Liverpool Theatre Festival returns with a brand new Summer date.
The full festival programme includes 18 shows spread across 24 performances, with genres including comedy, drama, music, opera, musical theatre, drag, and the festival’s strongest family line-up to date since its inception in 2020.
The fourth annual Liverpool Theatre Festival will take place from July 20 to July 30, 2023. It will take place outdoors once more at St Luke’s Bombed Out Church in Liverpool’s city centre.
This year’s Liverpool Theatre Festival honours Liverpool playwright Mark Davies Markham, who died earlier this year. Last year’s LTF saw the world premiere of Mark’s one-woman play 2Gorgeous4U. The show is being re-staged this year in memory of Mark. The proceeds from the performance will go to charity.
Three new shows have been specially commissioned for the Liverpool Theatre Festival. Sober Companion, starring Joe McGann and Jake Norton, as well as The Oogy Boogy Man and Fred The Musical for children.
The festival, which coincides with the school summer break for the first time, will feature nine family shows.
Alongside brand new commissions The Oogy Boogy Man and Fred The Musical, the children’s shows are The Magic Bookmark With Mama G, Magic Gareth: Level Up!, Rubbish Romeo And Juliet, The Monkey With No Bum, Shout! The Mod Musical, Dame Fanny & Her Fabulous Friends, and The Tempest.
Liverpool City Region Pride Festival takes place between 28 July and 30 July, and LTF shows have been specifically programmed on these dates to complement the weekend celebration.
The programme also features comedy, drama, music, opera, musical theatre, and drag.
The full line-up also features Viva Tenori – A Celebration Of The Three Tenors; Whatever Happened To Billy Kenny; Perfectly Frank; A Night With Daniel Taylor – His Music And His Friends; Locomotive For Murder: The Improvised Whodunnit; Pauline Daniels – Get Me Before The Crematorium Does; and Laughterhouse Comedy – Pride Special featuring Morgan Rees and Bethany Black.
Since its inaugural staging in Autumn 2020, it has gone on to win praise from audiences and critics alike, as well as winning many awards along the way. Liverpool Theatre Festival is committed to supporting local artists, creatives, and theatre companies.
Liverpool Theatre Festival Producer and Artistic Director Bill Elms commented:
“This year’s festival is fast approaching with just two weeks until we open at St Luke’s Bombed Out Church in Liverpool city centre. This is the fourth staging of the festival and it’s something we are incredibly proud of – the festival was created in a matter of weeks in the midst of the pandemic to give a glimmer of hope, inspiration, and escapism to creatives and audiences alike. And we’re still continuing to do just that. And this year we will also remember our dear friend and writer Mark Davies Markham, who was highly respected in Liverpool and beyond.
“This year we’ve moved the festival to coincide with the school holidays and have a great line-up of family shows, making theatre accessible and affordable for everyone. So please join us for 11 days of live entertainment in a fantastic setting – we want this to be a real Summer highlight in Liverpool.”
Fringe event Little LTF – Liverpool Theatre Festival Of New Works will take place in the Autumn, running between Tuesday 3 October and Sunday 8 October 2023. Performances will be staged within the more intimate marquee at St Luke’s Bombed Out Church. Further details about submitting work will be announced soon.
There are still opportunities for businesses to support. To find out more contact producer and artistic director Bill Elms by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is the full programme…
VIVA TENORI – A CELEBRATION OF THE THREE TENORS
Viva Tenori – A Celebration Of The Three Tenors is on Thursday 20 July at 7.30pm.
Appearing for the fourth year in a row, Liverpool-based company Absolute Opera is proud to open this year’s festival with a spectacular evening of world-class entertainment. This musical extravaganza features some of the UK’s leading international and West End tenors – Absolute Opera’s Roy Locke with Rory Campbell and Lincoln Stone from Tenors Encore. This concert celebrates the unforgettable music, romance, and spectacle that were the concerts of the original Three Tenors – Carreras, Domingo, and Pavarotti. The trio will be joined by special guest soprano Leigh Rhiannon Coggins, who lent her beautiful voice and charming on-stage presence to previous Absolute Opera shows Opera Beneath The Stars at LTF in 2021 and 2022. Alongside opera classics Nessun Dorma and O Sole Mio, the programme will include a fresh approach to modern pop classics inspired by artists including Andrea Bocelli and Josh Groban, re-arranging and translating modern songs to create stunning classical versions. Suitable for age 12 upwards.
THE OOGY BOOGY MAN
The Oogy Boogy Man is on Friday 21 July at 2.30pm.
