I have been thinking about starting a blog to reflect on our 1st year for about two months now. I think this highlights how big this site has become, as each time I have started to type, another deadline has meant that I have had to abandon it for another day. So, finally on a Sunny Sunday morning, here I am, looking back on a busy but really fulfilling year.

Let's start at the beginning........in 2001 after living in Manchester for one year, I began reviewing plays for WOS at venues like the Royal Exchange, the newly built Lowry, the Palace Theatre and Opera House, Library and Contact Theatres. The city was new to me, having lived in London for five years. I realised that Manchester was a cty to be reckoned with and we then started to cover The Bolton Octagon and as the years rolled by, it was clear that Manchester would benefit from a microsite to itself and WOS Manchester was born three years ago, at the request of Editoral Director of WOS, Terri Paddock.

Dividing my time between freelancing for the Manchester Evening News, G.T, running WOS Manchester and teaching full time was exhilarating, as life was rarely dull, but it proved tiring as I could not cover everything that was on offer in the area, although I had a bloody good stab at it, to be fair. But this did mean plenty of late nights, followed by early mornings teaching. So, we advertised for reviewers and the results have meant that due to their continued dedication, we are now able to cover almost everything that arrives here under the heading of theatre. That includes fringe theatre, which in a world dominated by advertising revenue, is an area we are very proud to cover. We were the first WOS microsite and this has led to expansion across the regions.

Over a year ago, we were given the news that we were to become WOS Northwest. Recently we began covering Keswick and long with Manchester and Liverpool - this means we are reviewing about 40 productions per month. Michael Hunt takes care of Liverpool and without his help, we would not have been able to expand. So, thankyou Michael.

For the Carol Vordermans amongst you, we have given away about 250 theatre tickets since last November in our popular competitions and interviewed over 100 actors, directors and behind the scenes folk. Some of our favourites include Willy Russell, Matthew Bourne, Sally Lindsay, Celia Imrie, Samantha Barks, Scott Garnham, Rupert Hill and Sarah Jayne Dunn. Sometimes, the people we talk to come back for more, we are about to interview Willy Russell for the third time in as many years.

I personally would like to thank all of our contributors for their valued input into this site, as their tireless efforts mean that we can bring you extensive coverage of the Northwest Theatre scene. A big thanks also to the venues, actors, directors and PRs who have supported us.

On a personal note, Manchester proves to be a fantastic city. The theatre scene here is one of the best and the friendly people I have met in both this and my day job have meant that 10 years have flown by. This is home and always will be.

We regularly get emails from you telling us where we are getting it right and wrong and we encourage this feedback, as it has helped us with the decision making process over the last year or so. The venues, theatre companies and performers themselves rarely get the chance to comment, even though we pass judgement on their shows weekly. So, I will now hand over this section of the blog them. In the meantime, please keep visiting WOS Northwest as we will continue to bring you all things theatrical and prove that it not grim up North. In fact, it's thriving! We even tweet now which means we can get even closer to the people you pay to see. Now over to the people we write about and work with:

The support for Queer Up North from WOS Northwest has been nothing short of brilliant. It's hugely important that new theatre in Manchester  - particularly that which sits somewhat outside of the mainstream - still gets strong media attention if it is to develop more sustainable audiences.  WOS Northwest are right at the forefront of doing just that - with a wide range of work covered by intelligent, sensitive and supportive reviewers.  Happy First Birthday WOS Northwest - from a comparatively ancient 18-year old Queer Up North!
Ric Watts, Former Producer - Queer Up North


What's On Stage Northwest provides a comprehensive guide as to what the Manchester stage has to offer, and I'd like to thank the site's writers for their coverage of productions at the Library Theatre, and wish it all the best for the future.
Library Theatre Company

Congratulations to all the team on your first birthday! Whats on Stage North West is a brilliant website that helps keep theatregoers up to date with shows at both our theatres, through interviews, news and reviews.
Palace and Opera House

We feel we have a brilliant relationship with WOS Northwest and feel very grateful for the support they have provided us, across all our shows and events. Congratulations on your first birthday and here’s to the future!
Royal Exchange Theatre

WOS Northwest’s coverage of Fringe Theatre is second to none,  new works by new writers are given the platform they need to let the public know that they are here and need to be seen. To own a Fringe company and write for WOS Northwest is a thrill because I know the arts come first, no matter how big or small.
Vertigo Theatre Productions

Many congratulations, What’s on Stage, on your first year of service to the arts.  Your support for Theatre by the Lake during your first year has meant a great deal to us. From previews to reviews, thank you for being part of our success.  May it continue for years to come - break a leg!
Theatre By The Lake, Keswick

Oldham Coliseum Theatre has a valued relationship with What’s On Stage and reviews and opinions from the site help both promote and raise awareness of the productions onstage at the Coliseum.
Oldham Coliseum Theatre
 
In times of economic stress and the increasing popularity of television and especially reality tv shows. The traditional play is suffering somewhat in it's appeal. Fortunately there are still some 'cultured' folk who still support their local theatres, and who continue to appreciate the unique and magical qualities of 'live' acting entertainment. Part of what keeps this art form alive are publications like what's onstage northwest. A website that oozes enthusiasm for the theatrical arts, with genuine love and passion for plays, whilst critiquing with intelligence and integrity. Thank you for your support.
Rupert Hill, Actor and Musician

Happy first year. Whilst helping to promote touring companies who visit the region, I have found that editorial and reviews coverage from WOS North West has been highly influential to help them develop their profile with both new audiences and their funders. Happy Birthday!
Duncanclarke PR

Happy birthday WOS Northwest - a whole year of fantastic coverage and much-appreciated support. Thank you for coming to see us so regularly in Bolton, we love visitors! Here's to many more successful years!
Bolton Octagon

WOS Northwest does what it says on the tin. It tells you what's on stage, then what they think of it. Pretty honestly. Long may WOS continue!
David Slack, Director, 24:7 Theatre Festival

ENORMOUS THANKS for all your help and support over the years.  Best Wishes and a Glorious Future to you and your valiant and gallant crew.
Joe O'Byrne, Writer, Director and Actor

The support that Whatsonstage.com has been so valuable to all of our clients, we cant thank you enough. We look forward to working with you in the future.
The Cornershop PR