Important Information

Please click here for more information on Birmingham Hippodrome’s cancellation of live performances in the main auditorium until 1 February 2021.

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PRESS RELEASE - From Russia With Love. Welsh National Opera return to Birmingham Hippodrome with three epic works marking centenary of Russian Revolution

This autumn, Welsh National Opera return to Birmingham Hippodrome with a major presentation of three epic Russian-themed works which marks the centenary of the Russian Revolution.  Performing from 31 October – 4 November, the Company will bring its productions of Musorgsky’s Khovanshchina, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin and Janáček’s From the House of the Dead, based on the book by Dostoevsky to the city.

Alongside these are two more chances to see Johan Strauss’s Die Fledermaus, this time with Judith Howarth taking the role of Rosalinde.

First to be performed is Khovanshchina which highlights the central dilemma of Russian cultural identity which is still common today: whether to face East or West.  Set against the Moscow Uprising of 1682, Khovanshchina sees the country in turmoil with the struggle between a romanticised past and modern reform.

This is the first revival of David Pountney’s 2007 production, and will see the return of Robert Hayward in the role of Prince Ivan Khovansky and Adrian Thompson in the role of the Scribe.  They will be joined by Mark Le Brocq as the Westernised aristocrat, Prince Vasily Golitsyn, and Miklós Sebestyén as religious fundamentalist, Dosifei.

Evoking the elegance of early 19th century St Petersburg alongside simple countryside settings, Eugene Onegin follows the cynical protagonist as he rejects the romantic advances of the young country girl Tatyana, before later coming to regret his actions and feeling the sting of rejection himself.  Considered one of the greatest Russian operas, Tchaikovsky’s music reflects the high society of the time and the yearnings of the heart with evocative arias, romantic choruses and luscious waltzes.

This revival of James Macdonald’s original production will be directed by Caroline Chaney and conducted by Latvian Ainārs Rubikis who has recently been announced as the new Music Director of Komische Oper Berlin.  Rising star and Welsh singer Natalya Romaniw takes the role of Tatyana, and Nicholas Lester returns to WNO following his performances in the Figaro trilogy in 2016 to take the role of Onegin.  Also joining the cast are Jason Bridges (Lensky), Helen Jarmany (Olga), Miklós Sebestyén (Prince Gremin) and Sara Fulgoni (Filipyevna).

From the House of the Dead will be a revival of WNO’s original 1982 production, this time in a new critical edition by musicologist John Tyrrell with performance suggestions by Charles Mackerras.  Unfinished at the time of Janáček’s death, this will be the first time that the opera will be performed in a version that is as close as possible to what Janáček intended.

Telling the story of the inmates of a Siberian prison, the opera reflects their feelings of pain, oppression and injustice as each recount why they ended up in jail.  Their gloom is eased as they painstakingly nurse an eagle back to health, which comes to symbolize both Russia and the notion of freedom.

The production will feature a stellar ensemble cast including Alan Oke (Skuratov), Robert Hayward (The Commandant), Mark Le Brocq (Filka Morozov) and Adrian Thompson (Shapkin).

Tomáš Hanus says: “WNO’s ‘Russian Revolution’ season reflects the soul of Russian people, culture and thinking, as well as the history. It is very important for us at this point in history to be touched by this subject, as it is sending a very specific but universal message. The extraordinary beauty and immense power of the music of great Masters like Tchaikovsky, Musorgsky and Janáček puts us right at the heart of this Russian phenomenon and brings it alive in front of our eyes.

“I really cannot wait to be working on Khovanshchina and From the House of the Dead with our fantastic orchestra, chorus and all the soloists, and to share this with our audience. I am sure that together we will all experience an exceptional and very emotional season that will deeply enrich our lives.”

Talking about the Russian Revolution theme, WNO Artistic Director David Pountney says: “After the intellectual and artistic euphoria that led to an explosion of creativity immediately post the revolution, the brutal realities of Lenin’s and Stalin’s regimes meant that putting pen to paper became an increasingly dangerous act. The result is that though there was an enormous amount of musical activity in Soviet Russia, there are no significant operas about the revolution itself.  Our approach has been to present three works that in very different ways illustrate the enduring character of Russians and Russian society.

The most endearing is Russia the romantic, as illustrated by Eugene Onegin, an unbearably touching story in which Pushkin’s Mozartian sense of irony is overlaid by Tchaikovsky’s unrestrained passion. The most telling politically is Khovanshchina which deals with the interplay between sadly familiar forces: over mighty war lords or oligarchs (Khovansky), religious fundamentalists (Dosifei), Westernizing liberals (Galitsin), an out-of-control militarised secret police force (The Streltsy), and, in the distance, the trumpets herald the arrival of the legendary reformer, Peter the Great. Watching all this are the bewildered and ever stoical Russian people. Finally, Janáček’s setting of Dostoevsky’s autobiographical account of his experiences in a Siberian prison remind us that violence and the suppression of freedom have remained one of the essential levers of Russian government.

This season perhaps sounds like hard work, but believe it or not these are three of the finest operas ever written: suffering makes great opera!

During the Autumn season, there will also be two performances – including one matinee – of WNO’s acclaimed production of Die Fledermaus, this time conducted by James Southall.  Die Fledermaus will transport audiences to early 1900s Vienna in a production that revels in the humour and frivolity of the story, and is full of opulence, fancy frocks and lavish detail.  Featuring a rich and romantic score by Johan Strauss, we join the characters at a masquerade ball as a plot around mistaken identity unfolds.  Die Fledermaus will be sung in English with translation by David Pountney and dialogue by John Copley.

The cast for Die Fledermaus includes Judith Howarth in the role of Rosalinde and Mark Stone as her errant husband Eisenstein. They will be joined by Ben McAteer (Falke), Rhian Lois (Adele), Alan Opie (Frank), Paul Charles Clarke (Alfred), and WNO Associate Artist Anna Harvey (Orlofsky).

Also joining the cast in the role of the jailer, Frosch, is Welsh actor Steve Speirs.  Better known to some as Alan in the Sky One series Stella, Steve has appeared in TV shows including Extras, Doctor Who and Miranda, and has also appeared in feature films including Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.

Alongside the season, WNO will continue with a new programme of Youth and Community activity which is intended to engage and inspire.  This will include a new programme extending our work with primary schools in Birmingham, working with four new schools on a regular basis to increase opportunities for young people to get involved in music, singing and the arts through weekly sessions with WNO professionals.  Taster sessions for a new Youth Opera which will begin in earnest from early 2018 will also take place during the autumn.  There will also be Access All Arias events in Birmingham, which are live pop-up performances from members of WNO Chorus. Four will take place in a public location and another four will be at local schools.  Both will use music from Die Fledermaus.

During the Autumn season, WNO’s free virtual reality (VR) experience, Magic Butterfly, will visit Birmingham between 30 October – 5 November and will be situated at Birmingham Hippodrome Square.  Magic Butterfly uses VR to re-imagine operatic scenes from Madam Butterfly and The Magic Flute and create an immersive experience using responsive animation and sound.  Magic Butterfly opened to a great response in Cardiff, and saw over 700 visitors in its first weekend.  It has also been nominated for a 2017 VR Award in the ‘Best out of home VR entertainment’ category.

This autumn will also see WNO launch a competition in partnership with Birmingham Hippodrome for young composers where they will be set the challenge of creating a 10-minute piece on the theme of ‘Uprising’.  The winner will be chosen by an expert panel of WNO composers and will be given the opportunity to create a longer piece for performance by young voices in 2018.  The competition will be launched on the opening night of Khovanshchina at Birmingham Hippodrome on 31 October.

ENDS

For press enquiries please contact Kate Evans (Communications Executive) on 0121 689 3065 or email kateevans@birminghamhippodrome.com

20.10.17

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Extended closure of Birmingham Hippodrome

Last updated 1 September 2020

It is with much sadness that Birmingham Hippodrome will not be staging live theatre productions in our main auditorium until 1 February 2021 at the earliest.

The impact of COVID-19 has been devastating for the theatre and live entertainment industry, especially for charitable organisations like Birmingham Hippodrome who do not receive any regular revenue subsidy. Almost all of our income comes from sales of tickets for our productions, so we currently have no revenue stream.

We are working with the governing bodies and other UK venues to explore ways we can reopen safely, but whilst social distancing measures are still in place, we must remain closed for the foreseeable future.

We know how disappointing it has been to not see your favourite shows and we are working hard with producers to secure rescheduled dates where possible. As we receive information for shows we will be contacting customers via email. The team are currently dealing with a high volume of bookings, so we kindly ask all ticket holders to avoid contacting Birmingham Hippodrome directly to minimise incoming enquiries.

We want to be there for you when this crisis is over and continue to bring your favourite productions to Birmingham, but, without support, the implications of this situation will be long-lasting for the Hippodrome and the region.

We would therefore be hugely grateful if our affected customers would kindly consider an exchange, credit on account or a donation of some, or all, of the cost of your ticket to support Birmingham Hippodrome’s future. We understand that this is an extremely difficult time for many, and this option is not possible for everyone. Thank you for your continued support.

Affected Productions

Below are a list of productions and other events affected during this period of temporary closure:

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

19 December 2020 – 31 January 2021

Rescheduled for 18 December 2021 – Sun 30 January 2022*

Ticket holders are being contacted.

Birmingham Royal Ballet – The Nutcracker

20 November – 12 December 2020

This event has been postponed. We are working with Birmingham Royal Ballet to find alternative dates in winter 2021. We will be in touch with ticket holders to discuss their booking as soon as possible.

Welsh National Opera
The Barber of Seville
Jenůfa
Migrations

11 – 14 November 2020

These events have been cancelled and ticket holders have been contacted.

Alan Carr 

5 & 6 November 2020

Rescheduled for 6 & 7 May 2021*

Slava’s Snowshow

28 October – 1 November 2020

This event has been cancelled and ticket holders have been contacted.

Faulty Towers – The Dining Experience

21 – 24 October 2020

This event has been cancelled and ticket holders have been contacted.

Hairspray

12 – 17 October 2020

Rescheduled for 8 – 13 March 2021*

Joel Dommett

11 October 2020

Rescheduled for 17 October 2021*

Sister Act

15 – 26 September 2020

Rescheduled for 2 – 13 November 2021*

The Phantom of the Opera

29 July – 12 September 2020

This event has been cancelled and ticket holders have been contacted.

SIX 

21 – 25 July 2020

Rescheduled for 14 – 18 September 2021*

Groove On Down The Road

18 & 19 July 2020

This event has been cancelled and ticket holders have been contacted.

Danni Hero

3 & 4 July 2020

This event has been cancelled and ticket holders have been contacted.

Les Misérables

30 June – 18 July 2020

Rescheduled for 8 – 26 June 2021*

Birmingham Royal Ballet – Class on Stage

27 June 2020

This event has been cancelled and ticket holders have been contacted.

Birmingham Royal Ballet – Don Quixote

19 – 27 June 2020

This event has been cancelled and ticket holders have been contacted.

Aakash Odedra – Samsara

11 June 2020

This event has been cancelled and ticket holders have been contacted.

Bring It On

2 – 6 June 2020

This event has been cancelled and ticket holders have been contacted.

B-SIDE Hip-Hop Festival

29 May – 7 June 2020

This event has been postponed to a later date. Future dates tbc.

Hit the Ode

29 May 2020

This event has been cancelled and ticket holders have been contacted.

Room on the Broom

19 – 24 May 2020

Rescheduled for 12 – 16 Jan 2021*

Mamma Mia!

12 – 30 May 2020

Rescheduled for 3-14 May 2022*

We Will Rock You

20 April – 2 May 2020

Rescheduled for 17 – 29 May 2021*

Welsh National Opera
The Marriage of Figaro
Carmen
Les vêpres siciliennes

6 – 9 May 2020

These events have been cancelled and ticket holders have been contacted.

Flower Cutters

17 – 18 April 2020

This event has been cancelled and ticket holders have been contacted.

Priscilla: Queen of the Desert 13 – 18 April 2020

This event has been cancelled and ticket holders have been contacted.

Message In A Bottle

8 & 9 April 2020

Rescheduled for 4 & 5 May 2021*

Chance 2 Dance

5 April 2020

This event has been cancelled and ticket holders have been contacted.

Bollywood Divas

4 April 2020

Rescheduled for 24 April 2021*

Romesh Ranganathan

2 April, 3 May, 4 May 2020

Rescheduled for 25, 26 & 27 Mar 2021*

Let’s Dance

30 March 2020

This event has been cancelled and ticket holders have been contacted.

 DX – U.Dance WM

29 March 2020

This event has been cancelled and ticket holders have been contacted.

DX – Mariposa

27 & 28 March 2020

This event has been cancelled and ticket holders have been contacted.

The Book of Mormon

16 – 28 March 2020

This event has been cancelled and ticket holders have been contacted.

 

We are currently working with reduced staff and hours, but we will be in touch with all affected ticket holders as soon as we can. We thank you for your on-going patience. Please note, our Ticket Sales team are available 10am – 6pm Mon to Fri (excluding Bank Holidays).

*For rescheduled performances we will arrange for replacement tickets to be sent to you. If you are unable to make the alternative date/s, you will be given details of the option of a credit to account or refund in an email communication. Please bear with us at this busy time.

Those who we do not have correct telephone or email information for will be contacted via post.

If you are attending a future performance post the date of Monday 2 November 2020, any further updates or information will be shared as soon as it is available. Please do keep checking our website and social media channels for the latest updates.

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Perfect pantomime cast announced!

Following last year’s record-breaking production of Aladdin attended by nearly 120,000 people, we are delighted to announce another spectacular line-up for this year’s must-see pantomime adventure, Dick Whittington. JOHN BARROWMAN, STEVE MCFADDEN, THE KRANKIES and MATT SLACK will lead a superb cast in the magical production which runs from Monday 19 December 2016 to Sunday 29 January 2017.

John BarrowmanJOHN BARROWMAN stars in the title role of the hero Dick Whittington. The hugely popular showman last appeared at the Hippodrome in the pantomime Robin Hood in 2008/09 and has enjoyed an acclaimed and hugely varied career including music, presenting and writing with performances on television and film, in the West End and on Broadway. His numerous stage credits include leading roles in Sunset Boulevard, Anything Goes, Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon and Company. He was on the TV judging panel of How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? and Any Dream Will Do alongside Andrew Lloyd Webber, and hosted his own primetime Saturday night programme for the BBC.

John is perhaps best-known for his iconic role as Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who for the BBC, a role that proved so popular he became the leading role in its spin-off series, Torchwood, which made John a household name. He has also released eleven studio albums and two concert DVDs. John is currently starring as Malcolm Merlyn in the acclaimed US television show Arrow, based on the DC Comic crime-fighter Green Arrow which is now in its fifth series.

Steve McFaddenSoap star STEVE MCFADDEN will be telling a different ‘tail’ this Christmas starring as the evil King Rat, determined to outwit Dick Whittington. The RADA trained actor has appeared in numerous television programmes, including roles in The Bill, Minder and Bergerac, but it is the role of Phil Mitchell in the long-running BBC soap EastEnders for which he is best known. Steve has starred in the iconic role for over 25 years, at the centre of a number of high-profile storylines, and has won a plethora of high-profile awards. No stranger to the world of pantomime, Steve has played practically all the villains in pantoland, but Dick Whittington marks his first time playing its most evil rodent!

The KrankiesJoining John and Steve are the legendary double act THE KRANKIES playing Councillor and Jimmy Krankie. Having entertained audiences with their slapstick for over 50 years, Dick Whittington reunites the pair with John Barrowman, having starred together in pantomime in their hometown of Glasgow for five years. Ian and Janette Tough, who last year celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary, have been stalwarts on the cabaret circuit and on television since the 1970s, enjoying a varied career including sold-out residencies at major theatres across the UK, appearances at the Royal Variety Performance and their own television programmes The Krankies Klub and The Krankies Elektronik Komic and released two singles, Fan-Dabi-Dozi, based on their much loved catchphrase and Wee Jimmy Krankie.

Matt SlackFor a fourth year running Hippodrome favourite MATT SLACK returns to make Birmingham audiences roll in the aisles with his hilarious physical comedy and quick wit in the role of Idle Jack. Matt has delighted audiences year after year winning rave reviews for his hilarious performances. Also returning after last year’s appearance in Aladdin is favourite pantomime dame ANDREW RYAN, who will don even more of his amazing frocks in the role of Sarah the Cook.

Produced by Qdos Entertainment, the world’s biggest pantomime producer, Dick Whittington will be directed by MICHAEL HARRISON for the fifth year running. Michael, also the producer behind Birmingham Hippodrome hits The Bodyguard, Annie and Barnum said: “Once again we are delighted to bring together a sensational cast of talented performers for the Birmingham Hippodrome pantomime, which – as always – will be a spectacle on a par with any West End show in terms of scale and production values.”

FIONA ALLAN, Artistic Director and Chief Executive at Birmingham Hippodrome added: “We are hugely excited to be working with Qdos again to bring audiences such a fantastic line up of stars for Dick Whittington. It’s never too early to be planning Christmas fun – sales are already set to break records – and this year’s pantomime promises plenty of laughs, outrageous costumes and special effects to amaze all the family.”

Dick Whittington runs at Birmingham Hippodrome from Monday 19 December 2016 until Sunday 29 January 2017. Tickets from £15.50* can be booked on 0844 338 5000† or from birminghamhippodrome.com.

†Calls cost 4.5p per min. plus your phone company’s access charge. * 5% transaction fee applies (excl. cash sales in person).

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Full Cast Announcement for Andrew Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard

Joining the previously announced Ria Jones as ‘Norma Desmond’ and Danny Mac as ‘Joe Gillis’ will be Adam Pearce as ‘Max Von Mayerling’, Molly Lynch as ‘Betty Schaefer’, Dougie Carter as ‘Artie Green’ and Carl Sanderson as ‘Cecil B DeMille’.

The rest of the company includes Bernadette Bangura, Matthew Barrow, Benjamin Chambers, Joanna Goodwin, Kristoffer Hellström, Iain Mattley, James Meunier, Gemma Naylor, Fiona O’Carroll, Joanna O’Hare, Jessica Paul, Sam Peggs, Tom Vincent and Barney Wilkinson

Last year, Ria Jones played the role of ‘Norma Desmond’ at the London Coliseum when Glenn Close was indisposed, receiving rave reviews and standing ovations for her performance. Ria has recently starred as ‘Dorothy Brock’ in “42nd Street” at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. Her West End credits include ‘Fantine’ in “Les Misérables”, ‘Grizabella’ in “Cats” and ‘Florence’ in “Chess”. Her touring credits include ‘Alex’ in “The Witches of Eastwick”, ‘Mrs Overall’ in “Acorn Antiques – The Musical”, ‘Reno Sweeney’ in “Anything Goes” and ‘The Narrator’ in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”.

Danny Mac captured the nation’s hearts and received overwhelming support during his incredible time on BBC1’s “Strictly Come Dancing” making it all the way to the final. He most recently starred as ‘Gabey’ in “On The Town” at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. His other musical theatre credits include “Wicked” and “Legally Blonde”.

Adam Pearce’s many West End credits include “Les Misérables” at the Queen’s Theatre, as well as the original casts of “Love Never Dies” at the Adelphi, “The Light Princess at the National Theatre and “Urinetown” at the St James Theatre.  Adam has also appeared in “Evita”, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “Sweeney Todd”, all at the Adelphi.

Molly Lynch most recently appeared in English National Opera’s “Carousel” at the Coliseum, where she has also appeared in “Sweeney Todd”. Her other credits include “Fiddler on the Roof” at Grange Park Opera.

Dougie Carter recently played ‘Jean-Michel’ in the national tour of “La Cage Aux Folles”. His West End theatre credits include “Les Misérables” at the Queen’s Theatre and “Alice” at St James Theatre.

Carl Sanderson’s many West End credits include “Cats”, “The Phantom of the Opera”, “Acorn Antiques – The Musical” and “Starlight Express”. His other theatre credits include the national tours of “My Fair Lady” and “Hairspray” as well as “Guys and Dolls”, “The Music Man” and “The Pajama Game” all at Chichester Festival Theatre.

One of the all-time great musicals, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony Award®-winning (Best Musical, Best Original Score and Best Book of a Musical) masterpiece SUNSET BOULEVARD is a compelling story of romance and obsession, based on Billy Wilder’s legendary film, with Don Black and Christopher Hampton’s wonderful book and lyrics. This much-loved score includes the title number Sunset Boulevard, With One Look, As If We Never Said Goodbye, The Greatest Star Of All and The Perfect Year and will be performed by a full orchestra.

In her mansion on Sunset Boulevard, faded, silent-screen goddess, Norma Desmond, lives in a fantasy world. Impoverished screen writer, Joe Gillis, on the run from debt collectors, stumbles into her reclusive world. Persuaded to work on Norma’s ‘masterpiece’, a film script that she believes will put her back in front of the cameras, he is seduced by her and her luxurious life-style.  Joe becomes entrapped in a claustrophobic world until his love for another woman leads him to try and break free with dramatic consequences.

On Mon 13 – Sat 18 of November – tickets can information can be found here.

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Just announced: new shows and new experiences for all!

Birmingham Hippodrome is pleased to raise the curtain on a new season of world-class productions and enriching cultural experiences for the city and beyond.

Tickets are now on sale to Birmingham Hippodrome Friends and Patrons scheme members for an exciting new range of productions, click here to find out more about becoming a Friend.

Just announced today, Birmingham Hippodrome will officially open the UK Tour of Bring It On – The Musical (2-6 Jun) featuring music by Tom Kitt and Hamilton creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda. BritAsiaTV presents Live In Effect – Surinder Shinda feat. the Tru-Skool Live Band (8 Feb) which will see the living legend of Panjabi folk performing his greatest hits plus bollywood DIVAS (4 Apr) will bring to the stage a breathtaking dance tribute to the women of Indian Cinema. The highly acclaimed Aakash Odedra Company presents Samsara (11 Jun) as part of Birmingham International Dance Festival, big-haired hit Hairspray (12-17 Oct) returns and Slava’s Snowshow (28 Oct-1 Nov) brings a flurry of family fun. Finally, Birmingham’s favourite pantomime star, Matt Slack will return in Goldilocks and the Three Bears (19 Dec-31 Jan 2021) with sets and costumes direct from the London Palladium – tickets on general sale from 20 Dec 2019.

In the Patrick Studio, the best-selling children’s picture book Room on the Broom (19-24 May) will burst into life on stage, Ask Me Anything (3&4 Mar) is an immersive theatrical experience set in the teenage bedrooms of the 90s and 00s and Hippodrome Associate Company, Open Theatre present The Twisted Tale of Hansel and Gretel (12-15 Feb).

Beyond the two stages, Birmingham Hippodrome will continue to present cultural experiences across the city including a four day celebration to mark Chinese New Year: Year of the Rat (23-26 Jan) featuring a host of free performances, workshops and food. B-SIDE Hip-Hop Festival (29 May-7 Jun) will once again bring together international artists and enthusiasts from across the globe featuring dance battles, live music, grafitti, street sports and much more. Verve Poetry Festival (20-23 Feb) will feature a lively and celebratory programme of raucous performance poetry, quiet reading events and studious workshops plus UniSlam (8 Mar) will mark the grand finals of the UK’s premier student and young people’s poetry event as the country’s top four poetry slam teams go head to head for the champions trophy and prize. Finally, Birmingham Hippodrome’s Circle Restaurant will transform into an immersive mad-cap dining experience for the very first time as Faulty Towers The Dining Experience (1-4 Apr) checks in.

Tickets for all newly announced productions are now on sale to Birmingham Hippodrome Friends and Patrons scheme members – click here to find out more about becoming a Friend. Tickets go on general sale Monday 2 December at 11am.

Fiona Allan, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Birmingham Hippodrome said;

“This year, Birmingham Hippodrome celebrated 120 years in style – from gala dinners to our recent family-themed circus open day we have found many reasons to mark the occasion. Next year brings an unequalled line up of blockbusters: We Will Rock You, The Phantom of the Opera, Les Misérables and Mamma Mia! returning by popular demand to the Hippodrome, and for the very first time Lin-Manuel Miranda’s (Hamilton) cult cheerleading musical Bring It On, and the smash-hit SIXAlongside, we continue our work producing and supporting the city’s festivals: Chinese New Year, Verve Poetry Festival, Birmingham International Dance Festival, our own B-SIDE Hip Hop Festival, and BRB’s Curated by Carlos, marking the first season with Carlos Acosta at the artistic helm of the company. As a significant centre for dance, we present Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes, Kate Prince’s Message In A Bottle – based on songs of Sting, BRB’s Swan Lake and Don Quixote, and some ground-breaking contemporary dance throughout the year in our Patrick Studio. As we head into the season of giving, remember that Birmingham Hippodrome is a charity and that every pound you spend with us helps to ensure thousands of children and adults across the region enjoy life enhancing education and cultural activities. Last year we engaged 250,000 times through free and low cost cultural activity. We thank you for your ongoing support, so that we continue to bring culture to so many across the city and region.”

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Landmark Musical Returns To Where It All Began

Few musicals have captured the hearts and minds of audiences quite like the multi-award winning Blood Brothers. Returning to Birmingham Hippodrome for two weeks from Mon 10 – Sat 22 Oct, the smash-hit musical will see actress and singer Lyn Paul reprise her iconic role as Mrs Johnstone, a part she first took on in 1996/1997, having first shot to fame as a member of The New Seekers in the 1970s.

Affectionately christened “the standing ovation musical” by The Daily Mail, what began life as a secondary school play has since grown into a worldwide phenomenon and remains, to this day, one of only three musicals to surpass the milestone of 10,000 performances in London’s West End.

Written by Liverpool playwright, composer and director Willy Russell, Blood Brothers tells the captivating and moving story of twin boys separated at birth, only to be reunited by a twist of fate and a mother’s haunting secret. The memorable score includes A Bright New Day, Marilyn Monroe and the emotionally charged hit Tell Me It’s Not True.

To celebrate Blood Brothers’ 10th visit to Birmingham Hippodrome in 2016, cast members Lyn Paul (Mrs Johnstone), Sean Jones (Mickey Johnstone) and Joel Eldridge (Eddie Lyons) joined Hippodrome staff and members of the press on stage for a celebratory photo call and a slice of cake on Tues 11th October before heading off to warm-up for their evening show.

Blood Brothers famously ran for 24 years in London, making it the 5th longest-running show ever to appear on the West End behind The Mousetrap, Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera and The Woman in Black.

The first production of Blood Brothers to be performed at Birmingham Hippodrome opened on 7 Aug 1995 starring Helen Reddy as Mrs Johnstone. The production was also the first version of the show to be performed outside of the West End.

The current production of Blood Brothers, starring Lyn Paul, is the tenth version of the show to take place at Birmingham Hippodrome over its 30 year history.

Blood Brothers runs until Sat 22 Oct at Birmingham Hippodrome. For tickets, call 0844 338 5000 or visit www.birminghamhippodrome.com

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Showstopping Stories for Social Distancing

We’ve put together a quarantine reading list with a touch of theatrical sparkle!

Here are 10 books that have inspired some of the world’s greatest musicals. We can’t promise jazz hands or showtunes, but you might discover something special in the original source material.


1. Les Misérables (1862) by Victor Hugo
An epic novel centring on the struggles and redemption of ex-convict Jean Valjean. More than a quarter of the book is devoted to moralistic essays on topics varying from the Battle of Waterloo to sewage systems. Not surprisingly, these deviations were left out of the musical adaptation!


2. Tevye’s Daughters (1894) by Sholom Aleichem
A collection of tales about Tevye, a dairyman living in a Jewish shtetl in Russia, were the inspiration for Fiddler on the Roof. Originally written in Yiddish, they tell of Tevye’s troublesome daughters, his business dealings and the encroachment of outside influences on his way of life. 


3. The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown (1933) by Damon Runyon
Along with Runyon’s other short stories exploring Broadway in the Prohibition era, this tale was the basis for Guys and Dolls, a love story between a gambler and a missionary.


4. The Phantom of the Opera (1910) by Gaston Leroux
First serialised in newspapers, this gothic novel was inspired by the Palais Garnier opera house in Paris. Leroux claimed, even on his death bed, that the book was based on true events. Indeed, an underwater pool can still be found under the opera house today!


5. Goodbye to Berlin (1933) by Christopher Isherwood
The basis for Cabaret, this semi-autobiographical book takes place in 1930s Berlin. It’s written as a loosely connected collection of six stories inspired by the intriguing people Isherwood met in the city just before the Nazis came to power. The cabaret singer, Sally Bowles, is his most memorable creation. 


6. Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (1939) by T.S. Eliot
Eliot originally wrote these whimsical poems about a group of cats for his godchildren under the name ‘Old Possum’. Adapted by Andrew Lloyd Webber into Cats in the 1980s, the musical is as quirky as the poetry!


7. Anna and the King of Siam (1944) by Margaret Landon
This novel is based on the memoirs of Anna Leonowens who travelled to Siam (now Thailand) in the 1860s to teach the King’s children and wives. Landon embellished these writings into a love story which  later inspired the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, The King and I.


8. The Color Purple (1982) by Alice Walker
Mainly written in the form of letters, this novel focuses on the lives of African-American women in rural Georgia in the 1930s. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1983 and was adapted into a Broadway musical in 2005. Birmingham Hippodrome staged a triumphant production of the show in 2019, co-produced with Leicester Curve.


9. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (1995) by Gregory Maguire
The first in The Wicked Years series of books, this novel gives an alternative backstory to characters encountered in The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum and is also a commentary on the nature of good and evil. The main character, Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West), is derived from the initials of Baum: L-F-B.


10. Alexander Hamilton (2004) by Ron Chernow
This biography about one of the Founding Fathers of the United States became an international bestseller after Lin-Manuel Miranda read the book on holiday and convinced Chernow he could turn it into a Hip-Hop musical. Chernow worked as historical consultant on Hamilton for six years while Miranda devised the show.  

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PRESS RELEASE - Birmingham Hippodrome announces perfect pantomime cast

Following last year’s record-breaking production of Aladdin attended by nearly 120,000 people, Birmingham Hippodrome has announced another spectacular line-up for this year’s must-see pantomime adventure, Dick Whittington. JOHN BARROWMAN, STEVE MCFADDEN, THE KRANKIES and MATT SLACK will lead a superb cast in the magical production which runs from Monday 19 December 2016 to Sunday 29 January 2017.

JOHN BARROWMAN stars in the title role of the hero Dick Whittington. The hugely popular showman last appeared at the Hippodrome in the pantomime Robin Hood in 2008/09 and has enjoyed an acclaimed and hugely varied career including music, presenting and writing with performances on television and film, in the West End and on Broadway. His numerous stage credits include leading roles in Sunset Boulevard, Anything Goes, Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon and Company. He was on the TV judging panel of How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? and Any Dream Will Do alongside Andrew Lloyd Webber, and hosted his own primetime Saturday night programme for the BBC.

John is perhaps best-known for his iconic role as Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who for the BBC, a role that proved so popular he became the leading role in its spin-off series, Torchwood, which made John a household name. He has also released eleven studio albums and two concert DVDs. John is currently starring as Malcolm Merlyn in the acclaimed US television show Arrow, based on the DC Comic crime-fighter Green Arrow which is now in its fifth series.

Soap star STEVE MCFADDEN will be telling a different ‘tail’ this Christmas starring as the evil King Rat, determined to outwit Dick Whittington. The RADA trained actor has appeared in numerous television programmes, including roles in The Bill, Minder and Bergerac, but it is the role of Phil Mitchell in the long-running BBC soap EastEnders for which he is best known. Steve has starred in the iconic role for over 25 years, at the centre of a number of high-profile storylines, and has won a plethora of high-profile awards. No stranger to the world of pantomime, Steve has played practically all the villains in pantoland, but Dick Whittington marks his first time playing its most evil rodent!

Joining John and Steve are the legendary double act THE KRANKIES playing Councillor and Jimmy Krankie. Having entertained audiences with their slapstick for over 50 years, Dick Whittington reunites the pair with John Barrowman, having starred together in pantomime in their hometown of Glasgow for five years. Ian and Janette Tough, who last year celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary, have been stalwarts on the cabaret circuit and on television since the 1970s, enjoying a varied career including sold-out residencies at major theatres across the UK, appearances at the Royal Variety Performance and their own television programmes The Krankies Klub and The Krankies Elektronik Komic and released two singles, Fan-Dabi-Dozi, based on their much loved catchphrase and Wee Jimmy Krankie.

For a fourth year running Hippodrome favourite MATT SLACK returns to make Birmingham audiences roll in the aisles with his hilarious physical comedy and quick wit in the role of Idle Jack. Matt has delighted audiences year after year winning rave reviews for his hilarious performances. Also returning after last year’s appearance in Aladdin is favourite pantomime dame ANDREW RYAN, who will don even more of his amazing frocks in the role of Sarah the Cook.

Produced by Qdos Entertainment, the world’s biggest pantomime producer, Dick Whittington will be directed by MICHAEL HARRISON for the fifth year running. Michael, also the producer behind Birmingham Hippodrome hits The Bodyguard, Annie and Barnum said: “Once again we are delighted to bring together a sensational cast of talented performers for the Birmingham Hippodrome pantomime, which – as always – will be a spectacle on a par with any West End show in terms of scale and production values.”

FIONA ALLAN, Artistic Director and Chief Executive at Birmingham Hippodrome added: “We are hugely excited to be working with Qdos again to bring audiences such a fantastic line up of stars for Dick Whittington. It’s never too early to be planning Christmas fun – sales are already set to break records – and this year’s pantomime promises plenty of laughs, outrageous costumes and special effects to amaze all the family.”

Dick Whittington runs at Birmingham Hippodrome from Monday 19 December 2016 until Sunday 29 January 2017. Tickets from £15.50* can be booked on 0844 338 5000† or from birminghamhippodrome.com.

[ENDS]

For further information, please contact Helen Annetts at Birmingham Hippodrome
07779 026720, helenannetts@birminghamhippodrome.com

*Prices and discounts subject to change, 5% transaction charge applies (excluding cash sales in person), postage from £1.
† 0844 calls cost 4.5p plus your phone company’s access charge.

Notes to Editors:
Birmingham Hippodrome is an independent, not-for-profit, registered charity welcoming an average 500,000 visits annually making it the most popular single auditorium in the UK. Birmingham Royal Ballet and DanceXchange are resident partners; the theatre presents all of Welsh National Opera’s repertoire, co-produces the award-winning International Dance Festival and welcomes the best in international dance, major touring dramas, and West End musicals. Home to the world’s biggest Pantomime it also houses the 200-seat Patrick Centre, with extensive events facilities, and its own restaurant.

As a charity with no public revenue funding, Birmingham Hippodrome receives generous support from the business community through sponsorship and other partnerships; from individuals through donations and memberships; and from grant-making Trusts for special programming and infrastructure projects. It is a major employer and plays a leading role in the Southside Business Improvement District.

Through Hippodrome CREATIVE we deliver successful projects in education and the wider community. With numerous supportive partners we have recently co-produced and produced new events including Minimum Monument, The Voyage, Summer in Southside, About Town, Blitz, the 4 Squares Weekender and Birmingham Weekender (celebrating the opening of New Street and Grand Central alongside the Rugby World Cup). Furious Folly will be presented this summer in Sutton Park co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW for the World War One commemorations.

Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre Trust Ltd, Charity No. 510842.
Hurst Street, Southside, Birmingham B5 4TB.
birminghamhippodrome.com

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Meet the cast and crew of Titanic The Musical

With just over two weeks until Titanic The Musical docks at Birmingham Hippodrome, find out what happened when Diane Parkes went behind-the-scenes of the stirring and spectacular new stage production to meet some of the local stars of the show.

When Claire Machin was 12 years old she made her theatrical debut – in the musical Annie at the Birmingham Hippodrome. Those performances convinced her that acting was her future – and 35 years later, 47-year-old Claire is returning to the Hippodrome in the tour of Titanic the Musical.

“It was 1983 and I was 12 and I auditioned for Annie. It was the first UK tour after the London performance and they were auditioning for some orphans,” she recalls. “My mum and dad took me to an open call and there were hundreds and hundreds of kids.

“You had to be under a certain height. They had something like a Mickey Mouse and you had to fit under his ears – it was a bit like getting on a rollercoaster!”

Claire, who grew up in Stoke-on-Trent, gained the part of July which she played for around six weeks at the Hippodrome – a theatre where she has performed many times during her career.

“Every time I go back to the Hippodrome I have a real fondness for that theatre,” she says. “I only have to open the stage door and the smell takes me back to being that 12-year-old girl with my little Annie canvas bag. It’s always an excited feeling when I come back to the Hippodrome.”

As a youngster, Claire watched amateur dramatics at the Queens Theatre in Burslem.

“I would sit in the balcony at the side. Just hearing the orchestra tuning up and the hustle and bustle – I just loved it. There was a local actress and the first time I saw her was in Mack and Mabel and I was in love with her and the idea of being her! I never wanted to do anything but acting.”

Titanic the Musical comes to Birmingham Hippodrome on June 4-9 as part of the show’s first UK tour. A vastly reworked version of the 1997 Broadway musical, this production was premiered at London’s Southwark Playhouse in 2013, played Toronto in Canada and Tokyo and Osaka in Japan and was staged at Charing Cross Theatre in London in 2016.

This tour is the first time Claire has been in the production which sees all of the actors playing a variety of different roles.

“What is so special about Titanic the Musical is that it’s not a show about a ship – it’s about the people on that ship,” she says. “It’s very relatable when you think about things like 9/11 and Grenfell Tower.

“We rush about in our busy lives but this will be a moment when the audience sits for two hours and is hopefully enthralled in these people’s lives. There is somebody there on stage who everyone can relate to – audience members will see characters and think ‘that’s me’.

“I think the audience will really feel something for those characters in that tragic situation. It’s good to be reminded of the human story and the human cost to life.”

Claire’s key character is Alice Beane, a second class passenger.

“It’s really easy to make Alice seem aspirational and a Hyacinth Bucket type character and I feel I owe it to Alice to ensure there is more to her than that,” she says.

“I love Alice – she is so excited to be getting on this ship which is a wonder of the new world and she’s determined to get into the first class lounge and make friends. Being American it was OK to want more and she speaks for a world which was changing.”

Simon Green, who plays J Bruce Ismay, chairman of the White Star Line, the company which launched the Titanic, also first discovered theatre locally. Born in Solihull and a student at Cedarhurst and Solihull Schools, it was the Royal Shakespeare Company which inspired his love of acting.

“We lived in Baddesley Clinton and because we were close to Stratford-upon-Avon my parents took me to see Shakespeare’s As You Like It when I was about eight,” he recalls. “Dorothy Tutin was playing Rosalind and I watched and went ‘that’s what I want to do’.

“I hardly knew what it was and had hardly been to the theatre but I just knew. I did my O-levels and went to Stratford College which had a ground-breaking drama course with A-levels and then went to London and trained.”

Since then, 60-year-old Simon has built a successful career in theatre taking roles in a range of works from Phantom of the Opera to The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and winning a New York Drama Desk Award for his show Life is for Living.

He played the role of Ismay in the Southwark production and again in Toronto and takes on Ismay’s mantle again for the tour.

“Ismay is a really good part and the show is an extraordinary piece of work,” Simon says. “It’s a perfect piece of theatre. The response from the audience on the first performance was astonishing really – I don’t think we’d really realised what we’d got until then. It’s very powerful.

“With Ismay, Titanic was his pride and joy and he went on the maiden voyage and I suppose most famously he is the man who pushed it to go faster and faster because they wanted it to be the fastest ocean liner in the world.

“And he got on the life boat and came back and was vilified for it and called a coward. But after he came back he was the man who led the vanguard in changing all the rules in maritime travel and making it safer. So out of the tragedy came some good.

“Ismay is not the villain. He didn’t set out to kill anybody but it was through his ambition, need and desire that this terrible thing happened. There is no single element which made the tragedy of the Titanic happen.”

However Simon’s Ismay sometimes does sometimes spark an interesting response from audience members.

“When we did the show in Toronto, after the performances, we would walk past the exit to the car park and people who had just seen the show would wind down their windows and boo me – but I like to think they booed me with love!”

For Emma Harrold, being a student at the University of Birmingham between 2008-2011 aided her career path to the stage.

Emma, who is from St Albans, studied classics at the university and spent a good deal of her time performing in student productions.

“I had danced since I was three and had been in dance competitions on stage since I was six,” she says. “I loved doing it and at the age of 16 I had started doing lots of am dram.

“I was torn between going to drama school or university and I decided I was a bit too young to go to drama school so decided to go a really big university which I knew had extra-curricular drama and quite famous alumni.

“Then at the freshers’ fair I immediately went to the musical theatre stand and said ‘I want to be in your next production’. We did Hot Mikado which was great. Over that time I got to play some great parts in some great plays.

“Being in Birmingham I went to all of the theatres,  the Rep, the Alexandra, the Hippodrome, and saw all of these productions coming through and it all secured in my mind that I wanted to be an actor. So when I graduated I had a gap year and then did a post-graduate diploma in musical theatre at the Royal Academy of Music.”

Since then, 27-year-old Emma has been in a number of productions, including Happy Days at the Hippodrome four years ago – and she was keen to be involved in Titanic the Musical.

“As soon as Titanic came up I had my eye on it,” she says. “I watched the film of Titanic when it first came out and I remember it being really traumatic. I actually said I would never watch it again it was so sad – so maybe I was drawn to this production to exorcise some demons!

“I’m a newbie to the cast and the first weeks of rehearsals, rehearsing with people who have done this show maybe one, two or even three times before, I’ve been so excited to see how passionate they are about the project.

“I knew it was a great musical before I auditioned but it’s also understanding that we are in quite a unique position telling this wonderful and tragic story. We are recreating people who are not unlike us but lived 100 years ago and thought they were embarking on the most exciting period of their life – and obviously some made it and some poor souls didn’t. There is something thrilling about bringing this to life.”

Emma plays the role of Kate Mullins, a third class passenger on the ship.

“She’s Irish, from Donegal, and she makes her way to the Titanic to start a new life in America. Her dream is to become a sewing girl. She meets two other girls, also called Kate, also Irish, on the boarding of the Titanic and they start this very exciting journey together.”

And Emma has come to feel a real empathy for Kate.

“When people think about the story of the Titanic they think about a really fantastic ship which crashed into an iceberg and sank. But I think as we have gone through the rehearsals we’ve been seeing the people as an interactive living museum in which we are paying homage to them.”

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