Earlier this afternoon, cast members from the new Happy Days musical assembled at Ed’s Diner, an, American-style, 1950s retro diner located in the Birmingham Bullring’s iconic Selfridges building. Dressed up in baseball jackets and ready for burgers and shakes were the Sugababes’ Heidi Range, Bucks Fizz star Cheryl Baker and Emmerdale’s Ben Freeman, who play Pinky Tuscadero, Mrs Cunningham and The Fonz, respectively.
Full of Spring cheer and energy, two massive musical shows guaranteed to brighten up the rainy days will be bounding over to the Birmingham Hippodrome in March and April.
First up, on Tuesday 18th March, Chichester Festival Theatre’s acclaimed production of Singin’ in the Rain will make its down from the West End’s iconic Palace Theatre. So far, the show has received four Olivier Award nominations, and has played to over 750,000 people. Due to massive demand, an extra matinee performance has already been added to the Hippodrome run at 2pm on Friday 21 March.
The production, which features, “half a mile of flexible pipe work, and a 10 tonne water tank and a water system that creates a downpour from above and flooding from below the stage,” and uses over 12,000 litres of water per performance, is directed by Jonathan Church, who served as artistic director of the Birmingham REP from 2001-06. Starring in the show will be James Leece and Amy Ellen Richardson as lovers Don Lockwood and Kathy Selden, Stephane Anelli as sidekick Cosmo Brown, Steps singer Faye Tozer as demanding starlet Lina Lamont, and international stage and screen star Maxwell Caulfield as studio boss R. F. Simpson.
Said Rob McPherson, the Hippodrome’s Director of Marketing and Development:
“Singin’ in the Rain is one of musical theatre’s classic masterpieces and it’s great to see that the show is as popular now as it ever has been. Due to a downpour of public demand we are pleased to announce an extra matinee performance in order to allow as many people of Birmingham the chance to dig out their umbrellas and join us in the days of Hollywood gone by – we are looking forward to seeing those who will be braving the ‘splash zone’ in the front few rows…”
To get some exclusive behind the scenes insights from star of the show Max Caulfield, check out the latest Hippodrome podcast here. Plus, for a chance to win some extra special Singin’ in the Rain goodies, follow @brumhippodrome on Twitter and send us a picture of yourself singing in the rain. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #BHSingin!
Singin’ in the Rain is showing at the Birmingham Hippodrome from Tuesday 18th March until Saturday 5th April. Tickets are priced from £16-45 with some £5 First Night seats available for those aged 16-23. You can book via the Birmingham Hippodrome website, or by calling 0844 338 5000. If you’re using the First Night scheme, don’t forget to tell us what you think here.
Following this, a brand new musical based on the classic TV series Happy Days will be making its UK premiere at the theatre, featuring all the original characters as they battle to save their diner Arnold’s from demolition.
Happy Days – A New Musical is written by Garry Marshall, creator of the original show and director of many hit feature films including Beaches, Pretty Woman and The Princess Diaries. In addition to the Happy Days theme tune, it will feature 21 brand new songs by Bugsy Malone composer and Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe award-winning songwriter Paul Williams.
Starring in the show will be Emmerdale’s Ben Freeman as The Fonz, Sugababes singer Heidi Range as Pinky Tuscadero and Bucks Fizz’s Cheryl Baker as Mrs Cunningham. Choreography is by Andrew Wright, who also choreographed the current tour of Singin’ in the Rain, while original “Fonz” Henry Winkler will act as Creative Consultant. Amy Anzel, who featured in recent Channel 4 documentary The Sound of Musicals, is producing.
Happy Days – A New Musical will be showing at the Birmingham Hippodrome from Tuesday 22nd until Saturday 26th April. Tickets are priced from £15-37 and can be booked from the Birmingham Hippodrome website, or by calling 0844 338 5000. If you are aged 16-25 and are purchasing £5 First Night tickets, please give us your thoughts here.
After the fabulous free theatre we’ve enjoyed over the last few weeks across Birmingham’s city centre, the summer may finally be over, but the fun is far from it! The Birmingham Hippodrome has just announced a new season packed full of all sorts of exciting shows to brighten up the cold, dark winter days!
