A Moulin Rouge-style cabaret venue is set to bring some showgirl glamour to Sunderland.
Be Our Guest will open in Vine Place at the end of August after a £20,000 renovation to transform it into a cabaret-style club, complete with fancy furnishings and chandeliers.
The drag shows will be put together by David Dale, aka Doctor Drag, who has worked at venues across Europe including Manchester’s famous The Birdcage, as well as being Lily Savage’s former drag partner.
Be Our Guest is opening in the former Pulse nightspot which was taken over as The Loft by owner Paul Rowe.
Paul, who also owns the nearby Eazy Street bar, said: “We tried to run it as an extension to Eazy Street with The Loft, but it didn’t work and it’s been standing empty for about 12 months now. We decided to do something completely different with it and bring something new to Sunderland. There isn’t anything else like Be Our Guest in the city.”
As well as drag shows, guests can look forward to a three-course meal which will be served as part of the weekly Friday and Saturday night shows with routines changing every two months.
Paul says he believes the venue has great potential.
The businessman said: “We opened Eazy Street in September 2014 and people said it wouldn’t work, but it’s really popular and attracts a diverse range of people.
“Vine Place has a great variety for people, there’s the new German bar Bavaria, sport at Ttonic, dance music at Lola’s, your more traditional pub with Wetherspoon’s and us.”
Paul says people should come along to the new venue with an open mind.
“For a lot of people, drag conjures up images of smuttiness,” he said. “Throughout my years being involved in drag and through experience of clubs all over the world, I’ve learned that the best way to go about it is to make it much more of a show and a spectacle. We want Be Our Guest to really distance itself from some of the negatives and get drag out of the gutter that some people wrongly assume it to be in.”
Performer Dale said: “When I got asked by Paul to work with him, my first thought was why Sunderland? But after looking into it, it made a lot of sense and it’s something to really get excited about.
“The routines for the show part of the restaurant will change every two months. Hopefully people come along, enjoy their night and come back for the next show.”
Auditions are currently being held for entertainers, with kitchen and bar staff also being interviewed ahead of the opening date.