Fresh to the stage, this show is adapted from a new series of children’s books by Gary Edward Jones, a well-respected singer songwriter from the North West. The Oogy Boogy Man is reminiscent of the darker fairytales of olde – weaving poetic tales of talking trees, a cauldron full of forest-laden spells, and hushed secrets intertwined between the ancient creaking branches. This is the story of a lonely ogre who is not all that he seems. The people of the town fear him, but he dreams of a friend. He hopes the cauldron and potion made by the spirit of his Grandmother will help in his quest. Suitable for age six upwards.
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BILLY KENNY
Whatever Happened To Billy Kenny is on Friday 21 July at 7.30pm.
Written by acclaimed Liverpool playwright Ian Salmon (Girls Don’t Play Guitars, The Comeback Special, Those Two Weeks), and directed by Mike Dickinson (Raves’R’Us, Not The Horse, Bob The Russian). It’s the question asked by Evertonians across the last three decades. This one-man show is built on Billy’s own words and written with his blessing, it stars Liverpool actor Jay Johnson. Nineteen-year-old Billy Kenny had the world at his feet – Man Of The Match in the Merseyside Derby while still on a YTS contract; hailed by Peter Beardsley as ‘The Goodison Gazza’; and sacked by Everton and retired by aged 21. This is the story of a potentially glittering career lost to injury, alcohol, and cocaine. Suitable for age 15 upwards.
Sober Companion is on Saturday 22 July, with two performances at 3.30pm and 7.30pm.
This is a new play written and performed by Joe McGann and Jake Norton which explores the funny, raw, and sometimes dark places of fame, addiction, and recovery. Dan (played by Jake Norton) is a high-flying prime time television presenter. He also has a bad habit which he denies, but it’s not hidden as well as he thinks. People close to him are concerned. Gerard (played by Joe McGann) has seen it all before. He has personal experience of recovery that could be useful to Dan, so his services have been engaged. There is an intervention, intrusion of privacy, stranger in the midst. We all need a little help sometimes, but it can be difficult to admit. Suitable for age 14 upwards.
FRED THE MUSICAL
Fred The Musical is on Sunday 23 July, with two performances at 11.30am and 1.30pm.
This is a new interactive stage show for children, based on the best-selling rhyming picture book Fred The Fire-Sneezing Dragon by Fay Evans. Fred is a lonely young dragon whose fiery sneezes cause chaos at school. He is teased by his human classmates until he accidentally saves the day. The pupils eventually learn to accept and celebrate Fred in this heart-warming tale. At the heart of the show are themes of friendship, diversity, and inclusivity – encouraging children to accept everyone is different and can be good at something. Aimed at toddlers and primary schoolchildren, the show is full of life and laughter and packed with pantomime-inspired interaction. Writer Fay Evans and producer Bill Elms have collaborated to bring the book to stage as a musical. Suitable for age three upwards.
Perfectly Frank is on Sunday 23 July at 7pm.
Liverpool’s very own David Knopov returns to LTF and keeps the swing of Sinatra alive throughout this show. The singer has entertained a global audience with his Sinatra act for more than 30 years, and is believed to be one of the most successful Frank Sinatra tributes in the business. He performed for the late Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II during the Golden Jubilee celebrations, and counts actors Bill Nighy and Dawn French amongst his celebrity fans. Suitable for age 15 upwards.
THE MAGIC BOOKMARK WITH MAMA G
The Magic Bookmark With Mama G is on Monday 24 July at 1.30pm.
Join pantomime dame Mama G from Britain’s Got Talent for The Magic Bookmark, a brand new adventure for the whole family presented by Petite Pantos. It all starts when the evil Book Worm decides that reading gives people too much knowledge and makes all the books from Mama G’s library disappear. Before the world can turn to chaos, Mama G vows to save the day by finding three books that will help make the world a better place. But she cannot do it alone – and that’s when she discovers the mysterious and wonderful Magic Bookmark. The panto is full of fun, interaction, song, dance, and puppetry. Mama G recently wowed audiences when she appeared in the Christmas 2022 pantomime Goldilocks And The Three Bears at Liverpool’s Epstein Theatre. Suitable for age four upwards.
2Gorgeous4U is on Monday 24 July at 7.30pm.
