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London Hippodrome in 2017
|Address|| Charing Cross Road |
|Designation||Grade II listed|
|Type||circus and variety shows|
|Capacity||1340 seated (1909)|
The Hippodrome is a building on the corner of Cranbourn Street and Charing Cross Road in the City of Westminster, London. The name was used for many different theatres and music halls, of which the London Hippodrome is one of only a few survivors. Hippodrome is an archaic word referring to places that host horse races and other forms of equestrian entertainment.
The London Hippodrome was opened in 1900. It was designed by Frank Matcham for Moss Empires chaired by Edward Moss and built for £250,000 as a hippodrome for circus and variety performances. The venue gave its first show on 15 January 1900,a music hall revue entitled "Giddy Ostend" with Little Tich. The conductor was Georges Jacobi.
Entry to the venue was through a bar, dressed as a ship's saloon. The performance space featured both a proscenium stage and an arena that sank into a 230 ft, 100,000 gallon water tank (about 400 tons, when full) for aquatic spectacles. The tank featured eight central fountains, and a circle of fountains around the side. Entrances at the side of the auditorium could also be flooded, and used for the entry of boats. Shows included equestrian acts, elephants and polar bears, and acrobats would dive from a minstrels' gallery above a sliding roof, in the centre of the proscenium arch. The auditorium featured cantilevered galleries, removing the columns that often obstructed views in London theatres, the whole was covered by a painted glass retractable roof, that could be illuminated at night. The building included the headquarters of Moss Empires.
In 1909, it was reconstructed by Matcham as a music-hall and variety theatre with 1340 seats in stalls, mezzanine, gallery, and upper gallery levels. It was here that Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake received its English première by the Ballets Russes in 1910. The Albert de Courville revues were performed here from December 1912.
The Hippodrome hosted the first official jazz gig in the United Kingdom, by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, in 1919.
Its reputation was for revue and musical comedy, among them The Five O'Clock Girl , the West End production of Vincent Youmans' hit Broadway musical Hit The Deck (1928) and also Mr. Cinders , both in 1929; Ivor Novello's Perchance to Dream in 1945 with Margaret Rutherford; and the revue High Spirits in 1953 with Cyril Ritchard and Diana Churchill. Julie Andrews made her stage debut here at the age of 12. From 1949 to 1951 it was the London equivalent of the Folies Bergère.
The original interior was demolished in 1958, and Bernard Delfont had the Hippodrome converted into the nightclub The Talk of the Town. It featured appearances by many of the popular artistes of the time,including Diana Ross & The Supremes, Judy Garland, Eartha Kitt, Shirley Bassey, The Temptations, Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme, Sammy Davis Jr., Lena Horne, Sergio Franchi, Sophie Tucker, Engelbert Humperdinck, Val Doonican, Lonnie Donegan, The Carpenters, John Denver, Ella Fitzgerald, Liza Minnelli, Tom Jones, The Jackson 5, Lulu, Danny La Rue, Cilla Black, Petula Clark, Paul Anka, Anne Murray, Sandie Shaw, Johnnie Ray, Matt Monro, The Andrews Sisters, Frankie Vaughan, Cliff Richard, The Shadows, Dionne Warwick, Raphael, The Seekers, Stevie Wonder, Sacha Distel and Neil Sedaka. In February 1964, Ethel Merman made her only British appearance in a season of cabaret. Dusty Springfield recorded a TV special at the venue, broadcast February 15, 1968 on BBC2 Show of the Week: Live at the Talk of the Town. The Seekers' final concert was recorded for the album The Seekers Live at The Talk of the Town in July 1968. Tony Bennett set his 1972 series for Thames Television, Tony Bennett at the Talk of the Town , there. This form of entertainment, in its turn, fell out of public favour, and the venue closed in 1982.
In 2009, the Hippodrome was named by the Brecon Jazz Festival as one of 12 venues which had made the most important contributions to jazz music in the United Kingdom.
The musical drama End of the Rainbow , nominated for a number of Olivier Awards in 2011 during its London run and Tony Awards in 2012 while on Broadway, is set at the Talk of The Town during a Judy Garland engagement there near the end of her life.
Renovated yet again, the building was reopened as a nightclub/restaurant called The London Hippodrome by nightclub tycoon Peter Stringfellow in 1983. Some years later, Stringfellow sold it to a chain company called European Leisure. Under the stewardship of David Chipping the club went on to win many BEDA and DI awards, regularly attracting crowds in excess of 2,000. Following its sale to Luminar the club soon went out of fashion; it was not until April 2004 that the Hippodrome regained its standing, when it was transformed into Cirque at the Hippodrome. The interior was taken back to hues of reds and golds, and burlesque was the theme. Cirque at the Hippodrome won the BEDA award for best UK nightclub in 2004.
