From Funny Girl to Sister Act, Cotton Panic to Derren Brown, here's our pick of Manchester's theatre & comedy scene over the next two months
EDINBURGH PREVIEWS | The Frog & Bucket Comedy Club | 4-30 July
Scotland is quite far away, especially on one of those cheapo trains that stops every bloody minute - and even on a cheapo train, it still costs a bob or two. But, hey, you’re in luck. Preview season brings a flux of Edinburgh Fringe’s finest acts to The Frog & Bucket this July. Highlights include 8 out of 10 Cats writer Geoff Norcott and ‘effortlessly funny’ Glenn Wool. Ray Bradshaw’s Deaf Comedy Form is also set to be a guaranteed chuckle. Check out the full season here. The Frog & Bucket, Oldham Street, M4 1LJ (various times; season pass £20 & reserved seats £7 at frogandbucket.com).
THE DELIGHTFUL SAUSAGE | Gullivers | Wednesday 5 July
We’re all for the Edinburgh previews. So, here’s another: Edinburgh Sausage #1: Edy Hurst and Harriet Dyer. Since 2015, The Delightful Sausage has hosted a unique mix of experimental stand-up, strange sketches and viral content from some of the alternative circuit’s most exciting names. This July, award-winning comedian Edy Hurst takes punters on a ride to create the world’s greatest theme park, while Harriet Dyer presents a work of comic ingenuity with her latest spectacle Dyergnosis Murder. This is followed by Sausage #2, ft. Chris Cantrill & Amy Gledhill, on 19 July. Gullivers, Oldham Street, M4 1LW (7:30PM; tickets £4 at gulliversnq.info).
COTTON PANIC | Upper Campfield Market Hall | 8-15 July
Cotton Panic! tells the story of the devastating cotton famine that befell the North and its people in the 1860s. Created by Jane Horrocks, Nick Vivian and Wrangler - featuring Stephen Mallinder of the great Cabaret Voltaire - the show recites history through a captivating medley of live music, drama, words and film. Other MIF exlusives includes Fatherland, Returning to Reims and Available Light, while comedy fiends can enjoy Machynlleth Comes to Manchester. Upper Campfield Market Hall, Barton Street, M3 4NN (7:30pm; tickets £25 at mif.co.uk).
BRING ON THE BOLLYWOOD | Oldham Coliseum | 18-22 July
Explosive costumes: check. Dynamic soundtrack: check. Impressive dance moves: double check. Bringing the splendour of classic Bollywood to the British stage, this colourful comedy explores what happens when an arranged marriage doesn’t quite go to plan… Selected from hundreds of auditionees, talented newcomer Nisha Aaliya plays fiery heroine Dr Katrina Pawar. Joining her is acclaimed actor Avita Jay (Deepika) and Robby Khela (Ronny), whose musical prowess has seen him support pop acts including comeback king Craig David. Oldham Coliseum, Fairbottom Street, OL1 3SW (2:30pm & 7:30pm; tickets from £14.50 at coliseum.org.uk).
SISTER ACT | Palace Theatre | 24-29 July
The Broadway and West End hit musical comedy returns to the UK, starring X Factor’s Alexandra Burke. Directed and choreographed by Strictly’s Craig Revel Horwood, featuring original music by eight-time Oscar winner Alan Menken, Sister Act is guaranteed to be an exhilarating night out. When lounge singer Deloris Van Cartier witnesses a murder, life takes a surprising turn in more ways than one. Palace Theatre, Oxford Street, M1 6FT (2:30pm & 7:30pm; tickets from £20.40 at atgtickets.com).
DERREN BROWN: UNDERGROUND | The Lowry | 3-5 August
He predicted the lottery, convinced three people to commit murder on TV and seemingly healed people of their health problems; the mind-boggling tricks of Derren Brown have enthralled and perplexed audiences worldwide. Bringing together a collection of the very best of Derren do, Underground promises a mesmerising experience of stagecraft and mystical genius - whether you believe in it or not. The Lowry, The Quays, Salford, M50 3AZ (8pm; tickets from £36.50 at thelowry.com).
WIZARD OF OZ | Stockport Plaza | 7-12 August
This August, join Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion and Toto on their magical adventure down the Yellow Brick Road to Stockport’s Art Deco gem. Starring Cheryl Fergison (EastEnders’ Heather Trott) as the Wicked Witch of the West, this technicolor treat promises to ‘put a smile on the faces of even the meanest of munchkins.’ One for the family. Stockport Plaza, Mersey Square, SK1 1SP (1pm & 5pm; tickets from £13 at quaytickets.com).
FUNNY GIRL | Palace Theatre | 7-19 August
After impressing critics in London’s West End and Confidential’s Joan Davis on its last foray into Manchester (review here), Funny Girl is back in town. Protagonist, ‘funny girl’ Fanny Brice (Sheridan Smith) lives up to her name in this warm witty show: expect a humongous dollop of humour alongside lavish sets and toe-tappers like Don’t Rain on my Parade. Palace Theatre, Oxford Street, M1 6FT (2:30pm & 7:30pm; tickets from £24.90 at atgtickets.com).
THE RAILWAY CHILDREN | Bolton Octagon | 17-19 August
Ahead of its ambitious redevelopment, Bolton Octagon launches its 50th anniversary season with a stage production of E. Nesbit’s seminal novel, accompanied by a magical station from the ‘golden age of travel.’ Performed by a cast of 100 young people alongside professional actors, the story follows a family who move from London to ‘The Three Chimneys’ (a house near the railway in Yorkshire) after the father, who works at the Foreign Office, is falsely imprisoned for spying. Bring the tissues. Bolton Octagon, Howell Croft South, BL1 1SB (2:00pm and 7:30pm; tickets £6 at octagonbolton.co.uk).
THE SECRET GARDEN | Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden | 18-20 August
Walled rockeries, brilliant botany and even giant rhubarbs… what better place to enjoy a production of children’s classic The Secret Garden than Fletcher Moss? Set on the Yorkshire Moors, the nostalgic tale by Frances Eliza Hodgson Burnett (of Cheetham Hill) follows young Mary Lennox as she discovers restorative magic in a secret garden. Heartbreak Productions will also be staging David Kerby-Kendall’s Murder on the Terrace and Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey at Fletcher Moss later on this month. Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden, Stenner Lane, M20 2RQ (2pm, 5pm & 6.30pm; tickets £16 for adults, £11 for children at heartbreakproductions.co.uk).