The Bishop Blogs…

Bishop David Urquhart

Bishop David Urquhart

As the fabulous Sister Act, produced by Whoopi Goldberg, enjoys its last two weeks of its current UK tour here at Birmingham Hippodrome, we took the opportunity to ask the Bishop of Birmingham, David Urquhart,  a member of our Board,  to tell us about his theatrical experiences…

I have now been on the Board of Birmingham Hippodrome for about 3 years; I was attracted to being a member as I was already a regular visitor for ballet, musicals and opera at a very popular venue for tens of thousands of people across the West Midlands.

Birmingham Hippodrome is certainly a well run business, led by Stuart Griffiths and his highly committed staff, with a passion for spreading culture and entertainment. Our Chairman, John Crabtree suggested I join others drawn from business, the arts, politics, media and commerce…an opportunity I simply could not refuse.

Converted to Christ aged 18, in Idi Amin’s Uganda, I saw the transforming power of a relationship with Jesus in the lives of those Ugandans with whom I was working.  After 10 years in the oil industry I was called to ordination as a minister in the Church of England, starting in Hull and coming eventually to Birmingham as Bishop, via Coventry and Birkenhead.

Bishop David Urquhart and Brenda Edwards

Bishop David Urquhart and Brenda Edwards

My favourite show at the Hippodrome has to be ‘We Will Rock You’ which starred, among others, X Factor finalist Brenda Edwards who I was lucky enough to meet after one of the performances! I also enjoyed this year’s BRB performance of Far From the Madding Crowd which was especially highly appreciated by my guests from California.  I am also really looking forward to seeing Sister Act for the first time on stage…

Out of a long list, my favourite hymn is ‘For all the Saints, who from their labours rest’ to the tune by Vaughan Williams, with plenty of hopeful Alleluias! From the shows I would choose Bohemian Rhapsody – ‘Is this the real life, or is this just fantasy?’ an excellent question for all of us as we find a firm foundation for all that we are and do.

You can find out more about the Bishop of  Birmingham HERE.

Sister Act runs at Birmingham Hippodrome until 20 Oct 2012 – CLICK HERE for more info and to book tickets.

Life in Birmingham Hippodrome’s Box Office…

This week, Box Office Supervisor Paul Brotherton tells us about how he came to work at the theatre and about working in a very busy ticket office…

Paul at his desk in the Box Office

Paul at his desk in the Box Office

Hello, I’m Paul, one of three Box Office Supervisors here at Birmingham Hippodrome. I work within a relatively small and diverse team. My journey at the theatre began almost three years ago, in October 2009, when I was employed as a full time Information & Sales Assistant. Before this, I spent three years by the sea at Aberystwyth University studying drama, where I was President of the drama society, taking part in a number of performances in and out of University drama department. Now, as we are asked by the cast of Avenue Q, “What do you do with a BA in English” well equally I asked myself what I might be able to do with my BA in Drama after three years of study…

So off I went to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for two months to work in Box Office. I don’t think I had ever worked so hard before that, long shifts, constant queues and theatre in every kind of venue you could imagine. I remember sitting on the Box Office counter one morning towards the latter end of the festival wondering what on earth I was going to do when I went home and up popped a job working in Box Office at the Birmingham Hippodrome, a theatre I had loved visiting since I was a youngster. Off the application form went and along came the interview and, here I am today.

Paul on the Box Office front counter.

Paul on the Box Office front counter.

I was lucky enough to receive a promotion to Supervisor last year, which has brought new challenges and responsibilities. Within Box Office management we all have our individual duties, it is my responsibility to set up each show on our ticketing system, for example, so they’re ready for you to buy from us over the telephone, in person or online. This can be quite intricate work, (particularly when you’re setting up a twelve week summer show across three different pricing schedules!) but equally rewarding. Aside from “set up”, you might find me counting the takings from the previous day’s business, dealing with customer queries, liaising with other departments such as education, development and Birmingham Royal Ballet and acting as a point of contact for visiting companies.

