Sunderland Empire – Summer Season at a Glance

Sunderland Empire

Summer Season at a Glance

Following a momentous 2014 which brought North East premieres of War Horse, The Lion King and Jersey Boys to the region, the 2015 summer season at Sunderland Empire continues to deliver the West End to the North East with an array of dazzling and mesmerising productions.


Audiences will be transported to the French Riviera and its decadent underworld this Summer, when Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (9-20 June) hits the stage, direct from the West End. Based on the classic comedy film starring Sir Michael Caine and Steve Martin,sophisticated and suave with a good dash of mischief Dirty Rotten Scoundrels follows two seasoned swindlers as they attempt to hoodwink a millionaire heiress, as the pair compete in the true art of the con. Soon realising the town ain’t big enough for the both of them, the two find themselves going head to head in the con of their lives!


The glamour of Hollywood’s golden age is then set to dazzle as Top Hat (24 June – 4 July) brings the glorious, tap-dancing magic of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers to the stage. Packed with Irving Berlin’s greatest hits including, Cheek to Cheek, Top Hat, White Tie & Tails, Let’s Face the Music & Dance and Puttin’ on the Ritz, this uplifting and hilarious romantic comedy dazzles with over 200 beautiful costumes, breathtaking dance and a love story that will set the pulse racing!


From the producers of Hairspray, Midnight Tango, West Side Story and The Rocky Horror Show comes Love Me Tender (13-18 July)is a hilarious, feel-good musical featuring Elvis Presley’s greatest hits. In a small town in 1950’s America, a guitar-playing, hip-swivelling stranger rides his motorbike into town. Is he The Devil In Disguise or a Hound Dog in his Blue Suede Shoes? The townsfolk are about to be All Shook Up and could be headed for Heartbreak Hotel, but for Natalie, the love-struck, tomboy mechanic, it really is Now or Never. Packed with 25 of the best loved songs by The King himself, Love Me Tender, by the writer of the award-winning West End and Broadway smash hit Memphis, is a funny and moving tale of hope, second chances and the healing qualities of Rock ‘n’ Roll.


Winner of seven 2013 Olivier Awards, the highly-acclaimed National Theatre production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (11-15 August) returns to the North East as part its nationwide tour. Christopher, fifteen years old, has an extraordinary brain – exceptional at maths while ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. When he falls under suspicion of killing Mrs Shears’ dog, it takes him on a journey that upturns his world. This thrilling new stage play based on the award-winning novel by Mark Haddon, adapted by Simon Stephens and directed by Marianne Elliott.


End the summer with the ultimate party as Priscilla Queen of the Desert (31 August – 5 September) is back by overwhelming popular demand. Based on the smash-hit movie, the feel-good international hit sensation Priscilla is the heart-warming, uplifting adventure of three friends who hop aboard a battered old bus searching for love and friendship and end up finding more than they could have ever dreamed of. With a dazzling array of outrageous costumes and a hit parade of dance floor classics including It’s Raining Men, I Will Survive, Hot Stuff, Finally, Boogie Wonderland, Go West, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, and I Love The Nightlife, this wildly fresh and funny hit musical will take you on a journey to the heart of fabulous!


All topped off by the return the hugely popular Broadway and West End phenomenon Jersey Boys (8-19 September). This smash hit musical has won 55 major awards worldwide, including the Olivier Award for Best New Musical and continues to play at the Piccadilly Theatre, London. Jersey Boys tells the true life story of four boys from the wrong side of the tracks who wrote their own songs, invented their own unique sound, and sold 175 million records worldwide. Featuring hit after legendary hit including Beggin’, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, Oh What A Night, Sherry, Walk Like A Man, Bye Bye Baby, Big Girls Don’t Cry and many more.


Ahead of the summer season, Wicked flies into Sunderland (31 March – 25 April 2015) to make it’s North East debut for a limited 4 week engagement,  with  thrilling technical wizardry, stunning costumes and show-stopping songs, the global phenomenon is set to leave audiences spellbound. Agatha Christies’ The Mousetrap (5-9 May) is back by popular demand laced with intrigue and mystery. Famous around the world as being the longest running show of any kind in the history of British theatre – with over 25,000 performances it’s a play to be proud of.


