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Hippodrome 120 by David Roberts Book Launch

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by dpm (subscribe)
dpm is a Birmingham-based freelancer with experience of arts and lifestyle features.
120 stories told with 120 pictures and 120 words
Birmingham's biggest theatre is celebrated in a new book marking the 120th anniversary of the founding of the Hippodrome. Written by theatre board member and Birmingham City University Professor of English David Roberts, Hippodrome 120 charts the history of Birmingham Hippodrome in 120 pictures each accompanied by 120 words.

Hippodrome 120 by David Roberts
Hippodrome 120 by David Roberts

Within its striking yellow cover are moments featuring celebrities such as Laurel and Hardy, Ken Dodd, Dame Ninette de Valois, Lauren Bacall, Duke Ellington, The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Danny Kaye and Harry Houdini. It also features landmark shows including the theatre's famous pantomimes, Mary Poppins, The Lion King, Evita, Me and My Girl, Miss Saigon and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Charting the Hippodrome's story from its origins as a variety hall, the book also outlines how the Hurst Street venue has become an internationally renowned dance hub housing Birmingham Royal Ballet and premiering the company's new works.

"I wrote the book for the love of the theatre," said David at its launch at the Hippodrome. "But it was also a team effort lots of people have been involved in the project. The idea of the 120 kept ringing in my mind so I liked the idea of having 120 images and then writing about that image in 120 words. I've always been interested in the way we can use random structures to create stories."

The book, which has a foreword by choreographer St Matthew Bourne, also looks at recent developments at the Hippodrome including community projects, open-air performances, relaxed performances and the range of multicultural shows now making up the programming.

Hippodrome 120 by David Roberts
David Roberts and Fiona Allan

Theatre Chief Executive Fiona Allan said Hippodrome 120 is about much more than the Hippodrome: "I read the book as a social history of Birmingham if not of the whole country. What struck me was how many ups and downs the theatre has had it's so often been on a knife edge. But one of the themes throughout the book is the constant re-investment and re-invention of the theatre."

The launch of the book, which costs 15 and is available at the theatre, forms part of a series of events being held throughout 2019 to mark the Hippodrome's 120th anniversary. See here for more details.
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Why? Find out more about the Hippodrome's history
Phone: 0844 338 5000
Where: Birmingham Hippodrome
Cost: 15
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