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Review: Books, Theatre, Albums, Movies and Gigs

Twopence To Cross The Mersey

Empire Theatre, Liverpool
October 6 – October 17 2009

Author: Rob Fennah from Helen Forrester’s novel
Director: Ian Kelgren
Producer: Pulse
Cast Includes: Mark Moraghan, Pauline Daniels, Emma Grace Arrends, Ciaran Kelgren, Emma Vaudrey, Anthony Watson.

Running Time: 2hrs 30 mins


Twopence To Cross The Mersey promotional poster


It’s nothing short of incredible that a musical that has grossed in excess of £2 million in box office sales has not yet extended past its original staging theatre. What’s more incredible is the fact that Twopence to Cross the Mersey is a globally bestselling book and gave its author, Helen Forrester – on whose life of rags to relative riches the story is based – world renown and has attracted the very best of acting talent to play various parts.

Hopefully, with this fifth production, those facts might change as in similar style to its pervious incantations, this is a very slick show in just about every way.


The cast may have changed, but the songs as they say remain the same; deeply evocative, intensely poignant at times and beautifully and powerfully delivered. Emma Grace Arrends makes her professional debut as Young Helen and, like those who have gone before her in the role, is immaculate in portraying the young girl’s need for escape from the drudgery of Depression hit Liverpool. Ably backed by the consummately versatile Pauline Daniels as Older Helen, the narrator, the two combine to sprinkle magic dust onto every aspect of their story.

Mark Moraghan and Emma Vaudrey return as Helen’s parents, and are nasty in such an unassuming, tight-knit way that it is easy to believe that, yes, writer Rob Fennah has drawn them accurately and with great panache in making them so distasteful.

Ciaran Kellgren, fresh from his triumphant run as Peter Pan in Kensington, delivers a much smaller role as the unemployed dock worker Frank that is nonetheless key to the action alongside Anthony Watson, his equally as street-wise mate, Mick, who gets all the best lines and uses them superbly.

The set is imaginative and the direction of Ian Kellgren keeps things moving along nicely and so makes Twopence to Cross the Mersey a highly entertaining and thought provoking musical that more than deserves to be seen by more than just the faithful in its home city.

Chris High

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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
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