Private Lives is at the Royal Exchange in February and as much as you may be thinking Noel Coward again at the REX - how about this for a cast - Imogen Stubbs and Joanna Paige are rumoured to be starring so far. If they can come up with a male lead as good as the wonderful Alan Rickman was in the West End/Broadway version, this could be a real winner.
Privates Lives is at the Royal Exchange from 23 February - 3rd April.
Following rave reviews at the Donmar, Derek Jacobi as King Lear is set to be a hot ticket at the Lowry in March. Tickets are going fast though, so you had better get your skates on! This is set to be a real highlight.
King Lear is at the Lowry from 22 - 26 March
Lady In The Van had a leading lady to die for with Maggie Smith in the West End many years ago. But Nicola McAuliffe takes on the role in this touring production which reaches Liverpool's Playhouse in May. Alan Bennett's sparkling script and a fine leading turn should make this memorable.
Lady In The Van is at the Liverpool Playhouse from 10 - 14 May
Manchester's Library Theatre seems to have settled into the Lowry with ease. Expect Henrik Ibsen's classic A Doll's House to suit the venue perfectly when Emma Cunniffe steps into Nora's shoes, following in the footsteps of the likes of Gillian Anderson.
A Doll's House is at the Library Theatre from 24 February - 12 March.
South Pacific is a brilliant musical when delivered with panache and a budget. This Barbican production reaches Manchester next October but promises to wipe away the awful memory of UK Productions; wobbly set and patchy version which toured a few years ago.
South Pacific is at the Palace Theatre from 25th October - 5th November.
One of my favourite Brian Friel plays is the beautiful Dancing At Lughnasa. I first saw it at the Haymarket Theatre in Basingstoke and this is very apt as a new touring production by Alistair Whatley opens there in Jan. It arrives in the North West in February and is set to make you fall in love with Friel's glorious storytelling all over again.
Dancing At Lughnasa is at the Oldham Coliseum from 22 - 26 February.
If you like the idea of a World Premiere linking two of the Northwest's leading theatres, then Quicksand is for you. It's a love story set on Morecambe Bay and is a co-production by The Dukes and The Theatre-By-The-Lake. Deeply rooted in local landscape, this sounds like it could be a real winner.
Quicksand is at the Theatre-By-The-Lake in Keswick from 16 - 26 February.
The tale of those star crossed lovers arrives in the Northwest every year. But with David Thacker at the helm, the Bolton Octagon will no doubt do Shakespeare's classic justice. With former Eastenders star Michelle Collins cast as Nurse and Bolton favourite Kieran Hill on board, I cannot wait to visit Verona again.
Romeo and Juliet is at the Bolton Octagon from 3 February - 5 March.
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