Leicester Square’s Empire Cinema is to host live entertainment for the first time in more than 50 years from next month.
The central London venue was opened in 1884 and hosted live performances until 1961, with the Empire Girls often dancing on stage prior to cinema screenings. Its second screen was formerly the Ritzy music hall, hosting live performances until the 1940s, when it became a cinema. From next month, the venue will host a new children’s musical – the Go! Go! Go! Show.
Neil Golding, Empire Cinemas’ facilities director, told The Stage: “The reason we’ve decided to put the Go! Go! Go! Show on is that we were looking at the space down where the variety hall used to be and behind the screen we found the stage, which was in pretty complete condition. We thought why not look to re-use this? So we’ve refurbished it, reinstated the stage and put in a motorised screen so that we can put it up [and host live performance]“.
The Go! Go! Go! Show, a pop musical for children and families, will run in an 11am slot in the Empire’s Screen 2 from June 2 to August 31. It is produced by Mike Stock, who has composed and produced hits for Rick Astley, Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan, and Steve Crosby, who created Steps.
The venue will revert to use as a cinema screen when the Go! Go! Go! Show is not performing. Golding said while the 300-seat space will primarily be used as a cinema, Empire planned to host future live entertainment if the initial production was a success.
He added: “We’ve been looking at holding comedy nights on Friday and Saturday, but we want to see how things go and see how it works with it running in tandem with the cinema.”
Ticketing for the live shows will take place through the cinema box office.