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John Crabtree (Chair of Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre Trust) and Chief Executive Stuart Griffiths introduce our Performance Review and reflect on an outstanding year.

This Performance Review reflects on an exceptional period in this great theatre’s long history. Undoubtedly the key achievement was that over 625,000 tickets were sold for shows from April 2013, the highest attendance for well over fifty years.

This was combined with an impressive range of outcomes across the wide range of the Hippodrome’s activities. Notable achievements include the launch of Hippodrome Plus, our programme of creative learning and performance; significant operational efficiencies; increased fundraising; and national recognition of our progress in staff development.

There were 404 performances in a record-breaking year and on average, almost 86% of seats were sold for every single one. Over half of the audience were new patrons visiting us for the first time In a year of records, the two standout shows were Disney’s spectacular The Lion King and the National Theatre’s poignant War Horse, both of which achieved complete sellout seasons and standing ovations at every performance. Musicals occupied nearly half of the year with Sir Cameron Mackintosh’s 25th anniversary production of The Phantom of the Opera opening the year to capacity audiences followed by outstanding productions of Hairspray and Singin’ in the Rain. We were also pleased to join with other venues in the Music & Lyrics consortium to produce capacity runs of High Society and Fiddler on the Roof.

Over half of the audience in the year were new attendees visiting the theatre for the first time and many of them have made further bookings.

Pantomime has been a Hippodrome tradition since 1957 and goes from strength to strength, building on its reputation as the biggest and best in the land. Snow White was another record-breaking production with the highest attendance for over ten years. The build-up to the show was featured in a Channel 4 documentary as one of its stars, Gok Wan, made his pantomime debut.

Birmingham Royal Ballet enjoyed unrivalled success with their highest ever sales for The Nutcracker, the festive centre piece of a season which included popular revivals such as Coppélia, Giselle and ‘Still Life’ at the Penguin Café and also new work such as David Bintley’s The Prince of the Pagodas to Britten’s score in his centenary year.

In dance, the return of Matthew Bourne’s now famous Swan Lake played to its largest ever audience outside London in an extended sold-out season.

Finally, we were also pleased to welcome Welsh National Opera led by Artistic Director David Pountney to their English home for three rich seasons of nine operas. This included a brand new work from Birmingham born Jonathan Harvey, with his Wagner Dream alongside a new production of Lohengrin in Wagner’s bicentenary year.

Augmenting our main stage programme, Hippodrome Plus was launched to engage with many more thousands of people in widely varied programmes encompassing learning, access, free events, outdoor performances and new productions. The number of attendances for these projects doubled to almost 70,000 and this programme has become the focus of our fundraising as detailed later in this review. Free outdoor events to attract more people to Southside and the city centre culminated in our co-ordination and production of the Four Squares Weekender. Audiences of almost 100,000 enjoyed a free weekend of spectacular outdoor arts from our fellow Birmingham Arts Partnership (BAP) organisations, timed to celebrate the opening of the spectacular new Library of Birmingham. Many of our programmes rely on support from generous donations from individuals and organisations. This year saw increases in both corporate support and individual donations all of which enabled us to expand the range of experiences and engagement we offer, especially to young people.

Behind the scenes we have also been able to break new ground and operate the theatre as efficiently and positively as possible, with accreditation in environmental management and health & safety – the first theatre to achieve British Standards in both these crucial operational areas. We were also very pleased to be listed for the first time in the Sunday Times top 100 best not-for-profit companies to work for. Birmingham Hippodrome’s mission is to provide the best possible theatre experience for our audience and our visiting casts and companies. We would like to thank every single person who has attended and performed at Birmingham Hippodrome this year.

Finally and certainly not least, our heartfelt thanks to all the staff who work tirelessly behind the scenes to produce and deliver the shows and ensure every visit is the best it possibly can be, and to our Trustees for their support and enthusiasm.

We are all enormously proud to have played a part in the Hippodrome story in such a memorable year.


John Crabtree OBE

Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre Trust


Stuart Griffiths OBE

Chief Executive
Birmingham Hipodrome


If you would like to help Birmingham Hippodrome achieve its future ambitions, please get in touch. There are opportunities for businesses, individuals and grant-making Trusts to play a part, and we are always seeking new partnerships.
Click here to read more about our fundraising challenge, and read more about our Hippodrome Plus programmes here.
Please contact Rob Macpherson, Marketing & Development Director
0121 689 3081 or email robmacpherson@birminghamhippodrome.com



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