Roll up, Roll up for Opening Night…

Administration Assistant, Grace Morgan blogs about her first experience of a Press Night at the opening of Barnum…

Grace Morgan

Grace Morgan

Having started as an apprentice in the Box office aged 16, I now find myself on the sixth floor of Birmingham Hippodrome as Administration Assistant. Looking back to when I first started, I now feel so lucky to be involved in many theatrical goings on which recently included attending my first ever press night…

Myself and Ben Wooldridge (who works in the theatre’s press office) loaded ourselves into the car with full lunch boxes to head down to Bristol Hippodrome for opening night of BARNUM (despite the satnav taking us the longest route possible). This was my first ever experience of a press night and I was really excited, the theatre was buzzing and there were lots of people arriving. We collected our tickets and joined the press reception.

When we found our seats in the stalls there was a sea of Jugglers who threw balls over the audience, acrobats climbed and tumbled over the seats and we were drawn in to the world of the circus. I was particulary amazed by the young acrobat who was in front of me doing a hand stand on the back of a chair!

BarnumFrom the moment it started I was glued to the performance from start to finish – the set, costumes and choreography were amazingly colourful, making the auditorium itself feel like a real circus with light bulbs draped from the ceiling and the circus ring coming right into the front row of the stalls. My favourite, yet most nail-biting, scene was when Brian Conley, who plays the role of Barnum, tried his hand at tight rope walking – my heart was in my mouth! It was so intense you could almost hear a penny drop. At the end of the performance the audience went wild with a full standing ovation.

Afterwards we were invited to the Piano bar where I had the pleasure of meeting Michael Harrison the co-producer (who also directs our panto’s and is producer of the hit musical The Bodyguard) and the lovely Kathryn Rooney (who has appeared in several of our big pantomime productions). The cast of Barnum also joined us and I was lucky enough to spot the star of the show Brian Conley and Sir Cameron Mackintosh who also co-produces the show – not bad for my first official press night!

Back when I started as an Apprentice I certainly wouldn’t have thought I’d ever have had the privilege of attending a glitzy press night – it was a fantastic evening and I can’t wait to see the show again when it arrives here next year.

For more information and tickets for Barnum click here.

BARNUM company. Photo by Johan Persson

Brian’s Barnum rolls into town…

We are very excited to announce that Birmingham’s favourite showman, Brian Conley will return to Birmingham Hippodrome next Summer in the Cameron Mackintosh and Chichester Festival Theatre hit musical BARNUM!

Brian Conley said “Birmingham Hippodrome is special to me, not only have I performed in some of the most well-loved musicals of all time but I’ve starred in a record breaking 6 pantomimes and was honoured to have hosted the 1999 Royal Variety Performance there.”

This spectacular production of BARNUM follows the irrepressible imagination and dreams of Phineas T Barnum, America’s Greatest Showman featuring a vibrant and colourful circus setting and plenty of ‘oooo’s’ and ‘ahhh’s’.

Tickets for BARNUM will go on sale to Friends at 10am on Monday 30 June, Groups Wednesday 2 July at 10am with General on sale on Friday 4 July.

For more information click here. 

Take a look at the official teaser trailer below…


Full steam ahead for Britain’s Biggest Panto…

Press & PR Assistant, Ben Wooldridge (@benwooldridge) blogs about a trip to rehearsals and final preparations for Birmingham’s swashbuckling panto…

Ahoy there! The past couple of weeks have proved to be a busy and exciting time as we saw the final performances of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s spectacular Cinderella whilst the cast for this year’s panto got into the full swing of rehearsals whilst set, costumes and a box full of magic tricks arrived at the theatre.

Brian & Kathryn rehearse their number

Brian & Kathryn rehearse their number

Last Friday we took a minibus full of media down to rehearsals in London at The London Welsh Centre, a quaint little building in the heart of the city by Euston Station complete with wooden beams and cosy chairs – the perfect Christmas setting! Upon arrival we were treated to two production numbers, one from Lesley Joseph and the other a duet from Brian Conley and local girl (in her record-breaking third panto appearance in a row here!) Kathryn Rooney. The one thing that really stuck out is the amazing choreography in this year’s production, this probably comes as no surprise as Karen Bruce, who is in charge of creating the routines this year, has worked on the last two seasons of Strictly Come Dancing and Vincent and Flavia’s Midnight Tango!

Following a brief lunch underneath the Christmas tree we then sat down with Brian, Lesley and producer and director of Robinson Crusoe, Michael Harrison for media interviews in front of the camera and behind the microphone. Michael has created no less than 53 panto’s for QDOS entertainment and is also producer of the brand-new West End musical, The Bodyguard. Both Lesley and Brian talked about their excitement for this year’s panto and Brian even promised a better show than last year’s sensational Cinderella!!

Brian & Lesley talk to the press

Brian & Lesley talk to the press

Meanwhile, the cast are now all safely in Birmingham for the final stages of rehearsals in our DanceXchange studios. Elsewhere on stage the rigging is being hoisted, ships are being assembled and giant shells are flying through the air as the magnificent set comes together. Wardbrobe are also busy unloading hoards of costumes and we have heard whispers that there are over 300 of them, all of which are brand new!!

To listen to interviews with Brian, Lesley and Michael from the day CLICK HERE and tune in to our latest Podcast.

Panto is always an exciting time here, and this year is certainly no exception – look out for more updates soon…

For more info & to book for Robinson Crusoe & the Caribbean Pirates CLICK HERE.