I went to the Bristol Hippodrome last night and here is eight reasons why you should too

A musical about the Great Depression with Bob Dylan backing tracks? Tell me more

On Tuesday night I had the good fortune to attend the opening performance of “Girl from the North Country” at the Bristol Hippodrome, the brilliant jukebox musical written by Conor McPherson.

An evening of laughter, tears, and rapturous applause ensued, all set to the backdrop of Bob Dylan’s soulful soundtrack.

I highly recommend that you experience a production in this lovely theatre, whether it is to see Girl from the North Country or one of the other upcoming theatrical wonders this year.

Reason number one

The environment alone will boost your serotonin enough that you won’t want to return to your damp student house.

Having had our tickets scanned and our bags checked, my friend Millie and I made our way into the foyer with the other theatre-goers and were immediately struck by the opulence of the Hippodrome. The gorgeous crimson and gold interior was enhanced with warm ambient lighting and stained glass details.

Reason number two

The drinks are so generous you will be tipsy before the performance starts.

We decided we had enough time for a little pre-play drink, and so we investigated the aptly named “Piano Bar”, which seemed to be where the majority of the patrons were congregating to warm up from the chilly evening air. A smiling bartender handed us the biggest glass of wine we’d ever seen, and we sat down to soak up the atmosphere.

Reason number three

You can show off how cultured and grown up you’ve become at university.

At 7:30pm, we followed the crowd to take our seats in the stalls of the jaw-dropping theatre. With a perfect view of the huge stage, we were beginning to realise why the Hippodrome is nicknamed “Bristol’s West End”.

Feeling rather smug, I settled into my seat and took a few snaps to send to the parents (“look Mum, I’m not getting pissed for once!!”).

Reason number four

You will be completely taken out of your own situation and can forget about the stresses of student life for 2 whole hours, and you might even learn something new.

Girl from the North Country transported us from the bottom of Park Street in 2023 to dusty Duluth, a mining town in Minnesota, 1934 and all the struggles that came from the Great Depression in this era. From the mid-western accents to the period-appropriate costuming, the audience was fully immersed in the trials and tribulations of this little community that Bob Dylan hails from.

It is a context that I was unfamiliar with, but the references to politics, the economy, historical events, and popular culture really helped me engage with life in that era.

Reason number five

You will feel all the feels and thoroughly enjoy this emotional rollercoaster.

Stirring musical moments are interwoven with the threads of the plot, resulting in the emotional sucker punch of the tragic events being amplified through the passionate on-stage band, fervent ensemble and incredible lead vocals. The soundtrack of Bob Dylan, which showcased familiar favourites like Make You Feel My Love as well as arguably lesser known tracks like Sweetheart Like You, was revived with an almost gospel-like style which moved us to tears in some of its most timely moments.

Reason number six

You might actually learn some life lessons and take something away from your visit…something your seminar tutors can only dream of.

The challenges faced by the Laine family and the inhabitants of their guesthouse and town were difficult to watch, but were reminiscent of themes familiar to us all: love, loss, mental illness, family, loneliness, hope, growing old, growing up, getting through hard times, doing the right thing. Incredible acting and singing by the cast, including Frances McNamee, Joshua C Jackson, and Maria Omakinwa, brought it to life.

Each member of the audience probably took a different message from the musical but it certainly resonated with everyone.

Reason number seven

There’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Girl From The North Country is on until the 4th February – so what are you doing, get off The Bristol Tab and go buy your tickets. But if you miss out, do not fear: the Hippodrome has plenty of other stellar productions on at the minute and upcoming in the future.

Why not take a trip to see a classic like My Fair Lady, or if ballet is more up your street then catch Sleeping Beauty this month. Other familiar favourites like Sister Act and The King and I are on in all their glory. All have timely intervals where you can go buy a tub of (overpriced) ice cream as is traditional at the theatre.

Reason number eight

If you aren’t convinced to go to the theatre for the reasons above, do it because it helps other people to support a local theatre.

Going to the theatre is so beneficial and enjoyable: it’s a great way to switch up your routine and inject some entertainment into your week with family, friends or on your own. Even more importantly, choosing a local theatre like the Bristol Hippodrome is also vital for supporting the local creative industry and ensuring these vital venues stay open for their amazing work in the community.

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