With three excellent and very diverse theatres vying for your attention, there are plenty of plays, live gigs, musicals and stand-up comedies to enjoy in Sunderland.
Housed in a stunning Grade II Listed Edwardian building is the Empire Theatre, which has been bringing theatrical fun to Sunderland for over a century. A stone’s throw away from our City Centre hotel, the stage has welcomed the great and good over the last century including Charlie Chaplin, and The Beatles, and boasts a diverse booking programme spanning stand-up comedy, seasonal pantomimes, classical ballet, West End musicals and live music. The largest theatre between Edinburgh and Manchester, it’s hosted some of the biggest shows to hit the UK including The Lion King, West Side Story and The Producers. Bolstered to a 2,000-capacity space after its most recent refit, the Empire Theatre is one of the highest-spec theatres in the UK, making it a real gem in Sunderland’s cultural scene. After all, when Oscar-winner Helen Mirren chooses to make her stage debut at the theatre, you’re doing something very, very right.
With at least seven plays each year, as well as an in-demand pantomime every December, The Royalty Theatre prides itself on providing regular dramatic productions.
With a diverse range of programming that takes in children’s classics like Wind In The Willows as well as more cerebral whodunnit fare from Agatha Christie, the theatre is a community-driven project that works wonders on a small budget largely gathered through donations and fundraising. It’s a quick bus ride from the city centre or a 10-minute drive from our North West hotel.
Equidistant from Newcastle, Sunderland and Durham is the Arts Centre Washington, a 110-seat theatre. Set in a converted 19th century farmhouse, the centre is now home to a gallery, studios, recording studio, café and bar. Owned and run by Sunderland City Council, the space boasts a rich list of events and activities including theatre, music, dance and comedy as well as a weekly folk club. With a range of courses available spanning salsa and model making, this is a well-rounded facility that ably serves its local community, and is well worth the trip if only for its excellent café and bar.
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