Liverpool Theatre Festival returns in 2023 with a brand new date to coincide with the school summer holidays, and this year the programme features nine family shows to wow youngsters of all ages.
The event usually takes place in September, but this year it’s been brought forward. Spanning 11 days, it will play its part in entertaining children of all ages during the school Summer holidays.
The nine-strong line-up of family shows include specially commissioned new shows The Oogy Boogy Man and Fred The Musical, as well as 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.
The fourth annual Liverpool Theatre Festival takes place between Thursday 20 July and Sunday 30 July 2023 and features a total of 24 performances. Once again, it will take place outdoors at St Luke’s Bombed Out Church in Liverpool city centre.
Alongside the family shows, the Liverpool Theatre Festival programme also features evening shows of comedy, drama, music, opera, and musical theatre.
Here we take a look at the family 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.
Fred The Musical 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. Fred The Musical is on Sunday 23 July at 11.30am and 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 Ad The Three Bears at Liverpool’s Epstein Theatre. Suitable for age four upwards. The Magic Bookmark With Mama G is on Monday 24 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. Magic Gareth: Level Up is on Wednesday 26 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. Rubbish Romeo And Juliet is on Thursday 27 July at 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 and above. The Monkey With No Bum is on Friday 28 July at 11.30am and 1.30pm.
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 and above. Shout! The Mod Musical is on Saturday 29 July at 2.30pm.
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 and above. Dame Fanny & Her Fabulous Friends is on Sunday 30 July at 12pm.
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.
This year’s festival partners are Edge Hill University, Morecrofts Solicitors, Bill 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.
Producer and artistic director Bill Elms commented:
“Introducing youngsters to live theatre and making them feel welcome has been instrumental since we launched Liverpool Theatre Festival. They are the performers, writers, and creatives of the future – so they play a vital role when planning an event like this.
“This year’s festival takes place at the start of the school Summer holidays. This new date provides the perfect opportunity for families to experience the event and for youngsters to catch-up with their friends during the break. This is the perfect introduction to experience live performance – it’s outdoors in one of Liverpool’s iconic venues, most shows are one hour, and lots of fun is guaranteed. We’ve also tried to make the shows affordable.”
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.
This year the festival boasted its biggest and most diverse programme to date with 24 performances over 11 days, featuring drama, cabaret, comedy, music, opera, musicals, family shows, and drag shows.
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