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An Interview with Eileen Mary Webster

We had the pleasure of welcoming a very special visitor back to our theatre to celebrate her 96th birthday! Eileen Mary Webster joined us for The Carpenters Story, accompanied by a VIP experience in our Ambassador Lounge. Eileen worked in the Empire Box Office at the start of World War II and told about what it was like in a theatre during this time. 

1.  Can you tell us when you worked for the Empire and what was your role?

I worked at the Empire for about 4 years in the Box office from around 1938 to 1942. As it was during the war, I left to sign up with the Wrens at the Liver Building. My mother, Louise also worked in the Empire for around 30 years running the Circle Bar.

2.  What was it like working in a large theatre in Liverpool during the war?

We often had to evacuate to the Stalls Bar in the basement when the air raid sirens went off although most of the time shows would continue. When we left the theatre we didn't know what we were coming out to and I was always walking home amongst rubble not knowing if my house would still be there.

We had a lot of variety shows at this time and the theatre was always very busy with big-name stars of the day like Laurel and Hardy and Vera Lynn.

3.  What was your favourite memory of working here?

We also had good fun, I was only 16 and we used to like playing tricks on the secretary and management by moving or hiding things in their desks. On Monday mornings I used to sneak into the auditorium to see stars rehearse or sometimes the crews would be messing about singing silly songs on stage.

4.  What has been your favourite production at the Empire?

A highlight for me was seeing Sammy Davis Jr in the 1950s and a few years ago we saw Singin in the Rain where we got splashed in the front stalls, which caught me by surprise!