Disney's The Lion King to roar back to Sunderland Empire for mammoth run

It was one of the best-selling shows ever at the Empire, and today we can announce that Disney’s The Lion King is roaring back to the city.

We can exclusively real that the blockbuster show will roar into Sunderland for a seven-week run next spring.

As the only North East date on the tour, it’s a major coup for the theatre as it bounces back from the pandemic and is set to be a major boost for the local economy attracting people from across the region.

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Such is the size and spectacle of the hit production, only a handful of regional theatres are chosen for tour dates and Sunderland Empire is one of the few capable of accommodating its huge sets which transport audiences to the Pride Lands.

The Lion King is heading back to Sunderland. Photo by Johan Persson

Eight years after its hugely-successful Empire run in 2014, the internationally-acclaimed production will come to Sunderland for seven weeks from Thursday,

March 16 to Saturday, May 6, 2023.

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Anthony Lyn, associate director for the global productions of The Lion King, said Wearside can look forward to the full West End experience.

"It’s a massive show to run, so it’s amazing that people have the chance to see it,” he said about the tour. “It’s a very expensive show to mount, keep running and move. But everywhere it goes it doesn’t just boost the theatre, but all the businesses around it, the pubs, the restaurants, the shops, so it’s a win win for everyone.

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Disney's The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre, London. Credit: Johan Persson

"We can only move it to certain theatres and there’s only a few big enough to host it. We want the maximum amount of people to be able to see it, but we need to keep the scale of the show, its grandeur and how impressive it is.”

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Based on the hit Disney film, The Lion King musical features the Oscar-winning Can You Feel The Love Tonight and the anthemic Hakuna Matata, as well as tracks written specifically for the musical, which fuses Western popular music with the distinctive sounds and rhythms of Africa.

Marie Nixon, theatre director at Sunderland Empire, said: “We are delighted to be welcoming the incredible Disney theatrical phenomenon, The Lion King, back to Sunderland for a huge seven week run from next March.

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"The show first visited Sunderland Empire in 2014 with a record-breaking run for our theatre - with audiences from far and wide rushing to the venue and selling out every show.

Thandazile Soni (Rafiki) in Disney's The Lion King UK & Ireland tour © Disney
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"Eight years on, it’s a privilege once again to have the opportunity to welcome tens of thousands of people from across the region and beyond to see this world-leading production.

"The Sunderland Empire is the only theatre in the North East to host this spectacular show with tickets in high demand. We strongly recommend booking as early as possible to secure your place.”

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How to get tickets

Priority tickets will be available from 11am on Thursday, October 13, 2022 which you can sign up to at www.atgtickets.com/campaigns/sign-up/disneys-the-lion-king-sunderland/

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Disney's The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre, London. Photo by Catherine Ashmore

The general sale will begin at 11am on Friday, October 14. For more information please visit: thelionking.co.uk/tour

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Tickets will be priced from £20.