A MAJOR production documenting the early life of Wirral author Helen Forrester will be staged at the Gladstone Theatre in Port Sunlight this week.

By The Waters Of Liverpool was set to embark on its autumn UK tour with 15 performances at Liverpool’s Epstein Theatre but, on June 30, following a decision by Liverpool City Council to end decades of financial support, the venue's permanent closure was announced putting the Forrester play in serious jeopardy.

A rescheduled tour began with preview performances at the M&S Bank Arena Auditorium in Liverpool last week and the production begins a three-date run at the Gladstone Theatre in Port Sunlight from tomorrow (Tuesday) until Thursday (September 14).

Wirral Globe: The cast of 'By The Waters of Liverpool'The cast of 'By The Waters of Liverpool' (Image: Dave Jones)

The production will then visit venues in Crewe, Coventry, Sale, Rhyl, Darlington, Lichfield, St Helens, Southport, Halifax, and Lytham.

The tour concludes with six days at the Floral Pavilion in New Brighton from October 24 to 29 – just a few miles from where Helen Forrester was born in Hoylake.

The show's New Brighton-based producer Rob Fennah told the Globe recently: "The closure of the Epstein came as a huge shock, not just to all involved with our show, but to theatregoers all over Merseyside.

"And losing so many performances right at the start of the tour, with very little time to find an alternative venue, left us with a massive hole to fill.

"Thankfully, the Auditorium in the M&S Bank Arena were able to provide us with some dates, but not enough to fill the gap. Then our good friends at Wirral’s Gladstone Theatre stepped in to save the day."

Events and marketing manager of the Gladstone, Georgia Dillon, said: "We are so pleased to welcome the incredible By The Waters of Liverpool to our theatre.

"Following the heartbreaking news of the closure of the Epstein, we were so grateful to be able to offer our help and welcome Helen Forrester’s stunning period drama at our beautiful theatre.

"With a fabulous cast and first-class reviews, this is going to be a must-see show for everyone.”

Rob Fennah told the Globe: "By The Waters Of Liverpool also features sizeable chunks from Helen's earlier books Liverpool Miss, together with flashbacks to Twopence To Cross The Mersey.

"I've even threaded in a storyline from Lime Street At Two; that way those unfamiliar with Helen’s work will get a complete a complete picture of her life. We have a wonderful cast of nine playing over fifty characters, all of whom will be familiar to Helen Forrester's vast army of readers”.

The cast includes Coronation Street’s Tom Roberts and Emmerdale’s Joe Gill together with Lynn Francis, Daniel Taylor, Lynne Fitzgerald, Joe Owens, Samantha Alton, Roy Carruthers. The show stars Emma Mulligan in the role of Helen Forrester.

Joe Owens, a former student of St John Plessington Catholic College in Bebington, plays Helen's brother Alan.

Read more: The Wirral actor in national touring production of Helen Forrester tale The show is produced by Rob Fennah and Lynn McDermott for Pulse Records Limited and Bill Elms.

Wirral Globe: Rob Fennah and co-producer Lynn McDermott together with co-producer, Bill Elms Rob Fennah and co-producer Lynn McDermott together with co-producer, Bill Elms (Image: Rob Fennah / Pulse Records Limited)

The show is directed by Gareth Tudor Price.

By The Waters Of Liverpool is set in the 1930s after Helen’s father went bankrupt during the Depression.

Her family was forced to leave behind the nannies, servants and comfortable middle-class life in the South West of England. The Forresters chose Liverpool to rebuild their shattered lives. They were in for a terrible shock.

Taken out of school to look after her young siblings, Helen is sick of being treated as an unpaid slave and begins a bitter fight with her parents for the right to go out to work and make her own way in life.

Read more: 'The show goes on' for Wirral theatre producers after kidney donation 

Millions of people worldwide are familiar with Helen Forrester’s life story which is told through her best-selling volumes of autobiography Twopence To Cross The Mersey, Liverpool Miss, By The Waters Of Liverpool and Lime Street At Two.

Helen's literary achievements were further celebrated in 2020 to mark her 100th Birthday when an iconic Blue Plaque was unveiled at the late author's family home in Hoylake, a place that featured heavily in her work.

The show's co-producer Rob Fennah enjoyed a long friendship with Helen Forrester since adapting her first book Twopence To Cross The Mersey into a successful stage musical in 1994.

Wirral Globe: Playwright Rob Fennah and author Helen Forrester in 1992 Playwright Rob Fennah and author Helen Forrester in 1992 (Image: Rob Fennah)

Rob said: "When By The Waters Of Liverpool was forced to close back in March 2020, we all thought it was a setback and we'd be back on the road within a few months.

"It never occurred to us that it would be over three years before the show would hit the stage again.

"As with everyone working in the arts at that time, it proved to be a very difficult period forcing many talented people to leave the industry for good.

Wirral Globe: Helen Forrester pictured in 1995Helen Forrester pictured in 1995 (Image: Rob Fennah)

"But in true Helen Forrester style, we managed to survive and now want audiences to know that By The Waters Of Liverpool is coming back, bigger and better than ever."

Helen's son, Robert Bhatia, said: “The partnership between playwright Rob Fennah and my mother Helen, and her legacy, has been outstanding."

Tickets for the show's run at the Gladstone Theatre in Port Sunlight this week are from here

Tickets for the show's run at the Floral Pavilion in New Brighton from Tuesday, October 24 to Sunday, October 29 are from here

A special limited offer for By The Waters Of Liverpool at The Gladstone Theatre on Wednesday  and Thursday at 7.30pm.

Use the Promo Code BTWOL50 at checkout to receive discount.

Book – www.gladstonetheatre.org.uk