Theatre News

Birmingham Hippodrome launches first ever in-house musical theatre department to develop future shows

Birmingham Hippodrome
Birmingham Hippodrome
© Oosoom at English Wikipedia / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Birmingham Hippodrome has announced plans to develop new musicals in the West Midlands, becoming the first UK venue to have an in-house musical theatre department.

The new department will be led by a Head of New Musical Theatre, who will commission, develop and produce new musicals in collaboration with creatives and partners. Recruitment for the role is open now.

The Hippodrome’s commitment to developing musical theatre on site aims to provide more opportunities for careers in musical theatre and skills development. As part of the initiative, a new fully equipped studio space will be dedicated to the development of musicals, and a year-long Musical Theatre Writers’ Lab, led by Victoria Saxton, will be launched later this year. The Writers’ Lab will offer long-term creative development opportunities to artists making a career in musical theatre.

Saxton said: “This is a game changer. Musical theatre writers need time, space and long-term support to work on their craft, collaborate and dream up bold new projects – and, crucially, have the chance to get them on their feet and produced. In my experience producing BEAM, designing and working on development projects, what’s been missing in the UK has been a coherent, long-term strategy that provides a home for brilliant career musical theatre writers”.

The Hippodrome’s Patrick Studio will be a year-round home for new work, new musicals and new audiences, and work developed will be presented on all the Hippodrome’s stages and with partners across the country. The initiative has been developed over several months as part of the Hippodrome’s new five-year business strategy, which includes a musical theatre strand developed in consultation with national and international industry peers, alongside local and national artists at all stages of their careers.

According to the venue, over 260,000 people come to see musical theatre at the Hippodrome every year, and this initiative is designed to respond to the demand for new musicals from the enthusiastic musical theatre audience base.

The first fully Hippodrome-produced musical will be staged in the Patrick Studio in 2024, with produced work becoming a regular feature on the Hippodrome’s stages in the seasons that follow.

The Hippodrome has been working in consultation with theatre producer and consultant Vicky Graham, who specialises in creative and strategic development of new musicals. Graham believes the initiative is a “game changer,” as there is a need for consistent space, support, and production opportunity for musical theatre writing talent in the UK. The Hippodrome is well-equipped to respond to this need, with an enthusiastic musical theatre audience base, a passionate and skilled team, and dedicated studio space.

Birmingham Hippodrome is inviting applications for the role of Head of New Musical Theatre. Applications close on Friday 9 June. Full details of this and other talent development and commissioning opportunities will be announced in autumn.