Hippodrome History

Hippodrome History

15th January 1900 saw the grand opening of the London Hippodrome as an indoor circus theatre. The first show performed was “Giddy Ostend” starring Little Tich. Included in the cast on opening night was a young rising star, Chalie Chaplin.

The theatre held a 100,000-gallon pool (which now situates Lola’s underground and the casino’s main gaming floor) where elephants, polars bears, and sea lions would perform.  Acts would incorporate the tank into their performances; including acrobatic, high-diving dwarves who would dive from “The Gods” at the top of the building.

During the Hippodrome’s time as a variety theatre, it was home to many acts including Harry Houdini (1904), the first performance of Tchaikowsky’s world-famous Swan Lake ballet (1910), & the UK’s first ever jazz act, The Dixieland Jazz Band (1919).

Between the 1920’s to the 1940’s, The Hippodrome developed as music hall and hosted well-known performances including, Ivor Novello, Julie Andrews & Folies Bergere.

In 1958 the venue was rebranded to the legendary The Talk of The Town theatre & restaurant, an 800-seat dinner & dance venue where some of the world’s biggest stars would perform. Performers included, Eartha Kitt, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, The Jackson 5, Sir Cliff Richard, Sir Bruce Forsyth, Dame Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Judy Garland, & Sammy Davis Jr; until its eventual closure in 1982.

By 1983, the Hippodrome was converted into a nightclub under the management of “King of the clubs”, Peter Stringfellow, and established itself as the first “super club” in the country. Stringfellow’s nightclub saw outstanding popularity and success for over two decades, until losing their alcohol license in 2005, forcing the venue to close.

2008 brought the venue back to its roots as a circus venue for burlesque cabaret “La Clique”. The show remained greatly successful until the expiration of their contracted leasehold in June 2009. During this time, the show won the “Best Entertainment” category at the Olivier Awards (2009).

The building then went through years of renovation turning it into what it is today, The Hippodrome Casino, cementing itself as the UK’s largest, most popular casino and entertainment venue, and once again reinventing the Hippodrome name. Opening its doors to the public on the 13th July 2012, the casino pays homage to its extraordinary history, from its name to the interior design.

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