Smash hit Broadway musical, The Producers (11-16 May) is a hilarious musical comedy featuring a riotous mix of eccentric characters including award-winning comedian Jason Manford and legendary funny man Phill Jupitus. Based on Mel Brooks’ much loved Academy Award winning movie, The Producers has taken Broadway and the West End by storm, winning a record-breaking 12 Tony Awards and 3 Olivier Awards. Impoverished by a string of flops, New York producer Max Bialystock recruits timid accountant Leo Bloom to help him pull off Broadway’s greatest scam. Together they aim to produce the worst show ever and run away to Rio with millions. Filled with fabulous costumes, glamorous dancing girls, hysterical show tunes – including the all-time classicSpringtime For Hitler – and an incredible live band.


Lovingly ripped off from the classic film comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Spamalot (18-23 May) gallops back direct from three years in the West End to theatres across the land (to the sound of banging coconut shells). Spamalot is a kind-of-new musical with a book by Eric Idle and an entirely new score for the new production (well, almost), created by Eric Idle and John du Prez.


Having confessed that performing live on stage gives him the greatest pleasure, the multi-award winning acknowledged master of psychological illusion Derren Brown: Miracle (25-30 May) is, once again, looking forward to the challenge that comes with being acknowledged as one of the world’s most renowned live performers; a dark manipulator of magic and mind control. This will be Derren’s seventh show since 2003. Since then he has toured every year and been watched by an estimated audience of over one and a half million people. He has won two prestigious Olivier Awards, for Something Wicked This Way Comes (2006) and Svengali(2012). His last show, Infamous, was universally acclaimed by critics and audience alike.


Looking further ahead Cole Porter’s classic, multi-award winning musical-comedy Anything Goes (29 September – 3 October) sails into town, followed by the hit West End and Broadway production of Shrek the Musical (11-22 November) stomping by. Ballet’s greatest love story returns in Birmingham Royal Ballet’s lavish production of the timeless classic Swan Lake (22-24 October) and a gem of a pantomime returns with Aladdin (11 December – 3 January).

Following a record-breaking worldwide tour Richard O’Brien’s classic the Rocky Horror Show (15-20 February 2015) is ready to thrill you once again with its frothy fun and naughty moments! Bursting at the seams with timeless classics, including Sweet Transvestite, Damn it Janet, and of course, the pelvic-thrusting Time Warp, Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror show is a non-stop party!


Complemented by a host of one night spectaculars from comedy greats including with Jimmy Carr (11 July) and Paddy McGuiness(31 January 2016) stunning vocals from The Carpenters Story (10 July), The Drifters (23 July) and The Rat Pack (3 June) to name a few this season is brimming with a variety of phenomenal showstoppers to thrill and entertain the region!



For more information call the Ticket Centre on 0844 871 3022*, visit* or call into our Box Office on High Street West.


All tickets can be purchased in person from the Box Office on High Street West, Sunderland, the Ticket Centre on 0844 871 3022* and online at*

*A transaction fee applies to telephone and online sales.


Sunderland Empire Information:

Sunderland Empire is managed by Ambassador Theatre Group on behalf of the Sunderland Empire Trust and is supported by Sunderland City Council.




With special guests Black Star Riders

Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle

Wednesday 9th December 2015

Rock icons Def Leppard and Whitesnake today announce a joint headline UK & Irish arena tour with support from Black Star Riders arriving into the Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle on Wednesday 9th December 2015.

Speaking about the co-headline tour, Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliott said: “I am very excited to be working with Whitesnake again; we had such a wonderful time when we did it back in 2008. It’s a great experience for rock fans to be able to see two great live bands on the same stage on the same night.”

