Birmingham Hippodrome has announced a record-breaking year which saw paid admissions increase to more than 625,000 tickets, up 23 per cent on the previous financial year.

The increase at the Hurst Street theatre, an independent registered charity, represents 85 per cent of capacity and has been driven by a season of ‘blockbuster productions’ including Phantom of the Opera, The Lion King, War Horse and Snow White – its biggest Christmas pantomime for a decade.

In the previous financial year the theatre sold 508,725 tickets.

Chief Executive Stuart Griffiths said: “It’s not very often that these programming moments come together so perfectly, but with more than a little help from our producer partners Cameron Mackintosh, Disney, the National Theatre and Pantomime producers Qdos, alongside others, it looks like we’ve shattered all previous known records.

“It’s gratifying too that we’ve seen such a huge rise in first-time bookers with over 48 per cent new to the Hippodrome in the last 12 months.

“Dance received a boost with our resident partners Birmingham Royal Ballet presenting its most successful Nutcracker at Christmas; and Mathew Bourne’s sell-out Swan Lake. We ended the financial year this spring with two other huge successes, the classics Fiddler on the Roof and Singin’ in the Rain.”

Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre Trust Chair John Crabtree said: “We’ve checked the archive as far back as possible to find that last year sets a new standard.

The Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre
The Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre
 

“There is no doubt that Stuart Griffiths and his team along with our producer partners have delivered a particularly impressive set of results, and we would like to thank our loyal audiences and the many thousands who came to the Hippodrome for the first time this year.”

Managing Director of Qdos Pantomimes, Michael Harrison said: “Birmingham has always been a special venue on the Qdos Pantomime schedule. The biggest audiences, the great facilities at the theatre, and the city’s long-standing tradition of a spectacular event for the whole family are things we really value.

“We’re delighted to have played our part in the Hippodrome’s success this year with the best attendance in a decade for Snow White.”

The theatre’s Hippodrome Plus programme of education, access and free outdoor performance, the main fundraising focus of the charity, enjoyed a strong year.

The number of people engaged in creative learning projects doubled to over 16,000; and included free events such as Summer in Southside, Illuminate and Chinese New Year.

Fundraising also saw a bumper year with donations from members of the ticket-buying public for projects such as pantomime’s first ‘Relaxed Performance’ for autistic children.

The Hippodrome also produced the 4 Squares Weekender to celebrate the opening of the new Library of Birmingham, on behalf of Birmingham Arts Partnership.

Last month the Hippodrome featured in the Sunday Times’ Top 100 Best Not-for-Profit Organisations to Work For, part of the theatre’s programme of staff development.

Chris Harper National Theatre producer said: “Every single available seat for War Horse was sold during our run at Birmingham Hippodrome, and we are absolutely thrilled with the theatre’s success.

“We’re also excited about returning this year with our productions of One Man, Two Guvnors in May, and looking ahead to 2015 with The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.”