'Historic' moment for Prescot as the curtain rises at the new Shakespeare North Playhouse

Crowds begin to stream into the new theatre in Prescot.

Thousands of people are expected at the North West's newest theatre as it opens its doors to the public for the very first time.

The Shakespeare North Playhouse in Prescot cost £38 million pounds to build and is a replica of the Royal Cockpit theatre in London.

It is officially opening its doors to the public from on Friday, 15 July, and a free outdoor performance to celebrate the heritage of the town takes place on the evening to mark the start of a weekend of celebrations.

Inside the spectacular new theatre in Prescot. Credit: Andrew Brooks

The spectacular timber-built theatre is inspired by Prescot's historic connections to William Shakespeare and a love of storytelling.

It is thought Prescot is the only English town outside of London to have had a freestanding purpose built indoor playhouse during the Elizabethan and Jacobean era, with Shakespeare himself performing there.

More than 400 years later, it is hoped the new replica, which is not far from the original, will attract millions of people over the years and boost the local economy.

The theatre - built entirely during the pandemic - is already said to be drawing consumers and businesses to Prescot. It has been called the “Shakespeare effect."

The theatre cost £38m to build and it's hoped it will boost one of the most deprived areas in the UK. Credit: Andrew Brooks

Shakespeare classics A Midsummer Night’s Dream and A Christmas Carol will form part of the launch programme, along with appearances by comedian Johnny Vegas and screenwriter Jimmy McGovern.

Steve Rotheram, mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: "The theatre promises to be an incredible new asset - not only for Knowsley - but for the entire North West, attracting more jobs, more investment, and offering a brilliant resource for the local communities."

Cllr Graham Morgan Leader of Knowsley Council said: “This is a really proud moment for me and such an historic moment for Prescot, Knowsley and our wider communities."

Celebrations will be taking place across the weekend - 15 to 17 July - and you can find out how to get involved here.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...