Everything you need to know about the open air Liverpool Theatre Festival - The Guide Liverpool

See our video services!

Everything you need to know about the open air Liverpool Theatre Festival


The very first Liverpool Theatre Festival starts this Friday (11 September), with a comedy play by acclaimed city playwright Jonathan Harvey opening the nine-day event. 

Liverpool Theatre Festival runs between Friday 11 September and Saturday 19 September 2020, and is being staged in the grounds of St Luke’s Bombed Out Church in Liverpool city centre.

 The organisers of Liverpool Theatre Festival reassure the public that the event is going ahead and is not affected by changes to Government guidelines announced earlier this week. Festivalgoers have always been limited to a maximum of six tickets, and the setting is a Covid-secure environment.

A Fairytale Across the Mersey

The outdoor and socially distanced festival will kick-start the return of live theatre productions, while providing a real boost to Liverpool’s live performance and creative arts sector.

The open air festival has been created by Liverpool theatre producer Bill Elms. Performances will take place within the church walls in the grounds of St Luke’s, and will follow stringent Government guidelines to provide a Covid-secure environment.

Crissy Rock to appear

 The festival line-up includes musical theatre, drama, comedy, cabaret, monologues, and children’s shows. Tickets are on sale now, they are available in advance only. 

 Swan Song will officially open Liverpool Theatre Festival on Friday 11 September 2020, with performances at 6pm and 9pm. 

 Swan Song is a one-man comedy play written by Jonathan Harvey, starring Liverpool actor Andrew Lancel, and directed by BAFTA award-winning director Noreen Kershaw. The show is produced by Liverpool Theatre Festival, in association with Bill Elms Productions and Quarry Street. Originally written for a female lead, Jonathan Harvey has now adapted the play specially for Andrew Lancel to play the solo role at Liverpool Theatre Festival. 

Judy & Liza

The programme will then continue with live productions of 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.

Producer and artistic director Bill Elms commented:

“It’s been hugely exciting and challenging organising a brand new outdoor live performance festival in very little time – but every minute of hard work will definitely be worth it when the first show opens this Friday. The programme is brimming with Liverpool talent – from performers and writers, to creatives and technicians – and together we’ve created something we can all be very proud of especially in these unprecedented times.

“The response to Liverpool Theatre Festival been overwhelmingly positive, and we look forward to welcoming audiences to St Luke’s over nine days for the return of live theatre productions. We hope the public have confidence to come along and once again enjoy live performance in an open air and Covid-secure environment. We urge visitors to follow the safety measures in place to help keep everyone safe. Theatre is coming back.”

Andrew Lancel will star in opening show

Audience capacity has been reduced to ensure socially distanced seating; shows will be limited to one-act performances of no more than 75 minutes to minimise audience movement; there is a maximum of four performers per production; and the cast and crew will socially distance and be temperature checked.

Public safety measures include temperature checks before entry to the venue ground; regular hand sanitiser stations; face masks are mandatory when moving round the venue; and visitors are encouraged to attend in their social bubble groups with a maximum of six tickets sold.

Daniel Taylor will star in The Very Best of Tommy Cooper

Access to the performance area will be 45 minutes before the start time. Visitors are encouraged to arrive in plenty of time to allow for safety checks. Audiences are encouraged to prepare for all weather conditions as the seating area is open air, warm clothes and wet weather protection is advised.

The team at St Luke’s have been successfully running a Covid-secure garden café/bar on-site. Premium drinks and freshly cooked pizza will be available. Drinks can also be purchased on a special app and delivered to ticketholders at their seats. There will be no cash sales.

Audience members are reminded that they must not attend if they have any Coronavirus symptoms including a new continuous cough, high temperature, or a change to their senses of smell or taste. 

The shows you can see:

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), Chris Cairns (Eric Morecambe Act Of The Year, Former Liverpool Comedian of the Year), and Steve Royle who has just got through to the final of 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!” Starring Alice Bunker-Whitney, Danielle McLauren, Isobel Balchin and Jennifer Vaudrey.

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.

Liverpool Theatre Festival brochure can be downloaded here.

Tickets for Liverpool Theatre Festival are available from Ticket Quarter. Check the website and social media for updates, visit the website here.

Get all of the latest news for Liverpool and beyond here.

Got a story you would like to share with us? Email us at [email protected] and follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram for regular updates for Liverpool.


Share -

Stay updated

Sign up with us to receive the latest news, straight to your inbox!

| Designed & Hosted with by Cyberfrog Design Web Design Liverpool