Amazing video celebrates Sunderland's iconic Empire Theatre

As anticipation builds for the reopening of Sunderland Empire, a video has been released celebrating the city icon.

Friday, 30th July 2021, 4:57 pm

Earlier this month, the Echo revealed how the theatre will stage its first show in 18 months on September 2 after being closed since March 2020 due to the pandemic.

Now, as part of its Your Theatre Your Story campaign, the venue, who recently celebrated its 114th Birthday, has worked with advocates to produce a touching video to highlight and celebrate the importance of theatre and how the historical landmark has played a role in so many people’s lives.

Advocates from across the region’s media landscape including Steve Colman, Gilly Hope, Graeme Anderson and Michael Grahamslaw, alongside Julie Elliot, MP for Sunderland Central, Sharon Appleby, Chief Executive at Sunderland BID, Rebecca Ball, Chief Executive, Sunderland Culture, Kam Chera from Creative Inclusive Arts and influencers Laura Ferry and Gemma Jamison plus Kirsty Bond from Sunderland University’s Students’ Union have all shown their support and input into the emotive campaign.

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People share their thoughts on the Empire

Pantomime favourites Dan Cunningham and Tom Whalley who’ll be returning in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in December 2021 also took centre stage once more alongside Sunderland born author and professional actor, Terry Deary to share their stage side memories.

Marie Nixon, Theatre Director, Sunderland Empire said: “As we prepare to reopen our doors once more, the Your Theatre Your Story campaign, helps us mark a remarkable time in our history as well as reflect on the amazing memories that theatre and the Sunderland Empire holds for people across the region.

"We’re also keen to celebrate and rejoice in the new memories that will be created once the spectacular shows hit our stage once more in the coming weeks. We’re delighted that support from the Culture Recovery Fund has enabled us to pull of these magical memories together.”

Through the video, which was produced by Mark Bell and the team at Second Draft, advocates were quick to highlight how much the Grade II-llisted theatre, which has been a centre piece of Sunderland for so long had been missed when the Ghost Light was switched on over 14 months ago.

Theatre Director Marie Nixon from the Empire Theatre in Sunderland Picture: DAVID WOOD

Sharon Appleby, Chief Executive at Sunderland BID said:“Sunderland Empire is such an iconic place and it’s been in the culture of the city for such a long time that everybody misses it.”

Julie Elliot, MP for Sunderland Central commented: “It does play a role in everyone’s lives in this area.” Broadcaster, Gilly Hope added: “When you come into a theatre it’s about that collective experience,” and added “I don’t think you’ve realised the importance of it until it’s not been there.”

During the filming, Sunderland-born author and professional actor Terry Deary, best known as the Horrible Histories Creator said: “Sunderland Empire is important to me as it’s defined my life.”

Terry reminisced about the first time he stepped on to the Sunderland Empire stage at just five years old, when his Dad brought him to watch a Christmas Variety Show and was asked up on stage to sing.

The Empire has stood tall in the city since 1907

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