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Backstage Mural by One Red Shoe

Completed in 2023, funded with part of the Liverpool Empire's Culture Recovery Fund.

A celebration of the theatre's past and present performances.

273 sq metres, from a depth of 7 metres underground - to a total height of 18 metres!

The total surface area of this mural is *more* than three, full-sized badminton courts.

'From the top!' - Descriptions of each element, click images to expand.

Romeo and Juliet

The mural begins at night. One of the many Shakespeare plays performed at the theatre: Romeo and Juliet. We took advantage of the overhanging wall to create a balcony for Juliet. Roses are introduced here and on the side of the 'balcony' and the star motif appears- used throughout the mural.

Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare mural by One Red Shoe in The Liverpool Empire

Blood Brothers

Very popular show by Willy Russell, set in 1960's Liverpool, a regular at The Empire. We added the Liverpool skyline.

blood brothers mural, Liverpool Empire

Ivor Novello

He appeared on stage here for a 'successful week' in 1932 in 'I Lived With You'- his play, made into a film the next year. Many of his plays were performed at the theatre. He also represents the songwriting and composing awards in his name.

Ivor Novello

Theatre Lighting

The spotlights are a theme throughout the mural. The combinations of Red, Green and Blue allow the creation of Magenta, Cyan, Yellow and White on stage.

theatre-spotlights.jpg

The Lion King

Based on the Disney film, this musical is a popular show at The Empire. We took the poster image and replaced the rock with the composer, Elton John's Piano.

the-lion-king.jpg

David Bowie

This image is inspired by Bowie's 1973 advertising poster for the Empire show. 5000 fans saw him here over two nights.

david-bowie.jpg

Wicked Quote

This is the Fly Floor!

Some say 'the chance to fly', some say 'a chance to fly'- we went with the official lyrics ;)

quote-mural.jpg

Beauty and The Beast

Inspired by the official poster of the musical, the rose theme continues...

beauty-and-the-beast.jpg

Swan Lake

One of the many ballets performed here, Tchaikovsky’s first ballet composition. A nod to stage sets with the famous scenery.

swan lake mural

Laurel and Hardy

The famous comedy duo had sell out shows here in 1947- hundreds of fans had to be turned away. We adapted the Empire's original poster.

laurel-and-hardy.jpg

Frank Sinatra

'Ol' blue eyes' performed here in July 1953, two shows a night for one week. He reportedly took the shows quite casually, having long conversations with the band leader and breaks for a cup of tea, he even did impersonations of the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill.

frank sinatra

Sarah Bernhardt

French actress, Sarah Bernhardt, one of the biggest international stars of the time made quite an entrance in 1881, when The Liverpool Empire was still The Royal Alexandra Theatre and Opera House. We found a detailed account in the National Newspaper Archives: The Era, July 1881 reported on 'the charmingly decorated' foyer with 'a plentiful distribution of plants'. We added the palms to mark this. She performed  La Dame Aux Camelias, so the image is inspired by the famous poster of Bernhardt by Alponse Mucha. Elements of the poster also appear on the Chaplin wall.

sarah-bernhard.jpg

The Beatles

They played at the Empire 6 times in total, including the special concert for The BBC that was recorded at the theatre in front of 2,500 members of The Beatles' Northern Area Fan Club, then broadcast 3 and a half hours later during a special programme titled, 'It's The Beatles'.

the-beatles.jpg

The Liverpool Empire Ship

As a bookend to the image at the top of the staircase, The ship from above the stage makes another appearance. The original was made by Edward O. Griffith. We have similar Tempest scenery with a daytime theme in contrast to the night at the top: matinee and evening.

liverpool-empire-ship.jpg

Encore!

The final roses of the mural, thrown with a cry of encore, French for ‘again'- the traditional call of an excited audience.

encore.jpg

The Liverpool Empire Ship

A copy of the Marquetry ship that sails above the stage- made by Edward O. Griffith. We set it on a Tempest scene with an Oscar Wilde quote linking the mural painting to the theatre: 'The stage is not merely the meeting place of all the arts, but is also the return of art to life.' Several of Wilde's plays have been performed at the theatre.

liverpool empire backstage ship mural

The Phantom of the Opera

Based on the 1910 novel by Gaston Leroux, The musical is a popular classic at the theatre. Representing backstage, theatre craft and a nod to some of the theatre's 'ghost stories'. We've included the famous chandelier to represent props along with the fly ropes and red stage curtain.

The Phantom of The Opera

Nat King Cole

American Jazz pianist and vocalist Nat King Cole performed here in with his Trio in 1950 and 1954. 

Nat King Cole

Queen, Freddie Mercury

Queen performed at The Empire in 1974, their first headline tour. They used AC 30 watt amplifiers just like The Beatles and the audience stood on their seats and gave a 'riotous reception'.

Freddie Mercury, Queen

Elton John

He performed here in 1973. His music is also played with The Lion King musical. He links to Wicked and Judy Garland further down with his album 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road'.

elton-john.jpg

Judy Garland

She sang onstage for five nights in June 1951. She appears as part of our tribute to The Wizard of Oz. We had to show, one red shoe ;)

judy garland, somewhere over the rainbow

Wicked

Who doesn't want to see a giant witch on the stairs? Inspired by the Wicked musical poster, part of the Wizard of Oz theme.

wicked mural

The Supremes

The original 'Dream Girls': The Supremes performed here in 1965 We included some of the graphics from the advertising poster.

the supremes, Diana Ross

Ballet Shoes

A background of sketched ballet movement notations. Ballerinas can use up to three pairs of pointe shoes during one performance of Swan Lake so here's 3 pairs of over-scale shoes.

ballet-shoes.jpg

The Microphones

From left to right, stage microphones from 1930's, 40's and 50's.

microphones.jpg

Charlie Chaplin

We found a tiny article in the British Newspaper archives: in the Music Hall and Theatre Review from 1900, when Chaplin was 11 years old he performed on stage here in the clog dancing troop, The Eight Lancashire Lads! We confirmed that he was part of the troop at that time.
Next to him is the exact type of clog they wore with quote and date of the review.

charlie chaplin liverpool

The Beatles Tickets

From a photograph of actual concert tickets. The Beatles played their last Liverpool concert on 5th December 1965 and had more than 40,000 applications for tickets. During the second show Paul McCartney joined The Koobas, one of the support acts, onstage to play drums during their version of ‘Dizzy Miss Lizzy’.

beatles-tickets.jpg

Ariel, The Tempest

Returning to the Tempest theme, the Ariel design represents costume, aerial work and script.

ariel the tempest

Seagulls

As anyone who has visited the theatre knows, it is quite the beacon for gulls, we had to paint a tribute to them and their constant background calls. They are also depicted in the theatre's ship image above the stage.

seagull.jpg
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