Liverpool’s much-loved Epstein Theatre is entering a brand new chapter with a new management team at the helm.
Epstein Entertainments Ltd is a joint venture between Liverpool producers Bill Elms, Chantelle Nolan, and Jane Joseph, who have taken over the historic Hanover Street venue this week.
The creative team’s exciting plans already include a Christmas pantomime this festive season, which will be announced and on sale 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, both regionally and nationally. He is director of leading Liverpool based arts PR company Bill Elms Associates, and a theatre producer under Bill Elms Productions, whose previous shows have included Jerry Springer – The Opera, Swan Song, Judy & Liza, and Something About Simon. Last year, he also created Liverpool Theatre Festival, of which he is Artistic Director – the festival has just enjoyed a successful second year. Bill will become the venue’s Artistic and Communications Director.
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, as well as producing top quality drama, comedy, and panto productions which have toured extensively.
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.
Bill Elms Productions, Liverpool Theatre Festival, St Helens Theatre Royal, and Regal Entertainments Ltd will continue to run as normal.
The Epstein is a 108-year-old, 380-seat proscenium arch theatre. It was originally opened as Crane’s Music Hall in 1913 and was a popular location for recitals and performances. It was renamed Crane Theatre in 1938. In 1967 the theatre was purchased from the Cranes by Liverpool Corporation, who decided that it should be run by local people for local people and was named The Neptune Theatre. The Neptune also became a comedy club and, after many years of uncertainty about the future of the theatre, it eventually closed in 2005.
In July 2011, a £1million refurbishment of the theatre was completed which saw the Hanover Street venue brought up to 21st Century standards and renamed The Epstein Theatre in honour of former Beatles manager Brian Epstein, who guided the Fab Four from popular cellar act to global superstardom. The opening season show at the venue was the premiere of Epstein: The Man Who Made The Beatles, which was also produced by Bill Elms.
The former operator went into administration in December 2017 and has been run by administrators until this time, continuing to showcase a programme of music, comedy, drama, and children’s entertainment. The venue closed its doors in March 2020 as part of the Government national Covid-19 lockdown, and will now reopen under the management of the new team.
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, said: “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.”
Regal Entertainments Ltd Company Director Jane Joseph added: “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.”
The theatre management are welcoming enquires from local and national production companies to programme from January 2022, producers can email email@example.com