Following the spectacular success of 2016’s show, with 50,000 people seeing the show and a record number of first time attenders, the Hackney Empire has today announced Cinderella as its 2017 Christmas pantomime.
The 2016 production of Sleeping Beauty was seen by audiences from across the globe from countries including Hong Kong, USA, Brazil, Japan and Hawaii but 20% of the audience was from Hackney, an increase of 1% on last year. Other London Boroughs with an increase in audience presence include Islington, Waltham Forest, Tower Hamlets, Brent and Westminster. There were a record number of new attenders to the venue, 64% of the audience were first time attenders and they generated 57% of the final box office income.
The venue has also announced that current Creative Director, Susie McKenna, is to change her role becoming Executive Creative Producer. The newly created role will see her develop new, diverse musical theatre for Hackney Empire and partners. In particular she will be exploring new projects that are created by, or feature, BAME artists as well as also looking to develop younger early-career artists. She will still write and direct the legendary Hackney Empire pantomime, Cinderella in 2017 and the anniversary production in 2018.
Susie has been Creative Director at Hackney Empire for seven years and this new role will also allow her to pursue her freelance career as a writer, director and actor, whilst still developing and creating work for the Hackney Empire stage. In line with the 20th anniversary, Susie is writing a book to be published by Oberon Books about pantomime and the story of 20 years of her annual show at Hackney Empire.
Of the announcement, Susie said: “What a journey! It has been an honour and a privilege to be the Creative Director of Hackney Empire for the last seven years.
“The venue has a reputation for high quality popular entertainment and a vast community footprint with an outstanding outreach and artist development programme that has served Hackney and surrounding boroughs.
“My new role is an exciting opportunity to work with established and emerging diverse talent to tell stories that will celebrate and reflect the melting pot that is our London wide audience.”