Vesta Tilley laid the foundation stone of what is now the Sunderland Empire on 29 September 1906 and took to the stage on 1 July 1907 to officially declare the theatre open. Masterminded by two of the contemporary heads of British theatre, Edward Moss and Osward Stoll, the Sunderland Empire Theatre has undergone many changes since it opened but remains the North East’s premier entertainment venue.
A Sunderland Empire Visual Guide is available prior to your visit to us by emailing [email protected]. If you would like to be kept updated about future Assisted Performances by email, please contact [email protected].
A symbol resource on going to the pantomime is available to download here.
Venue Access Information
There are eight spaces in the stalls where wheelchair users can remain in their wheelchairs. Access is on the flat via a lift. Please note that patrons must be able to vacate the building quickly in case of evacuation.
Please note that the Upper Circle and Gallery are not accessible by lift and are therefore unsuitable for those with limited mobility.
During a supported experience usual arrangements are in place within the auditorium, including latecomer’s rules, and there are no technical adjustments to the performance.
Families should expect pyros, possible strobes and loud sound effects. Those who are sensory sensitive are advised to bring any equipment needed for support e.g. ear defenders.
What we can offer is:
TV relay of the performance in Dress Circle bar.
Preparation pack available – Visual Story and Widget symbol resource, explanation of the story and characters.
Familiarisation visits can be arranged.
Supportive staff attending will be present.
Early entry into Auditorium may be able to be arranged but not guaranteed.
Families are urged to get in touch with us to explain what specific support they need to help support their visit.
Open captioned and audio described performances are sometimes scheduled. To be kept up to date, please email [email protected]. For all performances, there is a Sennheiser infrared system available in Stalls rows D – X, Dress Circle excluding row A 1-5 and 46 – 50 and Upper Circle rows A-G from seat number 19. This can be used with or without a hearing aid. When you arrive at the theatre, please speak to a member of our Front of House team who will give you the equipment and show you how to use it. Please note there is a fully refundable £10 deposit for the loan of the equipment.
Guide, hearing and other working dogs are welcome in all parts of the theatre
Accessible toilets are located at the Stalls and Dress Circle levels and in the stalls bar as you enter the theatre.