Iconic theatre to re-open doors next year

Liverpool’s Everyman theatre will begin the next chapter in its history with a parade and event on Hope Street on 1st March and a ‘Housewarming’ on 2nd, before the theatre bursts fully back to life with Artistic Director Gemma Bodinetz’s production of Twelfth Night, from Saturday 8th March.

Designed by Haworth Tompkins and funded by the National Lottery from Arts Council England, European Regional Development Fund and the Northwest Regional Development Agency, the new Everyman is a reincarnation of the 400-seat theatre with its dynamic ‘thrust’ auditorium, and much more.  A new incarnation of the basement bistro will be joined by a new ground floor café, first floor bar and balcony above the iconic red sign. The building will be full of new creative spaces, with a rehearsal room, workshops, sound studio, a Writers’ Room, and EV1 – a special studio dedicated to Young Everyman Playhouse, education and community groups. The front of the theatre features 105 portraits of people from across Merseyside whose images have been etched into metal shutters to create a unique piece of public art. That cutting edge use of technology continues throughout the building, which is exceptionally green and accessible.

Executive Director Deborah Aydon said: “After ten years’ planning and two years’ construction we are thrilled to be able to announce the Everyman’s reawakening.  We have a very busy few months ahead, getting ready for that extraordinary moment when the people of Liverpool can take possession of their beautiful new theatre.  The reaction to the exterior has been really wonderful and we can’t wait to have the Everyman fully back to life, thronged with people making it their own.”

Artistic Director Gemma Bodinetz said: “The Everyman has historically been a theatre that has represented the renegade and generous spirit of this city. It has held its arms wide open for the broadest section of humanity. It has always been fearless. It has always had a twinkle in its eye. When choosing the productions for this inaugural season I wanted plays that expressed these qualities; rebellious stories infused with wit and love.  Stories for everyone that each in their different ways  celebrate individualism.”

The people of Liverpool will be able to take full possession of their new theatre on the weekend of 1st and 2nd March.  Lights Up, on the Saturday night, will be a parade and people’s celebration, created in collaboration with the Liverpool Lantern Company and Walk The Plank.  Then, on Sunday, the Everyman throws open its doors with a Housewarming, to welcome everyone in to make themselves at home.

The artistic programme springs to life from 8th March with Shakespeare’s anarchic tale of love, loss and transformation. Twelfth Night sees the return of two members of the celebrated Everyman company of 1974 with Nick Woodeson playing Malvolio and Matthew Kelly as Sir Toby Belch. The cast also includes Neil Caple, Pauline Daniels, Paul Duckworth, Adam Keast, Adam Levy, Jodie McNee and Alan Stocks. Gemma Bodinetz’s production blends the Everyman’s rebellious history with Twelfth Night’s themes of a night of misrule and naughtiness as a host of mismatched lovers and fools search for their own happy endings.

The central role of new Liverpool plays in the Everyman story is celebrated with the world première of Hope Place. Specially commissioned for the opening season of the Everyman from acclaimed playwright Michael Wynne (The Priory, Royal Court; Being Eileen, BBC), this new play is a story of myths, memories and secrets. Rattling around in a house on Hope Place, Maggie searches for the truth within a sea of family folklore. The play marks the first time one of Birkenhead-born Wynne’s plays has been produced in Liverpool.

The inaugural season at the Everyman concludes with a collaboration with the irrepressible Kneehigh on a radical new version of John Gay’s musical satire The Beggar’s Opera, titled Dead Dog in A Suitcase (and other love songs).  Bursting with wit, wonder and weirdness, an extraordinary Kneehigh cast of actor-musicians shoot, hoot and shimmy their way through this twisted morality tale of our times. Written by Carl Grose and directed by Mike Shepherd, with music by Charles Hazlewood, the production has its world première in Liverpool before moving to Kneehigh’s home performance space, the Asylum, in Cornwall.

The Playhouse season opens with Arthur Miller’s A View From The Bridge directed by Quercus Award-winning Everyman and Playhouse Associate Director Charlotte Gwinner. The production features Lloyd Hutchinson (Collaborators, National Theatre; Utopia, Channel 4) as Eddie Carbone and Julia Ford (Mogadishu, Royal Exchange/Lyric; The Paradise, BBC) as his wife Beatrice. Ford was last on stage in Liverpool as Lady Macbeth opposite David Morrissey.

Betty Blue Eyes, written by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe with choreography by Andrew Wright, is based on Alan Bennett’s A Private Function in a new co-production with Mercury Theatre Colchester, Salisbury Playhouse and West Yorkshire Playhouse. This laugh-out-loud, feel-good musical treat features a raft of original songs and played to critical acclaim in the West End in 2011. This new production which will also tour the UK is directed by Mercury Artistic Director Daniel Buckroyd.

The celebrated and always inventive Young Everyman Playhouse (YEP) will be right at the heart of the new theatre and will perform a production in the opening season, written by Young Writers and performed by 60 Young Actors, while YEP Technicians will be part of the Lights Up event.

Among packed season of in-house work at the Everyman David Greig’s Edinburgh Fringe First Award-winning The Events will visit the city for a week, involving six local community choirs.  The Playhouse will also be bringing the highest calibre of touring productions to Liverpool with Northern Stage’s Catch 22; Dial M for Murder from producers Fiery Angel; Under Milk Wood by Clwyd Theatre Cymru; the return of Headlong with Spring Awakening and Northern Broadsides will bring An August Bank Holiday Lark.

Spring will also see a range of work for families and younger audiences including Northern Ballet‘s Three Little Pigs; a stage adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks’ What The Ladybird Heard. and Michael Morpurgo’s Private Peaceful. There will also be one-night performances by Punt and Dennis in their show Ploughing On Regardless and by Phoenix Dance Theatre.

*Picture of Everyman exterior taken by Steve Aland*