Musical Theatre

Birmingham Hippodrome announce UK’s first in-house musicals department

Catherine Muxworthy May 3, 2023

Birmingham Hippodrome will become the first venue in the UK with an in-house department dedicated to new musical theatre. The theatre plans to develop new musicals with a dedicated new department, studio space and career development opportunities.

Jon Gilchrist, Artistic Director and CEO of Birmingham Hippodrome, said: “Over 260,000 people come to see musical theatre at the Hippodrome every year and we know our audiences are hungry for new musicals. This next phase in our artistic ambitions sees the organisation make a long-term commitment to developing musical theatre on site and making more opportunities for careers in musical theatre.

“Audiences will play a key role in every step of the process, from invites to work in progress sharings, first performances in our studios, all the way up to large scale new productions.”

This new department for Birmingham Hippodrome will be led by a Head of New Musical Theatre – the vacancy for which is already live – who will be responsible for growing a “a specialist team and collaborate with creatives and partners to create new production opportunities in Birmingham and beyond,” explains a press release.

The department will commission, develop and produce new musical theatre as part of the Birmingham Hippodrome’s core business, as well as “offering skills development, employment, and a new Writers’ Lab, supporting more sustainable career pathways in musical theatre.”

The team will operate from a dedicated studio space at the Hippodrome, and work developed will be presented on all the Hippodrome stages, as well as with their partners across the country. The Hippodrome’s Patrick Studio will be a year-round home for new work, new musicals and new audiences.

The Hippodrome has been working in consultation with theatre producer and consultant Vicky Graham, who specialises in creative and strategic development of new musicals.

Vicky said: “This is cause for real celebration. While there is no shortage of musical theatre writing talent in the UK, there is a need for consistent space, support and production opportunity. The Hippodrome – with its enthusiastic musical theatre audience base, passionate and skilled team, and well-equipped space – is perfectly placed to respond to this need. It’s an honour to be a part of it.”

Jon Gilchrist added: “We are ambitious for ourselves, our industry, as well as the city and region. There is so much incredible work being done across the musical theatre industry and we want to play our part in supporting a thriving theatrical ecology here in the West Midlands, telling diverse stories for a young and diverse city.

“Our first fully Hippodrome-produced musical will be staged in the Patrick Studio in 2024, with produced work becoming a regular feature on our stages in the seasons that follow. We are incredibly excited by this opportunity to create new work and develop more opportunities for creatives. We look forward to receiving applications from people as fired up as we are by the new role of Head of New Musical Theatre.”