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1st May, 2013

'Everyman and Playhouse Theatre' on Hope Street in Liverpool


Have you been to the Liverpool Everyman or Playhouse recently?  You really should make the effort, because there is an embarrassment of riches on offer.  Too often, we overlook the most amazing places that are right on our doorstep – and the Liverpool Playhouse is one of those places, boasting an incredible history, not to mention an exciting future.

The Playhouse itself opened in 1866, designed by Edward Davies, replacing the Star Music Hall – which, as the title suggests, was a old-fashioned music hall.  In 1898, the Star Music Hall acquired a new name – or stage name, if you like – becoming the impressive-sounding “Star Theatre of Varieties.”  In 1911, that theatre underwent another transformation, finally being reborn, in 1916 as the Liverpool Playhouse – a repertory theatre. 

And what a theatre; just check out the names of the stars whose careers the Playhouse helped foster: Gertrude Lawrence, Robert Donat, Richard Burton, Michael Redgrave, Rex Harrison, Patricia Routledge, Richard Briers, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Michael Gambon, Kim Cattral, Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian Mckellen.  You know a theatre is something special when its had not only Professor X and Magneto tread the boards but Samantha from Sex and the City as well (and I was lucky enough to see the Liverpool-born Kim Cattral's genuinely brilliant performance as the doomed Queen of Egypt in Shakespeare's Anthony and Cleopatra).  The theatre has also helped foster the careers of some our finest writers; from Noel Coward to Willy Russell (Educating Rita) and Alan Bleasdale (Boys from the Blackstuff), as well as bright new talents like Lizzie Nunnery

Following a difficult period in the early nineties, the Playhouse underwent another rebirth, joining forces with the Liverpool Everyman in 1999 - which is currently undergoing a multimillion pound transformation of its own – one that will hopefully see both theatres go from strength to strength.

However, I know what you're thinking; enough with the historical waffle – what's going on at the Playhouse now?  Well, the answer to that is a great deal: the classic British black comedy, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, starring Ralph Little, is currently on the Playhouse's main stage.  Recently, one of Liverpool's most famous sons – scaffold poet Roger McGough –  enjoyed huge success at the Playhouse with his hilarious translations of Moliere's comedies Tartuffe and The Misanthrope (and if you think a night spent watching old French comedies wouldn't prove as funny as, say, a night spent watching the latest episode of The New Girl, you'd be wrong – they were both brilliantly funny).  There is also the West End Production of The Ladykillers returning in June, as well as the European premiere of the stage adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s international bestseller, The Kite Runner. 

Add to this sterling work The Playhouse does encouraging the work up-and-coming playwrights, not to mention the Young Playhouse and backstage tours where everyone from school groups to audience members can meet actors and technicians to see how everything works behind the scenes.  So, record the next episode of The New Girl and get yourself along to the Playhouse (the Everyman will reopen in late 2013), there truly is something there for everyone.

For more information about the Everyman and Playhouse go to www.everymanplayhouse.com

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