liverpool's neptune theatre reopened - but still no one to run it

By Catherine Jones on Jul 28, 11 09:52 AM

The Neptune Theatre in Hanover Street has been officially 'relaunched' today - but don't expect to see anything on stage there for a while.
Because the city council still hasn't found anyone to run the much-loved theatrical landmark.

I was in there three months ago when Radio 5 did a broadcast from the stage as part of its Grand National coverage, and I have to commend the city on the fact it looked smart after a new coat of paint and other improvements as part of a £1m refurbishment.
But the fact remains that they have been slow off the mark in getting it up and running, and it could be months before it starts booking in any shows.
With tours organised months in advance, a lot of those who used to play (and love) the old Neptune - bands, comedians, etc - will have already lined up alternative venues so even if an operator is found in the next few weeks, chances are it will be at least Christmas if not the new year before it's up and running properly.
And with the closure of the Everyman, we are already a theatre down going into the new autumn season.
Meanwhile I see the city council has ploughed ahead in its decision (made without any consultation as far as I can see) to re-name the theatre in memory of Brian Epstein.
In today's Echo Joe Anderson said it gives the city "a fantastic opportunity to say thank you to one of our greatest sons" and means Liverpool has a "theatre with a world famous name which will hopefully make it a more attractive business commercially."
Hmmm. Really?
Readers of my column will already know that I was against the name change when it was first revealed, and that is no disrespect meant to Brian Epstein or his family. But we are already tripping over a vast quantity Beatle-related sights, venues etc in this city, whereas the Neptune name celebrated our links with the maritime past which made Liverpool the second city of Empire that it once was.
And I can't imagine the kind of acts and shows which will look to book themselves into the theatre will be attracted simply by it being called fact, I can imagine the confusion as they all know it, and refer to it, as the Neptune.
Which is exactly what I'll be doing.

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