for Excellence in British theatre
Country United Kingdom
Presented by The Manchester Evening News
First awarded 1981

The Manchester Evening News Theatre Awards, commonly referred to as the MEN or M.E.N. Awards, recognise excellence in live British theatre. They are administered by The Manchester Evening News, and are presented at an annual ceremony in Manchester, England. The awards are for regional and West End productions, with the majority presented for the high-profile commercial productions seen in the large theatres of Manchester, commonly known as "Theatreland".

History and significance[edit]

The awards were established in 1981, with the first ceremony held in a conference room of the former MEN building on Deansgate.[1] The ceremony is now held at the Crowne Plaza Midland Hotel.[2][3][4]

Since 1988, the award ceremony has been broadcast on UK national television and includes songs from the nominated musicals, as well as video clips of, or presentations about, nominated plays. Audience size for the telecast is generally well below that of other awards shows, but the programme reaches an affluent audience.[citation needed] Presenters have included Sally Lindsay, Denise Welch, Jane McDonald, Julian Clary, Jenny Eclair and John Thomson.[1][3][5][6][7]

The awards have gained in prestige over the last several years, thanks to high-profile recipients such as Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Cameron Mackintosh, who was awarded a special lifetime achievement award in 2000.[8] The awards are billed as the 'Oliviers of the North'.[5]

In summer 2011, Manchester Evening News ended its association with the awards and disbanded the panel, blaming the "challenging economic climate".[9] The 2010 awards had already dropped the ceremony to reduce costs, instead announcing the winners in a special supplement to the daily newspaper.

A group of former panel members announced in October 2011 that they were to continue the awards as an independent body under the name Manchester Theatre Awards.[10]


The awards are judged by a diverse panel of judges from various areas of the entertainment industry and press, including the Manchester Evening News' own team of reviewers, the BBC, The Stage, Granada Television, the University of Manchester and casting agencies.[7][11]


The MEN Award trophy consists of the Greek Comedy and Tragedy masks, a mix of bronze and brass, with a nickel plating on the outside; a black acrylic glass base, and the nickel-plated pewter swivel.[citation needed]


The awards are presented across a range of categories covering plays, musicals, dance, opera and affiliate theatre. The awards for Best Actor In A British Soap, Best Actress In A British Soap and Performance Of The Year were voted for by readers of the Manchester Evening News.[6][12]

Named awards include:

  • Biza Award - an award designed to encourage new and up and coming talent with financial support. Prior to 2008 this award was named the Alpha Award after its then-sponsor, Alpha Airport Shopping.[2][3]
  • Horniman Award - awarded to people or institutions who have made a unique contribution to the repertory theatre movement. It is named after theatre manager and patron Annie Horniman, who established the first ever repertory theatre company in the United Kingdom at the Gaiety Theatre in Manchester.[2]


