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Theatre awards double for Coliseum

Reporter: Paul Genty
Date online: 10 March 2014

OLDHAM Coliseum’s stirring production of “Chicago” collected two awards at one of the mostly hotly-contested Manchester Theatre Awards for years on Friday.

A total of 22 gongs were handed out by the independent awards panel during the course of the afternoon, the main winners being big-budget touring musicals, the Manchester International Festival’s star-studded production of “Macbeth” and the National Theatre’s hugely-successful touring production of “War Horse”.

The Coliseum had a fight on its hands with acclaimed, big-budget shows such as “West Side Story” and “Singin’ in the Rain”, and city-centre blockbusters such as the Royal Exchange’s “Sweeney Todd” in the Best Musical category (won by “Singin’ in the Rain”).

But “Chicago” — the first repertory theatre production of the show for over a decade — won a best supporting actress trophy for Scottish star Shirley Darroch, and the Best Ensemble award — which recognised the overall excellence of a large cast which played multiple characters and also formed the on-stage band.

Shirley received her trophy from veteran actress Isla Blair and said: “I didn’t expect that!

“I’m very honoured to be in such seriously distinguished company (other nominees were Heather Phoenix from the Coliseum’s “Sugar Daddies” and Kelly Price and Sally Bankes from Royal Exchange productions).

She added: “I’d like to thank Kevin Shaw at the Coliseum for taking a chance on a wee Scottish lassie who didn’t look the part!

“It was a fabulous show and great to be involved. We all had such a wonderful time.”

When presenters Maggie Fox and Sue Ryding — better known as comedy duo Lip Service, themselves recipients of a special award — announced the winner of the Best Ensemble trophy, Shirley and her fellow cast members were smiling again.

“Chicago” beat off a challenge from new company Z-Arts in Manchester, another Coliseum show, “David Copperfield”, the Library Theatre Company’s huge site-specific “Manchester Sound: The Massacre” and Bolton Octagon’s acclaimed production of “Of Mice and Men” to win a second award.

Leading lady Marianne Benedict, who collected the trophy, said it was “really meaningful” to the cast because Chicago had been a “true ensemble piece in every sense of the word.

“The talent, energy and enthusiasm and the literal blood, sweat and tears from everyone in the cast was absolutely incredible,” she added.

For a full list of the winners, visit www.manchestertheatreawards.com/news/74.


Congratulations to our great threatre staff and management at the Coliseum. Looking forward to seeing a new coliseum being built on Union St No doubt many more awards will follow if OMBC manage to get the funding in place. Good luck for the new venture.

This show was fantastic, I saw it twice. I hope the Coliseum put more shows like this on


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