THE Sunderland Empire has announced they are set to raise their curtain and turn off the symbolic Ghost Light following 16 months of closure.

What’s Love Got To Do With It? A tribute to Tina Turner will be the first show to welcome audiences back on Thursday September 2.

It is quite fitting that as the iconic theatre prepares to make a triumphant return, music that was on the programme from day one when the theatre officially opened on 1 July 1907 by music hall star Vesta Tilley will take centre stage as the first show back.

The tribute concert will be followed that week by comedian Paul Smith (Friday 3 September), The Greatest Hits of Motown- How Sweet It Is (Saturday 4 September) and Derren Brown: Showman (7-11 September).

Marie Nixon, theatre director, Sunderland Empire said: “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.”

A packed season awaits customers, with Dirty Dancing – the classic musical on stage returning (September 14-18), followed by cult classic The Rocky Horror Show (September 20-25), global hit musical, School of Rock (October 5-9) Waitress (October 25 - 30) and Riverdance (November 4 - 6).

Further shows include: 9 to 5 The Musical (November 9-13), Gangsta Granny and laugh out loud with Alan Carr (October 22 -23), alongside a host of one-night spectaculars including The ELO Experience (November 2), Jimmy Carr (November 1), An Evening with the Sunderland Legends (November 7).

The season will be topped off The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (November 30 – December 4) and finish 2021 with panto season and the long-awaited return of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (December 10 – January 2) with local favourites Dan Cunningham aka Miss Rory and Tom Whalley.

Marie Nixon, Theatre Director, Sunderland Empire 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.

"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


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