Award 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Location TBS Midland Hotel[8] TBS Midland Hotel[13]
Host TBS Dianne Oxberry[13]
Best Actress In A Leading Role Helen Schlesinger Zoe Henry Emma Lowndes Denise Welch Siobhan Finneran Raquel Cassidy Phillipa Peake Maxine Peake Ruth Gibson in Independent Means, Library Theatre[13]
Best Actor In A Leading Role Adam Sims Ben Keaton Paul Webster O-T Fagbenle Rolf Saxon Ben Keaton Elliot Cowan David Fielder Tim Healy in Looking For Buddy at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton [13]
Best Actress In A Supporting Role Mary Cunningham Rachel Pickup Kerry Pears Barbara Marten Eileen O'Brien Janet Henfrey Eamonn Owens Denise Black Jessica Raine, Punk Rock[13]
Best Actor In A Supporting Role Warren Katz Stephen Scott Russell Dixon Leigh Symonds David Fleeshman Wyllie Longmore Paul Simpson Oscar Pearce, in All My Sons at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton[13]
Best Actress/performance In A Visiting Production Maureen Beattie Diana Quick Karen Drury Ian McDiarmid Seroca Davis Cathy Tyson Cory English Michelle Terry Lisa O'Hare, in Mary Poppins at the Palace Theatre[13]
Best Actor/performance In A Visiting Production Cast of Art Timothy West George Costigan and Matthew Kelly Ben Chaplin Ian McKellen Andrew Buchan Aaron Monaghan, in The Cripple Of Inishmaan at The Lowry[13]
Best International Production   Saltimbanco Slava's Snowshow Monkey: Journey To The West (Manchester International Festival) Chinese Acrobatic Swan Lake  
Best Performance In A Fringe Production Noma Dumuzweni Oliver Dimsdale Segun "Johnathon Pram", aka Ben Faulks Jenni Howarth-Williams Sue Jaynes, Caroline Harding, Candida Gubbins and Kath Burlinson   Ruth Evans Eve Steele, in Lub You at 24:7[13]
Best Performance In A Studio Production   Alexander Campbell Cast of The Flags   William Ash  
Best Newcomer Peter England Naomi Frederick Viktoria Kay Andrew Garfield Oliver Lee Sian Haslock   Tom Sturridge, in Punk Rock at the Royal Exchange[13]
Best Production Snake in Fridge The Memory Of Water Translations A Conversation The Beauty Queen Blonde Bombshells Of 1943 Someone Who'll Watch Over Me Waiting for Godot Punk Rock[13]
Best Studio Production   Iron The Flags   Doctor Korczak's Example The Man Who Planted Trees, from Puppet State Theatre Company at the Royal Exchange Studio[13]
Best Fringe Production Tiny Dynamite The Irish Giant Shoot the Crow Coyote on a Fence Moving Pictures The Judgement Of Mr. Jenkins (24:7 Theatre Festival)[14]   As we Forgive Them, at 24:7[13]
Best Visiting Production Lord of the Flies To Kill A Mockingbird 1984 Henry IV This Is How It Goes The Cut   Black Watch The Cripple of Inishmaan, from Druid Theatre Company at The Lowry [13]
Best Musical Saturday Night Fever Beauty and the Beast Chicago Taboo My Fair Lady Miss Saigon The Producers West Side Story Mary Poppins, at the Palace Theatre [13]
Best Opera Falstaff Tamerlano Maria Padilla The Dwarf and Il Tabarro La Cenerentola La Traviata Roberto Devereux' Macbeth Lucrezia Borgia, from Buxton Festival[13]
Best Dance The Nutcracker Dance Theater of Harlem Triple Bill Play Without Words CandoCo Edward Scissorhands The Three Musketeers Don Quixote Manon, from English National Ballet at the Palace Theatre[13]
Best Comedy Dave Gorman Ross Noble Peter Kay Bill Bailey Little Britain Live Alan B'Stard  
Best Family Show   Chitty Chitty Bang Bang James And The Giant Peach James And The Giant Peach Walking with Dinosaurs, at the MEN Arena [13]
Best New Play Snake in Fridge 52 Degrees South You Hang Up First On the Shore of the Wide World   And Did Those Feet A Dog Called Redemption Punk Rock, by Simon Stephens at the Royal Exchange [13]
Best Design Team/Best Design Steve Brown, Johanna Bryant and Jason Taylor Kenny Miller and Phil Davies for Ten Rillington Place Bro-9 Perfect Beautiful Thing The Flags Henry V Oh What a Lovely War Oleanna, at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton[13]
Best Special Entertainment / Special Entertainment Award Cirque Du Soleil Disney On Ice presents Beauty And The Beast Ronnie Burkett Theatre of Marionettes A Strange (And Unexpected) Event Macbeth   The Pianist Afrika! Afrika! It Felt like a Kiss, from Punchdrunk/Manchester International Festival [13]
Best Actress In A British Soap Georgia Taylor Sue Nicholls Kate Ford  
Best Actor In A British Soap Steven Pinder Brian Capron Simon Gregson  
Performance Of The Year Amanda Donohoe Pete Postlethwaite Brian Conley  
Horniman award   The Library Theatre   Ian Smith and Neil Smith   Caroline Clegg The Green Room Roger Haines[13]
Alpha/Biza award   24:7 Theatre Festival   Studio Salford The Company Music Theatre  


  1. ^ a b Thomason, Carmel (6 December 2006). "Silver service for M.E.N. Theatre Awards". City Life. Retrieved 2009-06-30. [dead link]
  2. ^ a b c Bourke, Kevin (6 December 2007). "M.E.N. Theatre Awards: The winners". City Life. Retrieved 2009-07-11. [dead link]
  3. ^ a b c "Bravo! M.E.N. Award winners revealed". City Life. 2 December 2008. Archived from the original on December 30, 2008. Retrieved 2009-07-11. 
  4. ^ Bourke, Kevin (5 December 2006). "M.E.N. Theatre Awards: Our guide to the winners". City Life. Retrieved 2009-07-11. [dead link]
  5. ^ a b Ansdell, Caroline (7 December 2005). "Winners Announced for Manchester's 2005 Awards". What's On Stage. Retrieved 2009-07-11. 
  6. ^ a b "M.E.N. Theatre Awards: Our guide to the winners". City Life. 7 December 2004. Retrieved 2009-07-11. [dead link]
  7. ^ a b "Fanfare for the winners". City Life. 4 December 2001. Retrieved 2009-07-11. [dead link]
  8. ^ a b "Musicals master is honoured". Manchester Evening News. 12 December 2000. Retrieved 2009-07-11. 
  9. ^ "Manchester Theatre Awards End". British Theatre Guide. 
  10. ^ "Manchester Theatre Awards official web site". 
  11. ^ Bourke, Kevin (12 November 2004). "M.E.N. Theatre Awards 2004: The Judges". City Life. Retrieved 2009-07-11. [dead link]
  12. ^ "Winners of the M.E.N Theatre Awards 2002". City Life. 3 December 2002. Retrieved 2009-07-11. [dead link]
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v "MEN Theatre Awards 2009 - as they happened". Retrieved December 10, 2014. 
  14. ^ "24:7 showcase: Judgement Of Mr Jenkins - Manchester Evening News". Retrieved December 9, 2014.