From October through to Spring next year, you’ll be able to enjoy a range of smash-hit musicals, National Theatre shows on tour, contemporary dance, world-class opera and ballet from the Birmingham Royal Ballet and the Welsh National Opera, and of course, the return of the world’s biggest pantomime this Christmas.
The new season kicks off next month with the Birmingham Royal Ballet’s ‘Still Life’ at the Penguin Café, E=MC² and Tombeaux (3-5 October) and later The Sleeping Beauty, (8-12 October) followed by the National Theatre’s War Horse (16 October – 9 November). If you want to get yourself some War Horse tickets, act fast, since the show is almost sold out already!
Alongside the War Horse run, two additional special events will be taking place: Only Remembered (Friday 8th November), a concert featuring live readings from the original War Horse novel by its author Michael Morpurgo and music from John Tams and Barry Coope, and a War Horse-themed sleepover (Friday 25th October) that will see the Patrick Centre transformed into World War I-style trenches.
Towards the end of the month, there will be more opportunities to experience free outdoor shows in Birmingham. Make sure you wrap up warm for Illuminate! (25-27 October) a three-day light spectacular featuring interactive street projections from Shanghai, dance performances and The Lanterns of Terracotta Warriors, an extraordinary exhibition originally created for the Beijing Olympics.
Throughout November, the Welsh National Opera will present Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca (12 & 16 November) and Gaetano Donizetti’s new Tudors series: Anna Bolena (13 November), Maria Stuarda (14 November) and Roberto Devereux (15 November).
As Christmas approaches, the Hippodrome will be helping you to get into the festive spirit with a Birmingham Royal Ballet production of The Nutcracker (22 November – 12 December), as well as its excellent, all-star pantomime Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (19 December – 2 February). This year’s panto will star Gok Wan, Stephanie Beacham, Gary Wilmot, John Partridge and winner of the BBC’s Over the Rainbow series Danielle Hope.
February is a great month to catch some ballet at the Hippodrome, with two more productions from the Birmingham Royal Ballet (Three of a Kind from 19-22 February and The Prince of the Pagodas from 25 February – 1 March), as well as Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake (5-15 February).
Meanwhile, March is the month for music, with three WNO operas and two exciting musicals. The Welsh National Opera will present Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata (4 & 8 March) as well as two brand new productions, Manon Lescaut (5 & 7 March) and Boulevard Solitude (6 March). From 11-15 March, award-winning producers Music & Lyrics will be presenting their take on Fiddler on the Roof, starring Paul Michael Glaser and, towards the end of the month, the theatre’s stage will be flooded with 12,000 litres of water every night as part of its Singin’ in the Rain performances (18 March – 5 April), starring Maxwell Caulfield and Faye Tozer.
In April, Wet, Wet, Wet frontman Marti Pellow will star in Evita (8-19 April), while a brand new musical based on the classic TV series Happy Days will star Sugababes’ Heidi Range (22-26 April). The Happy Days musical is written by the series’ creator Gary Marshall, with creative consultancy from Henry Winkler, TV’s original “Fonz”.
May sees the return of the biennial International Dance Fest Birmingham, co-produced by the Hippodrome and DanceXchange. The festival will kick off with Sideways Rain (29-30 April) by Genevan contemporary dance company Alias, and will also include Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s M!longa (23-24 May), international hip-hop festival Breakin’ Convention (20-21 May), a new adaptation of William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies by Matthew Bourne (14-17 May) and a performance from acclaimed ballerina Sylvie Guillem in 6,000 Miles Away (6-7 May). Bourne’s new production will feature young New Adventures dancers from the West Midlands as part of efforts to inspire a new generation to get involved in dance.
As Spring leads on into summer, the National Theatre‘s five-star comedy feast, One Man, Two Guv’nors will arrive in Birmingham (26-31 May), providing an excellent opportunity to catch this highly-praised production if you missed it in London. One Man, Two Guv’nors is an adaptation of Carlo Goldoni’s classic 1743 comedy The Servant of Two Masters, reimagined in 1960s Brighton by Richard Bean.
So it comes full circle back to summer. Next summer’s big musical show will be Wicked (9 July – 6 September). It may seem a long way to plan ahead, but tickets for Wicked are already being snapped up by audiences. In September, the Hippodrome will also be showing Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats. Check back here for details about when tickets go on sale.
To book tickets and for more information, visit the Birmingham Hippodrome website.