Formed in Sheffield, Def Leppard have been hailed as the UK’s greatest-ever arena rock band. They have sold over 100 million albums worldwide in a career that spans three decades and have a highly anticipated new self-titled studio album coming in late 2015. Def Leppard’s influential career includes countless hit singles and ground-breaking multi-platinum albums – including two of the best-selling records of all time, “Pyromaniaand “Hysteria”, both of which have been given the elusive Diamond Award. These two albums alone contain 10 hit singles including the classic Leppard tracks “Rock of Ages,” “Animal,” Pour Some Sugar On Me” and “Foolin’.” Def LeppardJoe Elliott (vocals), Vivian Campbell (guitar), Phil Collen (guitar), Rick “Sav” Savage (bass) and Rick Allen (drums) – continue to be one of the most important forces in rock music. The group’s spectacular live shows, filled with powerful melodic rock anthems, continue to sell out venues worldwide. Def Leppard’s epic live shows and arsenal of hits have become synonymous with their name, leading the Rock Legends to be heralded as an institution in both the music and touring industry.

“Ohh, have you got trouble…Brother Joe & The Lepps?…DC & The Snakes?… Them Black Star Riders?…On the same night???…I can’t wait!!…SEE YOU THERE!!!” said Whitesnake’s David Coverdale on the forthcoming tour.

Co-headlining the tour are the legendary Whitesnake who carry a rightful & righteous reputation as one of the world’s leading rock’n’roll bands. Founded by former Deep Purple singer David Coverdale, the band have earned multi-platinum albums and multiple top 10 hits worldwide, including 2 number 1 singles with Here I Go Again and Is This Love as well as the unforgettable hammer of Still Of The Night. Bombast, bravado, talent and passion have helped establish Whitesnake as the perennial platinum favourite they have become and they’re back with a vengeance in 2015. The world-renowned group featuring David Coverdale (vocals), Reb Beach (guitar), Joel Hoekstra (guitar), Michael Devin (bass) and Tommy Aldridge (drums), will release their 12th studio record The Purple Album, a tribute to the band and to the music Coverdale wrote and recorded with Deep Purple Mark 3 & 4, followed by a world tour, culminating with the co-headline UK dates.

Tickets costing £45.00 will go on sale 10.00am Wednesday 1st April 2015 and are available online, from the booking hotline number 0844 493 6666 or in person from the Metro Radio Arena Box Office.

Tickets are available from:-

Credit Card Booking and Information Line 0844 493 6666

The Metro Radio Arena Newcastle Box Office (Mon – Fri: 10.00am 4.00pm, Sat: 11.00am – 2.30pm)

Internet Site:-

Group Bookers should call (0191) 260 6006

Accessible Bookings should call (0191) 260 6066 for further details





WICKED, the West End and Broadway musical phenomenon that tells the incredible untold story of the Witches of Oz, flies in to theSunderland Empire on Tuesday (31 March 2015). The limited 4-week engagement runs until Saturday 25 April.  With almost 50,000 tickets already sold for the run, prices start at just £15 with best ticket availability for midweek matinees.


The spectacular, critically acclaimed, multi record-breaking UK & Ireland Tour has sold over 1 million tickets since its premiere in 2013 at the Palace Theatre in Manchester and played over 500 performances.


Wicked stars Ashleigh Gray (Elphaba), Emily Tierney (Glinda), Samuel Edwards (Fiyero), Marilyn Cutts (Madame Morrible),Steven Pinder (The Wizard and Doctor Dillamond), Carina Gillespie (Nessarose), Richard Vincent (Boq) and Jacqueline Hughes (Standby for Elphaba).


Recently acclaimed as “one of the greatest musicals of our time” (Daily Mail) and “the hugely clever, insanely popular riff on the witches from The Wizard of Oz” (The Times), this “big-hearted musical extravaganza about the land of Oz” (Time Out London) is now the 10th longest-running show in the West End, where it continues its open ended run. The London production has now been seen by more than

6.5 million people and recently played its landmark 3500th performance.


Around the world, Wicked has been seen by 45 million people in 13 countries and won 100 international awards. The original Broadway production remains “Broadway’s biggest blockbuster” (The New York Times) after more than 11 years at the Gershwin Theatre.


Wicked has music and lyrics by multi GRAMMY® and Academy Award® winner Stephen Schwartz, a book by Winnie Holzman, musical staging by Wayne Cilento and is directed by two-time Tony Award® winner and Olivier Award nomineeJoe Mantello. Wicked is based on the novel ‘Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West’ by Gregory Maguire.


