We are so lucky in the Midlands to have such a fantastic venue in the Birmingham Hippodrome. Playing host to a massive number of large scale national UK tours and entertainment legends over the years, in addition to being home to Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB) and a regional venue for Welsh National Opera, was bound to take its toll eventually. It was during the 1980s when the theatre's stage was last refurbished, and some thirty years later it is time again for work to be done to enable the theatre to maintain its five star reputation.
Following the record breaking success of Dirty Dancing which ended on August 25, the theatre went dark and will remain so until the first show of their Autumn season, BRB's Opposites Attract, which begins on September 26. This four-week break from productions is enabling hired contractors and theatre technicians to do the necessary replacement of the current stage and also refurbish backstage/foyer areas to ensure the safety and comfort of performers, staff and audience members alike.
Regular theatregoers may remember the large scale Lottery-funded refurbishment that the theatre underwent back in 1999 which lasted the best part of two years. As the Birmingham Hippodrome is an independent, unsubsided theatre and a registered charity, all monies required for such work must be raised, and therefore trusts, corporate supporters and audience members are relied on heavily. Having a full stage replacement is costing the theatre over £1.1 million and if such funds were available back in 1999, perhaps this could have been done then. However, due to general wear and tear and signs of bowing/splitting etc because of mass usage, it has been decided that now is an appropriate time to take such measures.
I have witnessed first hand how generous audience members are that attend the Birmingham Hippodrome. At the time of booking tickets, Information & Sales Assistants are giving customers the opportunity to contribute £2 towards the Stage Appeal and the vast majority of people have accepted this and some have given even more which is truly fantastic. Although a considerable amount of money has already been raised, there is still work to be done so any donation is greatly welcomed.
The programme of events for the new season has been announced today, details of which can be found in the 'What's On' of the Birmingham Hippodrome website; I'm sure you will agree that there is enough there to warrant the need for such improvements!
There is a lot to look forward to over the next year or so at the country's most popular single theatre. If you would like to help in any way, there are five easy ways in which you can do so. Please see the link below:
Photo: Birmingham Hippodrome