What's On Wearside?

What's On Wearside is your one-stop entertainment guide for Sunderland and the surrounding area.

Comedy, music, theatre, spoken word, family entertainment. It's all here, listed by date.

If you would like to have your gig or event featured on this page click here.






A promotional image for Transit.

THEATRE: Transit

02 March 2017, Doors 7.30pm, Tickets £8.50 (£6.00), Arts Centre Washington


Transit may be the most depressing thing ever to start in Amsterdam’s main airport. Far from a hazy tale about strange smelling coffee shops and “expenses” that are difficult to explain – the story actually revolves around a dual-national who is meeting her father for the first time in a decade.

The play juxtaposes the lives and attitudes of Roger, a music professor who stayed in Britain and Darya, who opted to go to Iran with her mother.

The play has been praised for its complexity and parallels have been drawn with Shakespeare’s King Lear.

As previously stated, this is in no way looks like a light evening. However, for those who like entertainment that makes them think it is more than likely a must see.



One Night in Nashville promotional image

MUSIC: A Country Night in Nashville

04 March 2017, Doors 7.30pm, Tickets £26.50, Sunderland Empire

Have you always wanted to go to a club night in Nashville but can’t get over the pitfalls? Do you like Willie Nelson but you can’t afford the flight? Do you adore Dolly Parton but not want to risk getting shot in the head?

Well don’t worry, all of the tunes that made the home of country music famous are coming right here to Sunderland.

So whip out your Stetson, pull on your cowboy boots and leave the chewing tobacco at home because it’s still illegal in Britain. 



A picture of Shaun Ryder

SPOKEN WORD: An Evening with Shaun Ryder

04 March 2017, Doors 7.30pm, Tickets £13.00, Independent Sunderland. (18+)

Independent are offering a unique opportunity to spend an evening with the man whose extended vocabulary once got him banned from appearing live on Channel Four.

The Happy Monday’s front man will be sharing stories from his past – from his music career to his adventures in the jungle.

Still active and touring regularly, Ryder is certain to be as entertaining conversationally as he is musically. Just don’t twist his melon.



Promotional image

COMEDY: Ross Noble: Brain Dump

08 March 2017, Doors 8.00pm, Tickets £27.90, Sunderland Empire

Geordies aren’t well liked around these parts. However, Noble’s haphazard charm does more than cancel out his unfortunate origins.

The quick-witted Tynesider – whose TV appearances include the likes of Have I got News For You, QI and Room 101 – has never been one for grasping a thread particularly firmly.

So even if you’ve seen this show before (it’s been touring for a few months now) you’ve probably not seen “this” show before.

Expect chunks of a set routine punctuated with some world class improvisation. 



A promotional image for Butterfly

THEATRE: Butterfly

09 March 2017, Doors 7.30pm, Tickets £8.50 (£6.00), Arts Centre Washington

Things that are simultaneously described as “dark” and “funny” can range anywhere from a strange kid making edgy jokes in the corner of a classroom to the superlative work of Bill Hicks.

Given the play is based around a woman self-reflecting on her past while waiting for the outcome of a mental health assessment, it’s difficult to say where it sits on that spectrum.

One thing’s for sure though, if the performance is half as good as the main character’s musical taste (Bowie, Buzzcocks and the Bay City Rollers) it’s more than worth the entry fee.

The performance also features sign language interpretation. 



Motown promo image

MUSIC: The Magic of Motown

10 March 2017, Doors 8.00pm, Tickets £30.40, Sunderland Empire

Detroit is famous for two things. Cars and music.

The former gave the latter its name, Motown, and the hits that genre spewed out make up this show.

The Magic of Motown has been seen by over a million people worldwide and features 40 hits from the likes of Marvin Gaye, Lionel Richie and The Jackson 5.



La Boheme Promo Image

THEATRE: Ellen Kent's La Bohème

11 March 2017, Doors 7.30pm, Tickets £14.90-£43.90, Sunderland Empire

The first of an Ellen Kent weekend double-bill at The Empire, La Bohème is an opera about the love between Mimi (a girl with tuberculosis) and a writer who is, as writers usually are, completely skint.

Set in 1830s Paris and lauded as one of the greatest Italian operas ever written, La Bohème is probably a decent place to start if you want to get into opera.

The whole thing is sung in Italian but English subtitles are available, somehow.

In a nutshell: expect lots of singing, coughing and weeping.



Nabucco promo image

THEATRE: Ellen Kent’s Nabucco

12 March 2017, Doors 7.30pm, Tickets £14.90-£43.90, Sunderland Empire

The second part of touring opera legend Ellen Kent’s weekend in Sunderland.

Nabucco involves the Israelites praying for help as the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar smashes up their city after a brief punch up.

As always with Kent’s productions, the set and costumes are top notch and the plot probably is too if you can follow it.

Once again this is sung entirely in Italian but English subtitles are provided.



A promotional image for Ventoux

THEATRE: Ventoux

16 March 2017, Doors 7.30pm, Tickets £8.50 (£6.00), Arts Centre Washington

Ventoux is a play based around the dramatic battle between disgraced cyclists Lance Armstrong and Marco Pantani during the 2000 Tour de France.

It was regarded as the one of the greatest contests in sporting history until it came to light professional cycling was as dodgy as a man selling meat door to door.

Featuring two men, two bikes, footage of Mont Ventoux and more drugs references than a Snoop Dogg album – the play is a shout for anyone who enjoys sports and controversy. 