Wicked is produced by: Marc Platt, Universal Stage Productions, The Araca Group, Jon B. Platt and

David Stone. Executive Producer (UK): Michael McCabe.


Official UK website:


Sunderland Empire

High Street West

Sunderland SR1 3EX











Best ticket availability currently at Monday to Thursday performances, including midweek matinees.




0844 871 3022



0844 871 3042


Performance Times

Monday-Saturday at 7.30pm, matinees Wednesday & Saturday at 2.30pm.

Extra Easter matinee on Thursday 9 April 2015 at 2.30pm.


Ticket Prices

Monday-Thursday: £52.50, £42.50, £32.50, £25.00, £20.00, £15.00

Friday-Saturday: £55.00, £47.50, £35.50, £27.50, £22.50

Premium seats available at all performances (£62.50 – £75.00)


Senior Citizens: £30 for best available

*Valid on Wednesday matinee only. Excludes premiums and school holidays.


Dates, times and prices subject to change without notice. Discounts are strictly subject to availability and may be withdrawn without any prior notice. Only one discount applies at any one time. Bookings are subject to a £2.85 transaction fee if booked online or via the call centre. Please note £1 of the ticket price goes to the Sunderland Empire restoration levy.


Wicked is suitable for a general audience. As a guide to parents and guardians, it is recommended for ages 8+. All persons entering the theatre, regardless of age, must have a ticket. Children under 3 years of age will not be admitted.




Gregory Maguire’s ‘WICKED: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West’ is published in the UK by Headline.The book is recommended for readers aged 16+


The GRAMMY® award-winning Original Broadway Cast recording on DECCA BROADWAY


James Bolam & Steve John Shepherd in Bomber’s Moon









James Bolam and Steve John Shepherd will star in the play BOMBER’S MOON by William Ivory at Trafalgar Studios 2, previewing from Monday 20 April, with a press night on Friday 24 April, for a strictly limited season until Saturday 23 May.  This follows a critically acclaimed run at Park Theatre in 2014.


Former RAF gunner Jimmy finds his routine disrupted when sensitive care assistant David arrives – and his cantankerous outlook and colourful language seem to be more than David can handle.  As Jimmy increasingly snaps back to the adrenaline-fuelled terror of his WWII bombing raids, and David’s new found faith is tested to breaking point, both men discover that a lasting peace is not easily won.  With acerbic wit and searing honesty, BOMBER’S MOON is a bittersweet tour-de-force, full of gritty realism and razor-sharp humour.


James Bolam is best known for his television work, including New Tricks (BBC), Born and Bred (BBC), Second Thoughts (LWT), The Beiderbecke Connection/Tapes/Affair (YTV), Only When I Laugh (YTV), When the Boat Comes In (BBC) and The Likely Lads (BBC).  His most recent theatre credits include How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Semi Detached, both at Chichester, and Wild Oats at the National.


Steve John Shepherd is best known as Michael Moon in EastEnders and for his breakthrough role as Jo in This Life.  His most recent theatre credits include Albion (Bush Theatre), Piaf (Donmar Warehouse & West End) and Five Wives of Maurice Pinder (National Theatre).


William Ivory wrote the screenplay for the film Made In Dagenham.  His television writing credits include episodes of ITV’s Minder and, for the BBC, Common as MuckThe SinsNight FlightA Thing Called LoveFaith and Burton and Taylor.


BOMBER’S MOON will be directed at Trafalgar Studios 2 by Matt Aston, with original design by Laura McEwen, original lighting design by James Farncombe, sound design by Damian Coldwell and choreography by Emma Annetts.  Dean Sudron will be associate designer and lighting designer at Trafalgar Studios 2.


BOMBER’S MOON is presented at Trafalgar Studios 2 by Engine House Theatre in association with Park Theatre.  General Management is by Colin Blumenau and Emily Slack for The Production Exchange.  Associate Producers are Arden Entertainment. 






