Liverpool Theatre Festival announce first wave of shows

Pic by David Munn

THE Liverpool Theatre Festival returns this Autumn, with organisers announcing the first shows for 2022. 

The event was created during the Covid-19 pandemic in the first lockdown of 2020, as a way to support and inspire creatives whose work and livelihoods had come to a complete standstill overnight with theatres closing and live performance stopped. The event has since gone on to be staged annually, winning awards and receiving praise from the arts industry and audiences alike. 

Liverpool Theatre Festival 2022 will take place within the walls of St Luke’s Bombed Out Church in Liverpool city centre between Wednesday 31 August and Sunday 11 September 2022.  

The shows confirmed are Laughterhouse Comedy; Opera Beneath The Stars; Ma Joyce’s Tales From The Parlour; Dame Fanny & The Starlets – A Family Friendly Drag Show; Drag Me To Church – Dragstravaganza; Julie Madly Deeply; and Looking For Me Friend – The Music Of Victoria Wood. 

Also confirmed is 97+ – a drama based on the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster, written by Tom Cain. The production was premiered at Little LTF – Liverpool Theatre Festival Of New Works earlier this year, and has been chosen to perform at the main event due to its outstanding new writing and powerful and emotional performance. The show received incredible reviews from critics and audiences. 

Liverpool Theatre Festival was created by Liverpool theatre producer Bill Elms, who has worked in the theatre industry for more than 30 years.

It was Bill’s mission to reinvigorate and boost the city’s live performance and creative arts sector, offering a lifeline when it was needed most. Liverpool Theatre Festival was created in a matter of weeks. Its inaugural staging won praise from audiences and critics alike, as well as winning an award along the way. 

Bill said: “The festival was created out of a love and need for live performance during a very difficult time – giving creatives and performers a much-needed platform to entertain audiences once again, and now, along with Little LTF, it’s gone on to become an important theatrical event in Liverpool’s cultural calendar, thanks to its growing popularity. 

“We continue to strive to offer a strong and diverse programme – and the announcement of the first productions showcases just a small taster of what we can offer festivalgoers this year. I am delighted to invite new play 97+ to be part of the main Liverpool Theatre Festival after it received such an incredible reception in Little LTF in Spring – powerful and emotional, audiences need the opportunity to see this work again.” 

Liverpool Theatre Festival 2022 is sponsored by TicketQuarter and Victor Welsh Media and Entertainment Law. Partners for this year’s event include Fostering Solutions, Bills Elms Associates, Epstein Theatre, dBS Solutions.  

Organisers are delighted to announce Liverpool-based children’s charity Kind as the festival’s official charity partner – which will include bucket collections at show performances. Liverpool Theatre Festival 2022 is dedicated to the memory of Baby Michael James who would have been celebrating his 21st Birthday this September. 

 Theatregoers are invited to get involved and support the event by joining the Friends Of Liverpool Theatre Festival. 

The membership programme and loyalty scheme ensures that members have an integral role in helping the festival grow into one of the UK’s top arts festivals. Festival friends will be directly supporting the local arts scene and helping to maintain accessible, diverse, inclusive, affordable arts in Liverpool. Full details can be found at www.liverpooltheatrefestival.com/support 

ABOUT THE SHOWS… 

FRIDAY 2 SEPTEMBER AT 6PM / 8.30PM 
LAUGHTERHOUSE COMEDY 
Comedy | 16+ | Tickets £22 
Laughterhouse are Liverpool’s longest running comedy club, bringing the very best in live comedy to audiences across the UK for 14 years. Laughterhouse know their audience and, as comedy fans, know that live stand-up is the most powerful and exciting evening to experience. They are delighted to be back for a third consecutive year at Liverpool Theatre Festival, bringing festivalgoers an evening of hilarity featuring Scouse favourites and the very best acts on the international comedy circuit. Line-up to be announced. 

SUNDAY 4 SEPTEMBER AT 2PM 
MA JOYCE’S TALES FROM THE PARLOUR 
Black Arts | 12+ | Tickets £18 
“Warming and fun…she’s an endearing soul, full of wisdom with that Liverpudlian sense of humour” – Time Out. 
Ma Joyce celebrates the triumph and tragedies of motherhood, grandmotherhood, and her observation of Liverpool’s social, economic and political life, from her uniquely humorous perspective. You think you know Scouse – well you’ve never tasted it like this before. Go along for a nibble and a natter in Ma Joyce’s Parlour. Set in Liverpool, the play tells the story of a mixed-race grandmother of Nigerian and Irish heritage, as she celebrates her birthday and revisits the people and places from her past. Ma Joyce takes audiences on a rollercoaster journey back to her childhood in the convent in the Welsh countryside; the romantic meeting and relationship with her late Nigerian husband Mani; and her journey to Nigeria only to discover that: “In England I am black. In Africa I am white. It’s a funny, bloody world.” 

Written and performed by Victoria Evaristo and directed by Angela Ekaette Michaels. 

THURSDAY 8 SEPTEMBER AT 7.30PM 
OPERA BENEATH THE STARS 
Music | 12+ | Tickets £28 
“Standing ovations and encores, we cheered and wanted more” – ***** North West End. 

Absolute Opera present a beautiful evening of sublime operatic and classical hits in the stunning open-air surroundings of St Luke’s Bombed Out Church. The show stars national and international performers, including Tenor Roy Locke (Opera Australia) and Soprano Leigh Rhianon Coggins (Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company). With live piano accompaniment by Per Nielsen, this enchanting gala evening will feature the most well-loved and popular songs from Grand Opera, Operetta, Neapolitan Song, and Modern Classical and Musical hits, all performed by world-class performers in beautiful evening wear. A fabulous evening for opera lovers – and the perfect introduction to opera for all. 

