The building began life as the Star Music Hall in 1866, and became a theatre in 1911 on the formation of the Liverpool Repertory Company – one of the first and soon one of the most prestigious ‘reps’ in the country.
In its first half-century the Playhouse’s acting roster included Robert Donat, Michael Redgrave, Rachel Kempson, John Thaw, Anthony Hopkins, Patricia Routledge, Michael Gambon, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and many, many more. The latter part of the 20th century featured many high points, including the Artistic tenures of David Scase, Leslie Lawton, William Gaunt, the Gang of Four (Alan Bleasdale, Chris Bond, Bill Morrison, Willy Russell) and Ian Kellgren.
In 2000 the Playhouse joined forces with the Everyman to become Liverpool & Merseyside Theatres Trust (LMTT) and in 2003, Gemma Bodinetz (Artistic Director) and Deborah Aydon (Executive Director) were appointed as joint Chief Executives to lead the company.
As well as the main theatre there is a small studio space seating upto 80. Originally opened in 1969, it soon became a compact crucible for new talent, new writing and utterly daring work. In recent years it has been the rehearsal room for e&P productions. In 2011, as a 100th birthday present, it was re-opened as The Studio with a new play The Swallowing Dark by Lizzie Nunnery.
Find out more about the Playhouse in Liverpool Playhouse – A Theatre and its City by Ros Merkin (Liverpool University Press, 2011). Compiled to celebrate 100 years of the Liverpool Playhouse, with contributions and stories from those who have been part of the extraordinary journey of the theatre. We have a limited number of hardback copies at the special rate of £20 (rrp £25).
The Playhouse Archive is held at the Liverpool Record Office at Liverpool Central Library in William Brown Street. You can search the online archive database at http://archive.liverpool.gov.uk/calmview/ and contact the archive on [email protected].