It was revealed in October 2005 that the club had lost its public drinks licence and would no longer be able to serve alcohol, as the local police didn't want what they called "vertical drinking" (the majority of patrons standing rather than sitting) in Leicester Square. The police also shut down most of the venues in the local area. Following this, in December 2005, the club was eventually forced to close, following reports of violence involving rival gangs after they had left the building of the Hippodrome, which reflected on its closure later in Westminster licensing court.
In January 2006, entrepreneur Charmaine Haig took over the lease of the Hippodrome building on a short term before a casino licence application could be secured for future use. Haig initially maintained and managed the empty venue on her own, and then changed the venue's name back to the London Hippodrome from its previous name of Cirque.
Shortly afterward, Haig's in-house events company, Hip Events, began running private events in the venue, but once again using the space to its full capacity as a variety venue with album launches, dance shows, gala dinners, awards ceremonies and Leicester Square film premiere after parties.
In 2008, Haig and her business partner acquired a theatre licence for the venue and subsequently turned the venue back into a theatre. The adult cabaret show La Clique was found at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2008; by the beginning of October 2008, the show previewed at the London Hippodrome with great success, and stayed running until the end of Haig's Hippodrome lease in June 2009. During this time, the show La Clique at the Hippodrome won an Olivier Award in 2009, in the "Best Entertainment" category.
In 2009, the lease on the Hippodrome was acquired by Leicester-born father and son entrepreneurs Jimmy and Simon Thomas, who began an extensive restoration programme taking the Hippodrome back to Matcham's original designs for use as a casino and entertainment venue. During the planning stage, the adjacent Cranbourn Mansions building became available and plans were redrafted to incorporate this former gentlemen's apartment block into the design, doubling the eventual floorspace and linked using a new structure sited within the existing light well between the two buildings.
Investment in the building reportedly came to over £40 million, the funds being raised by the Thomas family from the sale of a number of bingo halls prior to the UK smoking ban, which made it illegal to smoke within an enclosed workplace, on 1 July 2007.
The Hippodrome Casino was opened on 13 July 2012 by Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who described it as "yet another ringing endorsement of London as a great place to invest".
The venue on opening included four floors of gaming, including a Gold Room casino sited in the original basementwith access directly into Chinatown to the rear of the building, Heliot restaurant, six bars, a smoking terrace and The Matcham Room cabaret theatre. The restoration and construction of the casino was followed on the blog of LBC presenter Steve Allen.
In January 2013 the casino was awarded Best Land-based Casino at the Totally Gaming Awards, which also gave Jimmy Thomas a Life Achievement award for his contribution to the gaming and entertainment industries.
The Matcham Room at the Hippodrome Casino is currently the home of nationally renowned Boom & Bang Circus(created and produced by Bioux "Boom" Hayes and Kitty Bang Bang) and Soho Burlesque featuring co producer Miss Polly Rae (Hurly Burly Show by William Baker) and London's burlesque elite. It is also the London residency of the internationally renowned The Definitive Rat Pack
On 4 March 2013, Simon Thomas announced the opening of Pokerstars LIVE, a collaboration between the Hippodrome and Pokerstars, the world's largest online poker website.
Cabaret is a form of theatrical entertainment featuring music, song, dance, recitation, or drama. It is mainly distinguished by the performance venue, which might be a pub, a casino, a restaurant, or a nightclub with a stage for performances. The audience, often dining or drinking, does not typically dance but usually sits at tables. Performances are usually introduced by a master of ceremonies or MC. The entertainment, as done by an ensemble of actors and according to its European origins, is often oriented towards adult audiences and of a clearly underground nature. In the United States striptease, burlesque, drag shows, or a solo vocalist with a pianist, as well as the venues which offer this entertainment, are often advertised as cabarets.
Peter James Stringfellow was an English businessman who owned several nightclubs.
A burlesque is a literary, dramatic or musical work intended to cause laughter by caricaturing the manner or spirit of serious works, or by ludicrous treatment of their subjects. The word derives from the Italian burlesco, which, in turn, is derived from the Italian burla – a joke, ridicule or mockery.
Francis Matcham was an English architect who specialised in the design of theatres and music halls. He was best known for his work in London under Moss Empires, which included the designs of the Hippodrome (1900), Hackney Empire (1901), Coliseum (1903), Palladium (1910) and the Victoria Palace (1911). During his 40-year career, he was responsible for the design and construction of over 90 theatres and the redesign and refurbishment of a further 80 throughout the United Kingdom. According to the dramatist Alan Bennett, there was a Matcham theatre in every corner of the UK.
The Birmingham Hippodrome is a theatre situated on Hurst Street in the Chinese Quarter of Birmingham, England.
