More shows heading to Sunderland

Published: 9 March 2020
Reporter: Peter Lathan

Joining the already announced The Million Dollar Quartet (25–28 March), Stephen Daldry’s classic production of An Inspector Calls (21–25 April), Dennis and Gnasher: The Musical (20–23 May), Footloose starring Gareth Gates (25–30 May), Heathers the Musical (21–25 July) and The Phantom of the Opera—the original production on tour (4 November–5 December), the original 1986 production of which was reviewed by Philip Fisher, at Sunderland Empire are two new shows, one on tour for the first time and the other an old favourite.

First to arrive is Dreamgirls (12–23 January, 2021) in its first UK tour since it premièred in the West End’s Savoy Theatre in 2016, 35 years after opening on Broadway, where it won six Tony Awards and the original cast recording won two Grammy Awards for Best Musical Album and Best Vocal Performance for Jennifer Holliday’s “And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going”.

The Dreams—Effie, Lorrell and Deena—are three talented young singers in the turbulent 1960s, a revolutionary time in American music history, who embark upon a musical rollercoaster ride through a world of fame, fortune and the ruthless realities of show business, testing their friendships to the very limit. In 2006, their story became an Oscar-winning motion picture starring Beyoncé Knowles, Jennifer Hudson, Eddie Murphy and Jamie Foxx.

Dreamgirls is produced by Sonia Friedman Productions and casting will be announced soon.

Returning is the ever-popular Hairspray, which opened at the West End’s Shaftesbury Theatre in 2007 with Michael Ball and Mel Smith, prior to touring and reaching Sunderland Empire in 2010.

Hairspray is based on the 1988 film of the same name which starred Divine and Ricki Lake by cult filmmaker John Waters. With music and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman and book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan, it originally opened to rave reviews on Broadway in 2002 and subsequently won eight Tony Awards. The London production won four Laurence Olivier Awards including Best New Musical. Proving to be an international success, Hairspray has also opened in South Africa, Japan, South Korea, China and Dubai. Following the musical’s success on stage, a film of the musical was released in 2007 which starred John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer and James Marsden.

Casting will be announced prior to the tour's opening at Leicester Curve on 20 August 2020.