Disney's The Lion King becomes fastest-selling show ever in Sunderland Empire's 115 year history

Disney’s The Lion King has proved a roaring success in Sunderland – before it’s even started.

The blockbuster musical has become the fastest-selling show ever at Sunderland Empire.

At the end of September, we revealed how the show would be returning to the venue for a huge seven-week run in spring 2023.

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As the only North East date on the tour, it’s a major coup for the theatre as it bounces back from the pandemic and is set to be a major boost for the local economy, attracting people from across the region.

Disney's The Lion King is the fastest-selling show ever at the Empire

Such is the size and spectacle of the hit production, only a handful of regional theatres are chosen for tour dates and Sunderland Empire is one of the few capable of accommodating its huge sets which transport audiences to the Pride Lands.

Although exact sales figures aren’t released for commercial reasons, it’s been conformed that first week ticket sales are the fastest-selling ever at the venue, beating the previous one day sales record, which was also set by The Lion King when it made its regional debut at Sunderland Empire in 2014.

Marie Nixon, theatre director at the Empire, said: “We are delighted by the North East’s desire to see the return of Disney’s The Lion King next year.

"To have a landmark number of people book for the show, particularly after the last two years, is wonderful for the theatre and local economy. It is a privilege to be hosting this massive, world-leading production once again after a sell-out run eight years ago.

Disney's The Lion King. Photo by Deen van Meer

"We are also incredibly pleased that Les Misérables, opening with us next week, is attracting so many people from across the North East. The support for these huge West End productions truly illustrates that the appetite for musical theatre in our region is stronger than ever.”

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Eight years after its hugely-successful Empire run in 2014, the internationally-acclaimed production will come to Sunderland for seven weeks from Thursday,

March 16 to Saturday, May 6, 2023.

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What to expect from The Lion King as it prepares to roar back to Sunderland Empi...

Anthony Lyn, associate director for the global productions of The Lion King, said Wearside can look forward to the full West End experience.

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"It’s a massive show to run, so it’s amazing that people have the chance to see it,” he said about the tour. “It’s a very expensive show to mount, keep running and move. But everywhere it goes it doesn’t just boost the theatre, but all the businesses around it, the pubs, the restaurants, the shops, so it’s a win win for everyone."

"We can only move it to certain theatres and there’s only a few big enough to host it. We want the maximum amount of people to be able to see it, but we need to keep the scale of the show, its grandeur and how impressive it is.”

Based on the hit Disney film, The Lion King musical features the Oscar-winning Can You Feel The Love Tonight and the anthemic Hakuna Matata, as well as tracks written specifically for the musical, which fuses Western popular music with the distinctive sounds and rhythms of Africa.

:: Tickets are still available for Empire dates from www.thelionking.co.uk/tour