Audiences from across the Midlands are having a ball at Birmingham Hippodrome this festive season with the fairy godmother of all pantomimes, Cinderella.
Running until Sun 28 Jan, this year’s festive extravaganza features Midlands-born singer and star of the West End, Beverley Knight, make her pantomime debut as the fabulous Fairy Godmother starring alongside Strictly Come Dancing finalist Danny Mac, Birmingham panto-favourite Matt Slack as Buttons, pop and television star Suzanne Shaw as Cinderella, comedy duo The Grumbleweeds, and the most faaaaabulous Ugly Sisters in show business, Ceri Dupree and David Dale.
To celebrate the show’s residence here in Birmingham, we’re very excited to release a selection of exclusive images shot from behind-the-scenes of a typical performance of pantomime, which together capture the glamour, hard work and anticipation of life backstage during a busy show.
So…what exactly goes into bringing a production like Cinderella to the stage? We’ve pulled together a few of our favourite facts from behind-the-scenes to let audiences in on some of the biggest tricks of pantomime trade…
- This year’s lavish production of Cinderella features a cast of 19 principle performers plus 2 teams of Panto Babes, all of whom are students of The Birmingham Stage School. Over the course of this year’s pantomime, the cast of Cinderella will spend over 180 hours on stage spread across 72 individual performances.
- All of the magnificent sets featured in the show are produced by Qdos Entertainment, who have stores in Scarborough and Beverley. It is from here, that the company’s dedicated team of staff create and maintain their spectacular stage sets and over 100,000+ costumes for pantos up and down the UK.
- Once the set arrives in Birmingham, it takes a total of 51 hours to unload, rig and assemble the individual components in time for the first Tech rehearsal.
- It takes 18 venue crew working around the clock along with 15 Qdos pantomime staff to get the show ready for technical rehearsals.
- During an average panto fit-up, our 18-strong team of stage crew will unload between 25-30 full waggons of scenery & props. The largest of these props are unloaded via lorry lift, which can hold 40 tonnes which is the same weight as 15 elephants.
- It’s thirsty work getting a panto off the ground. During an average Get-In, our Backstage Team will consume a total of 160+ cups of tea, and 30 packs of biscuits.
- During this year’s panto, The Qdos Wardrobe Department will process a whopping 370 loads of washing, consuming over 28kg of washing powder.
- Nothing starts the festive season with a bang like a panto pyrotechnic display! Whether it’s a ghoulish green flame signalling the arrival of our favourite baddie or a fairy tale flash of dazzling gold, this year’s production of Cinderella features over 16 pyrotechnic cues each performance.
- This year marks Matt Slack’s fifth year starring in a Birmingham Hippodrome panto. By the time this year’s production draws to a close, he will have clocked up over 360 appearances on the Birmingham Hippodrome stage.
- Birmingham Hippodrome is home to some of the best backstage facilities in the UK. As well as being home to over 30 Dressing Rooms, a natural spring which pumps out 2-4 litres of water every minute and 5 lorry bays for unloading set and props, our Main Stage comes equipped with 81 fly bars for flying scenery in and out of the stage. Each of these fly bars is capable of supporting 150kg in weight, that’s the equivalent of a small family car!
- Each performance of panto features a total of 800 lighting cues and over 80 Sound cues!
- This year’s production of Cinderella features a grand total of 135 costumes 109 wig/headdresses and 87 individual pairs of shoes. All of the flamboyant costumes that feature in this year’s production require regular maintenance between shows.
- Ceri Dupree and David Dale, who play Ugly Sister Verruca and Voluptua in this year’s show, have a total of 19 individual costume changes in this year’s show. All of the flamboyant costume creations featured in Cinderella are housed backstage in two specially constructed quick change areas. The quickest ‘quick change’ this year takes 45 seconds backstage (which is Cinderella’s transformation from ball-gown to worker). There is also an onstage quick change that takes 6 seconds.
- Cinderella’s two ball gowns weigh the equivalent of 67 bags of sugar each.
- All of the cast of Cinderella are responsible for their own make up pre-show. All make-up and costume is prepared during the ‘half hour’ call, 35 minutes before the show goes up.