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The Neptune Theatre Liverpool



The theatre originally opened in 1913 as Crane's Music Hall. The Crane Brothers' music store had been trading for several years when they opened the music hall above their store on Hanover Street in central Liverpool. The Concert Hall was conceived as a showcase for instrumental recitals, but took the form of a theatre and was used, as such, though it was known as the Crane Hall until 1938. Over the first few years, many amateur drama groups staged productions there, thus leading to its renaming as the Crane Theatre in 1938.







The auditorium was reached from a corner entrance by a wide curving staircase with dark polished wood dado, which set the style of the interior created with mahogany and plaster splendour reminiscent of the luxury liners.



The Crane Building on Hanover Street Liverpool


The theatre was reached through pairs of mahogany doors. The interior, almost square, had a flat panelled ceiling, with centre cluster of lights, walls with fluted Ionic pilasters, modillioned cornices and busts of famous composers in wreaths. There was a small balcony with panelled front; urn decorations above the doors were echoed in the square proscenium decoration at the sides. The lower parts of the walls were panelled with polished mahogany with a Greek frieze and the plasterwork  decorated ivory on a deep green.








Little changed over the next twenty years, until in 1960 a bar was opened in the theatre's box office area. However, the theatre was threatened with closure in 1966. In 1967 the theatre was purchased from the Cranes by Liverpool Corporation, who decided that the theatre should be run "by local people for local people". To reflect the city's maritime history the name of the theatre was changed again, this time to the Neptune Theatre, after Neptune, the Roman god of the seas and central character in Marc Lescarbot's "Theatre of Neptune in New France" (Canada's first European play, written and performed in 1606).



The former Neptune Theatre Stage

However, the future of the Neptune was not as secure as first seemed. A fall in the number of amateur drama groups led to a drop in shows. The corporation, by now named Liverpool City Council, suggested closure again in 1993. This caused a huge outcry around the city and many performers, including Dame Judi Dench, were part of the campaign to keep the theatre open. In order to attract audiences, a professional pantomime Snow White was staged in the theatre. This proved to be a huge success, with a professional panto then being held every year in the theatre. However the Theatre closed non the less and was closed for more than 6 years and  after a long legal wrangle between the council and the lessee is now  once again open and has been re-named after Liverpool’s most successful music entrepreneurs and Beatles Manager, Brian Epstein. The 'Epstein Theatre' has undergone a £1.2m refurbishment of the foyer, bar and 380 seater auditorium. Joe Flannery, 81, a lifelong friend of Brian Epstein has donated a large photograph of Brian which hangs in the theatre bar.



Epstein Theatre New £1million Refurbishment
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