Birmingham Hippodrome has announced today (31 July) that Deirdre O’Halloran will join the organisation as Head of New Musical Theatre.

Deirdre has been the Literary Manager at the Bush Theatre since 2018, where she designed and implemented artist development programmes, and took the lead on dramaturgy for all commissioned work. 

She is passionate about musical theatre, a regular panellist for BEAM pitching days and this year took part in judging for the Stiles and Drewe Best New Song Prize. She has worked on musicals in development including Cliffs by Elan Butler, I'm Done With This Shit by Jack Hart and Back In The Daytimer by Ajay and Sumerah Srivastav.

Highlights of her produced work at the Bush include: Anoushka Lucas's debut play with songs Elephant, August In England by Lenny Henry, the Olivier award-winning The P Word by Waleed Akhtar, and winner of the Susan Smith Blackburn Award Lava by Benedict Lombe. Other work in development at the Bush includes Sparrow Girl, a new musical written by Chris Bush and Maimuna Memon.

 As a freelancer, Deirdre has dramaturged work including Robin Hood: The Legend Rewritten at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre and Paines Plough's 2022 Roundabout Season.

 Birmingham Hippodrome announced its plans in April to become home to the first in-house musical theatre department in the UK, developing new musicals in the West Midlands.

Leading the new department, Deirdre will grow a specialist team and collaborate with creatives and partners to create new production opportunities in Birmingham and beyond. The dedicated department will develop, commission and produce new musicals as part of the Hippodrome’s core business, alongside offering skills development, employment, and a new Writers Lab, supporting the national new musical theatre community and more sustainable career pathways in musical theatre.

 The team will operate from a dedicated studio space at the Hippodrome, ensuring an inspiring and dynamic creative environment for new work to grow. Work developed will be presented on all the Hippodrome’s stages and with partners across the country. The Hippodrome’s Patrick Studio will become a new home for new musicals, new work and new audiences.

The Hippodrome will also continue to work with Vicky Graham as Associate Producer (New Musical Theatre) within the new team. Vicky is a theatre producer and consultant who specialises in creative and strategic development of new musicals. Vicky worked closely with Birmingham Hippodrome to develop the initial plans for the new musical theatre department.

Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Birmingham Hippodrome Jon Gilchrist said: “Dee is a theatre marvel: her compassion for and understanding of artists, combined with a rare dramaturgical insight, make her the perfect pioneer to lead this new department. I am certain that her love and understanding of musical theatre will help ignite a new generation of writers and composers. I am also delighted that the brilliant Vicky Graham will be continuing with us as the department becomes a reality.”

Deirdre added: “Birmingham Hippodrome is a venue that is fizzing with ambition and passion for musical theatre and I am delighted to be heading up this brand new department to develop new musicals for a range of scales and platforms. There is a huge contingent of talented and dedicated musical theatre artists in the UK and I am so excited to make the Hippodrome their home, a place to develop their craft and make brilliant new work.”

Deirdre will start her new role in October 2023.

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