FRIDAY 9 SEPTEMBER AT 6PM / 8.30PM 
97+ – A DRAMA BASED ON THE 1989 HILLSBOROUGH DISASTER 
Drama | 16+ | Tickets £20 
“10/10 Perfect – possibly the most powerful theatre show I’ve ever seen” – Writebase. 
This drama has been selected to perform at the main Liverpool Theatre Festival following its huge success at Little LTF festival of new works earlier this year. It is based on the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster, during which severe injuries led to the loss of 97 lives. Set in 2012 and haunted by their memories, Hillsborough urvivors John and Steve each deal with the trauma they suffered as young boys now as middle-aged men. John bottles up his emotions and only exposes these to his wife Liz, as he regularly suffers from night terrors but avoids seeking treatment from the doctors. While Steve is in and out of hospital suffering from his multiple mental health issues where he is looked after by nurse Nancy, who appears to be the only person he sees as a friend. That is until he meets John, whose charity pot in his newsagents sparks a conversation between the pair about their shared experiences. Despite countless setbacks, the Hillsborough survivors continue their fight for justice. Starring Colin Kilbride, Leslie Longley, Julie McCabe and Alice McKillop. 

SATURDAY 10 SEPTEMBER AT 4.30PM 
DAME FANNY & THE STARLETS – A FAMILY FRIENDLY DRAG SHOW 
LGBT+ Arts | 8+ | Tickets £15 / Children £12.50 
Come out, come out, wherever you are, and meet some great drag queens that have not come that far. The new Fab Four will be high heeling it to LTF this September, bringing an event for all lovers of drag of all ages. 
Join hair-larious hostess and Liverpool lass Dame Fanny De Faux, the magnificent Mystique, beautiful Brooke Spears, and incredible Iva Bouquet for a fabulous 90 mins of dragtastic music, dance, comedy, games, and general gorgeousness. 

Anything goes at Dame Fanny shows, produced by TBC Events, and if a younger audience member has a special skill they’d love to share, this will be the perfect opportunity in the Talent Show section of the afternoon. They should feel free to blow their trumpet, twerk it out on the dance floor, lip sync to their heart’s content, or do whatever it is they do best. During this fun-filled family event, the performers will choose a member of the audience to be beautifully transformed, before taking to their throne and being crowned Queen for a Day. 

SATURDAY 10 SEPTEMBER AT 8PM 
DRAG ME TO CHURCH –  A DRAGSTRAVAGANZA 
LGBT+ Arts | 18+ | Tickets £18 
The only drag show that guarantees, if audiences don’t have fun, they will fully refund their dull life back to them! 

Following hilarity in 2021 and a mini tour for 2022 of Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham, the aka Keller Kweens are high heeling it to Liverpool Theatre Festival with a truly unique dragstravaganza of a night. Produced by TBC Events, the show is hosted by the darling divinity Dame Fanny De Faux, joined by the heavenly sensational The Starlets. Join the magnificent Mystique, beautifully blessed Brooke Spears, and the incredible Iva Bouquet for a lashtastic evening of sinfully shameless shenanigans, live performance, games, giveaways, high jinks, and gratuitous gorgeousness. There will also be the chance for a volunteer audience member to take to the stage and compete in a lip sync challenge. While another will be chosen to be transformed into a Queen for the night. 

SUNDAY 11 SEPTEMBER AT 2.30PM 
JULIE MADLY DEEPLY 
Musical | 8+ | Tickets £20 
The West End and Off-Broadway smash-hit show.  

“My cheeks hurt with smiling” – Daily Telegraph. 

“Dame Julie, you suspect, would approve. This is an evening that ends in triumph, not in tears” – The Times. 

Adored by millions, Dame Julie Andrews is a genuine showbiz icon. This charming yet cheeky cabaret takes a look at fame and fandom through the eyes and voice of award-winning performer Sarah-Louise Young (Fascinating Aida, An Evening Without Kate Bush). 

Julie’s songs from musicals including Mary Poppins, The Sound Of Music, and My Fair Lady are intertwined with stories and anecdotes about her life, from beginnings as a child star to the challenges of losing her famous singing voice. What emerges is a delightfully funny and candid love letter to a true showbusiness survivor. Sarah-Louise is joined on piano by long-term collaborator Michael Roulston (Fascinating Aida, The Now Show). 

SUNDAY 11 SEPTEMBER AT 6PM 
LOOKING FOR ME FRIEND – THE MUSIC OF VICTORIA WOOD 
Musical | 12+ | Tickets £20 

“This show is a highlight of my year and I’d love to go again!” – ***** LondonTheatre1. 

Cabaret performer and television personality, Paulus enters his 30th year in entertainment with a loving tribute to his idol – the late, great Victoria Wood. Joined on stage by musical director and old friend Michael Roulston, together they prove what many have known for decades – that it takes two men to do the work of one woman, and half as well. 

Paulus will remind audiences of Victoria’s best-loved songs through the decades including It Would Never Have Worked, Reincarnation, and of course, the classic Ballad of Barry & Freda (Let’s Do It). As well as the songs, he explores the musicality of Victoria’s sketches and catchphrases, the Northern accent, and the modern ‘Polari’ that has evolved amongst her legions of fans through the quoting of her enormous body of work. This nostalgic hour of entertainment is filled with love, laughter, and fabulous memories for Victoria Wood fans. 

Visit www.liverpooltheatrefestival.com for the latest news updates.