All the world comes to the stage in Liverpool this summer and autumn as the city's theatres prepare to host a stellar season of shows.
From tales of war to tales of toast, from family and friendship to Frankenstein's 'monster', from moons to musicals and all subjects in between, there's a packed programme of theatrical treats on its way to Liverpool theatres.
They include the return of some favourite crowd-pleasers as well as premieres of new shows, and from French fancies to good ol' country on one long and winding road towards the end of 2019.
Whatever your taste and whatever mood you're in, there's bound to be something to tickle your theatrical tastebuds.
Here's just a small selection of the shows heading our way between now and Christmas.
Scouse Pacific – Royal Court
July 12-August 10
Scouse Pacific was a huge hit for the Royal Court when it was first staged at Christmas in 2010. And now it’s back – and with a couple of original cast members joined by a new collection of islanders.
Welcome to Secosu where many years ago shipwrecked stowaway Billy Riley from Walton was washed ashore. Finding himself on an island that was populated mainly by women, Billy made the most of it and now, in 2019, his legacy continues – an island community of Liverpudlians a long way from home.
Raised on sunshine, bananas and stories of “home” evolution has created a Scouse master race. The girls wear home-made Ugg boots, pyjamas and rollers, and the lads hunt and fish wearing trackie bottoms and trainers.
Masquerade – Royal Court Studio
July 24-August 10
Fun, music, love and tragedy combine in writer Laura Lees’ Masquerade which tells the story of one man’s search for a place to be accepted set in one of the most famous Liverpool gay clubs of the 1980s.
Mike loves Tony (but not like that). He’s his best mate. To be confident, outgoing and not afraid of showing people who you really are is a big deal in 1986 in Liverpool.
When they discover The Masquerade, Mike gets a taste of the life he could be living. He is welcomed in with open arms, soon becoming the resident DJ in a club that is the centre of his universe.
But outside those walls he needs to find the courage to tell his parents that he is not the son that they want him to be.
War Horse – Liverpool Empire
July 31-August 17
Joey and Topthorn return to the Empire stage for a third visit for Michael Morpurgo’s trenches tearjerker, brought thrillingly to life in this multi award-winning National Theatre production.
Directed by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, Nick Stafford’s adaptation of the story of courage, loyalty and friendship features ground-breaking puppetry work by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company which brings breathing, galloping horses to life on stage.
Read a previous review.
Blood Brothers – Liverpool Empire
Willy Russell’s award-winning tale of nature verses nurture is one of the most celebrated musicals of the past 30 years and has been dubbed the ‘standing ovation musical’.
It was premiered at the Liverpool Playhouse in 1983 with Barbara Dickson in the role of Mrs Johnstone, who is forced by circumstance to give up one of her baby twins – with devastating results.
Now Liverpool's favourite musical is returning to the Empire for a 12-day stay.
Lost Boys – Unity Theatre
Liverpool writer Luke Barnes’ new play comes to the Unity for a week this September courtesy of the National Youth Theatre.
Lost Boys is a humorous and heartfelt look into the lives of the youth of one northern new town, where the weight of identity, place, and masculinity threaten everything they’ve ever known.
Featuring a vibrant cast of Britain’s brightest young talent and energetic original songs by Dom Coyote (the man behind Songs For the End of the World), Barnes’ latest piece promises to be a gripping night at the theatre not to be missed.
Toast – Liverpool Playhouse
Let the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of Toast take you straight in to the childhood of cook and food writer Nigel Slater.
This acclaimed stage play – based on his bestselling autobiography - recreates Slater’s suburban 60s childhood through the bonds of food he shared with his mother, a youth that culminated in the young Nigel’s escape to London.
From making the perfect sherry trifle, through the playground politics of sweets, the rigid rules of restaurant dining, and a domestic war over cakes, this is a moving and evocative tale of love, loss and...toast.
Motown the Musical – Liverpool Empire
Iconic music label Motown is 60 this year so what better way to celebrate than with Motown the Musical?
The show features a book by Motown founder Berry Gordy which tells the story behind all those famous songs that became the soundtrack for a generation.
It includes 50 classic tracks from the extensive Motown catalogue, from Dancing in The Street to I Heard It Through the Grapevine, My Girl and I’ll Be There.
