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Posts Tagged ‘Harry Houdini’

In the heart of Brighton’s Old Town, in the middle of Middle Street is a building of national importance. You may never have noticed the Hippodrome. It has been dark since 2007 after 32 years as a bingo hall. But before that, from 1901 to 1965, it was the Sussex Coast’s top variety theatre.

Hippodrome_TCThe Hippodrome was designed by the greatest theatre architect of the time, Frank Matcham. It is a performance space – unique in the UK – that not only has a classic proscenium stage but still has its circular seating arrangement. It is perfect for anything from variety shows, big West End musicals, ballet, dance and opera to thrust-stage, theatre-in-the-round, and ‘roundhouse’ productions like Cirque du Soleil. Brighton’s Albert Hall!

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Twenty years after the original Encyclpædia of Brighton researched and written by Tim Carder, was published, the fascinating, informative and entertaining New Encyclopædia of Brighton by the acclaimed biographer Rose Collis, combines the best of the original text with hundreds of new subjects. Here’s an extract which resonates with our front page cover of the Freestyle Motorcross riders, whose power, skill, showmanship and bravery performing gravity-defying motorcycle tricks stunned thousands of spectators in Brighton this summer.

Ron Cunningham eating fire

Ron Cunningham eating fire

The Great Omani (1915 – 2007) was also known as Ronald Cunningham. He kept himself and thousands of spectators amused with parlous stunts and feats of escapology, mostly for charity. Born in Windsor, he came from a wealthy family – his father was a wine merchant – and was educated at Sherborne public school in Dorset. The family firm went bankrupt and it was while he was almost penniless and living in London that he came across a book about Harry Houdini which, he said, flew off a bookshelf and landed at his feet.
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