Liverpool Theatre Festival Created in Wake of Pandemic
Twelve productions over nine days to support city theatre scene. New outdoor event will offer live entertainment in the open air during the month of September at St Luke’s Bombed Out Church
Liverpool theatre producer Bill Elms has created a nine-day outdoor live performance festival to support the city’s devastated theatre scene in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Liverpool Theatre Festival will take place between Friday 11 September and Saturday 19 September 2020 and is being staged in association with the team behind St Luke’s Bombed Out Church.
The event will take place within the church walls, in the grounds of St Luke’s in the heart of Liverpool city centre and will follow stringent social distancing and Government guidelines.
Tickets for Liverpool Theatre Festival go on sale at 12pm on Thursday 27 August. Tickets start from £10.
Live performances came to a complete standstill nationally in mid-March due to Covid-19 lockdown. This has had a devastating impact on all careers linked to live performance – from performers and technicians, to venues and suppliers. Strict social distancing guidelines continue to prove extremely difficult for organisers and venues.
With no indication on when safe and financially viable indoor performances will resume, Bill has been working tirelessly behind the scenes to organise the festival now outdoor live performances are permitted.
The festival line-up includes musical theatre, drama, comedy, cabaret, monologues, and children’s shows.
Festivalgoers can be reassured they will be attending a safe environment. Capacity has been reduced to ensure socially distanced seating; hand sanitiser stations; temperature checks before entry; masks will be compulsory when moving round the venue; and visitors are encouraged to attend in their social bubble groups.
Increased safety guidelines will also take place behind the scenes. Shows will be limited to one-act performances; each show lasts a maximum of 75 mins to reduce audience movement; the cast and crew will socially distance and be temperature checked; and a maximum of four performers per production. Further safety measures will be announced in the coming weeks.
Producer and artistic director Bill Elms explained:
“Like many colleagues in our industry, work came to a complete standstill in mid-March and it has been a complete shock to the system and tough at times. But after working in the industry for 30 years, I could not just sit back and watch everything disintegrate before our very eyes. I had to do something and after a lot of research, ringing round and planning, Liverpool Theatre Festival was born.
“We need to pull together and support our talented artists and incredible production companies through this difficult time, and hopefully something positive can come out of these dreadful times, I would love to see the festival grow to become an annual event. St Luke’s is the perfect backdrop for the inaugural Liverpool Theatre Festival. This is about providing theatre lovers with a platform to come out, enjoy and experience live entertainment once again, in a safe environment. This is the first step on a long road to returning to indoor theatre and safety for customers, cast and crew is paramount. We worked hard to keep ticket prices affordable without compromising on quality.”
The team at St Luke’s have been successfully running a covid-safe garden café/bar on site for a few the last months and they will provide theatregoers with premium drinks and freshly cooked pizza, drinks can also be purchased on a special app and delivered to ticketholders at their seats.
Kate Jones from St Luke’s Bombed Out Church added:
“St Luke’s Bombed Out Church is dedicated to support the local arts scene. Our team has been working hard to produce a Covid-19 safe environment for local theatre and other cultural events along with our now established garden bar. We are thrilled to welcome back a Bill Elms production to our wonderful iconic building, and we’re delighted to host the very first Liverpool Theatre Festival.”
Liverpool Theatre Festival will include live productions of Swan Song by Jonathan Harvey, A Fairy Tale Journey Across The Mersey, Laughterhouse Comedy, The Very Best Of Tommy Cooper, Sweet Mother, Shakers by John Godber, Deathly Confessions, Matinee Musical Classics, Music Of The Night, Judy & Liza, Hurrah For The Pirate King! and Something About Simon.
Bill Elms continued:
“Liverpool really is a wonderful pool of talent. A lot of thought has gone into programming the festival and I have quickly secured a wonderful line-up of Liverpool performers and productions, who are eager to see the return of live entertainment. We cannot wait to open the festival on 11 September. The performers are already counting down the days until they can get back on a stage in front of a live audience.”
Opening the festival is a special collaboration with Liverpool Theatre Festival. Swan Song by Jonathan Harvey stars Andrew Lancel in a one man show and directed by Noreen Kershaw on Friday 11 September, at 6pm and 9pm. Liverpool. 1997. The world is changing, and in the staff room, English teacher Dave Titswell finds that not all change is welcome. Is he reaching the end of the line? Or will a school trip to the Lakes change things for the better? Swan Song is a comedy by award winning writer Jonathan Harvey, first performed at the Edinburgh Festival and Hampstead Theatre.
A Fairy Tale Journey Across The Mersey on Saturday 12 September, with shows at 10.30am and 1.30pm. This brand-new Pantomime Mashup follows the journey of young Princess Maureen Anna (Mo-Anna), on her journey across the Mersey. Always putting the people of her island first, she must face terrible danger, difficult challenges and laugh out loud comedy.
Laughterhouse Comedy night is on Saturday 12 September, with shows at 6pm and 9pm. The city’s biggest comedy club, Laughterhouse Comedy brings an evening of hilarity to St Luke’s, featuring Scouse favourites and the very best acts on the international comedy circuit. With Neil Fitzmaurice (Phoenix Nights), Daliso Chaponda (Britain’s Got Talent ITV), Chris Cairns (Eric Morecambe Act Of The Year, Former Liverpool Comedian of the Year) and Steve Royle (Britain’s Got Talent).
