Helen Forrester’s stunning period drama Twopence to Cross the Mersey has set sail on its first major UK tour and will make an unforgettable stop at Blackpool Grand Theatre from Tuesday 4 to Thursday 6 October. Don’t miss the boat!

Twopence to Cross the Mersey is set in the early 1930s in the midst of the Great Depression and tells the captivating biographical story of Helen’s difficult early years and was published in 1974 to critical acclaim, later becoming a bestseller and establishing her as a major writer.

This fully revamped stage production of Forrester’s most famous work will feature TV favourites Mark Moraghan (Brookside, Coronation St) and Parry Glasspool (Hollyoaks)alongside talented theatre stars Lynn Francis (Two, Desperate Scousewives), Jenny Murphy (Oliver Twist, Pride & Prejudice) and Daniel Taylor (Blood Brothers) in the gifted nine-strong cast who will play over 40 unforgettable characters each night!

In 1931 Helen’s spendthrift father was declared bankrupt, forcing the family to leave behind the nannies, servants, and beautiful middle-class home in the gentler Southwest of England.

With nothing more than the clothes they stood up in, the family of nine took the train to Liverpool where they hoped to rebuild their shattered lives. While 12-year-old Helen’s inept parents searched unsuccessfully to find work, she was taken out of school to look after her six younger siblings and the full burden of keeping house fell on Helen’s young shoulders. Having never had to manage a family budget in their previous life, the Forrester’s found themselves relying on meagre handouts from the local parish, charity organisations and the kindness of strangers.

By the age of 14, Helen had finally had enough of her miserable existence, and began a bitter fight with her mother and father to attend evening school in an effort to educate herself and make her own way in the world. But Helen’s parents had no intention of releasing their unpaid slave. They had other plans for their selfish daughter…

Show producer and playwright Rob Fennah enjoyed a long friendship with author Helen Forrester, which developed into a vibrant creative partnership, and his enthralling new stage adaptation of Twopence to Cross the Mersey is fully endorsed by the Helen Forrester Estate.

Rob said of their memorable first meeting: My background is in pop music and during the late 1980s I was given a book called Twopence to Cross the Mersey to read while I was waiting to go into a radio interview. In the book Helen referred to her father, a man who had lost his fortune during the Great Depression, as a “butterfly in the rain”, a beautiful image that inspired me to write a song of the same title for an album I was working on. Helen got to hear the track, really liked it, and asked if she could use it when promoting her books around the world.

But how did they collaborate artistically?

First and foremost, we got on. There was a picture taken on the day we met – it’s a lovely photograph and says everything about the friendship that was to follow. We referred to it as “when leather met tweed”. Once we’d got to know each other, I asked if I could adapt her book Twopence to Cross the Mersey into a stage play. She agreed, but on the strict understanding she had final approval. “After all Rob”, she reminded me, “This is my life!” During the writing process she would tell me a lot more about the characters in her books and this really helped me bring them to life on stage. I still have a pile of faxes and letters from her describing these people in great detail, and some drawings too. We had a lot of fun doing it. Helen flew from her Canada home to attend the original premiere of Twopence at the Empire Theatre in Liverpool. She loved it. Although Helen is no longer with us, she is always in my thoughts. While I am writing, I always imagine her peering over my shoulder to check all the little details are correct and in order. It’s a real privilege to be entrusted with her most famous works, but also a huge responsibility.

Twopence to Cross the Mersey is such a poignant true story and, although based in the 1930s, it tackles many scenarios people can still relate to today.” says Rob. “It’s the main reason why it has remained so popular across the UK and around the world. Helen has fans worldwide, and this way we can take Helen’s story a little closer to them. It’s going to be a very special experience for everyone involved – we’re all custodians of her incredibly honest writing that everyone can relate to, especially given today’s difficult economic climate.”

Don’t miss your chance to catch Helen Forrester’s Twopence to Cross the Mersey at Blackpool Grand Theatre from Tuesday 4 to Thursday 6 October starring Mark Moraghan (Brookside, Coronation St, Parry Glasspool (Hollyoaks, Lynn Francis (Two, Desperate Scousewives), Jenny Murphy (Oliver Twist, Pride & Prejudice) and Daniel Taylor (Blood Brothers). Matinee and evening performances.

Visit blackpoolgrand.co.uk or call the box office on 01253 290 190 for bookings and further information.


Helen Forrester’s Twopence to Cross the Mersey – Tue 4 to Thu 6 Oct 22 at 2.30pm & 7.30pm

Grand Theatre, 33 Church Street, Blackpool FY1 1HT

Box Office 01253 290 190


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