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Liverpool Theatre Festival announce next phase of shows

The next phase of shows for the fourth annual Liverpool Theatre Festival have been announced and include a tribute to music powerhouse Gladys Knight, a comedy murder mystery, and a William Shakespeare play for children. 

Liverpool Theatre Festival takes place this Summer, running for 11 days during the school holidays between Thursday 20 July and Sunday 30 July 2023. Once again, it will take place at St Luke’s Bombed Out Church in Liverpool city centre.

This is a new date for Liverpool Theatre Festival which usually takes place in September. The festival’s new works and fringe event Little LTF will go ahead in October 2023 instead of Spring. The changes ensure there is no clash with the city’s Eurovision celebrations. 

Plus the new Summer dates for the main LTF mean that an exciting programme of daytime family shows can be included in the programme.  

The six new shows are Gladys Knight…The Story, Locomotive For Murder: The Improvised Whodunnit, Mama G in The Magic Bookmark, The Monkey With No Bum, The Tempest By William Shakespeare, and The Oogy Boogy Man. 

The new shows have been added to the programme announced recently, which already features Sober Companion starring Joe McGann and Jake Norton, Fred The Musical, Viva Tenori – A Celebration Of The Three Tenors, Whatever Happened To Billy Kenny, Perfectly Frank, and Magic Gareth: Level Up.

All 12 shows for Liverpool Theatre Festival are now on sale. More shows will be announced shortly. 

This year’s festival partners are Edge Hill UniversityMorecrofts SolicitorsBill Elms Associates and Ticket Quarter. 

This project is part-funded by the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund with the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority as the lead authority. Along with Liverpool City Council and Culture Liverpool. 

Show information about the new additions to the programme. 

The Oogy Boogy Man is fresh to the stage, 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. The Oogy Boogy Man is on Friday 21 July at 2.30pm. 

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 at Liverpool’s Epstein Theatre. Suitable for age 4 upwards. The Magic Bookmark Starring Mama G is on Monday 24 July at 1.30pm. 

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 and over. Locomotive For Murder: The Improvised Whodunnit is on Wednesday 26 July, with performances at 5pm and 8pm. 

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 3 and above. The Monkey With No Bum is on Friday 28 July, with shows at 11.30am and 1.30pm. 

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. The Tempest By William Shakespeare is on Sunday 30 July at 3pm. 

Liverpool Theatre Festival 2023 will close with a very special show – Gladys Knight…The Story. Audiences will be dazzled by the authentic story of the six times Grammy award-winning American singer songwriter Gladys Knight. Presented by Jennifer John’s company Very Vocal, the electrifying talented Chantel Cole makes her debut performance as The Empress Of Soul. The show tells a story of adversity, heartache, betrayal, and an enduring love on an epic journey via Motown, Soul, and Disco from the 1950s through to the present day. The story starts at Mount Mariah Baptist Church in Atlanta with 4-year-old Gladys, following her musical career and back-up vocalists The Pips, and later her hugely successful solo career. The show features hits including Midnight Train To Georgia, Licence To Kill, and Baby Don’t Change Your Mind. Suitable for age 12 and above. Gladys Knight…The Story is on Sunday 30 July at 7.30pm. 

Liverpool Theatre Festival was created by Liverpool theatre producer Bill Elms, who has worked in the theatre industry for more than 30 years. Theatres and live entertainment venues were ordered to close immediately under the Government’s first national Covid-19 lockdown guidelines in March 2020. It was Bill’s mission and vision to reinvigorate and boost the city’s live performance and creative arts sector, offering a lifeline when it was needed most. Liverpool Theatre Festival was created in a matter of weeks. 

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. 

Last year the festival boasted its biggest and most diverse programme to date featuring variety and cabaret, comedy, opera, drama, musicals, family shows, and drag acts. Now organisers are continuing to build on the extensive choice of shows. 

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.  

Producer and artistic director Bill Elms commented: 

“With less than three months until the return of Liverpool Theatre Festival, this is a pivotal time in planning and we can announce further new shows. Last year’s event was our biggest and most diverse yet – and this year we are continuing to build on that success. 

“As the festival takes place during the school Summer holidays, there is a strong and deliberate emphasis on children’s shows. This is the perfect introduction for youngsters to experience live performance – it’s outside, most shows are one hour, and most importantly we’ve tried to make the shows affordable in this current climate. The final programme will be announced shortly.” 

Click here for the latest news and updates for the festival.

Photo Credit: David Munn Photography 

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