Katie Bulmer-Cooke: Why the Sunderland Empire is such a great attraction

Shrek The Musical Fairytale characters take residence at Sunderland Empire
Shrek The Musical Fairytale characters take residence at Sunderland Empire
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Last Wednesday I swapped my gym gear and trainers for some ‘normal’ clothes and along with my Dad and my little girl, headed to the Empire Theatre for the opening night of Shrek.

I absolutely adore the film series and they are amongst our family’s favourite films, and I have to be honest and say that I wasn’t sure how the stage show would stack up against them, but I thought it was amazing.

It was great to see the Empire drawing the crowds in for the opening night, and I felt there was a real buzz of excitement as everyone waited for the show to start. The talent in the show was incredible, from the singing and acting to the effects and costumes.

Not only that, it was hilarious and I laughed all the way through, mainly at the actors who played the characters of Donkey and Lord Farquaad.

Those guys deserve an award!

If you haven’t already seen the show, and if tickets are still available, I strongly urge you to go, not only because the staging is amazing and the way they bring the story to life is simply brilliant, but because we are so lucky to have shows like this right here on our doorstep.

There was a time when we had to go to Newcastle or other major cities, even London, to see the big shows, but now we have them right here in our own city and they are fabulous, so a huge high five goes out to the Empire for making it happen.

I’m often guilty of walking around with my blinkers on and not noticing things that are right in front of me, and somehow I’ve totally missed the fact that Wicked is coming back to the Empire in September, as I spotted all of the posters while I was there last week.

The last time Wicked came to Sunderland I fell in love with the story and the soundtrack, I might have even shed the odd tear during the performance ... don’t judge me!

It is an amazing show that drew massive crowds last time and was extremely popular, so it’s definitely one not to be missed.

As I walked to the Empire via Keel Square last week, I went past The Peacock and The Engine Room, both of which are fairly new additions to the city centre and appear to be great places to go to eat, drink and socialise.

The area around the Empire has improved an awful lot, and the result is a very cool looking place to head for a night out, which is certainly something that has been much needed, and I can’t wait to try them out.

While there are many who criticise the city centre and opt to head out to the likes of Newcastle and Durham for their meals out and evening entertainment, it is well worth taking a moment to re-think and try Sunderland first.