Sunderland Empire Joseph actor was architect who designed Vaux site buildings before Britain's Got Talent success

A man who helped shape Sunderland’s future is now donning his coat of many colours after a TV appearance proved the architect of his success.

Wednesday, 19th February 2020, 10:46 pm

Mark McMullan touched the hearts of Britain’s Got Talent viewers last year with his moving rendition of Les Misérables’ Bring Him Home, which was dedicated to his brother Declan who lives with the devastating effects of Locked-in Syndrome.

It’s led to an entire career change for the Northern Ireland-born architect who lives in Newcastle. His talent was also spotted by producers from hit musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, who asked him to wear the famous attire in the leading role.

The tour has brought him to Sunderland Empire this week in an area of the city which Mark knows better than most. In his previous role as an architect, Mark worked for FaulknerBrowns, the architecture firm behind the £42million City Hall scheme, one of the key elements of the Vaux site masterplan.

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Mark McMullan during sound check for Joseph at Sunderland Empire with youngsters from Northern Star Theatre Arts

Mark only left his architecture role three months ago and until that point was working on the new City Hall for Sunderland City Council, as well as the buildings around it, a mixture of housing, leisure and business premises.

Speaking backstage at the Empire, he says it’s great to be performing in a building neighbouring ongoing work on the project he envisaged in his previous career.

Mark, who’s gone from drawing up building plans to singing in 10 shows a week, said: “I know Sunderland from a whole different perspective as I modelled the city’s streets in 3D for client presentations.

“I’m working in a theatre now opposite to where they’re laying foundations for designs I worked on as an architect.”

Mark McMullen on stage in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

He added: “I was scouted to do this role, but FaulknerBrowns have been brilliant. They told me to go and pursue it.”

Mark appears on stage alongside youngsters from Northern Star Theatre Arts in the Bill Kenwright production, performing well-known tracks such as Go, Go, Go Joseph, Any Dream Will Do, Close Every Door To Me and more.

“This is my first big role and I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, but I absolutely love it,” said Mark.

“It’s the kind of role I never thought I’d get the chance to do. It’s completely different from my old job and has been a new challenge, but I’m loving every minute of it especially in a role like Joseph. I think every actor who’s played this role has a special connection to it, it stays part of your life.”

Mark McMullan is donning the famous Joseph coat

He added: “I still live in Newcastle and consider the North East my home now and, as we’re not going to Northern Ireland, this is like the homecoming date for me. All my family are coming to see me on the Empire dates.

“The Empire has to be the most beautiful theatre on the tour. Often older theatres are in a state of disrepair, but this one is in amazing condition.”

:: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is at Sunderland Empire until February 22. Tickets here. Review here.

What the front of the new City Hall will look like when it's built on the former Vaux site. Mark McMullan worked on the project in his previous role as an architect with FaulknerBrowns.
Joseph is Mark's biggest role to date
Northern Star Theatre Arts, based at Sunderland College's Bede Campus, were chosen for the choir on the Empire dates.