A Year Down the Line for First Night Bloggers…

Press & PR Assistant, Ben Wooldridge (@benwooldridge) writes about a year shared with our First Night Bloggers…

Alex and Marcus collect their certificates after 1 year of being Birmingham Hippodrome's First Night Bloggers

Alex and Marcus collect their certificates after 1 year of being Birmingham Hippodrome’s First Night Bloggers

This month we said a very sad goodbye to our First Night Bloggers, Marcus Hubbard and Alex Woolliscroft. Over the past 12 months Marcus and Alex took on the responsibility of being Birmingham Hippodrome’s first batch of bloggers from our First Night scheme, chosen to report back on various openings and special events at the theatre and as ambassadors of our young theatre goers… and what a great job they have done! They have attended over 16 special events and openings including reports on their first trip to the Opera, to DanceXchange and the launch of major shows such as Dirty Dancing and International Dance Festival Birmingham 2012.

Both Marcus and Alex agreed that their experience has been a positive one, so I asked them to give a quick low- down of their time with us, here’s what they said…

ALEX (@ajwoolliscroft):
“What a year it’s been at the Hippodrome; this time last year I would have never dreamed I’d have experienced as much as I have. It’s been so amazing blogging for the theatre, meeting so many new people, and attending so many exciting shows it’s just been wonderful, something I am truly thankful for.

“Looking back over my time here, I have to say that my most memorable show would undoubtedly be my very first event, We Will Rock You – seeing Brian May perform was just a dream! I think I will remember this on the most because not only was it an excellent show, but it was magical to experience theatre as a member of the press, being treated to a VIP reception and free drinks and nibbles just made me feel so special and grateful to be given the opportunity I had.  Lastly thanks to Marcus; it’s been really great blogging with you and I wish you all the success for the future!”


Alex and Marcus at last years Six Summer Saturdays

Alex and Marcus at last years Six Summer Saturdays

MARCUS (@munchkinmarcus):
“I have had one of the most memorable experiences possible being a First Night Blogger for the Birmingham Hippodrome and being one of the first people to have this opportunity makes it even more exciting. I’ve been lucky to attend so many press nights and events that people never would have the chance to. I’ve also been able to see shows that I never would have thought to book for, shows like “Burn the Floor” and Guangdong’s “Swan Lake” we’re particularly memorable for me as I wasn’t expecting to enjoy them as much as I did.

“I must say that my overall favourite show was Top Hat, seeing the red carpet rolled out and the audience in the black tie and tiara dress code was a magical evening of classic musical theatre. Being able to mix and mingle with various people from the theatre and press industry has also benefited me a lot and I’ve been able to experience the crazy world of the press!”

On their final day both Marcus and Alex received a certificate recognising their achievement, a Birmingham Hippodrome book and, most importantly, some chocolaty goodies! We wish them every success in the future as both leave college this year to pursue courses at Drama School.

We are now thrilled to introduce our new pair of First Night Bloggers; Chris Green (@csgreen123) and Aemelia Taylor (@aemeliajess) – you can read Chris’s reviews HERE and keep up to date with Aemelia’s reports HERE. Best of luck to both of them and we look forward to sharing their reviews with you…happy theatre going!

To find out more about First Night – CLICK HERE.

First Night bloggers explore £5 tickets to world-class Opera…

Ben Wooldridge ( @benwooldridge ), Press & PR Assistant, writes…

First Night - £5 tickets for 16-21 year old's

First Night - £5 tickets for 16-21 year old's

There are many advantages to youth; good looks, athleticism (i.e being able to climb a staircase without loosing your breath) and opportunity – and here at Birmingham Hippodrome we offer a great opportunity to our younger patrons. Those who are lucky to be between the ages of 16 and 21 can take advantage of £5 tickets to a wide variety of productions as part of our First Night scheme. Marcus Hubbard and Alex Woolliscroft have been ambassadors of the scheme since June last year, writing some great blogs on productions they have seen and their entire experience with First Night.

However, one of the things that they had never experienced before here at the Hippodrome is Opera…why I hear you ask? Well, in their own words opera can be seen by young (and older!) people as “sitting in a theatre for hours on end watching a woman and a man scream at each other” in a gobbledygook language. It can also be seen as an upper class night out with “everyone turning up in tuxedos’ and ball gowns”, however, I was set the task of changing their mind – taking both Alex and Marcus along to the opening night of Welsh National Opera’s La traviata.