20 April – 23 May


Trafalgar Studios 2

14 Whitehall

London SW1A 2DY


Performances:  Monday-Saturday at 7.45pm*, Thursday & Saturday at 3.00pm

*7.00pm on Friday 24 April


Running Time:  1 hour, 45 minutes (including interval)


Tickets:  £15.00 – £25.00 plus £3.00 transaction fee


Box Office:  0844 871 7632

Access Number: 0844 871 7677

Group Bookings: 0844 871 7644







Monday 12 – Saturday 17 October 2015



Tickets on sale Tuesday 2 April at 10am


Jesus Christ Superstar exploded onto the musical scene in 1971 – stunning audiences and changing the face of musical theatre forever. Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock opera tells the story of the last seven days in the life of Jesus through an extraordinary, groundbreaking score. As compelling today as it was at its inception over forty years ago, Jesus Christ Superstar has some of musical theatre’s most legendary songs from I Don’t Know How to Love Him, Everything’s Alright, and Gethsemane through to, of course, Superstar.

Produced by Bill Kenwright and the creative team behind numerous blockbuster musicals, Jesus Christ Superstartells the world’s oldest story with the superb theatricality they have brought to Evita, Joseph, Cabaret, Blood Brothers and Whistle Down the Wind to mention only a few.


Cast to be announced at a later date.


Performances: Mon – Sat 7:30pm  Wed & Sat mats 2:30pm

Tickets: £17.50 – £45.00

Box Office: 0844 871 3024

Online Booking:





Edward Bennett   Niamh Cusack   Jamie Glover   Katherine Kingsley

THE REHEARSAL by Jean Anouilh
Translated by Jeremy Sams
Director Jeremy Sams

8 May – 13 June
Minerva Theatre, Chichester

A distinguished cast including Edward Bennett, Niamh Cusack, Jamie Glover and Katherine Kingsley has been announced for Chichester’s sumptuous revival of Jean Anouilh’s savagely witty dissection of love, deception and the secret roles people really want to play. Due to popular demand, an extra week of performances is now on sale.

The Count, better known as Tiger, is planning another of his spectacular parties, including an evening of amateur dramatics. But as soon as rehearsals begin, it’s clear that his play will unleash just as much passion, shock and intrigue off stage as it will on.

Edward Bennett plays Hero. His theatre credits include Love’s Labour’s Lost and Love’s Labour’s Won, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hamlet (all for the RSC) and One Man, Two Guvnors (UK tour).

Niamh Cusack plays The Countess. Her theatre credits include The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time(National Theatre and West End), The Playboy of the Western World, and Cause Célèbre (for the Old Vic).

Jamie Glover plays The Count. His acting credits include Chichester’s Festival 2014 production of An Ideal Husband,and All’s Well That Ends Well and Edward III (both for the RSC).

Katherine Kingsley plays Hortensia. Her theatre credits include Chichester’s Singin’ in the Rain (also West End), and West End productions of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The cast also includes Joseph Arkley (whose credits include Brilliant Adventures and Titus) as Villebosse, Gabrielle Dempsey (whose credits include Kindertransport and Spring Awakening) as Lucile, Simon Dutton (whose screen credits include Jupiter Ascending and Suite Française) as Damiens and Ben Lydon as Valet.

Beginning in 1966 with The Fighting Cock, Chichester has a tradition of bringing notable works by Jean Anouilh to the stage including Dear Antoine, Eurydice, Wild Orchids and The Waltz of the Toreadors.

Jeremy Sams directs this production of The Rehearsal, having also provided the celebrated translation. His numerous other translations include Mary Stuart (National Theatre) and The Threepenny Opera (Donmar Warehouse). Directing credits include Noises Off at the National Theatre and The Water Babies at Chichester. Sams is also an acclaimed orchestrator, musical director, film composer, and lyricist.

Design is by William Dudley, whose numerous credits include Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be (Theatre Royal Stratford East), Titus Andronicus (Shakespeare’s Globe), Fortune’s Fool (Old Vic), The Winter’s Tale (RSC) andUncle Vanya (The Print Room).

Lighting Design is by Chichester Associate Tim Mitchell, whose credits include Festival 2015’s Way Upstream,  as well as the Olivier Award nominated Taken at Midnight (also West End), Guys and Dolls and Amadeus.