This show returns to Liverpool Theatre Festival in memory of writer Mark Davies Markham, who sadly passed away this year. Organisers are bringing back 2Gorgeous4Ufor a very special performance of this one-woman show starring Lynne Fitzgerald. Clare is a beautician with her own spa and treatment room in Waterloo, she is happily single – but is online, just in case. Her one desire in life is to have a wet room. Back in the Britpop 1990s she was one half of pop duo 2Gorgeous4U with her best mate Tina. They were wild, but fell out acrimoniously. What happens when they are asked to reform for a music festival in their hometown of Liverpool? Can they put the past behind them and move on? What was it they held on to for so long? The show features a brilliant soundtrack including Queen Latifa, Blur, Gabrielle, and KKlass. Suitable for age 12 upwards.
The show is licensed by kind permission of the Mark Davies Markham estate. All profits will be donated to a charity of their choice.
A NIGHT WITH DANIEL TAYLOR – HIS MUSIC AND FRIENDS
A Night With Daniel Taylor – His Music And Friends is on Tuesday 25 July at 7.30pm.
Audiences are invited to a special evening of live music with Daniel Taylor and guests. Daniel is an award-winning actor, musician, theatre producer, and director. Born in Liverpool and still living there today, he has been performing for more than 25 years. His theatre credits include Blood Brothers, Twopence To Cross The Mersey, Something About George – The George Harrison Story, and Lennon – Through A Glass Onion. Daniel is a highly respected singer-songwriter, who has performed and recorded internationally. For one night only, he will perform songs from musical theatre, cover versions, and original songs from his forthcoming album Sonny Days. Daniel will be joined by talented performers from the world of musical theatre and the music industry. Suitable for age 12 upwards.
MAGIC GARETH: LEVEL UP!
Magic Gareth: Level Up! is on Wednesday 26 July at 1.30pm.
Ahead of a run at the Edinburgh Fringe, Magic Gareth: Level Up! is coming to LTF. Following on from the success of Magic Gareth’s Magic Eye show at last year’s Fringe, the magician is bringing a new production to Liverpool. This is a family magic show extravaganza, complete with a grumpy unicorn, games, and plenty of trickery and tomfoolery. Suitable for age five upwards.
LOCOMOTIVE FOR MURDER: THE IMPROVISED WHODUNNIT
Locomotive For Murder: The Improvised Whodunnit is on Wednesday 26 July, with two performances at 5pm and 8pm.
Punch Pinch welcome audiences to Locomotive For Murder: The Improvised Whodunnit – a totally off-the-cuff, outrageous murder mystery where killing the cast and cracking the case is in their hands. Expect dubious accents, shaky alibis, thrills, spills, and good old-fashioned kills. Four characters board a train but not everyone will survive. Thankfully a world-famous detective is on-board, ready to dive in and solve the case – with the help of the audience. This unique, murder mystery will have everyone on the edge of their seat. Suitable for age 12 upwards.
RUBBISH ROMEO AND JULIET
Rubbish Romeo And Juliet is on Thursday 27 July at 1.30pm.
Rubbish Romeo And Juliet is brought to the LTF stage by the Rubbish Shakespeare Company before heading to the Edinburgh Festival. The title prompts thoughts of enemies, balconies, a kiss. But sausage rolls? A trio perform Shakespeare’s classic tragedy using only a box of pound shop props, a tattered floral dress, and a punctured old airbed they found by the bins. Described as “like Horrible Histories but funnier” by Primary Times, the production company revives its accessible, interactive, and joyously anarchic version of Romeo and Juliet. It features clowning slapstick, clever but mischievous storytelling, with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. Suitable for age five upwards.
PAULINE DANIELS – GET ME BEFORE THE CREMATORIUM DOES!
Pauline Daniels – Get Me Before The Crematorium Does! is on Thursday 27 July at 7.30pm.
Pauline Daniels heads to the LTF stage with her popular stand-up comedy tour Get Me Before The Crematorium Does! She continues to be one of Britain’s hardest working stand-up comediennes of our generation. With her unique brand of humour and breath-taking vocals, she is thrilled to be performing as part of the festival for one night only – an evening which guarantees to have audiences rolling the aisles. Pauline was recently part of the headline cast for Calendar Girls The Musical by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth, and has also featured in The Comedians, Shirley Valentine, Bread, Brookside, The Street, Central TV, Saturday Royal, Wogan, Radio Merseyside, Liverpool Live, and Ricky Tomlinson’s Laughter Show. Suitable for age 16 upwards.
THE MONKEY WITH NO BUM
The Monkey With No Bum is on Friday 28 July, with two performances at 11.30am and 1.30pm.
