This article relies largely or entirely on a single source. (January 2012)
|Current use||Ballet, Opera, West End shows, Pantomime and Drama|
Although best known as the home stage of the Birmingham Royal Ballet, it also hosts a wide variety of other performances including visiting opera and ballet companies, touring West End shows, pantomime and drama.
The first venue built on the Hippodrome site was a building of assembly rooms in 1895. In 1899 the venue was redesigned by local architect F. W. Lloyd, a stage and circus ring was added together with a Moorish tower (removed 1963) and the enterprise named the "Tower of Varieties". After failing, this was soon rebuilt as a normal variety theatre, reopened as the "Tivoli" in 1900, finally becoming "The Hippodrome" under the ownership of impresario Thomas Barrasford in October 1903. The current neo-classical auditorium seats 1,900 and was designed by Burdwood and Mitchell in 1924. Following the construction of the nearby Smallbrook Queensway, the entrance building and tower were demolished in 1963, and a new modern entrance constructed. At the same time, the theatre was renamed 'Birmingham Theatre' for a time.
This plain facade was refaced in the 1980s with a mock-Victorian plasterwork, whilst the stagehouse was demolished and rebuilt to accommodate larger shows. The decade also saw the theatre host the Central Television revival of the ITV talent show New Faces, hosted by Marti Caine.
The exterior of the theatre was substantially rebuilt by Associated Architects and Law and Dunbar-Nasmith in 2001, with a new glass facade and accommodation for the Birmingham Royal Ballet and additional performance space.
The Hippodrome has presented large scale West End touring musicals and plays, such as Wicked, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Lion King, Matilda, Mary Poppins, Annie, Grease, Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera, War Horse, Billy Elliot, Mamma Mia! and We Will Rock You.
In July 2015, comedian and actor Brian Conley was celebrated at the end of a performance of Barnum, having performed at the Hippodrome for 600 performances, appearing in six pantomimes, Jolson, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Hairspray, Oliver! and hosting the 1999 Royal Variety Performance at the theatre.
The theatre has been temporarily closed from March 2020 (midway through the run of The Book of Mormon) due to the COVID-19 pandemic, until it reopened for the UK premiere of Van Gough Alive transforming the theatre into a multi-sensory Vincent van Gogh art exhibition from October to December 2020.
On 8 October 2020 it was announced that Birmingham City Council had given the green light to a phased redevelopment of the theatre, to create a new facade together with a first floor terrace and creating an outdoor seating area with access to refreshment areas and a new restaurant on the third floor. Work is due to commence in early 2021.
The theatre's Christmas pantomimes are produced by Qdos Entertainment, over recent years attracting stars such as Brian Conley, Don Maclean, Julian Clary, Joe Pasquale, John Barrowman, Joan Collins, Nigel Havers, Keith Harris, Lynda Bellingham, Lesley Joseph, Gary Wilmot, Paul Zerdin, Gok Wan, John Partridge, Jane McDonald, Marti Pellow, Lee Mead, The Krankies, Steve McFadden, Jodie Prenger, Beverley Knight, Danny Mac, The Grumbleweeds, Jimmy Osmond, Darren Day, Meera Syal, Jaymi Hensley, Joe McElderry and Faye Brookes. Comedian Matt Slack has appeared since 2013, returning every year due to popular demand.
The 2020 pantomime Goldilocks and the Three Bears starring Jason Donovan and Matt Slack has been postponed to the 2021 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In October 2020 it was announced that Qdos in association with the Hippodrome and the National Lottery was due to present using social distancing the pantomime Robin Hood at The Alexandra, Birmingham in January 2021 due to the Hippodrome hosting Van Gough Alive (the first time The Alexandra has hosted the pantomime since Peter Pan starring Joe Pasquale and Leslie Grantham for Christmas 2000 due to the Hippodrome undergoing its refurbishment). Robin Hood was due to star Craig Revel Horwood, Matt Slack, Richard Cadell & Sooty and Doreen Tipton, however due to the Government's announcement of the national lockdown in January 2021, the production was cancelled.
- "Birmingham Hippodrome". The Dance Consortium. Retrieved 25 September 2012.; "Birmingham Hippodrome Achieves Business Continuity with SteelEye LifeKeeper". PRWeb. Menlo Park, CA: Vocus PRW Holdings. 2009. Retrieved 25 September 2012.; "Glenn Howells and Mike Hayes join board of Birmingham Hippodrome". Birmingham Post. Trinity Mirror Midlands. 19 April 2012. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
- "International Dance Festival Birmingham 2010". Birmingham City Council. 2010. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
- "Building Stories". birminghamhippodromeheritage.com. Birmingham Hippodrome.
- "Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre in Birmingham, GB - Cinema Treasures". cinematreasures.org. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
- "Celebrating 120 years of Birmingham Hippodrome". independent-birmingham.co.uk. 23 January 2019. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
- "Our Trustees and Board Members". birminghamhippodrome.com. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
- Laws, Roz (9 July 2015). "Brian Conley celebrates 600 appearances at Birmingham Hippodrome". birminghammail. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
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