Sound Design is by Fergus O’Hare whose credits include Festival 2015’s Way Upstream, as well as An Ideal Husband,King Lear (and New York), and Another Country (and West End/UK tour).

The Rehearsal is sponsored by Conciair.

Director and translator Jeremy Sams will be in conversation with novelist and CFT biographer Kate Mosse on Thursday 28 May at 6pm. Tickets free but advance booking essential.

There will be the chance to meet some of The Rehearsal company at a post-show discussion hosted by author Simon Brett on Monday 25 May.

Booking information
An extra week of performances is on sale for The Rehearsal at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester which now runs from 8 May – 13 June. Evenings 7.45pm (except for Press Night, Thursday 14 May at 7pm), matinees 2.45pm. Tickets: Previews/Press Nights £20, £25, all other performances £25, £34. To book, go to or contact the Box Office on 01243 781312.

Special Prices for 16 – 25s
An allocation of tickets for 16 – 25 year olds priced at just £8.50 for all performances of The Rehearsal  will go on sale on 8 April. These may be booked on 01243 781312, online at or in person.


Ministry of Science Live is about to explode onto a stage near you soon!


This is a public safety announcement….

Please keep your head firmly on your shoulders, and your arms, legs and feet inside the ride at all times – Ministry of Science Live is about to explode onto a stage near you soon!



Monday 23 November at 11am & 6:30pm

Ministry of Science Live is not your ordinary science show – it comes with a bang.  It comes with a whoosh. But most of all is comes with a hovercraft built on stage…. Oh, and a Human Cannon too! From the creative team behind Brainiac Live and a whole load of other explosive science shows, the new production takes an anarchicapproach to science communication whilst looking at the inventors and engineers who have shaped and inspired the modern world that we live in.  From Liquid Nitrogen frozen flowers to Hydrogen Bottle Rockets.  From Buzz Aldrin to Virgin Galactic.  From a cat food tin to the Hovercraft.   From the discovery of Methane to the invention of the Battery. Join the team and the voiceover from above (X Factor’s Peter Dickson) as they take you on a journey using demonstrations and a few loud bangs to lead the way.

100% Educational.  200% Anarchic.  300% ExplosiveFingers in ears advised….

Tickets: £15.50

Box Office: 0844 871 3024

Online Booking:

The music of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons


Friday 8 May at 7:30pm

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The award-winning production Let’s Hang On takes you on a musical journey through the prolific career of one of the most successful bands of all time –

Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons.


It’s easy to frequently name drop the big chart stars of the 60s such as The Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Beach Boys but as their repertoire proves,The Four Seasons are still held in very high regard with countless hits and a multitude of songs used in hit films such as Grease, Dirty Dancing, and The Deer Hunter.

Dino Buttarazzi, Martin Peat,Scott Walker, Jay Harrison andRobin Maughan (who scales the falsetto heights previously set by Frankie Valli with remarkable ease,)truly capture the original magic of the Four Seasons. The atmosphere created is not only from their music but also their own unique sound, nostalgic mood, and electric feeling!


‘An Authentic Masterpiece’


From the beginning in the early 50’s when Frankie first joined the group, the show takes you through hits such as December ’63 (Oh What A Night!), Beggin’,Sherry, Bye Bye Baby, Walk Like A Man, Grease, Rag Doll, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, Working My Way Back To You, Big Girls Don’t Cry, and many more, climaxing with a spectacular finale of, of course, Let’s Hang On!

Having only last year performed at the Royal Albert Hall for Frankie Valli himself,Let’s Hang On are undoubtedly one of the most authentic touring acts on the circuit and continue to prove they’re in a class of their own!

‘You Guys Are Dynamite!’ – Frankie Valli

   For more information on the show and to view the latest tour dates please visit:



Tickets: £19 & £23.50

Box Office: 0844 871 3024

Online Booking:


Dirty Dancing cha-chas back to York






Stage Acts Entertainments smash hit tribute to the greatest movie soundtrack of all time, An Evening of Dirty Dancing: The Tribute Show is returning to the Grand Opera House in York for a sensational second year running, on 10 October. Embarking on its 5th Anniversary tour, the show is a fully choreographed, highly interactive celebration of the music from the iconic movie.

