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Open Air Theatre in Liverpool City Region this summer

The British summer is upon us – and it wouldn’t be summer without open-air theatre popping up in parks, gardens and more unusual spots.

It’s time to grab a chair or a picnic blanket, pack a bag or a hamper, slap on the sunscreen and indulge in a spot of live entertainment in the fresh air.

This summer Liverpool and the wider City Region is welcoming a host of popular returning theatrical troupes including The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, Illyria, The Handlebards and Folksy Theatre.

In addition there are busy programmes planned inside St Luke’s Bombed Out Church where the main Liverpool Theatre Festival takes place in July this year rather than its usual September, and also at Shakespeare North Playhouse at Prescot – recently officially opened by the Duke of Edinburgh.

Here’s a rundown of what you can see where in Liverpool, Knowsley, Wirral and further afield.

Liverpool Theatre Festival

Liverpool Theatre Festival returns to St Luke’s Bombed Out Church for a fourth successive year – but with new dates for the main festival.

This year’s event runs from July 20-30 and the programme features 15 productions over the 10 days including plays, comedy, music, magic, an improvised whodunnit and children’s shows.

They include the premiere of Joe McGann and Jake Norton’s Sober Companion and Pauline Daniels’ Have Yer Been on Yer Holidays?, Ian Salmon’s Whatever Happened to Billy Kenny?, Fred the Musical - an interactive stage show based on Fay Evans’ Fred the Fire-Sneezing Dragon, Rubbish Shakespeare Company’s Rubbish Romeo and Juliet, A Place for Us theatre’s The Tempest, and Shout! – the Mod Musical.

Then the Little LTF festival of new writing runs from October 3-8.

Full details and booking HERE

Speke Hall

Speke Hall welcomes a quartet of shows to its North Lawn this summer.

The merry men (and women) of Three Inch Fools bring their contemporary and innovative take on the Robin Hood legend to the National Trust landmark on Wednesday, June 21.

Then on Friday, July 7 there’s an evening of riotous Regency fun courtesy of the Pantaloons who bring a fast-paced version of Jane Austen’s Emma to the outdoor stage.

Shakespeare is represented by The Comedy of Errors on Saturday, August 5 as the Pantaloons return with the Bard’s funniest farce.

And then join the Pantaloons again when they explore Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland on Saturday, August 19. Curiouser and curiouser.

Full details and booking HERE

Garden Theatre at Calderstones Mansion

The Garden Theatre at Calderstones Mansion comes alive with music, magic and star-crossed lovers this summer.

Mozart’s delightful opera The Magic Flute opens proceedings on Sunday, July 16, and Opera Anywhere’s production celebrates the birth of teen culture in a post-Blitz Britain.

The Fabularium Astronomers bring The Hare and the Moon to Calderstones on Thursday, July 20, complete with puppets and illuminations, while ArtsGroupie presents The Liver Bird on Sunday, July 23.

The Handlebards cycle into the park on Sunday, July 30 with their touring production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

And there’s another helping of Shakespeare on Wednesday, August 30 when the Lord Chamberlain’s Men present Romeo and Juliet.

Finally, Slapstick Picnic flies in with its version of JM Barrie’s classic Peter Pan on Sunday, September 3.

Full details and booking HERE

Sefton Park Palm House

The grounds surrounding the historic Sefton Park Palm House become a magical outdoor performance space in July and August.

Regulars Illyria return to Sefton Park on Sunday, July 9 with Twelfth Night. Expect an evening of yearning, romance, music and sheer joy.

Illyria also presents its critically-acclaimed sell-out version of Jane Austen’s glorious social comedy Pride and Prejudice on Sunday, July 23.

And escape into the greenwood on Sunday, August 6 when the theatre company delivers a fast-paced, fun-packed swashbuckling version of the Robin Hood legend for all the family.

Full details and booking HERE

St Luke's Bombed Out Church

It may be playing host to the Liverpool Theatre Festival, but St Luke’s Bombed Out Church is also staging other open-air productions this summer.

On Friday, July 14 it’s the turn of Shakespeare’s much-loved A Midsummer Night’s Dream – here turned into a musical and with its original text reworked into modern language. Expect magic and slapstick comedy.

Folksy Theatre’s production of The Ugly Duckling, filled with live music and puppetry, arrives on Sunday, August 6.

Then on Saturday, August 19, The Merry Wives of Windsor comes to St Luke’s, again courtesy of Folksy Theatre, filled with live music, comedy and fun for all the family.

Full details and booking HERE

Ken Dodd Performance Garden, Shakespeare North Playhouse at Prescot

There’s a packed programme of performances planned for the Ken Dodd Performance Garden between now and September.

Join Imaginarium Theatre on Friday and Saturday, June 2-3 for Treasure Island and the Last Lighthouse Keeper, or catch a spot of A Rubbish Midsummer Night’s Dream from the Rubbish Shakespeare Company from Friday to Sunday, June 9-11.

A Place for Us presents Murder, Mayhem and Magic from Thursday, June 15 to Sunday, June 18, while Rubbish Shakespeare Company returns from Friday, July 21 to Sunday, July 23 with The Incomplete Works.

Cycling troupe The Handlebards pedal into Prescot with A Midsummer Night’s Dream on Thursday and Friday, July 27-28.

And there’s A Portrait of William Roscoe courtesy of ArtsGroupie on the weekend of August 26-27.

Full details and booking HERE

Knowsley Hall

The Lord Chamberlain’s Men pay their annual visit to Knowsley Hall this August, this time with Shakespeare’s compelling tale of Romeo and Juliet.

Packed with memorable poetry, devastating twists and turns, and burning passion, the play surely challenges for the title of the greatest love story ever told.

The performance by the travelling troupe’s all male cast takes place on Thursday, August 3 in Knowsley’s glorious gardens.

Full details and booking HERE

Claremont Farm, Bebington

Those busy folk at Illyria arrive at Claremont Farm on July 27 with their touring production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

In the mysterious coastal kingdom of Illyria, it’s a man’s world – but not if Viola has anything to do with it.

Watch as a tale of romance, revenge and mistaken identities unfolds with hilarious consequences…and added singing, swordfights and silliness.

Full details and booking HERE

The Dell at Port Sunlight

Rural touring company Folksy Theatre makes its annual visit to The Dell at Port Sunlight in August to entertain villagers and visitors alike.

First is the company’s singular telling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling, filled with live music and puppetry, which will be staged on Sunday, August 13.

Then on Wednesday, August 16, much merriment is promised when the company presents its sparkling version of Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor.

Folksy prides itself on its shows going on whatever the weather – except for fork lightning that is!

Full details and booking HERE

Royden Park, FRANKBY

Beware the Ides of March in June when Wirral’s Hillbark Players take over Royden Park with their production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.

Loyalty, betrayal and the lust for power combine in one memorable tale, directed by NODA award-winning Ruth Stenhouse and Stuart Rathe.

It runs from Monday, June 19 to Saturday, June 24 and there are a range of ticket prices, with VIP tickets including complementary programme, Prosecco and canapes.

And a bonus for outdoor productions – all seats are under cover.

Full details and booking HERE

And further afield…..

Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, Chester

Chester’s Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre opens for business on Saturday, July 1 with Shakespeare’s much-loved and magical A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Elvi Piper.

Dream is joined on Saturday, July 22, by a new version of F Scott Fitzgerald’s classic The Great Gatsby, adapted by Deborah McAndrew and directed by Conrad Nelson.

The two shows then run in repertory in the outdoor auditorium until Sunday, August 27.

Full details and booking HERE


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