The repertory theatre has fast become an landmark in London’s independent venue scene, welcoming some of the biggest touring companies to the borough of Hackney. Alongside world-class theatre productions, the Empire stages concerts, opera and ballet performances.
Opening in 1901, the theatre celebrates over a century in delivering entertainment. It was another of theatre architect, Frank Matcham’s, jewels constructed in the Edwardian era, boasting rich colours, opulent designs and a majestic marble staircase.
The auditorium is one of London’s largest, making it an attractive site for touring productions. It has seen so many famous faces over the years and was thus inspired to create its own 'Walk of Fame', inaugurated by Dame Barbara Windsor inaugurated in May, 2017.
Upon opening, the Empire was a music hall and variety theatre, but later became a commercial television studio and then a bingo hall. After inheriting the status of a Grade II listed building, current owners, Mecca, could not afford the restorative process and so the venue returned to its former purpose of a theatre under the ownership of I C.A.S.T.
The building received a donation from Sir Alan Sugar alongside money raised by comedian, Griff Rhys Jones, and a new orchestra pit was added. The site was repainted and reformed according to Matcham’s original designs, which is enjoyed by today’s theatre-goers for its spectacular grandeur.