If there’s a massive West End production looking to come to the second city, you can be sure its destination will be the Birmingham Hippodrome. Situated by the Arcadian Centre on the cusp of Birmingham’s gay village, the Hippodrome has made a name for itself as the home of spectacular productions along the Lion King/Wicked side of things, offering considerable stage space and state-of-the-art technology to accommodate leaping lions and warbling witches.
The Hippodrome has come a long way from its beginnings as a variety theatre in the early 1900s, building strong links with Welsh National Opera over the years and acting as home to the globally acclaimed Birmingham Royal Ballet. The latter has also helped to nurture the building’s own DanceXchange studios, which intermittently play host to some of the finest dance companies in the world – most notably during the annual International Dance Festival. The Hippodrome also does brisk business with its annual Christmas panto – one of the highest grossing in the UK.
The theatre’s Circle restaurant has made great pains recently to be seen as a fine dining destination in its own right, as well as the ideal place for a pre-show meal (pains that have undoubtedly paid off). You might also see cast members gather for a tipple or two in the Hippodrome’s StageSide bar, just over the road from the stage door in Thorp Street.