BELOW you'll find ten of the best theatre and comedy shows in and around Manchester throughout March and April. Not your bag? Well then how about the Top 10 Exhibitions or Top 10 Gigs & Concerts?
MEAT PIE, SAUSAGE ROLL | Oldham Coliseum | 3-25 March
There are three things Mick really cares about in this world - his family, his mates and mighty Latics. Last season was the best in the club's history and now it’s all about the league. But when his daughter’s wedding falls on the last day of the season, it all starts to go wrong. Not only are his loyalties torn, her suitor doesn’t even like football. From the team behind 2015's smash hit Dreamers, Meat Pie, Sausage Roll is a new musical set against Latics' most memorable season. A heart-warming story of family and loyalty.
Oldham Coliseum, Fairbottom Street, Oldham, OL1 3SW (2.30pm & 7.30pm; tickets from £14.50 at coliseum.org.uk).
SUSAN CALMAN | The Lowry | 5 March
With brand new show The Calman Before the Storm, Susan Calman is back to create a bluster and set the record straight. It’s been a busy ten years for the acclaimed comedian; with appearances on QI, HIGNFY, News Quiz, Listomania and Mock the Week to name but a few, several sell-out Fringe shows and the release of a bittersweet memoir. To think she used to be a corporate lawyer.
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, M50 3AZ (8pm; tickets £17 at thelowry.com).
YANK! | Hope Mill Theatre | 9 March - 8 April
When a young man finds an old diary lurking in a San Francisco junk shop, so unravels a tale of love against the odds: against society’s expectations, against the masculine ideals of the army. Like most guys when drafted in 1943, Stu wrestles with the fear he hasn’t got what it takes. Unlike most guys, however, he falls in love with a fellow Private - an all-American guy called Mitch. Don’t miss this UK premiere of the off-Broadway hit, described by NYT as a ‘fine mix of humour and simmering drama.’
Hope Mill Theatre, 113 Pollard Street, M4 7JA (2.30pm & 7.30pm; tickets £15 at ticketsource.co.uk).
THE DISCOUNT COMEDY CHECKOUT | Frog & Bucket | Sunday 9 March
The Frog welcomes another monthly gig to its esteemed chuckle calendar, as this longstanding Leeds-based comedy group brings its impromptu sketches to Manchester the third Sunday of every month. Anything but bargain basement, expect razor sharp improv skills as the group take the audience’s suggestions - however bizarre - and make them reality. Ever wanted to see ever wanted to see a giant jelly man attack New York City or a musical romance blossom between a kitchen sink and a fridge? Course you have.
Frog & Bucket, 102 Oldham Street, M4 1LJ (8pm; tickets £5 at frogandbucket.ticketsolve.com).
ASHES | Bolton Octagon | Until Saturday 11 March
It’s the seventies and Anne and Colin desperately want a child. As they subject themselves to the indignities of feeling sexually and socially inadequate, of endless consultations - from doctor to specialist to consultant - they come to question themselves. Why this blind compulsion to make a child? With dark humour and stark realism, their efforts to achieve parenthood are tested and they must summon all of their strength to find a way forward together. Also at the Octagon this season, don’t miss Reveal Festival: a showcase of inspiring new pieces by local artists and theatre-makers.
Bolton Octagon, Howell Croft South, Bolton, BL1 1SB (various times; tickets from £11 at octagonbolton.co.uk).
THEME SHOW COMEDY NIGHT | Castle Hotel | 21 March
Award-winning comedian Edy Hurst presents a work of ‘comic ingenuity and imagination’ in this debut outing, combining lo-fi props with spectacularly daft surprises as he plunders against forces far beyond his reach to create the world’s greatest theme park. Expect rides, fireworks and more homemade eccentricities as the world’s first (only) theme park show makes its Manchester premiere.
Castle Hotel, 66 Oldham Street, M4 1LE (7.30pm; tickets £3.30 at wegottickets.com).
BEST FOOT FORWARD | Birch Community Centre | Saturday 1 April
They may operate from a boat but that doesn’t stop Mikron Theatre garnering praise like ‘mighty’ (Guardian) and ‘robust, resilient and accessible’ (The Stage). Following the success of Canary Girls, the Yorkshire company returns with a hike through the history of hostelling at Rusholme’s Birch centre - which has now added arts venue to its community offering. Something’s afoot at Pearling Manor and it isn’t just the walkers. Can bighearted warden Connie rescue the crumbling hotel from its fate as a golf club?
Birch Community Centre, Brighton Grove, Rusholme, M14 5JT (7.30pm; tickets £13 at birchcc.org).
HAPHAZARD | Z Arts | Saturday 1 April
As Word of Warning return with their April Fools’ special, expect to encounter intriguing images and offbeat oddities - playful, quirky and sometimes plain daft - dotted around the historic Z-arts building. Appealing to young and ‘young at heart’ alike, previous episodes have witnessed everything from a giant periscope to a tiny bee-shaped world…and yes, a glittery pink dinosaur too. What will 2017 conjure? If that’s not enough randomness to be getting on with, April also sees Wild Rumpus’ Great Art Run.
Z Arts, 335 Stretford Road, M15 5ZA (12-4pm; free).
WONDERLAND | Palace Theatre | 24-30 April
Wonderful and whimsical in equal measure, the popularity of Lewis Carroll’s seminal story continues to be a magnet for imaginative adaptations over 150 years after its release. Frank Wildhorn’s Wonderland heralds one of the most visionary yet, scooping multi-Grammy nominations over the course of its worldwide tour. After sell-out seasons in Tampa, Texas and Tokyo, Manchester is something of a homecoming for the show; which is headlined by Corrie’s Wendi Peters (Cilla Battersby-Brown) as Queen of Hearts. Kerry Ellis (Wicked’s Elphaba) guest stars as Alice.
Palace Theatre, 97 Oxford Street, M1 6FT (2.30pm & 7.30pm; tickets from £21.40 at atgtickets.com).
NOEL & GERTIE | Waterside Arts Centre | Wednesday 26 April
Noel Coward once said “I love criticism just so long as it’s unqualified praise.” Lucky, then, that reviews for MTP’s new production of Noel & Gertie - based on the playwright’s 54-year friendship with Gertrude Lawrence - have met with unbridled acclaim. Devised by Sheridan Morley from the couple’s letters and diaries, this tempestuous love story features song and scenes from Privates Lives and Blithe Spirit; offering a perfectly-orchestrated trip down memory lane.
Waterside Arts Centre, 1 Waterside Plaza, Sale, M33 7ZF (7.30pm; tickets from £7.30pm at watersideartscentre.co.uk).