Sunderland Empire Sunderland
About the Sunderland Empire
Sunderland Empire, the largest theatre in the North East of England, first opened in July 1907 as the Empire Palace. It initially staged variety and music hall shows and throughout the 20th century has played host to a number of significant moments in live theatre. In 1967, Academy Award winner Helen Mirren made her stage debut at the Empire in David Halliwell’s Little Malcolm and His Struggle Against the Eunuchs, whilst Carry On star Sid James passed away from a heart attack whilst performing in The Mating Season on 29 April 1976.
Boasting a large, traditionally decorated auditorium in a red and gold colour scheme and capacity of 2,000, Sunderland Empire was refurbished and the stage expanded in 2004. This allowed large scale West End productions to visit the venue whilst on tour. The theatre reopened with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Starlight Express, and in 2005 hosted the European premiere of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’s first ever touring production.
Currently operated by Ambassador Theatre Group, Sunderland Empire regularly welcomes touring musicals, opera, ballet, dance and local amateur productions.
Map and directions
Plan your visit
The theatre’s Garden Place Bistro is open for pre-show dining. Tables can be booked by calling 0191 566 1064.