Backstage on a Friday…

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Friday – the end of the week for a standard, 9-5 office dweller; for the panto lot, however, it begins 3 days of two shows per day in another busy run of performances.

In the calm before the storm this morning I took a sneeky peek behind the scenes to get some shots before the cast and crew arrive in the building…

 

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The clock strikes on Panto Press Night…

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Ben Wooldridge, Press & PR Assistant reports back from last night’s big Press Night…

Last night was a big night for us here at Birmingham Hippodrome as we welcomed members of the press and local media to the official press night of Cinderella.

There is always a buzz of excitement in the building on a press night but Panto is especially exciting as not only does this mark the official start of Christmas, but this is the biggest Pantomime in the UK!   It’s been really great to watch preparations and rehearsals over the last week or two and when the curtain went up last night the cast gave 110%, as they do during every one of their twelve performances a week!

Brian, Basil and Lynda with a special 5th Panto Cake!

Brian, Basil and Lynda with a special 5th Panto Cake!

Amongst the obligatory mince pies and mulled wine at the interval, the press reception was already a hive of excitement as people began to rave about the stellar performances from Brian, Lynda and the entire ensemble and, of course, the magical special effects (but shhh, I’m not going to give anything away!). It goes without saying that the reviews we have had in to the press office so far have been nothing short of stunning, with 5 stars from Birmingham Mail which you can read here, 5 stars from Birmingham Post here, and a glowing review from The Stage here; we are simply sparkling with pride!

Last night was extra special as we celebrated Brian Conley’s 5th Pantomime at Birmingham Hippodrome with a giant cake, Brian gave special mention to the backstage crew who had been working round the clock (get it!)  to create a truly spectacular evening; I already can’t wait to see what Brian has up his sleeves for when he returns in Robinson Crusoe next year!

Thank you to everyone for their kind comments so far and don’t forget to tweet your feedback to @brumhippodrome – we really look forward to welcome all our future pantogoers.   Have a Merry Christmas and see you in the New Year…

Flying, Fairies and FX – it must be Panto tech rehearsals!

Ben Wooldridge, Press & PR Assistant blogs about an exciting period in the lead up to Britain’s biggest Pantomime, Cinderella.

Setting the stage...

Setting the stage...

Since the set for Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker was dismantled on Saturday evening destined for the colossal O2 Arena, the Birmingham Hippodrome stage has been a hive of endless activity as crew and technical staff have been working through the night to erect the huge pieces of scenery and hang the endless rows of lighting rigs as the cast of Cinderella prepare to move to the main stage for rehearsals.   It’s  been a fascinating insight as I sit typing away at my desk watching the plasma screen in front of me displaying a live feed from the Hippodrome stage as hoards of sequined curtains are raised and special effects begin to be set and tested.

Lighting design at work...

Lighting design at work...

Today is a very magical day indeed as the first part of rehearsal involves testing some of the spectacular flying sequences! We can’t reveal too much but audiences are in for a real treat with some of the special effects this year.   I talked to a couple of members of the backstage team about the week so far, our Technical Assistant Stage Manager on the show, Adam McClelland told me, “all is going well backstage – the last few days have been a mix of helping wardrobe, rehearsing some of the ‘magic’ and doing lots of prop making / buying!  The stage is very busy today with a flying rehearsal and  practicing some of the other amazing tricks!”. Assistant Stage Manager, Matthew Breen also said “We’re on the third day of rehearsal in Birmingham and everyone is gearing up to start the technical rehearsal at 2:30pm this afternoon. This is where we slowly work through the show adding in all of the technical elements such as lighting, sound, projection and flying. In addition, the cast will also rehearse all of their costume changes (most of which are done in a very short period of time).   This year Midland audiences can expect beautiful and lavish sets, stunning costumes and fantastic special effects; with over 300 costumes being used, 1800 pyrotechnics and 534 lights in the rig!”

Our very own Cinders, the lovely Kathryn Rooney added “Now the set is up and looking amazing I’m so excited – it simply looks stunning!”

You can watch a great behind the scenes video with Heart FM’s Ed and Rachel as they attended rehearsals earlier in the week by clicking here. Also, keep an eye on our Flickr account for updated backstage images!

The show is certainly shaping up to be one of our biggest and best pantomimes yet and I for one can’t wait…the clock is ticking!!