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Theatre in Sunderland Address: High Street West Sunderland SR1 3EX

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    2 Reviews
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      02.09.2010 20:15
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      All in all a brilliant asset to the region

      The Sunderland Empire Theatre is the premiere theatre in the city of Sunderland and the north east main theatre outside Newcastle attracting big name stars, top class operas, favourite comedians and annual pantomimes.

      First off the location, the Theatre, as all good theatres should be, is located in the heart of Sunderland City Centre. It's a 5 minute walk from a metro station ,easily reachable by car with excellent parking facilities both around and in the city centre itself and around 5 minutes from the main bus station although buses do also stop on the main street outside the empire.

      Inside the theatre, which holds around 2,000 people in its three tiers, is smart, elegant and "royal" as you would expect with stage viewing easy from any of the seats. The stage is suitably large, the acoustics are spot on and the general atmosphere and auroa of the main hall are grand. All the facilities you would expect are inside and well maintained with plenty of toilets and refreshment facilities and wonderful number of bar areas which are ideal for interval socialising.

      The prices of the shows are reasonable and in fact cheap compared to other theatres showing the same show. Its great to have this in the city centre as the north east is generally an area where theatre is unloved and under appreciated so having such a venue is fantastic for the town and it's a popular location. Rarely do you see the theatre empty and usually tickets are hard to get hold off.


      All the usual shows are on here with the top stars ranging from the latest touring musicals, all time classic, the tie ins to the big tv shows of the time, the nations favourite tribute acts, the best comedians from around the world, operas and even wrestling! The Empire is also regionally renowned for the best pantomimes in the north eats each year attracting famous faces throughout the season. There is also plenty for the kids with matinee performances of most shows and all there favourites from the touring scene.

      There are no downsides I can think of, the one main one being to walk to the theatre, whichever way you go, from the metro station or main bus stop you need to pass an area of heavy nightlife for the city. One way is past Brogans and et all and through the indoor Bridges which is always full of drunks and youngsters having a night out and walking though and the other takes you past Whetherspoons and Bud Bigalows so if you don't like this sort of scene just be aware its very busy on a weekend evening.

      All in all though if you live in the north east or are visiting it would be a shame to miss out on one of the citys treaures!

      also on CIAO

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      17.01.2010 22:27
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      Theatre

      Sunderland Empire

      I have been to the theatre three times recently, to see Evita, Sound of Music and Horrible Histories, all of which were excellent productions.

      **A bit of history ...**

      The theatre is located in High Street West close to the centre of Sunderland. The theatre, opened in 1907, and is one of the largest venues in the North East. It has over 1800 seats and the capacity to hold 2000 people when some are standing, and is the only theatre between Manchester and Edinburgh which is big enough to house west End touring productions.

      The auditorium is also one of the last remaining in the UK to have four tiers- the Stalls, the Dress Circle, the Upper Circle and the Gallery and there are four private boxes on the Dress Circle level, as well as two boxes on the Upper Circle balcony.
      Externally there is a rather impressive dome on a 90 foot tower which is a good landmark when looking for the theatre. It features a revolving sphere with the statue of the Greek Muse of dance and choral song which was removed during World War II and is now located at the top of the main staircase, with a replica on the dome itself. The dome and tower have recently been refitted with a state-of-the-art LED and floodlight system that illuminates the main entrance in the evening.

      **Parking**

      There is no parking right outside the theatre because it is in a pedestrian only area close to shops and bars. However, close by, and clearly signposted there are a couple of car parks, which are reasonably priced- I think each production cost us only £2.

      **The Theatre**

      The theatre is easily found following the sign posts or looking out for the tower. Close to the theatre is the booking office and it's easy to get confused because the actual theatre has a smaller entrance area. What you are looking for is a double doorway right on the corner of the road. There are staff at the door checking tickets before you go in, so no random entry but beware, if it's raining you could be standing outside!!

      Once inside, the double stairs sweep to the first floor, where there is a large bar going right round the room, and there are also plenty of toilets, although we haven't yet found any dryers or paper.

      The stairs to the upper circle and the gallery are quite tricky to find although they are signposted but to find the signs you have to walk around past all the little niches. However, the staff are probably used to this and are very friendly and helpful.

      The Grand and Upper Circle have a good amount of leg room apart from the front row but this lack of leg room applies only to people over about 5'7" so if you are less than this they are great seats for the view; if there is any restricted viewing this will be pointed out when booking, but this applies only when sitting at the sides. For one of the shows we could only get into the gallery, which is accessed via some very steep stairs. Here the view is good if you get the first row on each level but if you get the second row seats and someone tall is in front, then even the £1 binoculars won't help!!

      During the interval, drinks can be bought at the bars and there are also staff selling drinks and ice creams in all of the areas.

      **Contact details...**

      Sunderland Empire
      High Street West
      Sunderland
      SR1 3EX
      Administration Tel: 0191 566 1040
      Administration Fax: 0191 566 1065
      Email have sunderland.boxoffice@livenation.co.uk

      **Verdict...**

      The theatre has some excellent shows and throughout the year there is often something which will appeal to most people. Booking can be done online, by telephone or at the booking office, and it is always possible to find out if the seats are suitable for your needs.

      Inside the theatre it is very "olde worlde" elegance and grandeur with the huge chandeliers, ornate carvings and size. Each time I have been there I almost get a sense of going back in time!!

      The theatre is arranged so that wherever you are you can hear what's been said on stage and apart from restricted viewing seats, the view is good. The main grumble I have is the steepness of the stairs to the gallery but this is minor and I did expect this because I was so late at booking.

      For the general ambience and a great matinee/evening out, if you are in the area and see a show you fancy, I would give this a whirl

      Thanks for reading

      Daniela x x

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