As you read this I’ll have just taken a plane back to my other home, Sydney.  It will be my first proper holiday there in three years and I’m getting a little over-excited at the thought of sunshine and warm weather.

The timing couldn’t be better as Christmas at the Hippodrome has been a real blast, but stupendously busy to boot!

For the first time we presented a family Christmas show in our Patrick Centre Studio, The Snow Dragon.  And it has succeeded beyond our expectations:  terrific audiences every day and lots of great feedback about the company – a group called Tall Stories, who also tour The Gruffalo.  As a result, we are already thinking about having another children’s Christmas show later this year.

Another first was our Frost Fair, a family day in the foyers on December 16 with brass bands, choirs, craft workshops, artisanal market stalls and of course festive food – nearly 1,000 people dropped by.

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker never fails to delight, and this year was no different. Off the back of such a bumper run it’s great to see lots of people are already looking forward to this coming year judging by our advance sales.

Another first for BRB was presenting The Nutcracker at the Royal Albert Hall between Christmas and New Year. I travelled down for a matinee to show my support (and let’s be honest, because I was really curious to see how they would restage it for such a very different venue). I have to say it was incredible! With a voice over from Simon Callow and amazing digital projections by 59 Productions, that made it very different but just as magical and spellbinding as seeing it here. Congratulations to BRB.

As Cinderella – this is now my third panto since joining Birmingham Hippodrome, and with all respect to previous years, I have to say it is by far my favourite. Firstly, a hugely talented cast, and Beverley Knight, Danny Mac and Suzanne Shaw are wonderful performers.  As for our comedy favourite Matt Slack; let’s just say he pulls out all stops.  There is a point in the second half where he does something I’ve never seen done before in a theatre. I can’t say what as you have to see it for yourself but I honestly had tears in my eyes.  It runs until 28 January, so there’s still time to come and see it.

So for now, I’m off to enjoy Sydney where I’ve booked to see five shows in the few weeks I’m here: that’s probably enough! I hope you’ve all had a brilliant start to 2018, and have a happy and healthy year filled with lots of visits to the theatre.