Newest Review: ... to open early afternoon meaning if you arrive at the venue an hour or so before the show starts then you can just go inside, sit down and... more
The Birmingham Hippodrome.
The Birmingham Hippodrome (Birmingham)
Member Name: ladyofcampfires
The Birmingham Hippodrome (Birmingham)
Advantages: Handy city centre location, helpful staff, comfortable viewing, wide range of shows.
Disadvantages: Small toilet blocks, venue is surrounded by night clubs and doesn't feel very safe at night!
One thing I do like about where I live is that both Birmingham and Wolverhampton are within very easy reach via train meaning I have easy access to a good number of venues hosting a varied range of live events. One of these venues I have been to a fair few times is The Birmingham Hippodrome, my most recent visit being last night to see the hilarious Kevin Bridges.
The Hippodrome is located in Birmingham's city centre and is just a ten minute walk from New Street Train Station (which is pretty much a walk down a straight road, turn left, a walk down another straight road). There are a good number of bus stops around the venue as well as a car park a few minutes' walk away meaning it's an easy place to get to regardless of your method of travel. The downside to the location of this venue is the fact that there are a number of nightclubs surrounding it meaning coming out of the venue late at night usually leads to bumping into one or two dodgy drunken characters! There have been a few occasions when I've been stood outside this place having a cigarette when a woman on her own has asked to stand with me which pretty much sums up how safe this area feels at night!
Fortunately, The Hippodrome isn't the type of place where you end up stood in a queue outside waiting for doors to open. There are a number of bars and restaurants within the building which tend to open early afternoon meaning if you arrive at the venue an hour or so before the show starts then you can just go inside, sit down and wait. One thing I like about this venue is that I don't recall ever being searched on my way in so I've had no problems taking in bottles of Pepsi and my own nibbles which saves you a fair bit of money.
Upon stepping inside this huge, glass fronted building you're greeted by a spacious room where a ticket collection desk is located as well as a number of members of staff who will assist you if required. There's a couple of steps which then take you to the first bar area of the venue as well as stair cases leading up to the higher levels of the building and a lift if one should be needed. This area is what I refer to as 'the holding pen'. Littered with tables and soft, red velvet seats, this is where everyone gathers before entering the performance area. There is normally a sign around this area too which informs everyone what the time the performance you're here to see will finish which is a handy bit of information.
Toilets are easily located wherever you are in the building it seems which is a good job really considering each toilet block only has around ten cubicles within it. Whilst this does mean it's quite easily possible to spend the entire interval at a show waiting for the loo (on one occasion I didn't actually manage to get in until the show had started again) the toilets are at least in a clean and respectable condition constantly. They always smell fresh, are stocked up with toilet roll and hand wash and have modern hand dryers so you're not waiting forever and a day for your washed hands to dry. The sanitary product dispensing machine in the toilets is remarkably cheap as well. I have a strange habit of looking at these things to see where charges the most outrages prices for a tampon for some reason, they're only 40p here!
When the show is about to start you're taken to your seats in the 1935 seater venue. Seats are in two sections, stalls (ground floor) and middle circle (first floor). The seating is on the middle circle is quite steep and from past experience I'd say if you can't get anything closer than row L in the stalls then you'll probably have a less restricted view up in the middle circle. In fact, unless seats are available in the first five or so rows in the stalls I normally opt for the middle circle as I just find the seats better. Disabled seating is offered on the front row of the middle circle and there are steps leading up to the rest of the rows. I find the seats are comfortable and offer plenty of leg room for me however if you're over 6ft you'll probably spent the evening with your knees touching the seat in front of you up in the middle circle. There are always members of staff on the doors entering the seating area who will help you locate your seats although as long as you're in the right bit (stalls or middle circle) you'll probably be able to work that out for yourself as each row is clearly lettered and each seat clearly numbered.
Seats are, again, covered in red velvet whilst the white high ceilings offer some lovely engravings and big, extravagant looking golden chandeliers and the inside is just generally very pleasant a little bit posh looking. All seats are obviously facing the decent sized stage which offers a swift moving curtain for non-fuss setting changes during plays and the likes. Lightening here always goes hand in hand with the performance you're watching and I've never experienced a problem with sound in this venue either. In general, it's a good venue which offers an enjoy surrounding to what a, hopefully, enjoyable show.
The Hippodrome hosts a number of shows from stand-up comedy to ballet, opera, musicals and dance shows. Full listings of upcoming shows can be found on their website www.birminghamhippodrome.com and packages can be often be bought for each show combining three course dinners and show tickets. The venue also has a few box seats which can be bought (at a high price) too.
All in all, I recommend visiting the Hippodrome for an entertaining night out. Should a show I attend here ever disappoint me it's purely down the show rather than the venue so I never have a problem visiting here and always keep an eye out on their website for new listings which may interest me.
Summary: A decent venue for a decent night out.
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