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Liverpool has a reputation for producing writers and performing artists of real quality, and names such as Willy Russell, Alan Bleasdale, Beryl Bainbridge, Paul McCartney and John Lennon spring immediately to mind. With such a rich heritage it is not surprising that the City has a wealth of theatres and art venues. Liverpool Theatres
The largest theatre is the Empire, which is close to Lime Street Station. This theatre concentrates on major productions such as touring West End Musicals. The theatre underwent a major facelift and re-fit a few years ago and is a suitable venue for every type of production from the Royal Ballet and the Welsh National Opera to "We Will Rock You" and Chubby Brown.
The Playhouse is a venerable and evocative theatre in Williamson Square. It was founded in 1866, since when many great names have trod the boards. Noel Coward and Gertrude Lawrence were child stars at the theatre and actors such as Anthony Hopkins, Michael Redgrave and Robert Donat are amongst the past visitors. The theatre is said to be haunted by a cleaning lady, Elizabeth, who was killed when she fell into the Orchestra Pit. She is thought to prefer the Theatre Balcony seat A5. Another ghost, the Lady in Grey has also been spotted wandering around the upstairs corridor and stalls.
Because of financial difficulties, the Playhouse merged with its' marketing and administration with the Everyman Theatre on Hope Street - the University area of the City. The Everyman is much younger, having been founded in 1964, and has been home to Jule Walters, Paul McGann, Bernard Hill, and a host of other well known actors.
In the same vicinity is the Unity, at Hope Place, - a pioneering theatre which has never been afraid to push out the boundaries. This theatre has its' origins in a pre-war association of left wing theatrical societies, but is now well established in the mainstream. The Unity has been in its' present home since 1980, and has developed a loyal and devoted following.
The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA), a Higher Education "Fame School", has short seasons of productions created by its' highly talented student base. These performances are well worth considering - they are cheap and very professional productions in the historic theatre, the Paul MacCartney Auditorium.
The Royal Court Theatre near Williamson Square is an Art Deco theatre which, like the Playhouse, has fluctuated between times of famine and feast. After moving away from theatrical productions to the staging of rock and pop concerts the theatre has had a recent resurgence and is now home to the popular Rawhide Comedy Club which has hosted the likes of Patrick Kielty, Joan Rivers, Ardal O'Hanlon and Ben Elton . At the time of writing (early 2007) booked artists include Sean Hughes, Lisa Riley and the Circus of Horrors.