Tuesday, March 5

Tag: Birmingham Hippodrome

Mamma Mia – Birmingham Hippodrome
West Midlands

Mamma Mia – Birmingham Hippodrome

Stephen Fry once compared ABBA to a bottle of coke. It wasn’t because their bubbling pop music was sweet and saccharine. It was because the original glass bottle was so well designed - becoming a design classic - it could withstand a hundred times more pressure from its contents than it needed to. A case of over-design. Just like ABBA. Their work is so well designed, so perfectly engineered and far, far better made than it ever needs to be - that they too have become classics. If Benny and Bjorn had created songs half as good they would still be some of the most outstanding pop music in the world. And “Mamma Mia”, that staggeringly successful stage show, stands testimony to the words and music of those talented Swedes and their well-designed pop classics. The auditorium of the Birmingh...
Akram Khan’s Jungle Book Reimagined – Birmingham Hippodrome
West Midlands

Akram Khan’s Jungle Book Reimagined – Birmingham Hippodrome

Beyond reclaiming a colonial text, character names and a pun on the words “urban jungle” there is little to connect “Akram Khan’s Jungle Book - Reimagined” with “The Jungle Book” by Rudyard Kipling. It is very inventive, though, but with a kind of invention usually the preserve of student shows and the fringe. Card boxes, which were plentiful, were gainfully employed in various roles and made for an intriguing Kaa, but my heart sank when I saw yet another company wafting a large sheet on stage to portray the sea. It had great intentions. It was a noble attempt to use the original story as a metaphor for the present ecological crisis and if you don’t clock that then Great Thunberg’s voice will undoubtedly confirm its credentials for you. The scant and surprisingly spartan set was supple...
Madam Butterfly – Birmingham Hippodrome
West Midlands

Madam Butterfly – Birmingham Hippodrome

With all the characteristic style and élan we usually associate with Welsh National Opera, “Madam Butterfly” wafted decorously and gracefully into the Birmingham Hippodrome last night, alighted with panache and, once her work was done, flitted off on the thermal undercurrents of a warm and adoring audience and was seen no more. It was a delight. A crowded, expectant and semi-masked audience sat entranced as the tale unfurled of Captain Pinkerton’s child-bride, Madam Butterfly who, after providing him with a home life and a child, is deceived and betrayed by her thoughtless husband and commits the act which all deceived and betrayed wives seem to commit in opera, but I’ll not inflict a plot-spoiler so early in proceedings suffice to say the denouement arrives inevitably but shockingly a...
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat – Birmingham Hippodrome
West Midlands

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat – Birmingham Hippodrome

If you have an idle moment, Google Mike Holloway. Like Doctor Who, you always remember your first Joseph. He was mine. Pre-Covid, pre-Millenium, pre-pretty much everything, Mike Holloway was the Joseph of the eighties. He was preceded by Jess Conrad who is now in his eighties. On and off I’ve been watching Joseph since 1985 and the show forever proves itself joyous, wholesome and nice. Very, very nice. Starting as a short oratorio for school kids way back in the late sixties, it evolved and grew into a neat and hugely popular stage production from Bill Kenwright (starring the aforementioned JC). Then Andrew Lloyd Webber took it back and mounted an extraordinary production at the London Palladium with Jason Donovan in the title role and now Donovan once more dons Egyptian garb and finds hi...
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Birmingham Hippodrome
West Midlands

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Birmingham Hippodrome

The award-winning National Theatre Production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time comes to Birmingham, perfectly coinciding with World Autism Awareness Week. Christopher Boon has found his neighbour’s dog murdered, he decides to investigate what has happened and who killed him. This is very much outside of his comfort zone and the more he investigates the more he reveals, leading to some uncomfortable discoveries.  From the start, it is clear that Christopher sees things differently to most people, his neurodiverse condition is never named but alluded to in the script. The novel (by Mark Haddon) on which this play is based, is written in the first person, which could be difficult to translate to the stage. However, by mixing live action with Christopher explain...
Beauty and the Beast – Birmingham Hippodrome
West Midlands

