Liverpool’s very popular Epstein Theatre will begin a new chapter in its history after a change in management.
Epstein Entertainments Ltd is a joint venture involving Liverpool producers Bill Elms, Chantelle Nolan and Jane Joseph. And now they will run the historic Hanover Street-based theatre as of this week.
The creative team’s exciting plans include a Christmas pantomime for this festive season, with an announcement to come later this week. Meanwhile, the venue will retain the same name and continue to provide a variety of shows catering to all audiences.
Bill Elms brings more than 30 years of experience in the entertainment industry, both on a regional and national level. He is the director of Bill Elms Associates and a theatre producer for Bill Elms Productions. Their previous shows include Jerry Springer – The Opera, Swan Song, Judy & Liza and Something About Simon. In 2020, he would also create Liverpool Theatre Festival for which he is Artistic Director. The festival would recently enjoy a successful second year. Bill now becomes the Artistic and Communications Director at the Epstein Theatre.
Chantelle Nolan is currently General Manager at St. Helens Theatre Royal. And she is now the new Artistic and Operations Director at the Epstein Theatre. Along with her mother Jane Joseph, she is one half of the highly successful Regal Entertainments Ltd. They have run St. Helens Theatre Royal for the past 20 years. Furthermore, they produce first-class drama, comedy and pantomime productions that tour extensively. Additionally, Chantelle directs and produces St. Helens’ three annual pantomimes. Regal Entertainments Ltd will now produce three in-house pantomimes a year at the Epstein Theatre.
Bill Elms Productions, Liverpool Theatre Festival, St. Helens Theatre Royal and Regal Entertainments Ltd will all continue to run as normal.
Epstein Theatre History
The Epstein Theatre is a 108-year-old, 380-seat proscenium arch theatre. It would originally open as Crane’s Music Hall in 1913 and would become a popular location for recitals and performances. A renaming to Crane Theatre would come in 1938. In 1967, the theatre was purchased from the Cranes by Liverpool Corporation. They would decide that it be run by local people for local people, hence it becoming the Neptune Theatre. The Neptune would also become a comedy club. But after years of uncertainty about its future, it would eventually close in 2005.
However, in July 2011, a £1million refurbishment of the theatre would conclude. This would see the Hanover Street venue enter the 21st Century and become the Epstein Theatre. This would be a tribute to former Beatles manager Brian Epstein. The opening season show was the premiere of Epstein: The Man Who Made The Beatles, also produced by Bill Elms.
The former operator would go into administration in December 2017. It has been run by administrators until this time, continuing to showcase music, comedy, drama and children’s entertainment. But the Epstein would close its doors in March 2020 as part of the Government’s national Covid-19 lockdown. Now, the Epstein finally reopens under the new management.
Bill Elms would comment: “I’m absolutely delighted to have been successful in the joint tender for the lease of The Epstein Theatre. This is a venue I have loved with a passion for so many years and is one of Liverpool’s leading historical and cultural gems. I’m excited to play a part in both strengthening and reaffirming its future, with a vision to establish the venue among the most prolific theatres in the industry – we’ll be showcasing established favourites, revivals and new works, working with both local and national producers and production companies, and exploring some mid-scale UK tours that currently tend to bypass the city.”
Chantelle Nolan would say: “The Epstein holds a very special place in people’s hearts, myself included. My mother Jane produced the annual panto for many years in the theatre’s previous incarnation as The Neptune, and I appeared in her first show there as a child. Performing there helped fuel my love of theatre, but little could I have known then that I’d be running the venue one day. The Epstein has amazing potential, and we’re absolutely committed to presenting a quality programme of music, comedy and children’s shows, as well as building on the family pantomime and exploring longer running shows for Epstein audiences.”
Jane Joseph, company director at Regal Entertainments Ltd, would add: “This is a very special moment for me. I produced my first ever pantomime, Aladdin, at the then Neptune in 1994. I’m incredibly excited that 25 years later, to coming full circle and returning to the theatre where it all started for me – this time as part of the team running the venue. The Epstein is a theatrical jewel and I’m looking forward to helping it continue to sparkle.”
Epstein Theatre Further Links
The theatre management is now welcoming enquiries from local and national production companies for its programme from January 2022. Interested producers can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Meanwhile, for all the latest news about the Epstein Theatre, please visit www.epsteintheatre.co.uk.