You can’t talk about Liverpool theatre without focusing your attention on the Empire. This 2,000-plus seat venue is a fully restored historical relic that hosts some of the best shows the city sees. The Empire Theatre was built in 1925 and the city took it over in 1979. It’s England’s largest two-tiered theatre.
Today, the theatre is managed by the Clear Channel Entertainment conglomerate. That provides the people of Liverpool with a packed schedule of major events every year. The Empire isn’t just a historical landmark; it’s still an extremely popular place to take in a show.
If you wrote a list of all the great performers who’ve come and gone through the doors of the Empire over the last eighty years, you’d include some memorable names. None of those actors, conductors, musicians, dancers or singers would be as memorable as a few “very special” guests of this Liverpool theatre.
You see, in addition to being a historical landmark and an active part of a vibrant city, the Empire has a reputation. People say it’s haunted. In fact, it’s considered one of the most haunted theatres around. While most folks dismiss the tales of haunting as nothing more than eccentric local legend, others take the matter seriously. The Empire is frequently visited by haunting “experts” and self-proclaimed ghost hunters.
Prior to the renovations of the 1970s and 1980s, a specter known as the “Black Shadow” received a great deal of attention. It was known to sneak up behind those using a particular dressing room. They’d see the shadow behind them in their mirror after the telltale chill of a haunting would make them shiver.
That shadowy ghost isn’t seen that often these days. A ten year-old girl wearing Victorian era clothing, on the other hand, still allegedly makes regular appearances at the Liverpool theatre. The Empire was built on the same grounds as an earlier theatre and opera house. Many think this little ghoul may have met her end there. There’s a famous photo of her ghastly form on the stairs of the Empire.
In addition to the shadow and the girl, people occasionally see a mysterious figure dragging the girl away. Oh, and then there’s Les. He’s the ghost of a painter. Who knows how many spirits may occupy the venerable performance hall?
The Empire Theatre would be a fascinating place even without the wild stories of haunting and ghosts. The building is gorgeous and continues to attract some of the best shows in England. The fact that so many people believe it’s home to three or four mysterious apparitions from beyond just adds to its mystique and appeal. Whether you’re looking for great entertainment or an opportunity to make contact with “the other side,” you may enjoy a trip to this famed Liverpool theatre.