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 




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!