Toby the rat star of The National Theatre’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Joshua and meOur guest blogger this week is Toby the rat currently starring in The National Theatre’s award-winning The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.  The production receives its Birmingham Hippodrome premiere next week.

I love performing in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and I’m particularly excited about coming to Birmingham Hippodrome. I look forward to stepping onto the same stage as other famous rodents like ‘The Rat Pack’ and ‘King Rat’ in Dick Whittington.

I’m with a company of 15 actors including my best friend Joshua Jenkins, who plays Christopher Boone and 15 members of the technical crew. We love being on the road and whenever we get to a new city we try and take in the sights. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing the famous Bull statue in Birmingham’s Bull Ring.

I always listen to music before I go on stage – I’m partial to Michael Jackson’s ‘Ben’ and ‘Rat in mi kitchen’ by Birmingham’s own UB40. I’m also very fond of the Boomtown Rats and ‘Rat Race’ by The Specials.

I share a dressing room with the lovely and very talented wardrobe team. They can whip up all sorts of brilliant outfits for me. My favourite outfit at the moment is a tuxedo which really brings out my beautiful white fur and pink eyes. I think I’ll be wearing it to the first night party at Birmingham Hippodrome.

My favourite day of the week is Saturday because I get to be on stage twice as we have a matinee and evening performance. In between shows I will pop outside the theatre, maybe go into China Town across the road from the Hippodrome or get something tasty from Mr Egg and chill out.

I’m no stranger to Birmingham I was here shooting an episode of Doctors.   It was only a small part so I finished early and had the whole weekend to myself.    I went  to Cadbury World and later I went to watch Birmingham Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker to see my friend who was dancing the role of the Rat King. The following day I spent playing on my wheel. I usually eat around 10% of my body-weight so it’s essential for me to keep fit.

I love to swim too and Birmingham has more miles of canal than Venice – so I’m really looking forward to splashing around the canals in Brindley Place. Some of my friends live in a canal boat and I’ll spend some time relaxing with them as well.

My ambition is to star on Broadway where The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is currently playing to packed houses. I hear the show is up for six Tony awards but I don’t think I’ll be able to make it to the glitzy awards ceremony on  7 June, I’ll be on my way from Birmingham to Leicester.  Oh well.   See you at Birmingham Hippodrome next week! (runs 26 may-6 June).  #BHCurious

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Our very first voluntary First Night blogger writes about his time spent at Birmingham Hippodrome

Marcus Hubbard joined us as a voluntary First Night blogger in 2011.  Here he writes fondly about his year spent working with us and his hopes to tread the boards of his favourite theatre in the future.

For those people who might not know, Birmingham Hippodrome has a great scheme giving young people the chance to access discounted tickets for pretty much every show at the theatre.  Way back in 2011, I was invited by the Hippodrome to be an ambassador, a face and a voice if you will for the First Night Scheme, along with fellow blogger (and now friend) Alex.  At the time ‘First Night Blogging’ was unheard of and none of us really knew what we were getting in to, we didn’t know how it was going to work, or if it was going to be a success. Well, four years down the line the scheme is going strong and since myself and Alex there have been numerous new bloggers recruited by the theatre to  carry the banner for First Night representing the voice of young theatre goers in the Midlands (however, we still pride ourselves at being the originals!)

I have nothing but wonderful memories of my time at the Hippodrome: from being asked to walk around Birmingham wearing video camera glasses for the day, swinging from a trapeze in the middle of the city centre as part of the theatre’s outdoor progamming, to donning my best outfit for the press night of the UK tour of ‘Top Hat’ and meeting such wonderful people both from the Hippodrome and other areas of the Birmingham media and entertainment scene. Particular highlights include attending the press launch for the first UK tour of ‘Dirty Dancing’ at the Aston Villa ground (which included a tour of the grounds and a theatrical lunch with exclusive previews of some of the songs from show) as well as witnessing the spectacle that was The Guangdong Acrobatic Troupe’s Swan Lake – she dances on his head!

After my time was up as a First Night Blogger I swapped the bright lights of Birmingham for the bright lights of London to go to stage school for three years.  My time there was everything the movies make it out to be – if not better (or worse at times!) and now I’m out in the big old world of showbiz auditioning for various projects in theatre and for screen. Even though the main goal is to be on stage in musicals, I’ve occasionally blogged and wrote articles for various different mediums since my time at the Hippodrome.

Having moved down to London, the Hippodrome is still a big part of my life… Now in 2015 I can still drop Media and PR Manager Mandy an email to come in for coffee (and recently donuts) and a catch up to hear all the latest from behind the scenes at the theatre – it’s not every day you find yourself stuffing a donut in your face backstage whilst getting to see Shrek’s fat suit!

Watching the First Night Scheme grow over the years has been wonderful, and now watching new bloggers – and these days vloggers – continue to represent the scheme has been even better (even though I’m a little jealous of them!) Growing up at the Hippodrome was a big part of my life and to be able to be a tiny part in the working cogs of the best theatre in the UK was a real honour, and who knows, perhaps I’ll get to play the Hippodrome stage one day…

First Night is a free membership scheme for 16-24 years olds check out our latest offers and keep up-to-date with our current bloggers.

For more theatrical anecdotes, follow Marcus on Twitter @marcusjhubbard 




New Chief Executive for Birmingham Hippodrome


Pamela Raith Photography_Fiona Allan_Colour_027Birmingham Hippodrome has confirmed that FIONA ALLAN will become its new Chief Executive in the autumn.  Current CEO Stuart Griffiths OBE moves to Ambassador Theatre Group in July, as announced in January.

Fiona Allan has had over 20 years experience in the cultural sector, with a career that spans both artistic and organisational leadership.  She has been Chief Executive of Leicester’s acclaimed Curve Theatre since 2011, before which she was Artistic Director of Wales Millennium Centre. A native Australian, her career started at Sydney Opera House where she was Head of Programming, before being appointed CEO of Sydney Film Festival.