An emergency alarm brought an abrupt halt to the big opening night of School of Rock at Sunderland Empire on Wednesday night.
A gala performance of the glitzy show – marking the comeback, in style, of big West End shows to the city theatre for the first time in more than 16 months – was cut short by an emergency alarm telling the audience to leave the building.
Emergency services arrived as the packed-out crowd vacated the building, milling around the streets while a fire crew attended.
The tanoy alert came at the highlight of the musical, just before the grand finale of the Andrew Lloyd Webber show – based on the 2003 hit movie starring Jack Black – which had been going a storm with the audience on what is its first UK tour.
It turned out there was no fire and theatre director Marie Nixon said that a sensitive alarm had been triggered which meant they had to act despite there being no danger.
While it was initially hoped the show could resume, the waiting crowds were then told the fire crew had advised against it.
The busy gala night – a thank you to the theatre’s supporters – had proved a huge success up to the point the disappointed audience missed out on the final crucial scenes of the feel-good musical which is running at the theatre until Saturday.
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