21 shows to see at Liverpool theatres in 2021
New season, new beginnings? We can certainly hope that the second half of 2021 proves very different to the last 12 months – particularly for theatre.
And while things still look dark as lockdown 3 continues to keep us all at home, there is a glimmer of light for lovers of live performance.
Because the fact programmes and seasons have been hit hard by the Coronavirus pandemic has actually led to a packed diary of great shows being re-scheduled for later 2021 – along with the addition of new productions.
On the musicals front, old favourites like Hairspray and Grease are being joined by first-time visitors to Liverpool including Heathers, The Addams Family, Everybody's Talking About Jamie and School of Rock.
We’ll all need a laugh, and the Royal Court is one venue promising crowd-pleasing comedies - along with a new musical by Chumbawamba's Boff Whalley no less, while elsewhere there’s murder, mystery and suspense coming to the stage.
Meanwhile a whole new season of shows - many involving Liverpool talent - have just been announced at the Unity and Everyman and Playhouse.
Here are 21 shows currently scheduled to come to Liverpool City Region venues in 2021.
Y’MAM – Liverpool Everyman
Y’MAM stands for Young Man’s Angry Movements.
And in this brutally honest auto-biographical solo-show, Majid Mehdizadeh traces the origin of his own personal struggles with anger and probes the unspoken anxieties, desires and fantasies of Toxic Masculinity, inviting his audience to join him on his journey to a new modern ‘manhood’, as he battles with the invisible hierarchy that exists amongst men.
Combining a highly energetic blend of spoken word, music and movement, Y’MAM is described as an inspiring, uplifting story about love, appreciation and learning to let things go.
The Greatest Play in the History of the World – Liverpool Playhouse
June 29-July 3
It won an award during its sold-out show at the Edinburgh Fringe, and accolades during its run in Manchester and London.
Now the much (pandemic) postponed The Greatest Play in the History of the World finally makes it to the Playhouse stage as part of a UK tour with Corrie’s Julie Hesmondhalgh reprising her role.
Expect a universal love story that celebrates the human race in all its glorious messiness, confusion and joy.
A man wakes in the middle of the night to discover that the world has stopped. Through the crack in his bedroom curtains, he can see no signs of life at all...other than a light in the house opposite where a woman in an over-sized Bowie T-shirt stands, looking back at him.
Swan Song – Unity Theatre
Andrew Lancel reprises his well-received performance in a revised version of Jonathan Harvey’s one-man play which was premiered at the Liverpool Theatre Festival last summer.
It is Liverpool 1997, the world is changing and in the staff room, gay, 40-something, English teacher Dave Titswell finds that not all change is welcome. He has a crush, but life, love, and work are never straight forward for Dave.
Will a school trip to The Lakes change things for the better, or make things decidedly worse?
Ellen & Rigby – Royal Court Liverpool
Playwright Gerry Linford (Yellow Breck Road, The Menlove Avenue Murder Mystery) brings his latest show to the Royal Court stage to entertain audiences this summer.
Lucky in life, unlucky in love, Ellen (Lindzi German) has been looking for a man. Now, thanks to the organisational power of the NHS, Joe Rigby has been dropped in her lap!
A rock star who nearly made it in 1985, Joe (Andrew Schofield) has been living alone for so long that he didn’t realise that he was unhappy so it’s a good job Ellen arrived to let him know.
After 12 months alone, these two lonely people are trapped together for 12 weeks between Joe’s vaccinations. It’s either going to be an exciting experiment in love or a colossal pain in the arse depending on who you ask. Will true love win out or will they just throttle each other?
Love, Liverpool – Liverpool Playhouse
July 20-August 14
Inspired by the Everyman and Playhouse’s award-winning collaborative lockdown project Love, Liverpool: An A-Z of Hope, Love, Liverpool opens the door into the worlds of a group of strangers, their hopes and dreams, their loves and losses.
Through intertwining moments of interaction and connection, they take you through a day in the life of our city.
Writer Chloë Moss brings to life the original letters, commissioned in lockdown, with new material and video design from Tracey Gibbs. Nathan Powell directs a cast of five local actors, capturing the energy and magic of a remarkable city.
Sleepover – Unity Theatre
Having spent more than a year NOT hanging out with our friends, a Sleepover is long over-due.
