Theatre announcement - first show back for Sunderland Empire after 18 months closed

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission on items purchased through this article, but that does not affect our editorial judgement.

Sunderland’s Empire Theatre will finally stage its first performance for a live audience after 18 months closed.

Although tickets have been available for many shows, the pandemic has led to a number of rescheduled performances, with no official opening date as yet.

Now, it’s been announced that the landmark building will welcome theatre-goers through its doors once more on Thursday, September 2, for What’s Love Got To Do With It? A tribute to Tina Turner.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It will be the first large-scale show at the theatre since Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Swan Lake on March 14, 2020.

Sunderland Empire is reopening its doorsSunderland Empire is reopening its doors
Sunderland Empire is reopening its doors

The tribute concert will be followed that week by comedian Paul Smith on Friday September 3, The Greatest Hits of Motown - How Sweet It Is on Saturday,

September 4 and Derren Brown: Showman on September 7-11.

Marie Nixon, theatre director at the Sunderland Empire, told the Echo: “We are delighted to announce our reopening date and we can’t wait to welcome our audiences back to enjoy the thrill of live theatre once more. Thanks to funding received from the Cultural Recovery Fund the team have been working hard behind the scenes to get our reopening campaign underway.

"The funding has supported the team to work on some exciting locally led projects including the virtual Big Sing and the virtual Ghostlight Sessions, and it has been so good to hear music ringing through the theatre again, but what has been missing is our amazing audiences.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
What’s Love Got To Do With It? A tribute to Tina Turner is the first show backWhat’s Love Got To Do With It? A tribute to Tina Turner is the first show back
What’s Love Got To Do With It? A tribute to Tina Turner is the first show back

The September performances mark the start of a packed season as the Empire comes back to life, with highlights including Dirty Dancing (14-18 September), The Rocky Horror Show (20-25 September), School of Rock (5-9 October), Waitress (25-30 October), Riverdance (4-6 November), 9 to 5 The Musical (9-13 November).

There’s also a host of one night shows to look forward to including Alan Carr (22-23 October), The ELO Experience (2 November), Jimmy Carr (1 November) and An Evening with the Sunderland Legends (7 November).

The season concludes with the magical classic The Lion,The Witch and The Wardrobe (30 November – 4 December) with the long-awaited return of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (10 December – 2 January) with local favourites Dan Cunningham aka Miss Rory and Tom Whalley.

Marie added: “Our What’s On Guide will be hitting later this month and as you can see we have a packed season in the pipeline with a mixture of comedy, spectacular musicals, a host of music tributes and family favourites, so there is definitely something for everyone to enjoy.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Theatre director Marie Nixon. Photo by David Wood.Theatre director Marie Nixon. Photo by David Wood.
Theatre director Marie Nixon. Photo by David Wood.

"We really can’t wait to have this programme of amazing shows back on our stage and to welcome audiences back, and as an accredited See It Safely venue please be assured we’ll be following all the latest government advice when you visit us. This really is a joyous and long-awaited moment for the whole team here.”

To book tickets for the new season call 0844 871 7615 (Applicable fees apply. Calls cost 7ppm plus your phone company’s standard network access charge) or visit

Read More
Historic Sunderland city centre building to become a nightclub once more after h...

Support your Echo and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news, the latest on SAFC and new puzzles every day. With a digital subscription, you can see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.

Related topics: