IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Please click here for more information on Birmingham Hippodrome’s extended closure until Mon 2 November 2020.

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The Phantom of the Opera

…This performance is affected by Birmingham Hippodrome’s temporary closure. Unfortunately, The Phantom of the Opera has been cancelled. We will be in touch with ticket holders to discuss their…

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The Phantom of the Opera set to haunt the Hippodrome in 2020

The brilliant original production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera will come to Birmingham Hippodrome in 2020 as part of a major UK and Ireland tour.

To be the first to get your hands on the best seats in the house become a Friend here.

Now in its 33rd phenomenal year in the West End, The Phantom of the Opera is widely considered one of the most beautiful and spectacular productions in history. The production will come to Birmingham Hippodrome from 29 July – 12 September 2020, tickets will go on sale to Birmingham Hippodrome Friends and Patron scheme members on Tuesday 10 September at 11am.

Produced by Cameron Mackintosh and The Really Useful Theatre Company Limited The Phantom of the Opera‘s romantic, haunting and soaring score includes Music of the Night, All I Ask of You, Masquerade and the iconic title song.

The Phantom of the Opera tells the tale of a disfigured musical genius known only as ‘The Phantom’ who haunts the depths of the Paris Opera House. Mesmerised by the talents and beauty of a young soprano – Christine, the Phantom lures her as his protégé and falls fiercely in love with her. Unaware of Christine’s love for Raoul, the Phantom’s obsession sets the scene for a dramatic turn of events where jealousy, madness and passions collide.

The Phantom of the Opera is one of the most successful musicals in history playing to over 145 million people in 41 countries and 183 cities in 17 languages. It has won more than 70 major theatre awards, including seven Tony Awards and four Olivier Awards.

Fiona Allan, Birmingham Hippodrome Artistic Director and Chief Executive said; “The Phantom of the Opera is the very definition of a blockbuster musical, having played in London for 33 years and been seen by 145 million people worldwide. Now Birmingham audiences will have the opportunity to experience this extraordinary production, as once again the Hippodrome brings the very best of the West End to the West Midlands.

Tickets will go on sale to Birmingham Hippodrome Friends and Patron scheme members on Tuesday 10 September at 11am, to groups on Tuesday 24 September at 11am and to the general public from Thursday 26 September at 11am. Click here to become a Friend and enjoy priority booking for some of the best seats in the house.

Phantom of the Opera, London, 2017, Credit: Johan Persson

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Rehearsal shots released for The Phantom of the Opera

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh have released the first set of images from rehearsals for the brilliant original production of The Phantom of the Opera which comes to Birmingham Hippodrome from 29 July – 12 September 2020.

Returning to Birmingham Hippodrome following his acclaimed performance as Jean Valjean in Les Misérables, Killian Donnelly will play the title role of ‘The Phantom’. He will be joined by Holly-Anne Hull as ‘Christine Daaé’ and Rhys Whitfield as ‘Raoul’.

Now in its 34th phenomenal year in the West End, The Phantom of the Opera is widely considered one of the most beautiful and spectacular productions in history. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s romantic, haunting and soaring score includes Music of the Night, All I Ask of You, Masquerade and the iconic title song.

The Phantom of the Opera is one of the most successful musicals in entertainment history playing to over 145 million people in 41 countries and 183 cities in 17 languages. It has won more than 70 major theatre awards, including seven Tony Awards and four Olivier Awards.

The Phantom of the Opera the only show in history to have celebrated 30 years on both sides of the Atlantic. In October 2016 the London production celebrated its 30th Anniversary with a special gala performance at Her Majesty’s Theatre and in October 2011 the London production celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a spectacular staging of “The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall” which was screened live in cinemas all over the world and subsequently released on DVD. The musical became the longest running show in Broadway history on 9 January 2006 when it celebrated its 7,486th performance. On 1 January 2018 it celebrated its 13,000th performance and later that month on 24 January the Broadway production celebrated an amazing 30 years on Broadway.

The Phantom of the Opera will come to Birmingham Hippodrome from 29 July – 12 September 2020, for more information and to book click here. 

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Patrons Events

…Gala at Phantom of the Opera Join our Fundraising Gala Evening at the magnificent Phantom of the Opera. Embrace the music of the night as you enjoy a special evening…

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Casting announced for Les Mis

…as well as ‘Raoul’ in “The Phantom of the Opera” at Her Majesty’s Theatre. He first joined the company of “Les Misérables” in 2008, going onto play the role of…

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Create your own event

…to stand alone, from Great Gatsby to the Phantom of the Opera, Ice Palaces to an Enchanted Forest – we’ve got it covered. And we don’t just do it in-house…

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Classroom Resources & Teacher Packs

Our Learning and Participation Team have put together some learning packs for use by teachers and parents/guardians during this period of social distancing.

Relaxation and Re-Focus

Suitable for students with Special Educational Needs

Download pack


Spring Sensory

Suitable for Early Years and KS1

Download pack


Disney Inspired Sensory

Suitable for Early Years and KS1

Download pack


Weather

Suitable for Early Years and KS1

The Sun

Rainbow

Snow

Autumn

Weather Forecast


The Phantom of the Opera: Masks

Suitable for Primary students

Download pack


Gymnastics

Suitable for Ages 7+

Download pack


Around the World

Suitable for Years 1 and 2

Week 1 – Spain

Week 2 – Mexico

Week 3 – Russia

Week 4 – Zimbabwe

Week 5 – Brazil

Week 6 – India


Room on the Broom

Suitable for KS1

Download pack


Minibeasts

Suitable for KS1

Download pack


Shadows

Suitable for KS1 and KS2

Download pack


Yoga and Relaxation

Suitable for KS2

Download pack


Healthy Living

Suitable for KS2

Week 1 – Oliver’s Fruit Salad

Week 2 – How to Make an Apple Pie

Week 3 – Tyler Makes Spaghetti

Week 4 – Creepy Carrots


Spoken Word

Suitable for Secondary students

Download pack


Health and Wellbeing

Suitable for KS3 and KS4

Download pack


Bertolt Brecht

Suitable for KS4 and KS5

Download pack


Musical Theatre: Developing the Life of a Character

Suitable for KS4 and KS5

Download pack


We also have different packs of useful information and worksheets that can help on a school trip to the theatre or in the classroom.

About the theatre…

About the shows…

Current & Future Shows

Past Shows

School Groups Rates

Tickets – School Group Rates

Find information on dates and prices or alternatively call the Schools Hotline on 0844 338 7000†  or by email.

Risk Assessment

Download our school visit risk assessment.

 

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Then, Now Always: Spectacular gala celebrates 120 years of Birmingham Hippodrome and reveals bold ambitions for the future

Guests from Birmingham and across the region celebrated 120 years of Birmingham Hippodrome in style at a sparkling flagship Gala event this weekend. Hosted by Hippodrome panto favourite Matt Slack and sponsored by Birmingham Conference and Events Centre, the special anniversary evening reflected on the rich heritage of the theatre, showcased its brilliant talent and revealed ambitious plans for the venue’s future.

Hippodrome Associate Artists Motionhouse kicked off the evening with a free public performance of their new Hippodrome-commissioned piece Wild outside the venue at Hippodrome Square. Guests then walked the red carpet to a drinks reception, supported by Champagne sponsor Laurent-Perrier, before being ushered into the auditorium by dhol drummers and a dance and tabla vox performance by another Hippodrome Associate, Sonia Sabri Company.

Taking their seats on the world-famous Hippodrome stage, guests tucked in to a sumptuous three course meal, and were treated to stellar performances from principle cast members of Wicked, Six The Musical and The Phantom of the Opera, alongside Birmingham Hippodrome’s own Zoo Nation Young Company and the cast of West Side Story, the first community musical produced by Birmingham Hippodrome for the main stage.

BBC’s Satnam Rana hosted a lively Q&A session with Artistic Director & Chief Executive Fiona Allan and Glenn Howells, Chair of Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre Trust, where grand ambitions were revealed to further grow the venue’s festivals programme, develop and diversify its programming and audiences work and to open up the building even more with an exciting future vision. Fiona Allan revealed plans to redevelop the front of the building to be more visible, new performances spaces and rehearsal facilities for schools and community us, to upgrade the venue to a truly world-class facility.

As well as marking 120 years since there has been an entertainment venue on the Hippodrome site, the celebratory gala also raised funds towards their education, youth and outreach work and the further development of Hippodrome Projects. Proceeds totalled nearly £40,000, which will further support the work the theatre does with young people inside and outside of schools and the development of further Hippodrome Projects with our city and region’s communities.

The spectacular evening closed with a performance from Midlands-born international star (and previous panto performer) Beverley Knight, followed by an after party in the venue’s Patrick Studio.

Fiona Allan, Artistic Director & Chief Executive said: “Our Gala was a fantastic celebration showcasing all we have to offer, from our talented Zoo Nation Young Company to the cast of our first community musical West Side Story and the best in West-End talent like Phantom of the Opera, arriving here in 2020.

We want the Hippodrome to reflect a city and region as young and diverse as ours is. We’re now open all day and are proud to be a public space in the city. We’ve increased the number of free and low cost activities, curated new visual arts programmes and expanded our free festivals programme. We also want to create a place where future performing artists can make a career, so we will continue to invest in commissioning and presenting the best local artists. We have many more ambitions for the future of the Hippodrome, from the co-commissions we’ve brought to the main stage during our 120th year to the building itself, ensuring Birmingham Hippodrome continues to contribute, and shape, the cultural life of the region over the coming decades .”

Vincent Garrington, General Manager at Holiday Inn Birmingham City Centre and the Birmingham Conference & Events Centre (BCEC), said: “The Birmingham Hippodrome is an iconic venue for arts and culture and we are thrilled to support and mark 120 years of live performances through our recent sponsorship. As a major leisure destination in the heart of the city just like the BCEC, we felt that it was a great partnership.

“The gala evening was a fantastic celebration of the venue’s past, present and future. As I mentioned during my speech at the event, the greatest recognition our city can give to the important role that The Hippodrome plays in our society is to build the long awaited Hippodrome Square. The new square will ensure that Birmingham Southside cements its position as the city’s festival hub.”

Glenn Howells, Chair of Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre Trust added: “Great cities have great cultural centres, and we want to ensure the Hippodrome is the cultural centre for Birmingham. Our ambition to transform the building and its foyer spaces will make the Hippodrome a space in the city that people can be creative in and enjoy without having to pay for a ticket”

The Gala was a highlight of a year-long programme of events celebrating 120 years of Birmingham Hippodrome. Upcoming events include a co-production with Curve Leicester of The Color Purple; a new production of West Side Story, Birmingham Hippodrome’s first home-grown youth production for the main stage, a new sculpture commission, and some special birthday celebrations in October with trademark Hippodrome surprises and flair.

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Casting announced for award-winning Titanic the Musical

Casting announced for The five-time Tony Award-winning musical!

Casting has been confirmed for the first ever UK & Ireland Tour of Titanic The Musical. Directed by returning director Thom Southerland, 25 actors from across the country will take the production on its maiden UK and Ireland tour, to visit the cities and communities whose forebears built, manned and sailed on the famous ship.

A gala performance will be held in Southampton on 17 Apr, in the same city from which the RMS Titanic set sail.

In the final hour of 14 Apr 1912, the RMS Titanic, on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, collided with an iceberg and ‘the unsinkable ship’ slowly sank. It was one of the most tragic and infamous disasters of the 20th Century. 1517 men, women and children lost their lives.

Based on real people aboard the most legendary ship in the world, Maury Yeston and Peter Stone’s stunning musical focuses on their hopes and aspirations. Unaware of the fate that awaits them, the Third Class immigrants dream of a better life in America, the newly-enfranchised Second Class dream of achieving the lifestyles of the rich and famous, and the millionaire Barons of the First Class dream of their mastery lasting forever.

The cast will feature eleven actors returning from Titanic The Musical’s performances at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto, Southwark Playhouse and Charing Cross Theatre. The cast includes Alistair Barron (Titanic The Musical, Bumblescratch), Kieran Brown (The Phantom of the Opera, Chess), Greg Castiglioni (Titanic The Musical, Fiddler on the Roof), Lewis Cornay (The Break, Brothers), Alexander Evans (Eugenius, The Sound of Music), Simon Green (Titanic The Musical, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert), Emma Harrold (Cinderella, The Sound of Music), Devon-Elise Johnson (Half a Sixpence, Mamma Mia), Claire Machin (Titanic The Musical, The Girls), Claire Marlowe (Titanic The Musical, The Importance of Being Earnest), Oliver Marshall as Bride (Blondel, Forty Years On), Matthew McDonald (Death Take a Holiday, A Christmas Carol), Chris McGuigan (Bananaman The Musical, West Side Story), Matthew McKenna (Bananaman The Musical, 42nd Street), Gemma McMeel (Big Fish, Royal Variety Performance), Janet Mooney (The Woman in White, The Braille Legacy), Joel Parnis (My Fair Lady, Les Miserables), Timothy Quinlan (Jersey Boys, Mack & Mabel), Philip Rham (Titanic The Musical, Dr Korczak’s Example), Dudley Rogers (Titanic The Musical, A Christmas Carol), Victoria Serra (Titanic The Musical, Mamma Mia), Niall Sheehy (Titanic The Musical, Miss Saigon), Judith Street (Titanic The Musical, The Girls) and Stephen Webb (Rothschild & Sons, Jersey Boys) & Samuel J Weir (Common, The Caucasian Chalk Circle).

Maury Yeston commented on the cast of the UK tour: “The idea that a troupe of actors will tour this show in the UK, birthplace of the ship, where the workers of Belfast, the cabin boys and maids and stewards from Liverpool, the officers and crew, the stokers and stevedores from the Midlands all created a miraculous floating city, means more to me than I can say. I am touched that, musically, Titanic will finally be coming home, sung by the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of its builders – touched, and forever grateful.”

Opening at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton in April 2018, the critically acclaimed, multi award-winning production will transfer straight to Belfast, where the ship was constructed. From there, Titanic The Musical will visit 13 theatres nationwide.

“It’s an evening both shattering and gorgeous…

The day after seeing it, I went back to see it again. It’s that good.”

★★★★★ The Times

Having received its UK premiere in 2013 at Southwark Playhouse, the production returned to London in 2016 for an 11-week season at the Charing Cross Theatre, where it won overwhelming critical acclaim.

Titanic The Musical has music and lyrics by Maury Yeston (Nine, Grand Hotel, Phantom) and a book by Peter Stone (Woman of the Year and 1776). The pair have collectively won, including their previous works, an Academy Award, an Emmy Award, an Olivier Award and three Tony Awards for their works. The original Broadway production of Titanic The Musical won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book.

Titanic The Musical is produced by Danielle Tarento, Steven M Levy and Vaughan Williams, in association with Mayflower Theatre, Southampton.

CAST

Alistair Barron as Lightoller

Kieran Brown as Murdoch

Greg Castiglioni as Andrews

Lewis Cornay as Bellboy/Hartley

Simon Green as Ismay

Emma Harrold as Kate Mullins

Devon-Elise Johnson as Kate Murphy

Claire Machin as Alice Beane

Claire Marlowe as Lady Caroline

Oliver Marshall as Bride

Chris McGuigan as Jim Farrell

Matthew McKenna as Pitman/Etches

Joel Parnis as Fleet

Timothy Quinlan as Edgar Beane

Philip Rham as Captain Smith

Dudley Rogers as Isidor Straus

Victoria Serra as Kate McGowan

Niall Sheehy as Barrett

Judith Street as Ida Straus

Stephen Webb as Charles Clarke

Ensemble includes Alexander Evans, Matthew McDonald, Gemma McMeel, Janet Mooney & Samuel J Weir.

At Birmingham Hippodrome Mon 4 – Sat 9 Jun 2018.

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A DIY night at the theatre...

This week, like many venues across the UK, we have had to make the difficult decision to close our doors to audiences for a number of weeks.

However, whilst our auditorium is dark, we have put together our top picks of films to watch to bring some showbiz pizazz to your living room and prepare yourself for when the curtain rises again here at Birmingham Hippodrome.

Designate an interval, dispense your wine into plastic cups and queue to use the toilet for that authentic theatre feeling…

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Raid your wardrobe and search for a sequin. This big-hearted big adventure is packed full of pop hits from disco divas such as Kylie, Gloria Gaynor and Petula Clark to have you up dancing – you’ll also never look at a ping pong ball the same way again. Do not try at home.

Mamma Mia!

Whilst thankfully our on-stage cast have bags more vocal talent than Pierce Brosnan, this sunny musical hit will have you dancing the day away. Why not crack open the olives, dig out that pot of hummus and find a pitta bread (if you can) and whisk yourself away to a Greek Island for a couple of hours.

The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall

This superb theatrical celebration of the brilliant original production of The Phantom of the Opera is the closest you will get to seeing the world-famous production at home. Candles recommended for extra atmosphere…just leave the lighting fixtures well alone.

Les Misérables

Mad about Miz? Then you’re spoilt for choice! Firstly, you can catch the 2012 blockbuster movie over on Netflix, then there’s the spectacular 25th anniversary concert live from the O2 starring Alfie Boe and finally rewind back to 1998 for the 10th anniversary concert at the Royal Albert Hall with the likes of Colm Wilkinson and Ruthie Henshall.  If you have a spare nine hours, why not go for a hattrick marathon?

Romesh Ranganathan

For those of you craving comedy, Romesh Ranganathan’s BBC series which sees him travelling across the globe and way out of his comfort zone to some of the most unusual holiday destinations in the world is sure to tickle the funny bone.

Bring It On

We’re going for fully nineties and naughties vibes with the original movie version of Bring It On – scrunchies must be worn and Furbies must be your viewing pals.

Room on the Broom

A must-watch for families, (even though if you have kids you’re likely to have already sat through this multiple times on repeat) this charming animated adaptation of the beloved children’s book is free to watch on BBC iPlayer.

Sister Act

Joyful, joyful! Here’s an idea, gather the rest of those in your household (pets included) and put together your own choir inspired by Whoopi herself. If you’re not in the habit of bursting into song, or on vocal rest, a double-bill with Sister Act 2 is just as much fun.

Hairspray

This movie adaptation of the hit West End and Broadway musical is guaranteed to please everyone – maybe even get dad to try out his best Edna Turnblad? If you’re feeling really retro there’s also the fabulous original featuring Divine and Ricki Lake.

Whilst we look forward to raising the curtain once again, we hope these theatrical movie choices will keep the spirit of Birmingham Hippodrome alive in your own front room. Make sure to share your DIY night at the theatre with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

 

 

 

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Hidden Hippodrome - The Birth of the Mega Musical

From the soaring melodies and epic majesty of Miss Saigon to the magical sets and spectacular special effects of Mary Poppins – nothing sets our temperatures soaring here at the Hippodrome quite like a ‘mega-musical’! 

In countdown to the return of the original Broadway blockbuster, Miss Saigon, Hippodrome Heritage Volunteer, Ivan Heard, takes us on a magical ‘musical’ tour through the archives, re-tracing the genre’s evolution…

Sir Cameron Mackintosh, now marking 50 years as a producer, helped to revolutionise the British musical theatre and, together with Andrew Lloyd Webber, gave us the “mega-musical”.

The first English “musical” is generally regarded as being John Gay’s “The Beggar’s Opera”, a sensational London hit in 1728. It established the genre of the “ballad opera” which spread from Britain to America during the 19th century. European influences were also at play, particularly in operettas from the Strauss family in Vienna and Offenbach in Paris.

Between 1871 and 1896, the quintessentially English operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan were the rage of the West End but by 1896, the successful partnership had split up. However, their popularity endured and they were still being staged at the Hippodrome into the 1990s.

As the 20th century dawned, the musical had begun to blossom. In 1898, the American musical “The Belle of New York” had been a huge hit and this show could be regarded as the Hippodrome’s first tentative step into this genre. In 1911, a Variety bill included five scenes from the show; in 1978, the Birmingham and Midland Operatic Society performed it here.

Edwardian musical theatre was becoming more and more popular with shows like Franz Lehar’s “The Merry Widow” and “The Count of Luxembourg”; Lionel Monkton’s “The Quaker Girl” and “The Arcadians” were especially successful English musicals. Their enduring appeal is evident because they were revived on our stage in the 1960s by BMOS and the Forward Operatic Company.

These musicals transported audiences to romantic, idyllic places and were lavish with large casts. Such escapism was badly needed in WW1 and, in 1916, one of the biggest hits opened. “Chu Chin Chow” set records only beaten in the 1950s and soldiers on leave from the trenches flocked to His Majesty’s Theatre in the West End to revel in its spectacle. Here at the Hippodrome, it was staged by BMOS in 1958 and also on ice for the Christmas season in

The romance continued post-war with Noel Coward’s Bitter Sweet (1929) but the undoubted star of the 1930s and 1940s was Cardiff-born Ivor Novello, matinee idol, actor and composer. He had a string of hit shows at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, beginning with “Glamorous Night” in 1935. Novello’s musicals were indeed glamorous and romantic and full of beautiful melodies. Their popularity reached out to Hippodrome audiences right up to the 1980s, when Simon Ward starred here in ” Perchance To Dream”. Ivor’s last show, “Gay’s the Word” in 1951, brought its star Cicely Courtneidge to our stage and drew full houses.

Ivor Novello himself starred in his “The Dancing Years”, at the Hippodrome in January, 1945 and it was skated on ice at Christmas, 1954. However, by then the next big musical influence had been coming over from America, courtesy of Rodgers and Hammerstein. Gone were the frivolous song and dance shows; here were stronger musicals that dealt with real issues and substantial characters. The songs and dances (even some of them incorporating ballet sequences) were fully integrated with the plot and characters. The first of this new genre was “Oklahoma!”, whose first national tour went to the Theatre Royal in New Street. The Hippodrome,still then mainly a Variet theatrey, did not stage it until November, 1961.

Next up was “South Pacific”, again going first to the Theatre Royal in 1953 with a cast that included in the chorus an unknown Sean Connery.. BMOS revived it here in 1960 and, for their 75th Birthday, they staged for the first time at the Hippodrome “The King and I”.

But the Americans did not have it all their own way. During the 1950s, there were two British musicals that set new records. “The Boy Friend” by Sandy Wilson opened in 1953 and became a hit both in the West End and on Broadway. The following year Julian Slade and Dorothy Reynolds’ small-scale and intimate “Salad Days” opened at the Vaudeville Theatre in the Strand for a run that exceeded 2,000 performances. It first came to the Hippodrome in June, 1960.

When he was eight years old, Cameron Mackintosh was taken to see “Salad Days” and it was this show that sowed the show business seed in him.

In 1960, a pioneering British musical opened to poor advance sales at London’s New Theatre; very soon, however, a massive hit was created. Lionel Bart’s “Oliver!” transformed stage presentation with its landmark Sean Kenny sets and new technology enabled scenes to be changed in full view of the audience. It was brimming with great songs and dances and placed the British musical on a higher level. Cameron Mackintosh joined the show’s first national tour as Assistant Stage Manager and also performed as one of the singing and dancing Cockneys.

We must jump some excellent shows in the 1960s to the next great development in musicals. Andrew Lloyd Webber, with lyricist Tim Rice, had begun their partnership with a small-scale production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” but in 1970 the rock musical ” Jesus Christ Superstar” exploded on to the stage of the Palace Theatre in the West End and the genre of the ” mega-musical” was being created. Its staging at the Hippodrome in 1981 opened a newly refurbished theatre with all the facilities to stage the forthcoming mammoth shows.

“Evita” followed in 1976 and Lloyd Webber’s collaboration with Cameron Mackintosh pushed the boundaries further with the spectacle and technical wizardry of “Cats” (1981) and “The Phantom of the Opera” in 1986.

At the Hippodrome, a spectacular London Palladium production of “Joseph” with Philip Schofield in 1994 set up a record-breaking run, followed by another sell-out with “Phantom” in 1998. “Joseph” had created a Hippodrome record when it became the first show to take more than £1 million on the first day of advance booking.

Another Cameron Mackintosh collaboration, this time with Alain Boublil and Claude- Michel Schonberg, produced the phenomenon that is “Les Miserables”, voted “the world’s favourite musical”. It had a four month season at the Hippodrome in 1997. The same partnership in 1989 created “Miss Saigon”, staged here first in 2003 and now returning for a third time.

These massive British musicals went global and became international hits. The so-called “Big Four” conquered the world, in no small part due to the brilliant entrepreneurial skills of Cameron Mackintosh. His attention to detail at every stage of production included branding, merchandising and ticketing and ensured that, wherever the shows were staged, they maintained the same high standards and quality.

Inevitably, there was a reaction to these mega-musicals and popular taste now also takes in the so-called “juke box musicals” like” Mama Mia!” and “We Will Rock You” with their thin plots and succession of hit songs. The genre of “family musical” has become successful with shows like “Mary Poppins”, The Lion King”, ” Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and “Beauty and the Beast”.

I have had to miss out so many wonderful landmark musicals – “West Side Story” and “My Fair Lady”, for example – but they have all been staged at the Hippodrome over its eventful 118 years. The stalwart work of BMOS and the Forward Operatic Company was important in reviving the memory of many of those old musicals like “The Student Prince”, “Rose Marie” and “The Desert Song”. They maybe would not be so popular with modern audiences but at least they were not forgotten.

We have come a long way since our first full-scale musical, “Me and My Girl” in 1939, but the ingredients of a good musical remain the same- a good story, great songs and dances and quality productions. Long may that continue!

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Extended closure of Birmingham Hippodrome

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