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18 unmissable Liverpool theatre shows in 2018

Liverpool theatre audiences prepare to be spoilt – because there’s a rich selection of shows heading the city’s way.

From musicals to Shakespeare, from comedy to tragedy, all human – and ogre – life is explored on stage in the next 12 months.

Whether you like high drama or high farce, hot-hoofing or soul-searching, big budget extravaganza or intimate studio theatre experiences, there will be something to tickle your theatrical fancy.

Here’s my run-down of 18 shows announced so far that you won’t want to miss in 2018.

The Band – Liverpool Empire

January 23-February 3

Tim Firth and Gary Barlow’s latest collaboration takes the songs of Take That and fashions a musical where ‘the band’ isn’t the star – the women who live their life to the strains of its music are.

For five 16-year-old girls in 1992, the band is everything. Now 25 years on, we are reunited with this group of friends as they try once more to fulfil their dream of meeting their heroes.

Book tickets HERE

Her Benny – Royal Court

January 25-February 10

It’s 25 years since Anne Dalton brought Silas Hocking’s tale to the stage, and she’s celebrating by presenting this special anniversary production of the Liverpool favourite at the Royal Court.

More than 800,000 people have seen the rags to riches story of Benny and Nell in the last quarter of a century.

Stirring songs like As Long As I Believe and Pictures In the Firelight pull on the heart strings as we watch them struggle to survive and Benny fights to clear his name.

Book tickets HERE

A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer – Liverpool Playhouse

January 26-February 3

OK, so a show about the big C may not be everyone’s idea of a great night out at the theatre. But prepare to have your preconceptions challenged in this touring show opening the new season at the Playhouse.

Bryony Kimmings is famous for her unique take on taboo topics. Now this acclaimed collaboration with Complicité promises to blow everything you think you know about cancer out of the water.

The funny and moving show looks behind the poster campaigns and pink ribbons at the reality of cancer... with songs.

Book tickets HERE

Sunset Boulevard – Liverpool Empire

February 19-24

She’s ready for her close up, but are you ready for the story of Norma Desmond, faded Hollywood silent movie star, and the impoverished writer Joe Gillis, who stumbles in to her reclusive world?

Leicester Curve’s production of the award-winning Andrew Lloyd Webber musical stars Ria Jones as Norma Desmond and Hollyoaks and Strictly star Danny Mac as her young admirer, and boasts a full orchestra.

Book tickets HERE

Council Depot Blues – Royal Court

February 23-March 24

Dave Kirby’s comedy set in the city council’s Excrement Eradication Department returns to the Royal Court stage in 2018.

It’s Stan’s last day on the job and look what he’s leaving behind. Clearing houses after the dearly departed have travelled beyond the grave leaving nothing behind but busted sofas, faded photos and worthless heirlooms. It’s enough to give anyone the blues.

What he will miss are the lads who he works with.

The cast includes Jake Abraham, Roy Brandon, Paul Broughton, Lindzi Germain, Howard Gray, Phil Hearne and Andrew Schofield.

Book tickets HERE

Wicked – Liverpool Empire

March 7-31

Why did the Witch of the West become wicked? The backstory to The Wizard of Oz proved a massive hit with Empire audiences on its first visit in 2014 when it played to 68,000 people. And now it’s back.

Amy Ross plays Elphaba and Helen Woolf is Glinda in the show, which also stars Brookside’s own Max Farnham, aka Steven Pinder, who was also a member of the 2014 cast.

Songs including the famous Defying Gravity,

Book tickets HERE

Nina – Unity Theatre

March 17-24

It enjoyed a sold-out run at the Unity last year before going on to do the same at the New Vic in London.

Now Nina – a Story About Me and Nina Simone makes a triumphant return to end a spring tour of the UK.

Taking in the singer’s political acts as part of the Civil Rights Movement in 1960s America as well as the struggles in her personal life, actress and Unity patron Josette Bushell-Mingo finds a parallel with the persisting inequality in today’s society and questions how far we’ve really come.

Book tickets HERE

The Last Ship – Liverpool Playhouse

April 9-14

It’s creator, a certain Sting, believes The Last Ship will resonate with Liverpool audiences and he could be right.

Gideon Fletcher, a sailor, returns home from sea to discover the ship-building life he left behind in chaos. The yard is closing, and no one knows what will come next.

An epic tale of community, hope and a great act of collective defiance, the musical – which was premiered on Broadway and stars Richard Fleeshman as Gideon and Joe McGann, replacing Jimmy Nail, as foreman Jackie – visits the Playhouse as part of an inaugural UK tour.

Book tickets HERE

A Midsummer Night’s Dream/Romeo and Juliet – Epstein Theatre

April 11-21

Daniel Taylor Productions’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream was a deserved hit when it was staged at the Epstein Theatre in 2017.