Simon Drake is an English magician based in London. He is best known for the innovative and shocking television series The Secret Cabaret made for Britain's Channel 4.
Le Crazy Horse Saloon or Le Crazy Horse de Paris is a Parisian cabaret known for its stage shows performed by nude female dancers and for the diverse range of magic and variety 'turns' between each nude show and the next. Its owners have helped to create related cabaret and burlesque shows in other cities. Unrelated businesses have used the phrase "Crazy Horse" in their names.
The Raymond Revuebar (1958–2004) was a theatre and strip club at 11 Walker's Court, in the centre of London's Soho district. For many years, it was the only venue in London that offered full-frontal, on-stage nudity of the sort commonly seen in other cities in Europe and North America. Its huge brightly lit sign declaring it to be the "World Centre of Erotic Entertainment" made the Revuebar a local landmark.
The Coronet Theatre was a large live music and night-club venue with a 2,600 capacity located at 28 New Kent Road in Elephant and Castle, London, England. The historic venue operated as an entertainment venue from 1879 until 2018 and to up to its closure managed to retain all of its art deco features.
Komedia is an arts and entertainment company which operates venues in the United Kingdom at Brighton and Bath, and a management and production company Komedia Entertainment. Beyond hosting live comedy, the venues also host music, cabaret, theatre and shows for children, featuring local, national and international performers. The Brighton and Bath venues operate cinemas within their buildings in partnership with Picturehouse. Komedia also creates broadcast comedy and has most notably co-produced and hosted the live recordings of seven series of the Sony Award-winning Count Arthur Strong's Radio Show! for BBC Radio 4 and is a co-producer on BBC1's sitcom Count Arthur Strong.
The Earl Carroll Theatre, built by Broadway impresario and showman Earl Carroll, was located in the Broadway Theater District in New York City at 753 Seventh Avenue & West 50th Street. Designed by architect George Keister, it opened on February 25, 1922, and was highly successful for a number of years until it was demolished and rebuilt on a lavish scale. It reopened in August 1931 with Carroll's billing that it was "the largest legitimate theater in the world." However, the facility's operating costs proved astronomical and it went into foreclosure in early 1932 after which it was acquired by producer Florenz Ziegfeld who renamed it the Casino Theatre. The Casino was the site of a very successful revival of Ziegfeld's production of Show Boat in 1932. However, Ziegfeld too went bankrupt only a short time later. The property was auctioned in foreclosure on 18 August 1933 to the Mutual Life Insurance Company for $1 million.
La Clique is a cabaret/variety show with Australian roots first conceived for the 2004 season of The Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It was originally performed in The Famous Spiegeltent with a small circular stage at fringe festivals, but since 2008 it was also performed for extended periods in permanent theatres keeping the same characteristic stage.
La Soirée is an award-winning cabaret/variety show presented by Brett Haylock, Mark Rubinstein and Mick Perrin that debuted in London in October 2010 to rave reviews. The show features a number of artists who previously appeared in La Clique, a variety show co-created by Brett Haylock. Haylock was also the Creative Producer of La Clique. La Soirée is traditionally presented with a small, circular red stage as its centerpiece, with the audience sitting in rows surrounding the stage. The show features a rotating cast of approximately 25 artists, with the acts varying from night to night.
Brighton Hippodrome is an entertainment venue in the ancient centre of Brighton, part of the English city of Brighton and Hove. It has been empty and out of use since 2007, when its use as a bingo hall ceased.
David King is an English entrepreneur and producer of musical theatre.
Red Bennies was an internationally celebrated Australian performing arts and live music neo-cabaret cocktail bar, situated on Melbourne's south side entertainment strip of Chapel St, South Yarra. It was founded by hospitality entrepreneur Garrath Holt, promoter and film maker Christopher H.F. Mitchell. and Artistic Director and Arts Marketer, Alexander Schoeffel joining shortly after.
The Theatre Royal, Hanley was a theatre in Stoke-on-Trent, England with a long history.
Cranbourn Street is a street in Central London. It connects Leicester Square to Long Acre via Charing Cross Road.
The English architect Frank Matcham was responsible for the design and refurbishment of around 164 buildings, mostly theatres, throughout the United Kingdom. He entered the architectural profession when he was 21, in 1874, and joined the practice of J. T. Robinson, his future father-in-law, a few years later. Matcham completed his first solo design, the Elephant and Castle theatre, in June 1879, having taken over Robinson’s practice upon his death. He founded his own practice, Matcham & Co., in 1883 which experienced much prosperity. His most successful period was between 1892 and 1912, during which there was an increased demand for variety theatres which resulted in the closure and dismantlement of many music halls, which had become outdated.
Paul L Martin also known as Trinity Million and Paulus, is a British singer, comic, performer, cabaret artist, public speaker, event host, teacher and facilitator.
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