The Very Best Of Tommy Cooper is on Sunday 13 September at 2.30pm and 7.30pm. The Very Best Of Tommy Cooper (Just like that!) is the follow up to the award winning The Tommy Cooper Show. We focus the spotlight entirely on Tommy’s stand-up act offering all the misfiring magic, trademark one-liners and dazzling wordplay, starring West End star Daniel Taylor in the title role. “Tommy Cooper was given that wonderful and rare gift to make people laugh, often by simply standing there,” said Daniel Taylor. “His most-loved routines draw on an innocent sense of humour that appeals to all ages, and I’m sure that they’ll stand the test of time.”
Deathly Confessions is on Monday 14 September at 7.30pm. A series of chilling dark comedy monologues starring Crissy Rock, Samantha Alton, Thomas Galashan and James Templeton. Four stories to make you laugh, cry, and send a shiver down your spine… Sometimes the only person you can share your secret with is the dead.
Shakers is on Tuesday 15 September at 7.30pm. A scouse revival of John Godber’s legendary Shakers. Every town has its Shakers, the must visit cocktail bar where everybody wants to be seen. Get a hilarious behind the scenes glimpse into this world through the eyes of four long suffering waitresses.
“Carol, Adele, Nikki and Mel, work in a bar that is worse than hell!”
Sweet Mother is on Wednesday 16 September 2020, at 2.30pm and 7.30pm. Produced by Nwoko Arts and written by Maria Paul, the play is based on real stories of family and friendships in one of Liverpool’s strongest communities. Sweet Mother is an oral history project created using verbatim interviews with four real women who became friends through the shared experience of raising families in 1960s, 1970s and 1980s Toxteth. It looks at the previously untold stories of white women who fell in love with, married and raised families with black men in the Liverpool 8 community during a time of racial unrest. Sweet Mother stars Margaret Connell, Amanda George-Higgins, and Lisa Symonds.
Music Of The Night is on Thursday 17 September 2020 at 7.30pm. Direct from its 5-star reviews at the Epstein Theatre, Bill Elms and Liverpool-based company Absolute Opera, presents a very special evening of the finest musical theatre, featuring International acclaimed artist Roy Locke (Phantom of the Opera, Australian Opera) as well as special guest direct from the West End, Olivia Brereton (Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables).
Music Of The Night is a spectacular evening of songs and duets from the most popular and best loved West End and Broadway musicals, including Les Misérables, West Side Story, The Lion King and of course The Phantom Of The Opera.
Earlier the same day, Roy Locke will also host and perform Matinee Musical Classics on Thursday 17 September at 2.30pm. An afternoon of hit songs from the Golden Age of Movies and Musicals, a perfect program of favourite all-time classic hits. Liverpool-based Operatic and Classical Tenor Roy Locke’s (Phantom of the Opera, Australian Opera) breath-taking voice will take you on an emotional, sentimental, and uplifting journey through some of the greatest works of Western music, and is joined by Special Guest West-End Soprano Olivia Brereton (Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables) and musical director Tom Chester.
Judy & Liza is on Friday 18 September 2020, with performances at 6pm and 9pm. The incredible talents of two of the biggest names in Hollywood showbusiness – mother and daughter Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli – are back together once again thanks to this special musical experience, now celebrating its 10th anniversary. Judy & Liza features performances of iconic songs Cabaret, Maybe This Time, and The Man That Got Away. The self-penned musical biopic by Emma Dears sees the Liverpool actress and singer return to the stage as Liza, joined by Helen Sheals as Judy. Emma’s West End roles have included Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, and Oliver. Helen is widely known for her roles in Coronation Street and Downton Abbey.
Hurrah For The Pirate King! is on Saturday 19 September 2020, at 10.30am and 1.30pm. Direct from its Smash-Hit seasons at The Just So! Festivals (2018, 2019) as well as the Atkinson Theatre (2020), Follow the great Pirate King‘s Adventures as he takes us on a Magical and Musical journey to find a treasure beyond Gold and Jewels! Mysterious places shall ye see, Mateys! from Hushabye Mountain to Cat Island where the Queen of the Cats holds her Court, to mysterious and exciting places over the Briney Sea! With her help, can The Pirate King entice the legendary Unicorn, keeper of the magical Unicorn Diamond to appear? Buckle yer Swash ye Land-Lubbers! – experience Opera, Ballet and Art-Song in a fun and inclusive way designed for children and their grown-ups, from ages 0-99.
Something About Simon – The Paul Simon Story is on Saturday 19 September 2020, at 6pm and 9pm. In a poignant evening of song, story and reminiscence, Liverpool singer songwriter Gary Edward Jones honours the genius of Paul Simon in his one-man show. Weaving the unforgettable melodies with biography and cultural history, Gary takes music fans deep into Paul Simon’s extraordinary life and straight to the heart of his music spanning seven decades. The show wowed audiences at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival and was specially selected to play in a prestigious New York showcase in December 2019. The show should be playing Off-Broadway in New York this Autumn, but Liverpool has the honour of welcoming the show back to the stage as part of this new festival. Music highlights include The Sound of Silence, America, and Bridge Over Troubled Waters.
Tickets for Liverpool Theatre Festival are available from Ticket Quarter here.
For more information about the Liverpool Theatre Festival and any updates please visit their website and socials here.