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New dates for 2023 Liverpool Theatre Festival


The theatre setting in St Luke's Bombed-Out Church. Pic: David Munn
The theatre setting in St Luke's Bombed-Out Church. Pic: David Munn

Organisers of the Liverpool Theatre Festival have revealed new dates for this year's festival – and have put the first six shows on sale.

The fourth festival will take place in the summer, followed by the fringe event Little LTF in the autumn, and both will again take place at St Luke’s Bombed Out Church in the city centre.

The main event will run during the school summer holidays from July 20-30 July – which allows new daytime family shows to be added to the programme. Fringe event Little LTF – officially the Liverpool Theatre Festival Of New Works comes up from October 3-8, with performances in the more intimate marquee space of the roofless church.

Last year the festival enjoyed its biggest and most diverse programme to date, with variety and cabaret acts, comedy, opera, drama, musicals, family shows and drag acts. This year the event will be equally wide-ranging and will include two new commissions: Sober Companion, written and starring Joe McGann and Jake Norton, and new children’s show Fred The Musical, based on the book about a fire-sneezing dragon by Fay Evans.

Jake Norton and Joe McGann (r) - Sober Companion
Jake Norton and Joe McGann (r) - Sober Companion. Pic: David Munn

Sober Companion explores the funny, sometimes dark places of fame, addiction, and recovery. Dan (Norton) is a high-flying primetime television presenter with a bad habit, and Gerard (McGann) has personal experience of recovery that could be useful to him, so his services have been engaged. There is an intervention, but we all need a little help sometimes... The play will run for two performances on July 22 (3.30pm & 7.30pm).

Fred The Musical is a new interactive stage show for children aged under nine. Fred is a lonely young dragon whose fiery sneezes cause chaos at school – until he accidentally saves the day. Aimed at toddlers and primary-age children, the show is packed with pantomime-inspired interaction. It plays on July 23 at 11.30am & 1.30pm).

The festival will open with a night of opera, Viva Tenori – A Celebration Of The Three Tenors by Absolute Opera (July 29). The Liverpool-based company features Roy Locke, Adam Lacey and Rob Durkin from Forever Tenors, and the concert celebrates the concerts by Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo, and Luciano Pavarotti that created the Three Tenors brand. They will be joined by special guest soprano Leigh Rhiannon Coggins.

Jay Johnson in Whatever Happened to Billy Kenny?
Jay Johnson in Whatever Happened to Billy Kenny?

This will be followed by Whatever Happened to Billy Kenny, written by Liverpool playwright Ian Salmon. It’s the question asked by Evertonians across the last three decades. Nineteen-year-old Billy had the world at his feet – Man of the Match in the Merseyside Derby while on a YTS contract; hailed as the "Goodison Gazza", and sacked by Everton before retiring at 21 – a potentially monster career lost to injury, alcohol and drugs. The one-man show, written with his blessing, stars Liverpool actor Jay Johnson, and plays on July 21 (7.30pm).

After proving a hit with LTF audiences in 2021, Perfectly Frank returns to the LTF stage on July 23 (7pm). Liverpool’s David Knopov keeps the swing of Sinatra alive throughout this show – just like he's been doing around the world for the past 30 years.

Ahead of a run at the Edinburgh Fringe, Magic Gareth: Level Up will be at LTF on July 26 (1.30pm). Following the success of Magic Gareth’s Magic Eye show at last year’s Fringe, the magician is bringing his new family magic production to Liverpool.

The festival was first staged in the autumn of 2020 by local producer Bill Elms to help his city get back to live performance-going during the worst of the pandemic. Since that first event the event has won praise from audiences and critics alike, and won several awards. Elms explained: “This is now our fourth year and we’re mixing it up a little by moving the dates round to include more daytime family shows.

"The change of date also falls pre-Edinburgh, so it’s a great opportunity to catch some brilliant performers for a test run on their way to the world's biggest arts festival.


More info here

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