Venue Spotlight: Sunderland Empire

This week, we find out more about Sunderland Empire.

We spoke to Marketing and Communications Manager, John Cliff, who fills us in on their upcoming productions, a well as the incredible work currently being conducted by their Creative Learning team.

See full listings for Sunderland Empire >>

Vital stats

  • Sunderland Empire, High Street West, Sunderland, SR1 3EX
  • Established: 1907
  • Capacity: 2,000

Has the venue gone through any major changes since it opened (location, renovation etc)?

Various renovations over its 100+ year history, most recently in 2004 when the Fly Tower and stage were extended to accommodate West End shows.

How many events do you host on an average week (including matinees and workshops)?

Seven to eight performances form a week-long show, plus five workshops from our Creative Learning team - two dance classes for senior citizens (Movers), a choir (Community Chorus), a relaxed youth theatre (Curious Connections), plus performance and skills for early teens (Fusion Project).

Has there been any recent standout shows that you can recommend people to keep an eye on?

Matilda - The Musical, Jersey Boys, Beautiful - The Carole King Musical, Shrek The Musical – all fantastic productions.

What's coming up next that is keeping you busy?

Wicked, Miss Saigon, and the pantomime Peter Pan (Christmas never ends in theatre!).

(Wicked starts Thursday 6th September - get your tickets here>>)

If you could change one thing about the live entertainment industry, what would it be?

To make theatre more popular than football, so more people see what incredible work is performed on stage, rather than seeing eleven blokes running round a field being paid a fortune to do so!

What's been your proudest moment working at the venue?

Being promoted to my current position and managing a great team.

Are there any interesting facts/stories about the venue that people might not know, but should?!

We have an award-winning Creative Learning team who specialise in autism, and every year the venue holds a relaxed performance of the pantomime, which benefits patrons with additional needs such as autism, ADHS, dementia, and is also great for young children attending the theatre for the very first time. The usual house rules are relaxed to make the performance more accessible and inclusive. This year it takes place on Thursday 27 December at 5pm – and it's Peter Pan!

Track Sunderland Empire here to keep up to date with all forthcoming events. You can also catch them on their official website, Facebook page, and Twitter, account.