Birmingham Hippodrome will re-open its doors today, 26 September with Birmingham Royal Ballet's new autumn season ofOpposites Attract and Swan Lake.
Over the last month, the Hippodrome has been closed as its own team of technicians, plus contractors, surveyors, builders, electricians and many more, have worked around the clock ripping up and replacing the theatre's 30 year old stage with a brand new performance space.
The popular theatre, a registered charity receiving no public subsidy, has new front doors on Hurst Street and a widened main foyer creating a new cloakroom and box office facilities. In addition a specially-designed low energy LED lighting system with over 500 lights has been installed, greatly reducing utility and maintenance costs. The rare closure period has also enabled the orchestra pit to be completely refurbished, curtains to be cleaned and general maintenance work to take place throughout the building.
Stuart Griffiths, Birmingham Hippodrome Chief Executive, said: "All of this essential work enhances enjoyment for patrons, increases our energy-efficiency, and improves working conditions for performers, musicians, technicians and the front-of-house team. It also ensures we can continue presenting the finest touring productions from around the world for decades to come.
"Our Stage Appeal has raised funds to help with the huge costs and our sincere thanks are due for the many generous donations from grant-making Trusts, from businesses and from individuals - including almost £113,000 collected from audience members. Nearly £800,000 has been raised so far and it's not too late to help. Donations can still be made by telephone on 0844 338 5000 or on our website www.birminghamhippodrome.com."
Birmingham Hippodrome's stage was last refurbished in the early 1980s. Since then more than 650 different productions have been presented, with regular heavy use of the stage, six days a week, over 50 weeks per year. It is estimated that around 10,000 performers and musicians, plus 4,000 crew members use the space every year.
The stage itself did not form part of the theatre's award-winning lottery-funded redevelopment back in 1999-2001 due to lack of funds to complete the project. Heavy continual use has since taken its toll and parts of the stage were showing serious signs of bowing, splitting and unevenness.
Resident company Birmingham Royal Ballet will be the first to perform on the brand new Birmingham Hippodrome stage today, 26 September with Opposites Attract, an exciting mixed bill of dance, followed by the timeless Swan Lake from 2 October. Other highlights of the new 2012/13 season include The Phantom of The Opera, Hairspray, Disney's The Lion King, and the pantomimeRobinson Crusoe & The Caribbean Pirates starring Brian Conley and Lesley Joseph.
Patrons can book tickets by telephoning Birmingham Hippodrome on 0844 338 5000 or visiting the temporary Box Office (between 10am and 6pm Mon-Sat) at the theatre's Thorp Street reception. Seats can also be purchased online at www.birminghamhippodrome.com