The Monkey With No Bum is based on the popular children’s book by Asa Murphy. Little ones will meet Headmaster Mr Plop, Miss Jolly, and Charlie the Monkey for a fun-filled visit to Jungle School. This interactive show is full of dancing, music, and laughter, and features Catherine Rice, Brandon McCaffrey, and Asa Murphy. Miss Jolly tells everyone about one of her special pupils, Charlie the Monkey, and his journey to learn a very special lesson about himself. Fun-loving Charlie hates his bum, but when he receives a special birthday surprise, he thinks his bum problems are over – but he soon learns that having a bigger, better bum may not be as important as he thinks. Youngsters be thrilled by songs including The Fruit Picking Song, The Laughter Song, Perfect In Every Way, and The Bum Bum Song. Suitable for age three upwards.
LAUGHTERHOUSE COMEDY – PRIDE SPECIAL
Laughterhouse Comedy – Pride Special is on Friday 28 July, with two performances at 6pm and 8.30pm.
Some of the best LGBTQ+ stand-up comedians are coming to LTF this Summer. Laughterhouse Comedy is back for a fourth year with some of their most popular acts, ready to wow audiences as part of Liverpool’s weekend of Pride celebrations. Laughterhouse is Liverpool’s longest running comedy club. The evening’s MC is Jonathan Major, one of the finest comperes in the county with his high-octane stage presence. Bethany Black has been performing for more than 20 years, blessed with a sharp tongue and a desire to overshare, she has been critically acclaimed or her personal confessional style of comedy. Hugely in demand, Welshman Morgan Rees is energetic and hilarious, with a routine full of one-liners, rolling stories, and superb observations. Another act will be announced shortly. May contain strong language and adult themes. Suitable for age 16 upwards.
SHOUT! THE MOD MUSICAL
Shout! The Mod Musical is on Saturday 29 July, with two performances at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.
Shout! The Mod Musical boasts an irresistible blend of hip-swivelling hits, eye-popping fashions, and outrageous dance moves. The show will transport audiences to the music, style, and freedom of the 1960s. The show will be performed by Edge Hill University Musical Theatre students, producer and musical director Nick Sanders, director James Macpherson, and choreographer Lydia Bullock. Shout! follows five groovy gals as they come of age during those glorious days that made England swing. Travelling in time from 1960 to 1970, it chronicles the dawning liberation of women – from the rise of Dusty Springfield, Petula Clark and Cilla Black as independent women with major careers, to their American counterparts, redefining themselves in the face of changing attitudes about gender. The songs are tied together by hilarious sound bites from the period. Shout! has been created by Phillip George and David Lowenstein, and features new arrangements of classic tunes including To Sir With Love, Downtown, Son Of A Preacher Man, and Goldfinger. This amateur production is presented by arrangement with Musical Theatre International. Suitable for age 10 upwards.
DAME FANNY & HER FABULOUS FRIENDS
Dame Fanny & Her Fabulous Friends is on Sunday 30 July at 12pm.
Dame Fanny & Her Fabulous Friends comes to LTF as part of Liverpool Pride which coincides with the festival. The diva that is Dame Fanny De Faux has performed and hosted events at a variety of venues across the country and overseas. She is also thought to be the only fully trained drag wedding celebrant in the UK. Dame Fanny is delighted to be returning to LTF after much fun and hilarity at last year’s event – this time she is accompanied by two of her beautiful and talented chums. Voilet . Pain is a gifted and gorgeous queen, she has been on the drag scene for six years, showcasing her skills as a DJ, lip-syncing, performing, and hosting. She is a firm favourite across Liverpool venues. The fabulous V has also had residencies in Manchester and was recently in a show in LA, making her international and one to watch. Debs completed the trio – and is the Scouse answer to Jennifer Coolidge. Although she has only been performing drag a relatively short time, she is most definitely grabbing the attention of UK audiences, having recently toured with some huge names from the divine world of drag. Suitable for age six upwards.
THE TEMPEST BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
The Tempest By William Shakespeare is on Sunday 30 July at 3pm.
After hugely successful runs of their Norton Priory woodland Shakespeare productions of Romeo & Juliet and Macbeth in 2022 and 2021, multi award-winning A Place For Us Theatre Company present The Tempest By William Shakespeare. Be transported to an island of betrayal, magic, love, and revenge. The play will be performed by talented drama students from Cronton Sixth Form College alongside the creative team from A Place For Us. Audiences will be enchanted, enthralled, and engrossed in a world of spirits and magical creatures in this edited and accessible one-hour version of arguably Shakespeare’s final masterpiece. Suitable for age nine upwards.
Book your tickets here.