A musical summer at the Empire

Published: 4 July 2019
Reporter: Peter Lathan

Avenue Q
Rock of Ages Credit: Richard Davenport
Grease Credit: Manurel Harlan
The Book of Mormon Credit: Paul Coltas

Four major musicals and some musical one-night stands are coming to Sunderland Empire during July and August.

First, from 10 to 13 July, is Avenue Q, returning after its sell-out season at the theatre in 2014. Puppet characters like Kate Monster, Lucy the Slut, Rod the still-in-the-closet gay Republican, Trekkie Monster and others live on a downtown New York street trying to make sense of life's burning issues, like what do you do with a BA in English? How do you find your purpose? And is the Internet really just for... never mind.

From 23 to 27 July, Rock of Ages returns, an LA love story with over 25 classic rock anthems set in a city and a time where the dreams are as big as the hair. Strictly Come Dancing 2018 Winner Kevin Clifton, Kevin Kennedy, Zoe Birkett, Jodie Steele, Luke Walsh, Lucas Rush, Andrew Carthy, Vas Constanti and Rhiannon Chesterman star in "the ultimate '80s rock 'n' roll musical".

Summer lovin' is reignited when greaser Danny and girl-next-door Sandy are unexpectedly reunited when she transfers to Rydell High for senior year. Can they survive the trials and tribulations of teenage life and find true love once more?

Peter Andre and a fresh young cast star in this revival of the classic teen musical Grease from 30 July to 3 August.

The Book of Mormon comes to the Empire from 28 August to 7 September. An outrageous musical comedy from the creators of South Park (Trey Parker and Matt Stone) and Bobby Lopez, the co-writer of Avenue Q and Frozen, follows the misadventures of a mismatched pair of Mormon missionaries, sent on a mission to a place that's about as far from Salt Lake City as you can get: Uganda.

Then there are four musical one-night stands: The Simon and Garfunkel Story (17 July), ABBA Mania (19 July), The Carpenters Story (20 July) and What’s Love Got to Do with I?: A tribute to Tina Turner (21 July).

Finally—for those, in the words of Miss Jean Brodie, who like that sort of thing (that is the sort of thing they like!)—at 7:00 in the Dress Circle Bar there is gin tasting with Poetic License Distillery, along with a miniature food platter from the Empire’s Garden Place Bistro.