The year is 1990, a time of back combed fringes, Just Seventeen Magazines, New Kids on the Block and White Musk Perfume. Remember? You are 15 years old and you live for your mates, belly laughs and sleepovers at Kelly’s house. Come and join us as we discuss all the best things about being a teenager, leave the responsibilities of your grown up world behind and embrace your teenage self who might just have something to tell you about how to live your life now.
Boys you’re invited too, but keep the noise down, Kelly’s dad will kill us if he knows we’ve got lads in the house.
Sleepover is an interactive celebration of friendship, sisterhood and the teenagers we used be.
Heathers – Liverpool Empire
Welcome to Westerberg High, where Veronica Sawyer is just another of the nobodies dreaming of a better day.
But when she’s unexpectedly taken under the wings of the three beautiful and impossibly cruel Heathers, her dreams of popularity finally start to come true.
Until JD turns up, the mysterious teen rebel who teaches her that it might kill to be a nobody, but it is murder to be a somebody.
The black comedy rock musical, based on the 1988 film starring Winona Ryder, comes to Liverpool after two record-breaking London seasons.
Hairspray – Liverpool Empire
August 30-September 4
Baltimore 1962 and Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart, is on a mission to follow her dreams and dance her way onto national TV.
Tracy’s audition makes her a local star and soon she is using her new-found fame to fight for equality, bagging local heartthrob Link Larkin along the way.
You can’t stop the beat – and why would you want to?
Dial M for Murder – Liverpool Playhouse
Tom Chambers leads the cast in this new production of the classic modern thriller postponed twice - most recently from May because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Chambers plays Tony Wendice, a jaded ex-tennis pro who has given it all up for his wife Margot. When he discovers she has been unfaithful his mind turns to revenge and the pursuit of the ‘perfect crime’.
Dial M for Murder promises a masterclass of suspense.
Our Lady of Blundellsands – Liverpool Everyman
September 17-October 9
Eighteen months after it opened its doors at the Everyman, Jonathan Harvey’s twisted comic drama is back to complete its run.
Lovingly directed by Nick Bagnall, it’s about families and fantasies, honesty and lies – and about how heartbreaking great comedy can be.
It’s no secret that Sylvie is unravelling. Frozen in time in her Blundellsands house, she inhabits a fantasy world that never was. Garnet, her sister, is older and wiser – and wearier, with her shopping lists and tired love.
But now the whole family’s up in Liverpool for a birthday, and Garnet’s got a secret of her own to pass on. There’ll be a party… but it’s not going to be pretty.
By The Waters of Liverpool – St Helens Theatre Royal
The interrupted tour of Helen Forrester’s By The Waters Of Liverpool comes to St Helens in September.
The story is set in the 1930s, and follows Helen’s story in the years after her father faced bankruptcy in the Depression and the family were forced to leave their middle-class life and start again.
Taken out of school to look after her young siblings, Helen wages a bitter war with her parents for the right to go out to work and make her own way in life.
By 1939 and with Britain on the verge of war, Helen now aged 20, has still never been kissed by a man. But things start looking up for her when she meets a tall strong seaman and falls in love.
By the Waters of Liverpool is produced by Pulse Records Limited in association with Bill Elms, written by Rob Fennah and directed by Gareth Tudor Price.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof – Liverpool Playhouse
September 22-October 2
Everyman and Playhouse teams up with Leicester Curve and English Touring Theatre to stage this ‘bold new revival’ of Tennessee Williams’ simmering stage classic.
Maggie has fought up from poverty, only to find herself in a passionless, burning marriage. Her husband Brick, a former pro footballer, drinks to drown out the hurt he has bottled up inside. When the entire Pollitt family meet for Big Daddy’s 65th birthday, the claws are out.
As shattering truths threaten to spiral out of control, the family set out to protect themselves, and each other, from falling apart.
Award-winning Anthony Almeida directs.
Beauty and the Beast - Liverpool Empire
September 23-October 16
Disney favourite Beauty and the Beast sweeps into the Empire for a three-week run this autumn.
Producers are promising ‘spectacular new designs’ and state-of-the art technology in the lavish show which reunites the original Broadway creative team.
