The wide range of theatres in Liverpool offer first class productions to rival London’s West End.
The Empire Theatre is considered the second largest theatre in the country and one of the widest in Europe, playing host to touring productions, musicals and concerts. It is operated by Live Nation, the biggest entertainment in the world.
Named as The Prince of Wales Theatre and Opera House, it was opened on Lime Street in October, 1866. Today stands with three quarters of size, it was lit by gas light and all the stage machinery was controlled by steam power. Since then, the theatre has been through many changes like in name, ownerships and architectural. The most recent was in 1998, when it increases the stage size and the auditorium was also modernised and increase to seat 2381 people.
In this way, the Empire has gone from strength to strength; showcasing the best in local, national and international talent and now it can truly call itself the North West’s premier live entertainment venue.
The Everyman Theatre is located on Hope Street. It was established in 1964 to perform works of relevance to the inhabitants of Liverpool.
Originally the church was built in 1837 and closer around 1853, when it was turned into a concert hall. In 1912 the hall was converted into the Hope Hall cinema until 1959. It was opened again in 1961 showing a range of classical films including Walt Disney’s Fantasia and Pollyanna.
During 1970s the theatre enjoyed a celebrated period with Willy Russell writing a number of plays for Everyman. Jonathan Pryce, Bill Nighy, Pete Postlethwaite and Julie Walters are some of whom started their careers as actors.
In September 2003, Gemma Bodinetz (artistic director) and Deborah Aydon (executive director) took over the running of the Everyman and its sister theatre, the Liverpool Playhouse.
Royal Court Theatre
Royal Court Theatre
The Royal Court Theatre, a landmark building on Sloane Square in Liverpool, has seen truly legendary names perform over the last one hundred years. Royal Court Theatre was Grade II listed in June, 1972. It means that the building may not be demolished, extended or altered without special permission from the local planning authority.
In 1870, the converted nonconformist Ranelagh Chapel was opened under the name The New Chelsea theatre. In 1871 it was renamed the Court Theatre and it was opened on 24 september 1888 as the New Court Theatre. The theatre was designed by Walter Emden and Bertie Crewe and constructed of fine red brick, moulded brick and stone faced with an Italianate style.
In 1956, the English Stage Company acquired it and between the early plays of W.S. Gilbert’s early plays figure: The Happy Land(1873). It ceased to be used as a theatre in 1932 but it was used as a cinema from 1935 to 1940, until World War II bomb damage closed it.
Since 1994, a new generation of playwrights debuting at the theatre. The theatre had deteriorated dangerously and was threatened with closure in 1995, but it received money from the National Lottery and the Arts Council for redevelopment. In 1996 it was completely rebuilt and reopened in February 2000 with the 380-seat Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, and the 85-seat studio theatre, now Jerwood Theatre Upstairs.
Since 2005, the building has been refurbished, particularly in the stalls which have been converted into cabaret style seating with tables for drinks and easy access for waiters and waitresses.
Bluecoat is the oldest arts space of the United Kingdom. In 1967 Yoko Ono gave her first paid UK performance in the building. At the beginning the Blue Coat School was built as a residential school for poor boys and girls. In 1906 the school moved to the suburbs and the old building faced demolition. Some parts were occupied by Sandon Studios Society, establishing an arts community that continues to this day.
It is situated between the traditional shopping district and the Paradise Project, which is the biggest redevelopment project in Europe at the moment. Also it provides a unique space in which artist’s studios; gallery, performance and public spaces combine. It was repaired after a bomb damaged it in 1941, since then the Bluecoat has flourished as a centre for contemporary visual and performing arts and literature, with a renowned exhibition programme and participation in the Liverpool Biennial.
Liverpool Philharmonic Hall with a Grade II listed concert hall is located on Hope Street. The hall is owned by Liverpool City Council, leased to the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society and operated by Liverpool Philharmonic Hall & Events Ltd.
The original hall opened inn 1849, financed by the Liverpool Philharmonic Society and was designed by John Cunningham. A loose spark in the organ loft started a fire which destroyed the building in 1933. It was completed in 1939 and designed by Herbert J Rowse. It provides to the city with some of the best acoustics and facilities in Europe.
Actually the venue has been rebranded as “Liverpool Philharmonic Hall” and it plays a key role in a number of Liverpool’s major cultural festivals, including Liverpool Irish Festival, Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival and Hope Street Feast.
Liverpool Playhouse Theatre and Studio
The Liverpool Playhouse is one oldest rep theatres in the United Kingdom, presenting classic theatre with a fresh interpretation in the beautiful surroundings of this 19th century music hall. The theatre received the follow awards:
The Mersey Partnership Annual Award Winner: Performance Venue of the Year 2006/07
The Mersey Partnership Annual Tourism Award: Best Performing Venue Winner 2004.
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