Looking Ahead: What to watch in 2015 in the North West

With HOME opening, new seasons and the return of ”Educating Rita” to its roots of Liverpool, there’s plenty to entertain.

HOME - an artist's impression
HOME – an artist's impression

If you are feeling that there are far too many pantos and family based shows, look ahead with us and see if you are inspired by our tips of what to watch in the North West in 2015.

1. The opening of Home

Highly anticipated and hopefully London will be watching, as Manchester unveils the rebirth of the Library Theatre meets the Cornerhouse spectacular venue/production house. Films, food, art and theatre all under one roof. I cannot wait to see the building, let alone the variety of cultural events.

2. The return of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels to Manchester

Talking of 'home' – it feels like this hit musical belongs to us, after all it was here before it travelled to the West End. A fantastically funny look at con men and women with some brilliant songs and some clever choreography.

3. A View from the Bridge at The Octagon

If anyone can do Arthur Miller, it's David Thacker – he knew him, after all. This remarkable play returns to the Octagon and is set to thrill audiences all over again. This is one of my favourite plays and combined with the fact it's in this excellent venue makes it a must-see.

4. The Ghost Train – Told by an Idiot – at the Royal Exchange, Manchester

I love Told by an Idiot. As a company intent on making you laugh, they are unrivalled as they mix high brow elements with Naked Gun style slapstick and somehow, it works wonderfully well. I am intrigued to see what they do with this reboot of Arnold Ridley's thriller.

5. The Theatre by the Lake, Keswick new season

Mike Leigh, Tennessee Williams, Hans Christian Anderson and the usual in rep productions as this innovative theatre. What's not to like? If I lived nearer, I'd see the whole season. Picturesque setting, a hard working cast delivering classics alongside premieres – this is what good theatre is all about.

6. 24:7 Theatre Festival

Always a highlight for fringe theatre fans – these bite size plays have transformed the theatre landscape in Manchester. Showcasing local writers and actors, many of these plays end up with a life outside of the city. Catch a few if you can.

7. One Man, Two Guvnors at the Lowry

One of the funniest farces to be staged in a long time. It returns to the Lowry in the New Year. If you haven't seen it, do go but be prepared to laugh so much your face aches. Proof, if need be that the National Theatre is producing some amazing theatre.

8. East is East at the Opera House

The Trafalgar Studio 1 in London offers you quite an uncomfortable seat with minimum legroom. So revel in the fact that this classic is on a mini tour and it's coming to Manchester's Opera House – a more comfortable alternative. Starring the wonderful Jane Horrocks, this will give you a great start to the New Year.

9. Educating Rita at the Liverpool Playhouse.

This Willy Russell comedy classic returns to it's natural home of Liverpool and considering it stars the excellent Leanne Best and the brilliant actor Con O'Neil – expect fireworks. Another favourite play of mine – if you have never seen it before – it's smashing.

10. The Mist in the Mirror – at Oldham Coliseum

If you jumped out of your seat during The Woman in Black, this is another classic piece by Susan Hill. The Coliseum is one of the most consistent theatres in the North West and this promises to be a chilling and unique experience.

11. MIF – various venues

One of the joys of the Manchester International is the choice of venues. I have ran for my life in Media City in Crash of the Elysium and played Bingo at the Royal Exchange with Everybody Loves a Winner. But then there's the sheer variety of what's on offer. Expect the unexpected.

12. Matthew Bourne's The Car Man at the Lowry

Bourne's reboot of Carmen is one of the best dance pieces he has produced. This is thrilling stuff and is one of the most visually stunning pieces of theatre you will see. Dare to dismiss dance, as once you've seen this, you'll be bitten by the bug and seek out some more. I did.

Enjoy all of this and more in 2015.

What are you looking forward to seeing?