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Hopes rise for live shows in Brighton Hippodrome

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Expectations that Brighton Hippodrome will be returned to use as a performance space have risen after the owners of live music venue Carling Academy Brixton expressed an interest in taking over the lease.

Local supporters of the Frank Matcham-converted theatre, where Charlie Chaplin, Harry Houdini and Laurence Olivier once graced the stage, have been concerned about its future since its use as a bingo hall came to an end.

However, Academy Music Group, which also owns the Shepherd’s Bush Empire and Carling Academy Birmingham, is now said to be interested in reverting it to a theatre or entertainment venue.

The Hippodrome was built in 1897 as an ice rink and was converted into a dual purpose circus and variety venue in 1901 with an elephant house at the rear. The Theatres Trust has described it as one of the finest of its kind in Britain.

Trust planning advisor Mark Price said: “It’s a little gem with a richly decorated ceiling, lots of rococo features and a palm court style bar area attached. The trust has obviously been trying to get it back to its proper use so this is great news.”

Meanwhile, another theatre turned bingo hall looks set to revert to its former use, after a planning application submitted by an amateur theatre organisation was approved by councillors.

Derby New Theatre Association is interested in taking over the Derby Hippodrome, currently owned by Walkers Bingo, and is looking at how it could raise the money to purchase the Marshall and Tweedy-designed venue.

The news follows a report earlier this year, commissioned by Arts Council England and Derby City Council, revealing a lack of performance facilities in the area.

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