2020 spring and summer musicals at the Empire

Published: 22 December 2019
Reporter: Peter Lathan

Among the major musicals coming to Sunderland Empire between January and July 2020 are:


(21–25 January) Starring Jason Manford (The Producers, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Guys and Dolls) and Carley Stenson (Les Misérables, Legally Blonde, Shrek, Spamalot and Hollyoaks). In the musical whodunit Curtains, Jessica Cranshaw, star of the new Broadway-bound musical Robbin Hood, has been murdered on stage on opening night so the entire cast and crew are suspects. Local detective Frank Cioffi, who just happens to be a huge musical theatre fan, is called. With a nose for crime and an ear for music, Frank has his work cut out trying to find the killer whilst giving the show a lifeline.


(28 January–1 February) Bill Kenwright’s production of Kander and Ebb’s classic musical set in Berlin’s infamous Kit Kat Klub in 1931 is directed by Rufus Norris and stars John Partridge as Emcee, Kara Lily Hayworth as Sally Bowles and Anita Harris.

The Sound of Music

(11–15 February) Starring Emilie Fleming as Maria (BBC’s Over the Rainbow) and Andrew Lancel as Captain von Trapp (Coronation Street) and featuring the ever-popular "Edelweiss", "My Favourite Things", "Do-Re-Mi", "Climb Ev’ry Mountain" and the title song, "The Sound of Music".

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

(18–22 February) Another Bill Kenwright tour with Britain’s Got Talent finalist Mark McMullan as Joseph.

Beautiful—The Carole King Musical

(17–21 March) Beautiful, which stars Daisy Wood-Davis (Channel 4’s Hollyoaks) as Carole King, tells the story of King’s remarkable rise to stardom, from being part of a hit songwriting team with her husband, Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history. It features, among others, “Will You Love me Tomorrow?”, “Take Good Care of My Baby”, “The Loco-Motion”, “It Might as Well Rain Until September”, “Up on the Roof” and “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”. The show last visited the Empire in March 2018.

Million Dollar Quartet

(25–28 March) On December 4, 1956, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins gathered at Sun Records in Memphis for what would be one of the greatest jam sessions ever. Million Dollar Quartet, written by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux, brings that night to life, featuring a score of rock hits including “Blue Suede Shoes”, “Fever”, “That's All Right”, “Sixteen Tons”, “Great Balls of Fire”, “Walk the Line”, “Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On”, “Who Do You Love?”, “Matchbox”, “Folsom Prison Blues”, “Hound Dog” and many more.

An Inspector Calls

(21–25 April) Not a musical but a classic play and a classic production, Stephen Daldry’s multi‐award winning production of J B Priestley’s An Inspector Calls for the National Theatre returns to the Empire.


(25–30 May) Another favourite returns to the Empire. City boy Ren thinks life is bad enough when he's forced to move to a rural backwater in America. But his world comes to a standstill when he arrives at Bomont to find dancing and rock music are banned. Taking matters into his own hands, soon Ren has all hell breaking loose and the whole town on its feet.

Bring It On

(9–13 June) Inspired by the film of the same name, Bring It On The Musical takes you on a high-flying, energy fuelled journey which tackles friendship, jealousy, betrayal and forgiveness—wrapped up in explosive choreography and tricks.

Heathers The Musical

(21–25 July) Another new show, based on the 1988 film. At Westerberg High Veronica Sawyer is just another of the nobodies dreaming of a better day. But when she’s unexpectedly taken under the wings of the three beautiful and impossibly cruel Heathers, her dreams of popularity finally start to come true. Until JD turns up, the mysterious teen rebel who teaches her that it might kill to be a nobody, but it is murder to be a somebody.