Now he’s bringing back the popular magical comedy, this time in repertory with one of the greatest tragic love stories of all time – Romeo and Juliet.

Taylor, who starred as Bottom the weaver in A Midsummer Night’s Dream last season, will direct both shows.

Book tickets HERE

Agatha Christie’s Love From a Stranger – Liverpool Playhouse

April 24-28

Who doesn’t love a good mystery? And from the queen of the genre, Agatha Christie, who is definitely currently having a moment.

A whirlwind romance with a handsome and charming stranger sweeps Cecily Harrington off her feet, and she recklessly abandons her old life to settle in the remote and blissful surroundings of a country cottage. However, her newfound love is not all that he seems…

Theatre company Fiery Angel (The Ladykillers) and Northampton’s Royal & Derngate are behind the production.

Book tickets HERE

Lennon’s Banjo – Epstein Theatre

April 24-May 5

Before he learned the guitar and formed the biggest group the world has ever seen, a teenage John Lennon was taught how to play the banjo by his beloved mum Julia.

Mysteriously, the banjo went missing shortly after her untimely death, and no-one has set eyes on it since. One thing is certain though, if it did resurface it is estimated to be worth in the region of five million pounds.

What if is at the heart of this new play, a world premiere production, based on the book Julia’s Banjo, and produced by Pulse Records and Bill Elms.

Book tickets HERE

Othello – Everyman

April 28-July 10

Shakespeare’s tale of love and jealousy – that green-eyed monster – gets a makeover by director Gemma Bodinetz and the Everyman Rep Company.

Othello is set to be played by actress Golda Rosheuvel in this production which promises to offer a fearsome study of the caustic power of envy as it places the Bard’s classic text in a future not too far from now.

Book tickets HERE

Beautiful the Carole King Musical – Liverpool Empire

May 1-5

Another West End hit is heading Liverpool’s way for the first time in 2018.

Beautiful tells the inspiring true story of Carole King’s remarkable rise to stardom, from being part of a hit songwriting team with her husband Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history.

Bronté Barbé, a finalist in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Over The Rainbow in 2010, plays King.

And the show is packed with singalong hits from Might As Well Rain Until September to Up on the Roof, (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman and The Locomotion.

Book tickets HERE

Shrek the Musical – Liverpool Empire

June 12-24

The not-so-jolly green giant – well, ogre – is on his way back to the Empire with Princess Fiona, Donkey and Lord Farquaard, the little man with the big ego, for another slice of fairytale magic.

Join Shrek and his trusty sidekick Donkey as they set out to rescue the feisty Princess from her tower, where she’s guarded by a fire-breathing, love-sick dragon.

Add in a gang of fairytale misfits and a biscuit with attitude, and you’ve got an evening out guaranteed to entertain theatregoers of all ages.

Book tickets HERE

The Big I Am – Everyman

June 16-July 14

Bob Farquhar has taken the Nordic folk tale of Peer Gynt and given it a Liverpool twist for this final production in the 2018 Everyman Rep Company season.

Based on Henrik Ibsen’s classic play, this is a new anarchic adventure that journeys from wartime Britain to the ends of the earth and beyond – complete with live music spanning the decades.

Book tickets HERE

The Play That Goes Wrong – Liverpool Empire

July 9-14

We’ve all seen a show that hasn’t quite gone to plan – but perhaps not with as much deliberate and joyous anarchy as this one.

A hit in the West End, The Play That Goes Wrong does what it says on the tin.

The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society are putting on a 1920s murder mystery, but as the title suggests, everything that can go wrong does. The accident-prone thespians battle against all odds to make it through to their final curtain call, with hilarious consequences.

Book tickets HERE

Mam! I’m ‘Ere! – Royal Court

July 13-August 11

Sally was left on her dad’s doorstep one cold and windy Liverpool night. Now, 25 years later, she has met the love of her life on her dad’s failing disco holiday campsite in Wales. There is just one person missing from her wedding plans – her mam. After teasing out stories from her dad's best mates she narrows her search down to three very different women from his past...

Life In Theatre’s hit disco musical returns to the Royal Court to make the summer go with a swing.

Book tickets HERE

By the Waters of Liverpool – Liverpool Empire

October 3-13

Helen Forrester fans rejoice – finally a sequel to Twopence to Cross the Mersey is coming to a stage near you. The Empire to be precise, where Twopence started its life.

Rob Fennah, the writer of the stage musical and straight theatrical version of the best-selling riches-to-rags tale, is tackling Forrester’s follow-up book which takes the story forward to 1939 when 20-year-old Helen meets a tall, strong seaman and falls in love.

The show is part of the Empire’s celebrations for the 10th anniversary of Liverpool being Capital of Culture.

Book tickets HERE

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