Birmingham Hippodrome has announced that it will start an in-house musical theatre department to develop new musicals.
The Hippodrome is currently recruiting a Head of New Musical Theatre to lead the department, tasked with growing a specialist team and collaborating with creatives and partners to create new productions for Birmingham and beyond.
The department will commission, develop and produce new musicals, and a new Writers Lab to support more sustainable career pathways in musical theatre.
Housed in a dedicated studio space at the Hippodrome – the Patrick Studio – the resulting new musicals will be showcased on the Hippodrome’s stages, and in theatres across the country.
The Hippodrome has been working in consultation with theatre producer and consultant Vicky Graham (Breeders, Flowers for Mrs Harris), who specialises in the creative and strategic development of new musicals.
Long-term creative development opportunities will also be available to artists making a career in musical theatre, the first being a year-long Writers’ Lab led by writer and dramaturg Victoria Saxton and developed with the Head of New Musical Theatre, which starts later this year.
Jon Gilchrist, Artistic Director and CEO of Birmingham Hippodrome said in a press statement: “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.
“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.”
Vicky Graham 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.”
Victoria 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”.