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Liverpool’s Epstein Theatre reopening for first time in 19 months

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Liverpool’s much loved Epstein Theatre is set to reopen its doors for the first time since March 2020.

The popular theatre, which has been in administration since 2017 , will open under new management ahead of Christmas.

The new team comes in the form of Epstein Entertainments Ltd, a joint venture between Liverpool producers Bill Elms, Chantelle Nolan and Jane Joseph, who have taken over the historic Hanover Street venue this week.

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A Christmas pantomime is already in the works ahead of the festive season, with an announcement due to be made this week.

The theatre will retain the same name and continue to run as a variety venue with a mixed programme of entertainment.

Bill Elms has more than 30 years’ experience in the entertainment industry. He is director of Liverpool-based arts PR company Bill Elms Associates, and a theatre producer under Bill Elms Productions.

Bill will become the venue’s artistic and communications director.

Epstein Theatre,Hanover Street.
Epstein Theatre,Hanover Street. Picture by Andrew Teebay

Chantelle Nolan, who is currently general manager at St Helens Theatre Royal, is the new artistic and operations director at The Epstein Theatre.

Along with her mother Jane Joseph, she is one half of the hugely successful Regal Entertainments Ltd which has run St Helens Theatre Royal for the past 20 years.

Chantelle also directs and produces St Helens’ three annual pantomimes. Regal Entertainments Ltd will now produce three in-house pantomimes a year at The Epstein Theatre.

The theatre went into administration in December 2017 and was run by administrators, continuing to showcase a programme of music, comedy, drama and more, until the venue closed its doors in March 2020 as part of the Government’s national Covid-19 lockdown.

Bill Elms, artistic and communications director at Epstein Entertainments Ltd, said: “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, artistic and operations director at Epstein Entertainments Ltd, added: “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.

The auditorium at the Epstein Theatre
The auditorium at the Epstein Theatre

“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, Regal Entertainments Ltd company director said : “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 be 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.”

Further details on the reopening of the Epstein Theatre are expected soon.

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