Coronavirus and local theatres


Alan Hulme, Paul Genty, Sue West


A round-up of theatre closures due to the Coronavirus outbreak across the North West

During the coronavirus shut down, all theatres throughout Greater Manchester and beyond are guaranteeing to reimburse patrons for cancelled shows.

Ambassador Theatre Group, owners of the Palace, Opera House and Liverpool Empire, are the main commercial operators and have a comprehensive system for refunds.

The rest are charities, mostly hoping that instead of asking for refunds, those who can afford it will donate the price of their tickets to help see them through unprecedented times.

You can read individual Coronavirus-response items about several theatres in our news section - click here.


Manchester Palace, Opera House, Liverpool Empire

All Ambassador Theatre Group UK venues are now suspended until September 20. Tickets will automatically be transferred to new dates if runs have been rearranged, and you will be contacted. So far Footloose, Sister Act and 9 to 5 The Musical have been rearranged, and more are expected to follow.

The theatres are happy to refund money, but are encouraging customers to rebook for future performances.

All bookings for cancelled performances will be credited or exchanged for a future show of your choice with a voucher, redeemable on until December 31. You will be able to exchange again (free of charge) if a further performance is postponed. Request a voucher here. If you booked as a group, the person who made the booking should complete the form.

Secure My Booking's ticket reimbursement program doesn’t cover epidemic or pandemic, but ATG’s response to these bookings is the same as for direct bookings. Complete the request form.

More info here


The Lowry

The Lowry is closed until at least the end of May. The theatre promises to contact everyone who has booked tickets, and that patrons will be entitled to a refund. Like many other theatres, The Lowry is asking ticket holders to donate the cost of the tickets by not asking for a refund.

The Lowry has also launched an emergency appeal to support its work using visual and performing arts: “At the heart of our work is a commitment to our local communities and young people. You can help support us through this difficult period by donating whatever you can now. Your support means the world to us".

More info here



HOME is closed until the end of June. If you have booked a ticket or are due to attend a show, the theatre will be contacting you to organise a refund. The theatre is also asking patrons to contribute to its Response Fund.

More info here


Hope Mill

The 120-seat home of new musicals cancelled its big premiere of Cinderella, due in May (see separate story) but is still advertising tickets for events in June and July, especially its production of Rent at the end of that month. The venue recently became a charity and receives no government or arts funding, relying solely on ticket sales and bar income. "We are constantly moved by the support of our audiences and what is clear is that now more than ever we ask you to continue to support, as we move into unknown territory.”

More info here


Royal Exchange

The theatre has confirmed it will be closed until the autumn - by which is presumably meant it will relaunch with the new season in September. Also a charity, the majority of its income comes through ticket sales. Exchange bosses are hoping many patrons will donate the cost of tickets to help it to maintain cash flow. Bosses ask ticket holders not to call, and that staff will be in touch in due course.

More info here

Royal Northern College of Music

The college is closed to students and the public until at least September 1, taking all tuition online and abandoning its planned events, including the entire summer music season. In the meantime, each week the college will share music online from its archive of performances, as well as new contributions from staff, students and alumni.

More info here, and check the college’s YouTube channel.


Contact Theatre

Contact has nothing in the calendar until December. The theatre plans online participation projects, workshops and events.

More info here


Click here to return to news page

Octagon Bolton

The Octagon's multi-million-pound rebuild has had the summer shine knocked off it as many elements to complete the work are stuck in international lockdowns. As such the reopening has been moved to November, and the big reopening show, One Man, Two Guvnors, pushed to next year (see separate story here). The theatre, which faces a shortfall of £500,000 this year, has closed its temporary offices, cafe and ticket office in the Market Place Shopping Centre. Theatre bosses will keep the public informed and entertained with Octagon Online in the meantime. 

More info here


Oldham Coliseum

A new statement (April 16) from newly-announced artistic director Chris Lawson confirms that the Coliseum is closed at least until the end of August. This includes the cancellation of a "pop-up" theatre outside the civic centre with Paines Plough in June and July. The current plan is to reopen with the new seaon in September. Staff are contacting ticket holders to arrange refunds - though is hoping patrons might donate the cost of their tickets to help.

Ticket holders are being contacted in chronological order. Some events have been rescheduled. 

Patrons can have a refund, refund to credit (applicable for 12 months) - or, if able, make the money a donation. 

Recheduled events will automatically be transferred to the new date. The Coliseum has also started a series of podcasts, starting with performances of 17 of the 100-word plays created by supporters in the summer.

More info here


Grand Theatre, Leeds

The Grand has closed its doors and will be contacting ticket holders to arrange refunds. The show intended to run now, (April), The Book of Mormon, has been moved to next year

More info here


Leeds Playhouse

The Playhouse has cancelled the rest of its season up to July and promises further updates as they become available. The theatre will contact ticket holders to arrange refunds or donations.

More info here


Blackpool Grand

The theatre and box office are closed until further notice; sales team members will call ticket holders. Tickets will be credited automatically to individual accounts, unless staff are specifically asked for a refund.

More info here


Storyhouse Chester

The theatre is closed for the foreseeable future. The theatre is hopeful of finding alternative dates for some scheduled shows, in which case ticket holders will be contacted with options. Theatre staff will contact patrons. The theatre has as selection of "Quarantine Karaoke" events for online viewers.

More info here


Opera House, Buxton

The theatre (and associated cinema) are closed for the foreseeable future. All ticket money will be refunded by the method originally used for purchase, and it isn’t necessary to contact the theatre. Like many other theatres that basically exist as charities on box-office income, the Opera House would welcome donations or the writing off of refunds.

More info here


Theatre by the Lake, Keswick

The theatre is closed until further notice, and the summer season cancelled (see separate story). Again, the theatre is appealing to audiences to consider making a donation or donating the ticket money in lieu of a refund. All ticket holders to cancelled shows will receive exchanges, credits or full refunds.

More info here


Clonter Opera Theatre, Congleton

The theatre is closed until further notice, which now includes the summer opera production (which was to have been The Barber of Seville in July), and subsequent events. Barber has now been rescheduled to next summer. Anyone with tickets for events prior to that production will be contacted about refunds. Clonter has launched a series of online excerpts from its production of the past nine years, and hopes to reopen in October.

More info here


Theatr Clwyd, Mold

The theatre has closed to the public and all events, performances and screenings inside and outside the building have been cancelled or postponed (see the list on the link below). All ticket holders for affected events will be contacted, and the public is asked not to ring the theatre.

More info here


Everyman Theatre, Liverpool

Some performances have been classified as postponed and will be rescheduled to later dates. If your show is postponed, the theatre asks that you wait until a new date is announced before deciding what to do. Ticketholders will be contacted when new dates are announced.

Other shows are confirmed as cancelled and ticket holders are entitled to a refund. The value can also be retained in an individual theatre account and applied to later shows, or donated to the theatre (which is a charity). Other donations will also be gratefully accepted.

More info here


Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool

The theatre hasn't yet updated its plans and is still hoping to be open by June 5. All main house shows have been rescheduled: Pete Price Is Dead will now be on October 9-November 7; YNWA will move to June 5-July 4, and Macca & Beth will appear from February 5-March 6. Revised information is available on the theatre website here.

The theatre is adding extra Variety Lunch Club dates in the autumn and is also attempting to reschedule Studio shows, promising updates soon.

If you have tickets for any of these shows the box office will be in touch in the next few days to arrange a move, or a voucher valid for the next two years.

More info here

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c2019 TheatreReviewsNorth