Those Two Weeks – Epstein Theatre
Joe’s looking at uni and moving in with the girlfriend he thinks his family don’t know about, Peter has an ambition that seems at odds with his current lifestyle and Jacqui’s pregnant to the boyfriend she’s just dumped.
Dave and Terri have no idea what’s happening in their family and finding out will see old issues resurface in their marriage.
Sometimes all it takes is one wrong word for everything to fall apart.
Ian Salmon’s Those Two Weeks was premiered at the Unity Theatre last year and now it comes to the Epstein for these four days.
Girls Don’t Play Guitars – Royal Court
October 4-November 2
John Lennon might have told them that “girls don’t play guitars” but happily The Liverbirds took no notice.
Lennon went on to world superstardom, but what happened to the four Liverpool lasses?
You can find out at the Royal Court this autumn as busy writer Ian Salmon reveals the untold true story of Mary, Sylvia, Val and Pam and their journey from Mathew Street to Hamburg, hanging out with Hendrix and driving Chuck Berry wild.
The Liverbirds is directed by Bob Eaton and features a foot-stomping 60s soundtrack.
Achy Breaky Bride – Epstein Theatre
It had its premiere at St Helens Theatre Royal and now musical comedy Achy Breaky Bride is heading for the Epstein for a 10-night run.
The jukebox Country musical, written by Emma Culshaw and David Paul and directed by Sylvie Gattrill, includes a host of singalong hits including Rose Garden, Jolene, Crazy, Rhinestone Cowboy and Achy Breaky Heart.
There’s never a dull moment in Dolly’s Dream Dresses, a boutique bridal shop run by A Boy Named Sue and his sister Jolene who work non-stop from 9-5 to help blushing brides-to-be prepare for their big day.
Under Three Moons – Unity Theatre
Box of Tricks presents a new play by Daniel Kanaber that explores themes of friendship and growing up, and how men relate to each other today.
Mike and Paul are mates. They drink, they smoke, they crack jokes. They kill time.
Spanning half a lifetime, Under Three Moons takes place on three nights across three decades of two friends’ lives. From a school trip to France as teenagers, to a surf shack in their 20s, to Christmas in their 30s, Mike and Paul meet up and talk into the night.
From boyhood to manhood to fatherhood, these are the nights they share.
Les Miserables – Liverpool Empire
Gunfire, smoke, flashing light effects? The barricades are going up at the Empire in autumn 2019 as Les Mis storms the theatre.
With scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo, and a score which includes I Dreamed a Dream, On My Own, Bring Him Home, One Day More, Empty Chairs and Empty Tables, this new touring production is a must-see for the city’s musicals fans.
Seen by more than 120 million people worldwide in 45 countries and in 22 languages, Les Misérables is undisputedly one of the world’s greatest and most popular shows.
Amelie – Liverpool Playhouse
Based on the hit French film, Amélie - starring Audrey Brisson - is a magical tale of an astonishing young woman who lives quietly in the world, but loudly in her mind.
Amélie secretly improvises small, but extraordinary acts of kindness which bring happiness to those around her. But when a chance at love comes her way, she realises that to find her own contentment she’ll have to risk everything and say what’s in her heart.
The musical reunites the team of musical director George Francis and choreographer Tom Jackson Greaves who also worked on the Everyman Rep 2018 season.
Road – Liverpool Everyman
Jim Cartwright penned Road in 1986, and more than 30 years on it feels as powerful and poignant as ever.
Set in 80s Britain, Road explores the lives of the people in a deprived, working class area of Lancashire during the Thatcher government, with the audience led through its theatrical landscape by its narrator Scullery.
Young Everyman Playhouse (YEP) brings its own trademark energy and imagination to this modern stage classic.
Frankenstein – Liverpool Playhouse
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein comes to the stage in a new adaptation by Rona Munro which puts the novel’s teenage author in the heart of the action.
An 18-year-old girl dreams up a monster whose tragic story will capture the imaginations of generations to come.
A young scientist called Frankenstein breathes life into a gruesome body. Banished into an indifferent world, Frankenstein’s creature desperately seeks out his true identity, but the agony of rejection and a broken promise push him into darkness.
Dangerous and vengeful, the creature threatens to obliterate Frankenstein and everyone he loves, in a ferocious and bloodthirsty hunt for his maker.