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The Palace Theatre
The Palace Theatre Manchester, Oxford Street, is one of the main theatres in Manchestermarker, Englandmarker. It, and its 'sister' theatre the Manchester Opera Housemarker on Quay Street, are operated by the same parent company, Live Nation. The original capacity of 3,675 has since been reduced to its current 1,998.

The theatre, originally known as 'The Grand Old Lady of Oxford Street', opened on 18 May, 1891, having been built at a cost of £40,500. The opening presentation, to a capacity audience, was the ballet Cleopatra; however its initial presentations failed to gain popular support and for several years it struggled to make a profit. Only when it broadened its scope to include more popular performers was it a resounding success. During the early part of the 20th century it came into its own, with artists such as Danny Kaye, Gracie Fields, Charles Laughton, Judy Garland, Noel Coward and Laurel & Hardy making appearances.

In September 1940 the theatre took a direct hit from a German bomb.

In the 1970s, audience numbers declined as they did in many live venues, and it was threatened with closure. The Arts Council supported it in the 1980s, and after major internal refurbishment and an enlarged stage facility, it was run by a charitable trust, Norwest Holdings.

It is now one of the best equipped and popular theatres outside London. In its repertoire it hosts major touring musicals often with major celebrities and performances of opera and ballet along with various other comedy acts and one night concerts.

The Palace Theatre Ticket Centre is situated to the right of the building and sells tickets for the Palace, Opera House and Apollo, plus a range of Live Nation theatres and other selected venues across the UK.

Continuing a long tradition of tour openings in Manchester, the hit Broadwaymarker and West Endmarker musical The Producers opened at the theatre in February 2007 for a run until May when it continued on tour around the UK. Peter Kay starred as Roger Debris for the Manchester dates.

Other notable shows to have played successful seasons at the Palace Theatre include, amongst others, the regional premiere of Les Miserables which ran for 13 months from 1992-1993, regional premiere of Miss Saigon in 2001, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in 2006 and Mamma Mia over the 2006/2007 Christmas season. Broadway musical 'The Wedding Singer' had its UK premiere at the theatre in 2008 and in December 2008 to March 2009 the theatre hosted a season of the UK tour of Mary Poppins, one of only 6 theatres in the country to accommodate the tour, both events further cementing the theatre's reputation as the flagship venue of the North of England. In July 2009, during the Manchester International Festival, the theatre, in association with Opera North, staged the world première of Rufus Wainwright's opera Prima Donna.

Royal Opera House, Manchester

Manchester City Council and the Royal Opera Housemarker in Londonmarker are currently in the planning stages of a new project known provisionally as Royal Opera House, Manchester. The proposal is for the Palace Theatre to receive an £80m full-scale redevelopment, creating a world-class theatre capable of staging productions by both the Royal Ballet and Royal Opera. The Royal Opera House would take residence of the theatre for an annual 18 week season, staging 16 performances by the Royal Opera, 28 performances by the Royal Ballet and other small scale productions specially devised for the Manchester season by the Royal Opera House.

The proposals would establish the Palace Theatre as a designated base for the Royal Opera House companies in the North of England, as a producing house for new ballet and opera, and as a traininng centre for all aspects of theatre production. The proposals could potentially lead to the creation of 700 hundred jobs for local people.

The proposals have been approved by Andy Burnham MP the Secretary of State for Culture, and accepted by a number of public bodies. However the plans are currently being revised to address concerns put forward by those opposed to the plans. Issues that have been raised include:

  • How will the refurbishment of the Palace Theatre be funded?
  • Will the proposals impact negatively on The Lowrymarker, a theatre and arts complex in nearby Salfordmarker?
  • Will the Manchester season present the same standard of performance as the Royal Opera House in London?


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