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.

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!

Bloggers investigate how 16-21 year old’s can get their hands on thousands of £5 tickets…

Alex and Marcus at 'Six Summer Saturdays'Press and PR Assistant, Ben Wooldridge tells us about Birmingham Hippodrome’s brand new ticket scheme, ‘First Night’ and some new recruits:

Those of you lucky enough to be under the age of 26, may have heard that at Birmingham Hippodrome we have a brand new scheme for young theatre goers. We know a good thing when we see one and couldn’t resist the chance to follow the path ‘A Night Less Ordinary*’ had set and develop our own scheme for young theatre goers – be they loyal enthusiast’s or modest newcomers.  In May this year we launched our First Night scheme, giving 16-21 year old’s the chance to see selected first night performances for just £5!

The initiative has opened doors for many young patrons, offering them the chance to see performances including musicals, plays, ballet, opera and contemporary dance for a mere fiver.   Amongst our First Nighter’s we found two enthusiasts,  Alex Woolliscroft and Marcus Hubbard who have now become our First Night reviewers, reporting back on the opening of new productions, press launches of forthcoming shows and writing openly and honestly about their experiences with Birmingham Hippodrome’s brand new scheme.  Marcus and Alex, both 17, have joined us during a period of some of the most important theatrical evenings of this year, including the opening night of We Will Rock You.

At the press night (attended by Brian May himself!) the bloggers had the chance to experience the opening of a major musical up close and personal, including access to the VIP reception and pre-show party.   Marcus described the event as “My highlight so far…  to meet lots of new people at the drinks reception and to see such an amazing show was a lot of fun!”.  After well and truly getting their rock-on the two reporters rushed home to blog about their First Night at We Will Rock You – you can read Alex’s blog HERE and Marcus’s review HERE.

Following on from the excitement of the previous evening, the web-wise reporters then joined us in our Stageside restaurant for the launch of our outdoor programme, Six Summer Saturdays. Animating the city with the very best outdoor and interactive theatre, the series of six weekends of FREE performance follows on from last year’s extremely successful festival.   At the launch, Marcus and Alex were joined by a host of weird and wonderful characters including two very large, very red and very friendly lobsters! The event also gave our bloggers the chance to try out some very special glasses.  The specs allow the wearer, via a video camera built into the front of the frames, to record and film the events around them from a very personal perspective.  You can see the results by visiting our Youtube Channel.

To round off a week or so of star studded special events our young reviewers made the journey to Villa Park for the launch of next summer’s blockbuster production of Dirty Dancing. The pinkest, glitziest of launches offered the bloggers a chance to preview the show via special performances and Q&A sessions as well as sitting on the specially reserved press table and a chin wag with some of the most influential of press contacts in Birmingham.

As representatives of the scheme, both Marcus and Alex have shown the enthusiasm and passion for theatre that the First Night initiative encourages and Birmingham Hippodrome is very proud to have created.   Talking about the scheme, Marcus said “I think First Night is a good idea because it makes theatre accessible for people who might not go as often. The scheme means I’ll be able to see a broader range of shows that I wouldn’t usually book tickets to see, which is what I’m most looking forward to.” For more information on how you can join the First Night scheme for free, click HERE.

 Marcus and Alex continue to report on the First Night Scheme and their experiences- see below for links to their blogs:



*In February 2009 Arts Council England launched A Night Less Ordinary in association with Metro. The scheme offered over half a million (618,000) free theatre tickets to anyone under 26 at more than 200 venues throughout England.