Marcus & Alex

Marcus & Alex

Now, I have to admit that I’m no opera buff myself and my experience was very much similar to our bloggers in educating myself in the world of opera and its conventions, but what we all came out agreeing is that it really is a fantastic night out – and especially so for our First Nighter’s who can get their hands on tickets for most opera at the Hipp for a fiver! (that’s cheaper than the cinema!) However, what we did put together is a kind of ‘First Timers Guide’ to your first opera experience…so here it goes:

  1. Pick an Opera that is easily accessible, i.e relatively short in length – two and a half hours will do fine (not your 6 hour Wagner’s)
  2. Do a bit of research before your visit, give it a google and have a quick read of the synopsis (they really aren’t too hard to follow and usually you can guarantee someone will die)
  3. Don’t worry about a dress code – go in your jeans or if you fancy dressing up dig out your tiara, either goes down fine!
  4. There are surtitles at the top of the stage if you get lost, so no need to worry about it being in a different language. Plus, if you really don’t fancy watching someone sing in a foreign tongue there are plenty of opera’s sung in English too (such as The Cunning Little Vixen next season)
  5. Bring your mates and have a good night out!

Going to the Opera really isn’t as scary as some people may think, and with tickets for a fiver for First Night members it’s an experience that you really can’t afford to miss. You can find out more on how to join First Night and what tickets are available under the scheme HERE. You can also read Marcus and Alex’s full reviews on their blogs – CLICK HERE for Alex’s verdict and HERE for Marcus’s opinion.

We will soon be looking for new bloggers to join the First Night experience, if you are between 16 and 21 and fancy coming along to Press Night’s whilst writing reports for us on the shows you see please email me on benwooldridge@birminghamhippodrome.com to register your interest!

Happy Opera going!

£5 tickets for Hippodrome ‘First Nighter’s’ – celebrating 10 years of DanceXchange

Ben Wooldridge, Birmingham Hippodrome’s Press & PR Assistant, reports on our very special ‘First Night’ for our Hippodrome bloggers



I must admit,  thanks to the prancing around dressed in nothing but black (part and package of doing a drama degree), I am no stranger to the field of contemporary dance – in fact, it is something that I have no shame in admitting I enjoy. However, a lot of people may wrinkle their nose up at the thought of people strutting round an empty stage in an all-in-one leotard with a deafening soundtrack that is most often associated with the genre. Whilst sometimes this may happen, and is for the most part to be avoided, this is not what contemporary dance is about and a preconception that DanceXchange is aiming to contest with their fantastic 10th anniversary season.

DanceXchange (or dx) is celebrating ten successful years based here at  Birmingham Hippodrome complex. Originally established in 1993, the organisation moved to the refurbished Hippodrome in 2001 and formed the largest dance partnership in Britain with Birmingham Hippodrome and Birmingham Royal Ballet. Ten years later the partnership is still going strong, providing some of the best dance facilities in Britain today including one of the UK’s most important dance venues, The Patrick Centre.

Hofesh Shechter Company

The company is celebrating with a special anniversary season of performances featuring work by companies that have been performed and created at dx during the last decade such as Hofesh Shechter Company, Rosie Kay Dance Company and 2Faced Dance Company as well as some of the best new names in dance including Frauke Requardt and TAO Dance Theatre.

Last night, I invited our First Night Bloggers, Alex Woolliscroft and Marcus Hubbard, along to The Patrick Centre to check out just what all the fuss is about and, more importantly whether contemporary dance can appeal to a new and young audience. This was their very visit to DanceXchange and I was keen to see what they made of the whole thing, bearing in mind that Alex is 18 and Marcus 17 – would I be forcing them along to an hour and a half of what they regarded to be a lengthy, metaphorical torture!?

First Night Bloggers

First Night Bloggers, Marcus Hubbard and Alex Woolliscroft

I am glad to report quite the opposite; the performance – Hofesh Shechter’s Uprising & The Art of Not Looking Back – blew us all away. Marcus commented I was surprised at how much I enjoyed my first experience at the DanceXchange… I wasn’t expecting much to begin with but it’s opened up my mind to smaller less commercialised theatre performance.”  He added “I think dance would appeal to young people because it isn’t mainstream theatre and elitist. It’s a chance to see something cultured and thought provoking in a non-elitist atmosphere.”  To add to Marcus’s enthusiasm Alex said “I have to admit, before last night I had never seen a contemporary dance show, finding it boring and perhaps not to my taste. Last night completely changed my opinion of dance and the art form”.

You can see our Bloggers initial reactions after the show by visiting our Youtube Channel. Their full blog on the evening and First Night experiences can be found here for Marcus’s review,  and here for Alex’s report.

The great thing about the new dx season is that they are offering our First Night subscribers tickets to shows for just £5 – so go on, try something different!  You can find out more about the scheme for 16-21 year old’s and how to book your tickets by clicking here. If you aren’t lucky enough to be under 21, you can still get great offers on tickets and find out more information by visiting the DanceXchange website.

Happy Birthday DanceXchange from everyone at Birmingham Hippodrome!