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You are in: Norfolk » Going Out » Stage

19 January 2004 1219 GMT
Hippodrome celebrates centenary
Pic: Syncronised swimmer is held aloft:.
The Hippodrome's sinking water feature is the one of only three left in the world.
It is time for everyone to roll up for the show of the century at the Great Yarmouth Hippodrome as it celebrates a hundred years of its circus history.

Hippodrome Circus

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360 view of the Hippodrome

bullet point.   The Hippodrome was built in 1903 by George Gilbert. Before then Gilbert, he used to stage circus shows in a wooden building on the site.
bullet point.   The Hippodrome is just one of three circuses in the world to have a water spectacle. The other two are in Blackpool and Moscow.
bullet point.   Some famous performers have been in the Hippodrome ring including Houdini, Lillie Langtry and John Major's mum and dad.
bullet point.   The show runs until 14 September 2003.

Tickets cost from £10-£12.50 for adults, £8 for OAPs and £7-£8 for under-14s.

The box office is open from 10am-8pm daily. Call 01493 844 172.
bullet point.  
The Hippodrome is situated just off St Peter's Road, behind the Golden Nugget amusement arcade on Great Yarmouth seafront.
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The centenary season will feature the most popular acts to have appeared at the Hippodrome during the last ten years.

Owner and producer Peter Jay has cherry-picked some of the world's best artists to perform at the venue.

The former pop star, who found fame in the 1960s with Peter Jay and The Jaywalkers, likened the production to a greatest hits album.

Pic: Clown.
Alonso the clown has travelled from Mexico to take part in the 100th anniversary season.

"I start looking for acts as soon as the season finishes in September and scour the whole world," said Mr Jay.

Last year's hit, the Velez brothers from Ecuador, are back with their terrifying routine on a huge wheel which skims the big top.

Following their appearance at the Hippodrome, they are now one of the owner's favourite artists.

"The Velez brothers are an amazing act, said Mr Jay.

"It's the best of its type in the world. I watched it every day twice a week last year," he added.

But the South Americans are not the only performers who will be pulling off feats which defy the limits of the human body.

Mexico's Flying Rodogels will be somersaulting through the air from trapeze to trapeze, while Vladislav, from Russia, will be displaying his agility and strength at speed on the straps.

One of the most amazing sights is Berkin, a 23-year-old contortionist from Kazakhstan, who squeezes into a 14-inch box.

He started training to be a contortionist with his father when he was just six years old and has been practising his box act since he was 16.

"I made the box six years ago. The first time I made the box I was small, I made a box for my age that was big for me," said Berkin.

"I used to go inside every day for six years, so I grow up and the box stayed the same. That's why I can fit inside - it takes ages!"

This year's production features no animals, but the famous water finale remains part of the programme.

Pic: Swimmer.
One of the swimmers takes a gasp of air mid-performance.

The sinking water feature was restored to working order by Peter Jay in 1981, two years after he took over the Hippodrome.

The ring, which transforms into a pool holding 70,000 gallons of water, is just one of three circus water spectacles left in the world.

It features fountains which hit the roof and this year will be the centre piece of the Jan Baine swimmers' display.

However, this time last week it was one of things responsible for giving Peter Jay a headache, along with the fact that some performers still weren't in the country.

"Our last act arrived from Kazakhstan yesterday, the water is all fixed now, it's working perfectly. It's a stressful time," he said.

"Once the show has been on a week I relax, but at moment I'm worrying about all the things that can go wrong," he added.



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