I typically miss when theaters offer tours during the time I have a booking for my favorite musical, Rock of Ages. Thus, I was even more flattered to be able to be on stage at the Empire Theatre in Sunderland, the last stage of my 2022 visits of the show in the United Kingdom. Here is my review, inclduing some impressions and thoughts of the tour itself as well as some Pictured Story sized snaps of the stage itself.
Sunderland Empire Theatre – Location
The Sunderland Empire Theatre is a 2,000 people capacity theater and show venue. It is located On the West part of Sunderland’s city center. The city is undergoing a massive renovation and upgrade – nonetheless, you have to state that there are not too many attractions around. The Bridges Shopping Centre might be the key distraction in the area, which also features some hotels. I already introduced you to the Premier Inn Sunderland City Centre.
Especially if you travel in by air, the Tyne and Wear Metro is the best travel option for you. It connects Sunderland directly to Newcastle and Newcastle Airport (NCL). Sunderland and University are the best travel options. There are also quite a bunch of parking options around. Please check their opening times and tariffs carefully. Especially if you have a longer stay or have late shows at the Empire, you may either pay too much or run into the situation that your vehicle is locked. Tours through Sunderland Empire Theatre are happening regularly, very often on Saturday mornings. Being able to step on stage depends on whether there are plays and if the play is allowing you to do so. The tour was 7.50 GBP.
The pictures below don’t reflect the chronological order of my tour. The rating is on the tour solely.
Sunderland Empire Theatre – Theater Impressions / Tour
The tour I took was guided by the lovely Nadia. We first started in the Stalls lobby and then got some interesting facts about the theater and it structure sitting in the front row stalls seats. From there, we could go on stage and look at the Rock of Ages setting. You see the pictures in Pictured Story size in the section below. Thereafter, we went further up and up by level, until the very highest and quite steep gallery level.
However, we also visited some of the boxes before. including one of the two very large ones at the very end of the wings of dress circle level. Already in the very early 20th century, when the theater has been opened, the view from there was poor – but people could see you well from the audience so that this place had rather representative character.
Laurel & Hardy and Beatles Wardrobe
Before reaching the very top, the tour made a short detour to the famous wardrobes. As Rock of Ages occupied the rooms during the tour, we of course could not step in, but it was interesting to see who has used these facilities before. Laurel & Hardy or The Beatles, they had played at the Empire in earlier days. Overall, you have to say that Nadia was very flexible and nicely adjusted the visit to the demand of the group, which was roughly 20 people. The tour ended at one of the bars with a cup of tea and some relaxed conversation about the Sunderland Empire Theatre and the business in general.
Sunderland Empire Theater – Rock of Ages Stage Pictures
Finally, the key rationale to do this show was to be able to step on this stage once in a lifetime. Even though the safety curtains were closed and I thus could not enjoy the same view as the actors have, it was amazing to see the Rock of Ages stage. Here are some impressions. Look forward to see the show in 2023 again.