Beauty and the Beast – Birmingham Hippodrome

Disney has, for many years, been synonymous with quality family entertainment with works dating way back into the early part of the twentieth century which have woven themselves into the hearts and minds of children creating classics loved by successive generations. In recent years many of those works have found themselves translated to stage versions proving themselves a further cash cow for Mickey. Some may say this is just cynical cash-in exploiting previous works, but, oh, no, not I. It’s nearly thirty years since Disney’s renaissance with Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King brought the eye of the world back to their work and proved even sans Walt this company was going places! The theatrical wing of the business has proved itself time and again where Disney’s he...
Matthew Bourne’s The Nutcracker – Birmingham Hippodrome
West Midlands

Matthew Bourne’s The Nutcracker – Birmingham Hippodrome

It may be February, but it is never too late to catch this superb production of The Nutcracker. First of all, take everything you know about The Nutcracker, screw it up and throw it out of the window. This ballet is like no other version you have seen before. Matthew Bourne has taken the family favourite (and the version he first created 30 years ago) and given it a very colourful make over. The basic story of Clara and her toy is there, but it opens in an orphanage rather than a lavish house. She is still transported away to a fantasy world of ice and then sweets, but the national dances have been replaced by ones representing confectionery. Unlike the usual version there is a story being told throughout, the second half has more of a purpose than just a showcase for different styl...
Goldilocks and the Three Bears – Birmingham Hippodrome
West Midlands

Goldilocks and the Three Bears – Birmingham Hippodrome

If you go down in the woods today, you’ll be sure a vibrant explosion of panto frolics and furry fun at the Birmingham Hippodrome where, after a covid-induced hiatus, the annual treat comes crashing back forming the cherry on top of a very rich Christmas cake. The newly formed Crossroads Pantos rose phoenix-like from the remains of previous panto producers Qdos and transformed panto-like into the shiny new makers of our yuletide jollity with just enough traces of their previous incarnation blended with dollops of freshly minted ideas to justify their name change. “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” is a plot rarely visited in pantodom. It’s scant and thin with only one familiar scene so it’s unsurprising Crossroads have taken to building out the story with some astounding circus artist...
Blood Brothers – Birmingham Hippodrome
West Midlands

Blood Brothers – Birmingham Hippodrome

Wagner’s “Das Rheingold” famously opens with one long, droning tone from the orchestra which engages, entrances and thrills in equal measure. “Blood Brothers” employs the same technique and hits exactly the same, as it were, note. We are drawn into a dark and tragic world where the outcome of the plot is set out as clearly as the two dead two bodies laying before us. This is the plot spoiler of all plot spoilers but, oddly, though we know the end we want to know why it happened. Not a whodunnit, but a whydunnit? And so, the drone draws us in… My first Mrs. Johnston was Kiki Dee, which for all you BB buddies out there, means I saw it quite early on in its humungous run. Barbara Dickson did it first, of course, in a version that didn’t take off. Bill Kenwright sprinkled his Liverpudlian ...
Hairspray – Birmingham Hippodrome
West Midlands

Hairspray – Birmingham Hippodrome

The John Waters film “Hairspray” has always struck me an odd source for a Broadway musical stemming from the sub-sub-cultural independent movie starring the Ricki Lake and the unsettlingly bizarre Divine. Waters films were, and perhaps still are, deliberately shocking, subversive and cheaply shot. But musicals have been created from odder sources - cats and trains spring to mind. Since 2002 “Hairspray - the musical” has delighted audiences on Broadway and West end and beyond with noted performances from Michael Ball and Brian Conley. So far, it’s ticking all the right boxes and a fun night seem to be ensured…Okay, so the place was full of engaged, delighted and whooping fans intent on a good night and a good night they had, though I’m not sure the show was entirely responsible for it. The...