The new touring production will retain the Oscar-winning and Tony®-nominated score – including Alan Menken and Tim Rice’s songs Be Our Guest and Beauty and the Beast – but it will be accompanied by new choreography.
Casting for the 2021 production is yet to be announced.
Homebaked – Royal Court Liverpool
September 24-October 23
The inspiring story of Anfield’s famous Homebaked is being turned into a new musical penned by none other than Boff Whalley – who in another life was lead guitarist with Chumbawamba.
The co-production between the Royal Court and Red Ladder Theatre Company is based on the true Homebaked story of a community coming together to see off property developers and reclaim their homes and businesses.
Red Ladder’s Rod Dixon will direct, the cast includes Pauline Daniels, and there will even be input from a special Anfield choir brought together especially around the production.
Sirens, Men and Crabs – Unity Theatre
The brilliant Teatro Pomodoro were due to present this new show as part of the Unity’s 40th anniversary celebrations in 2020 when YOU KNOW WHAT struck.
But you can’t keep an irresistible piece of fun down so they’re back on the schedule for this autumn.
Welcome to a world where the Sirens are the unsung heroines, Ulysses will never be the hero he wants to be, and Giant Crabs are taking over.
A surreal blend of clown and dark comedy that will turn Ancient Greece upside down.
Rock of Ages - Floral Pavilion
Expect big hair and big tunes when the irrepressible Rock of Ages arrives at New Brighton this October. Or shock that be R-October?
Rock of Ages is an LA love story packed with more than two dozen rock anthems including We Built This City, The Final Countdown, Wanted Dead of Alive and I Want to Know What Love Is.
Casting is yet to be announced.
Matthew Bourne’s The Midnight Bell – October 19-23
Choreographer Sir Matthew Bourne returns to the Playhouse for the first time since he brought his Early Adventures to the stage there in 2017.
The Midnight Bell, inspired by the late English playwright and novelist Patrick Hamilton, explores the under-belly of 1930s London life where ordinary people emerge from cheap boarding houses nightly to pour out their passions, hopes and dreams in the pubs and bars of fog-bound Soho and Fitzrovia.
Step inside The Midnight Bell, a tavern where one particular lonely-hearts club gather to play out their lovelorn affairs of the heart; bitter comedies of longing, frustration, betrayal and redemption.
The Addams Family - Liverpool Empire
It’s third time lucky for this spooky musical favourite. It was first postponed from last summer, and now it’s been rescheduled from February to autumn 2021.
The hit stage show, written by Oscar-winning Marshall Brickman and Tony Award-winner Rick Elice and directed by Matthew White, comes to Lime Street for a week in August.
And casting has just been announced, with Samantha Womack playing Morticia Addams and Cameron Blakely as Gomez.
Grease – Liverpool Empire
It was due to entertain Empire audiences through the summer nights of 2020, and then this spring. But in the end it was Covid not Grease that turned out to be the word.
But you can’t keep the T-birds and the Pink Ladies down, and they’ll be back on stage like Greased Lightning for a week in November.
The musical stars Pete Andre as Teen Angel and includes all those classic hit numbers like Summer Nights, You’re the One That I Want and Hopelessly Devoted to You.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie – Liverpool Empire
Everybody’s been talking about Jamie for a long, long time and now finally Liverpool audiences are getting the chance to see the acclaimed West End hit musical live in the city.
Jamie New is sixteen and lives on a council estate in Sheffield. Jamie doesn’t quite fit in. Jamie is terrified about the future. Jamie is going to be a sensation.
Supported by his brilliant loving mum and surrounded by his friends, Jamie overcomes prejudice, beats the bullies and steps out of the darkness, into the spotlight.
Layton Williams reprises his stellar performance as Jamie in this Funny, fabulous and feelgood show.
Dreamgirls – Liverpool Empire
December 14-January 1 2022
The lavish, multi award-winning West End smash hit musical was initially due to make its Lime Street debut in February.
But now it’s set to become the Empire’s glitzy Christmas show – the second year running the Lime Street venue will have broken with panto tradition.
Dreamgirls tells the story of three talented young singers – Effie (played by the 2019 The Voice finalist Nicole Raquel Dennis), Lorrell and Deena – making their way against the revolutionary musical backdrop of 1960s America.