With only a few days to go until The Nutcracker opens we bring you six fascinating facts!

With Birmingham Royal Ballet’s magical production of The Nutcracker arriving this Friday, we’ve put together some amazing facts about the production to whet your appetite! 

  • By the end of its 2015 season, Sir Peter Wright’s production of The Nutcracker will have been performed a total of 429 times here at Birmingham Hippodrome.
  • Before the curtain goes up on the first performance, hours of work have been undertaken behind the scenes. The sets, props and lights for the show will travel to the Hippodrome in five articulated trucks from the Birmingham Royal Ballet stores in Dudley. When the sets arrive work will begin on the ‘get-in’ and ‘fit-up’. This process takes approximately three days. Another two days are usually required for technical and stage rehearsals!
  • The production has a flying goose that transports Clara to a magical land – it travels 20 metres across the stage at every performance. That means that the goose has travelled over 5.3miles on our stage over the course of 25 years.
  • The Nutcracker features a huge transformation scene where a Christmas tree grows from 4 metres to 15 metres and a fireplace grows to fill half of the stage.
  • 75kg of flame retardant artificial snow is used in the production which is imported from a specialist company in New York.
  • Since its first performance back in 1990, dancers playing the role of ‘snowflakes’ in The Nutcracker have made their way through over 720 cans of silver sparkle body paint.

Take a look at some special Nutcracker photos below, taken from the wings. See The Nutcracker here from Fri 27 Nov to Sun 13 Dec. You can book online or by calling our Box Office on 0844 338 5000  (charges apply).

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Tragic events in Birmingham remembered by Hippodrome visitor as part of our Heritage Project

Following the sad scenes we have all seen unfolding in Paris this week, one of our own Heritage Volunteers Ivan Heard has unearthed a story from Birmingham’s own sad chapter of history.

Birmingham Hippodrome Heritage Project Volunteer Ivan Heard

Birmingham Hippodrome Heritage Project Volunteer Ivan Heard

“Today (Sat 21 Nov) will be the 41st Anniversary of the Birmingham Pub Bombings on 21 November, 1974.

“In that dark and tragic episode in Birmingham’s history, 21 people were killed and 182 were seriously injured in two pubs – The Mulberry Bush at the Rotunda and The Tavern In The Town in New Street. The bombs exploded within minutes of each other around 8.20pm.

“That week here at Birmingham Hippodrome, the London Festival Ballet were performing on stage and on that very evening they were dancing Swan Lake.

“On 12 November, I interviewed Christine Powell who was sitting in the stalls in the theatre, watching what became her favourite ballet. Even inside the Hippodrome, the audience could hear what Christine described as two dull thuds. She turned to her boyfriend and said she thought it was bombs. At the time, the country was in the middle of an IRA bombing campaign.

“After a few minutes, the ballet was stopped and somebody came on stage to report “an incident in the  City Centre” and that the theatre would need to be evacuated. Within a short time, the theatre was calmly emptied and the audience dispersed their separate ways. Christine was particularly struck by what she described as ” a blood red sky over the City Centre”.

“Only later did the full enormity of the horror become apparent and Christine told me she still remembers those two things – the dull thud sound and the colour of the sky. For a while, there were spates of bomb threats and warnings and the Hippodrome’s shows could sometimes be interrupted or delayed by these events. The general atmosphere in the City Centre also for a time deterred some people from coming in to town and inevitably this affected the theatre’s audiences.

“However, as in the years of WW2, ‘the show must go on’ and the Hippodrome played its part in raising people’s spirits and giving them an escape from the outside world for a couple of hours.”

This story shows the importance of our Heritage Project, as our archives can bring together an eye witness oral account of a historic local event and link it to what was being performed here at the time. If you have any stories about Birmingham Hippodrome that you would like to share with us, or if you would like to find out more about our Heritage Project then please visit our website.

The Hippodrome Heritage Project is part of this years Big Give Christmas Challenge. Find out more about how you can help and have your donation doubled here. Every penny counts as we try to secure the history of our theatre so we can pass this to future generations. 


A poignant launch for 2,241 Reasons To Remember


Last night the crowds turned out for the launch of our Creative Programmes project 2,241 Reasons To Remember, on the 75th anniversary of the Birmingham Blitz. As well as members of the public and local media, in attendance were a number of VIP’s including local Councillors, representatives from the Arts Council,  members of Birmingham Air Raids Remembrance Society, Birmingham Hippodrome Trustees and Patrons.

The event began at 6pm, when the bells  of St Martin’s Church rang out in remembrance of all those who lost their lives. There was then a speech from the Reverend of St Martin’s church, and this was followed by the sound of air raid sirens and the poignant laying of lanterns at the base of the installation, with each lantern bearing the name of someone killed during air raids on the city in World War 2. There was then a live performance from Highly Sprung Performance Company in front of the installation, whilst images and sounds, including stories from those who remembered the blitz, were projected onto it. Our Director of Creative Programmes, Graham Callister then gave a short speech to close the launch event.

The installation will be opposite St Martins Church and the Birmingham markets until Sun 22 Nov. It has been created by our Hippodrome Creative Team, along with Leicestershire based arts company Metro-Boulot-Dodo, with local artist Sophie Handy creating the lanterns with the help of schoolchildren and others from the local community.

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For the full photo gallery please visit our flickr page.