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A powerful and poignant tale of love, loss, freedom, and friendship among Liverpool’s LGBT+ community opens at the city’s Epstein Theatre next week. The unique immersive show will see the Hanover Street venue transform into the famous Masquerade Club.
The electrifying new and reimagined production of Masquerade, written by Laura Lees with additional material by Tom Lloyd and James Baker is set in Liverpool’s iconic gay club in the 1980s and features a heavenly disco soundtrack.
The brand-new full-scale version of the play is produced by Bill Elms and runs at the Hanover Street theatre from Tuesday 22 to Saturday 26 November. Ticket holders will feel immersed as soon as they walk in the door, with the venue renamed The Masquerade Club, DJ’s will play in the bar and drag queens will welcome guests before entering the auditorium, on many of the runs performances.
On stage, the production will see Jamie Peacock return to the role of Mike after playing him in the original production of the play which was staged at the Royal Court Studio in 2019, while Joe Owens plays his best friend Tony.
The stellar cast is completed with Neil MacDonald as club owner Frank, Catherine Rice as barmaid Norma, Michael Bailey as Stuart and his alter ego, the resident drag queen Judy, Joey Colasante as the DJ Elvis, Leah Gould as Leanne and Michael Latham who completes the cast in the ensemble.
Mike loves Tony (but not like that). He’s his best mate. To be confident, outgoing, and open is a big deal in a city like Liverpool in 1986 especially during the Aids crisis. When they discover The Masquerade Club, Mike gets a taste of the life he could and should be living.
He is welcomed with open arms, soon becoming the resident DJ in a club that becomes the centre of his universe. Outside of the club walls he needs to find the courage to tell his parents that he is not the son they want him to be. Will he find the strength to stand up for himself especially when tragedy strikes?
Masquerade is produced by Bill Elms (Something About George/Simon, Swan Song, The Ruby Slippers), and directed by James Baker (Cherry Jezebel, Yank, Parade). Most recently, Bill and James worked together on productions Jerry Springer The Opera and 2Gorgeous4U.
The new production includes additional material by Tom Lloyd and James Baker, while Joey Colasante is assistant director and movement.
The production is designed by Ellie Light, costume design by Marina Diamante, sound design by Daniel Mawson, and lighting design from Doug Kurht.
Masquerade tells a fictional story based around the now demolished iconic Cases Street venue, affectionately known as The Mazzie, which was frequented at the time by famous faces including Holly Johnson, Paul O’Grady, Paul Rutherford, and Margi Clarke. The Mazzie became a safe haven in a political and cultural period where being gay was demonised. It offered many gay people an alternative family who provided them with the love and care that was ripped away from their relatives.
Director James Baker says, “Building the right team for this production has been crucial; it’s important that it represents Liverpool and those this story is about. We’ve found an exceptional cast who are going to champion this story with real heart. I’m proud that I get to steer this masquerade of talent.”
Producer Bill Elms of Bill Elms Productions Ltd and Artistic Director of Epstein Theatre continues, “We have just a week to go until we premiere this brand new version of the play, we have such a fantastic cast and rehearsals are going great. The show was a huge hit when it was first staged at the Royal Court Studio three years ago. After months of development and planning by a fantastic creative team I can’t wait to present this new full-scale production along with a unique immersive experience that Liverpool won’t have seen before.
“I know Masquerade will be one of the highlights of the autumn when it’s performed on the Epstein Theatre, it’s an experience you will not want to miss!”
Masquerade’s official charity partner is Sahir House and the official bar partner is The Masquerade Bar on Cumberland Street.
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