Our Box Office employs a diverse bunch, all with different interests and strengths and there is never a dull moment in the office.  Every member of the team is equipped with the expertise and knowledge needed to deliver the best possible service to you. It’s not just tickets we sell, it’s us you speak to to make your restaurant reservations, book your theatre packages and administer your friends’ membership, to name but a few of the strings in our large bow. There are lots of exciting new shows to be announced in our upcoming season, so stay tuned, but in the meantime I’m most looking forward to Sister Act and Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Aladdin. I like the ballet’s mixed bills too, I always think that there’s something there for everyone to enjoy.

Away from work, I enjoy partaking in a bit of amateur dramatics and am a member of the Crescent Theatre in Birmingham city centre.  There are a great number of opportunities for members to get involved in the Crescent’s varied programme, I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in a touring Shakespeare as well as playing Pike in Dad’s Army and a mute in Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia.  I’m a big music fan too and enjoy going to a good gig, when I can, in and around the city centre as well as adding to my ever growing CD collection.

Look forward to speaking to you all soon on the telephone!

Paul.

The fun has just begun…an exciting 2012 lies ahead!

As we come to the final couple weeks of Oliver!, 2012 has already proved to be an exciting and eventful year. However, as we cross our fingers for the sunshine to return and head into spring and summer, here at Birmingham Hippodrome we have even more to look forward to…

Artists impression of The Voyage...

Artists impression of The Voyage...

The good news is, this summer, we will be providing the city with two major cultural events – both of which are FREE!! Birmingham Hippodrome is delighted to be producing The Voyage (21-24 Jun nightly at 10pm) a spectacular free outdoor event in Birmingham’s Victoria Square which forms part of the opening weekend of the London 2012 Festival.    In a unique global collaboration between Australia’s leading physical theatre and aerial company Legs on the Wall and the UK’s leading outdoor dance company Motionhouse, a giant ship will be constructed in the square and transformed into a live set for a cast of over 160 who will present high wire, extraordinary aerial acrobatics, massive projections on the Town Hall and song and dance.  You can visit www.thevoyage.org.uk for more information.

To add to the flurry of activity in the city centre, Birmingham Hippodrome’s Six Summer Saturdays returns this summer for the third year! Animating the city with the very best outdoor and interactive performance, these FREE events inspired by London 2012, will run over six Saturday’s (7, 14, 21 Jul & 11, 18, 25 Aug) and promise to feature a multitude of exciting sights and sounds. Visit www.sixsummersaturdays.com to find out more.

As well as bringing theatre to the streets of Birmingham, let’s not forget the fantastic activity happening on our main stage! 2012 marks the third International Dance Festival Birmingham (IDFB) This award-winning city-wide festival, co-produced by Birmingham Hippodrome and its partners DanceXchange, attracts artists and companies from all over the world.

Royal Ballet Flanders

Royal Ballet Flanders

Performances include Royal Ballet Flanders (25 & 26 April) who perform the groundbreaking William Forsythe ballet Artifact in Birmingham for the first time, Danza Contemporanea de Cuba (8 & 9 May), legendary ballet star Sylvie Guillem and dancer/choreographer Russell Maliphant (11 & 12 May)  perform PUSH; plus the critically-acclaimed hip hop festival, Breakin’ Covention (14 & 15 May) returns to Birmingham with live performances, DJ’s and MC’s in the foyers combined with international artists. Lastly, Birmingham Hippodrome welcomes the sensational Circolombia (16-18 May) who perform their gritty production, Urban, fusing electrifying circus, South American hip hop and reggaeton dance www.idfb.co.uk

To round off a fantastic season we also have blockbuster musicals including The King & I (1 – 5 May), Wonderful Town (22 – 26 May), I Dreamed a Dream (29 May – 2 Jun) Dirty Dancing (4 Jul – 25 Aug) and Sister Act (9 – 20 Oct), phew!! Who’s excited…I cant wait!

…p.s has anyone heard the very exciting news about a certain masked man coming to Birmingham next March…? Friends booking opens 8 May!