Cinderella Poster

THEATRE: Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Cinderella

16-18 March, Doors 2.00pm, 7.30pm, Tickets £18.90 - £46.90, Sunderland Empire

The chances are you’re aware of what ballet is. Cinderella is also quite well known.

For the few that are unaware (spoilers): girl’s mother dies, father remarries, father dies, girl becomes domestic servant to stepmother and step sisters, magic, prince, ball, midnight curfew, shoe, happy ever after.

Combine that with more dancing and you have David Bintley’s well received interpretation of the story.



A promotional image for The Gunge Show.

FAMILY: The Gunge Show

18 March 2017, Doors 7.30pm, Tickets £6.50, Arts Centre Washington (5+)

99.9% of decent kids’ television involves gunge. Whether it’s being dumped on parents, kids or possessions the weird slimy substance makes any format better. It’s like the Worcestershire sauce of the entertainment world.

Lee Kyle has decided to bring a condensed version of CITV’s 1998 output to Wearside with his game show.

The rules are simple, there are two teams, questions are asked, losing captain gets a face full or green stuff. Best turn up in some old clothes.



Justin's Party Poster

FAMILY: Justin’s Party

19 March 2017, Doors 11.00am, 2.00pm, Tickets £18.15 - £23.15, Sunderland Empire

BAFTA winning CBeebies presenter Justin Fletcher comes to Sunderland with his new stage show.

Fletcher – who has provided voices for shows like Thomas The Tank Engine, Tweenies and Shaun the Sheep – is throwing a party.

There’s singing, dancing, games a puppy and a host of surprises in store. 



Full Monty Promo Image

THEATRE: The Full Monty

20-25 March, Doors 2.30pm, 7.30pm, Tickets £16.40 - £32.40, Sunderland Empire

T’story revolves a bunch of t’steelworkers from t’Sheffield in t’Yorkshire. Having lost t’jobs and ended up on t’dole, t’crew face a variety of problems. T’solution t’all t’problems soon becomes apparent. After seeing the sort of crowds t’Chippendales attract; t’boys decide t’take t’clothes off t’get out of t’rut.

While the stage production doesn’t feature the likes of Robert Carlyle who’s off somewhere being Scottish again there are a few recognisable faces. Gary Lucy (Eastenders), Anthony Lewis (Holby City) and Chris Fountain (Coronation Street) are just a few names amongst a frankly staggering* cast.

*If you’re a big fan of soap operas.



Photo of Sunderland Symphony Orchestra's First Violins

Sunderland Symphony Orchestra Spring Concert

25 March 2017, Doors 7.30pm, Tickets £8.00 (£5.00), West Park Church.

Sunderland’s very own Orchestra is kicking off its 18th concert season with a performance in the centre of Sunderland.

It’s based around “music from the British Isles” so, as you would expect, music from England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales makes an appearance.

Those who are fans of 16th century music or ice-cream van tunes are in for a treat as there’s also a “light hearted” version of the 16th-century smash hit Greensleeves in the offing.

Sunderland’s Mayor Cllr. Alan Emerson is reportedly turning up, so you have no excuse.



The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra dressed as pirates.

MUSIC: Sound Around

26 March, Doors 3.00pm, Tickets £11.90, Sunderland Empire

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra are staging a “relaxed performance”.  What that essentially makes this is the most laid-back orchestral event on the calendar.

Audience members are allowed to dance, sing, chat, leave the room to chill out or just sit around and listen. There is even an opportunity to meet the musicians – and try out a few of the instruments – afterwards.

The 25-piece orchestra will be playing a variety of music from classical pieces to film theme tunes. If you’ve ever wanted to hear “The Imperial March” performed live, here’s your chance.



Patrick Monahan promotional image

COMEDY: Patrick Monahan: That 80s Show

31 March 2017, Tickets £12.00, Arts Centre Washington

It’s the 80s: pastel suits are acceptable; Phil Collins is still relevant and parmo-enthusiast Patrick Monahan’s family has just settled on Teesside.

The Irish-Iranian comic’s US Tour ambitions may have been scuppered by a certain wacky haired billionaire’s foreign policy decisions. But who needs Washington D.C. when the original is just up the road?

That 80s Show received solid reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe and Monahan’s charm along with a potential wave of nostalgia are enough to make this a very entertaining hour.



Iconic Poster

MUSIC: Iconic The Show

31 March 2017, Doors 7.30pm, Tickets £27.90 - £29.90, Sunderland Empire

The man behind Vampires Rock, Steve Steinman, has an all new music-based-show.

This time there’s fewer dead people, hits from movie sound tracks instead of rock classics (though there probably is bit of overlap) and a similar number of pyrotechnic spectacles because, why not?

Hits from Kill Bill, Batman, Pulp Fiction, Purple Rain, Bond, Mad Max are expected on the setlist, Highlander isn’t listed but they can’t miss that one, surely?



March Gigs and Cover Acts:




One Night of Elvis: Lee ‘Memphis' King

01 March 2017, Doors 7.30pm, Tickets £27.50, Sunderland Empire

Mercury: The Ultimate Queen Tribute

09 march 2017, Doors 7.30pm, Tickets £23.40, Sunderland Empire


(Coma Violet, The Voyd)

11 March 2017, Doors 7.30pm, Independent Sunderland (18+)

The Flytes Reunion

25 March, Doors 8.00pm, Tickets £5.90, Independent Sunderland (18+)


Whitney: Queen of the Night

30 March 2017, Doors 7.30pm, Tickets £22.90-£27.90, Sunderland Empire