First wave of cast members announced for Helen Forrester play ‘By The Waters of Liverpool’

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First wave of cast members announced for Helen Forrester play ‘By The Waters of Liverpool’ Image credit Anthony Robling

Autumn 2023 UK Tour will visit 12 venues opening in September after the original dates in 2020 were brought to a pandemic standstill. Venues include Liverpool, Crewe, Coventry, Sale, Rhyl, Darlington, Lichfield, St Helens, Southport, Halifax, Lytham, and New Brighton.

The first wave of cast members has been announced for the much anticipated The Waters Of Liverpool Autumn 2023 UK Tour after the inaugural tour closed just two weeks into a three-month nationwide tour due to the Covid pandemic. The new stage production is based on the book of the same name by the acclaimed author Helen Forrester. Her enigmatic and touching portrayal of her life story continues to win her fans worldwide through four best-selling volumes of autobiography Twopence To Cross The Mersey, Liverpool Miss, By The Waters of Liverpool, and Lime Street At Two. 

Image credit Anthony Robling

Image credit Anthony Robling

In just five months, By The Waters Of Liverpool Autumn 2023 UK Tour finally ventures out across the UK after its premiere run was cut short in March 2020. After a number of years in the planning, the production was just two weeks into a 17-venue tour spanning three months when the country went into a national lockdown. Now the production team and cast are crossing off the weeks until the tour opens with a 10-date run at Liverpool’s Epstein Theatre from 6 September 2023. The eight-week tour will visit 12 venues across the country. 

The creative team have this week announced the first wave of cast members, which includes familiar faces who have told Helen’s story through the plays in recent years. 

Helen’s Mother will be played by Lynn Francis, she will be joined by Daniel Taylor, Lynne Fitzgerald, Roy Carruthers, Samantha Alton, and Joe Owens. The lead roles of Helen Forrester, John Forrester (Helen’s Father), and Harry O’Dwyer (Helen’s love interest) will be announced soon. 

By The Waters Of Liverpool is a stunning period drama produced by the team who brought the smash-hit Twopence To Cross The Mersey to the stage to race reviews for a UK tour in Autumn 2022. 

The creative team are producers Rob Fennah and Lynn McDermott for Pulse Records Limited and Bill Elms. The show is directed by Gareth Tudor Price. Co-producer Bill Elms commented: “The production and tour of By The Waters Of Liverpool has been many years in the planning – and now we’re just five months away until we can continue to tell Helen’s life story on stage. Announcing the first cast members is a significant point in our countdown to opening. 

“As custodians of Helen’s work, we feel honoured to be able to bring her words to life on stage. Our excellent cast – Lynn Francis, Daniel Taylor, Lynne Fitzgerald, Roy Carruthers, Samantha Alton, and Joe Owens – are hugely talented and will tell Helen’s story with heart, depth, and real emotion. We will be announcing our three lead cast members in the coming weeks.” 

Writer and producer Rob Fennah added: “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. 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.” 

By The Waters Of Liverpool Autumn 2023 UK Tour starts in Liverpool and finishes in New Brighton – both locations hugely important in Helen’s life story. 

After opening in at the Epstein Theatre, it will later conclude with six days at the Floral Pavilion in New Brighton in late October – just a few miles from where Helen Forrester was born in Wirral. Between Liverpool and New Brighton, the production will also visit venues in Crewe, Coventry, Sale, Rhyl, Darlington, Lichfield, St Helens, Southport, Halifax, and Lytham. 

The play also features sizeable chunks from Helen’s earlier book Liverpool Miss, together with flashbacks to Twopence To Cross The Mersey and elementsof Lime Street At Two to give audiences a complete picture of her life.  

Four of the cast members – Lynn Francis, Daniel Taylor, Lynne Fitzgerald, and Roy Carruthers – are all returning after appearing in the Twopence To Cross The Mersey tour last year. 

Lynn Francis is well-known on the Liverpool theatre scene. Her theatre credits include The Royal, Ladies Day, A Nightmare On Lime Street, and The Salon. Screen roles include Reds & Blues, The Ballad Of Dixie & Kenny, and Charlie Noades RIP. She also worked alongside Ian Hart and Dougray Scott in film The Lie Is Dead. 

Daniel Taylor is an award-winning actor, producer, and theatre director. He has recently toured the UK in the lead role of Something About George – The George Harrison Story. Theatre credits also include Blood Brothers, The Very Best Of Tommy Cooper, Lennon: Through A Glass Onion, Down The Dock Road, and A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream. Television credits include Loose Women, The Bill, and Miranda’s Games With Showbiz Names. 

Lynne Fitzgerald is best known for her comedy acting role. She is also an acclaimed writer and director. Theatre credits include Desperate Scousewives, 2Georgeous4U, Two, The Importance Of Being Earnest, Catfish Therapy, The Salon, Night Collar, and Last Train To Auschwitz. 

Roy Carruthers is a familiar face on stages in Liverpool. Theatre credits include Ladies Night, Funny Money, Night Collar, The Price, and Lennon’s Banjo. Television credits include Good Cop, and Longford. Film credits Sparkle. Roy has also appeared on Radio 4’s Pick Of The Week programme. 

Samantha Alton is best known for her one-woman performance as Kitty in Kitty, Queen of The Washhouse, at Shakespeare North Playhouse. She has been performing professional for almost a decade now after graduating with first class honours in 2013. 

Joe Owens has most recently been seen in the new and reimagined production of Masquerade at Liverpool’s Epstein Theatre. His training includes the BA Acting course and Foundation Certificate at LIPA, as well numerous years spent with the Young Everyman and Playhouse (YEP) company. Credits include Dogs directed by Nathan Powell; Love’s Labour’s Lost directed by Conor Wray; and Posh directed by Francesca Goodridge. 

Writer and producer Rob Fennah enjoyed a long friendship with Helen Forrester since adapting her first book Twopence To Cross The Mersey into a stage musical in 1994. It premiered at the Liverpool Empire Theatre and Helen travelled from her home in Edmonton, Canada, to see first-hand her story brought to life on stage. Rob later went on to develop Twopence into a straight play which has toured successfully since its first outing in 2015.  

Since the author’s death in 2011, Rob has remained friends with Helen’s son Robert Bhatia. The productions are fully endorsed by the Helen Forrester Estate. 

By The Waters Of Liverpool has sold more than a million books. It is set in the 1930s after Helen’s father went bankrupt during the Depression. Her family were forced to leave behind the nannies, servants and comfortable middle-class life in the South West of England. The Forrester’s 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. But by 1939 and with Britain on the verge of war Helen, now aged 20, has still never been kissed by a man. But things start looking up for her when she meets a tall strong seaman and falls in love. 

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 on the Wirral, a place which featured heavily in her work.

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

Helen Forrester’s best-selling volumes of autobiography include Twopence To Cross The Mersey, Liverpool Miss, By The Waters Of Liverpool, and Lime Street At Two.  

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