Musical theatre stalwart Julian Essex-Spurrier will lead the production having played numerous iconic leading roles including Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever, Rocky in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Riff inWest Side Story and Rusty in Starlight Express. Hes joined by Aimie Atkinson who was the winner of theBBC Radio 2 Voice of Musical Theatre and returns to the production for a third season having recently played the leading role of Penny in Carnaby Street The Musical and Chloe in the Take That musical, Never Forget.

An Evening of Dirty Dancing: The Tribute Show is directed by Paul Spicer with choreography by Leanne Harwood and pays homage to the greatest movie soundtrack of all time. A high energy emotional roller-coaster of an evening with breathtaking choreography and buckets of nostalgia. Includes the classic songs: Big Girls Dont Cry, Hey Baby, Wipeout, Do You Love Me, Hungry Eyes and the Oscar-winning (Ive Had) The Time of My Life.

Paul Spicer said The atmosphere is always electric. We totally encourage our audiences to sing and dance and immerse themselves in the summer of 63. I watch people leave the theatre on a real high. Ive seen people burst into tears of happiness! This is a multi-award winning soundtrack steeped in nostalgia. I challenge anyone to come along and not have a fantastic time. Please note this production is not affiliated with Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage in the West End or on tour in the UK or worldwide.

A thoroughly entertaining, visually stunning extravaganza – The Public Reviews

All singing, all dancing, highly watchable entertaining – The Stage

                                     Tickets from £20.90 plus £2.85 transaction fee

Available from; tel 0844 871 3024

Twitter – @HeyBabyUKTour

Facebook –


Shrek – Relaxed Performance

Newcastle Theatre Royal – 24 March 2015

A line in one of the lyrics from Shrek is “What makes us Special – makes us Stronger” and today I saw a truly special performance of Shrek

In February the Theatre Royal was the first theatre to be honoured with the Autism Access Award from The National Autistic Society.  The award was granted following a year-long project working with local schools, families and specialists developing an all-inclusive approach to theatre in relation to the specific needs of theatre-goers with autism.

This relaxed performance was fantastic.  The theatre opened early to allow for all the extra people who needed to be manoeuvred in wheelchairs.  And face painters were on hand to decorate those who were happy to be adorned.  The cast entered the spirit of the occasion and came out in costume to meet and greet with the audience as they arrived.

The whole occasion was completely relaxed, down to the staff dressing informally and with painted faces.  The lights never came all the way down and the sound was down from the normal volume.

The show began with panto stalwart Danny Adams coming on stage and entertaining the crowds with some jokes before introducing the main cast of Shrek.  Starting with Lord Farquaad played by Gerard Carey, Donkey played by Idriss Kargbo, Princess Fiona played by Faye Brookes and the hero of the show Shrek played by Dean Chisnall.  Once everyone was happy the show began…

“Relaxed Performances” are specifically designed to welcome people with an Autistic Spectrum Condition, learning disability or sensory and communication disorders into theatres to give those who otherwise might feel excluded the chance to experience live theatre.  They have a less formal, more supportive atmosphere in order to reduce anxiety levels. It is a specialist provision created to provide an opportunity for people who would otherwise find it difficult to  see a show  – for example people who make involuntary noise, or are likely to need to talk a lot, or move around. During a regular performance this can disturb the other audience members, and the show, but at a relaxed performance it’s fine.  There was a lot of noise but a lot of joy as the people attended really enjoyed themselves

I spoke to Dawn Taylor, Director of Operations at the theatre and she told me how proud she was to receive the honour from The National Autistic Society and just how much today meant to her.  Incredibly proud of her fabulous, hard working staff and happy at the way the show had gone, Dawn was also pleased at how well the the whole company from Shrek had entered into the spirit of this uplifting show.

It started later than advertised, the interval was later and longer than planned and at points the sound never got below a dull roar but it was a marvellous sight to behold.  In its purest form, Shrek celebrates equality and diversity and at the the Theatre Royal today we had a celebration too.