The Everyman Theatre
Wow 7 / 10
The Everyman Theatre Cheltenham’s main theatre venue.
The Longer Read Don’t be fooled by the comparatively unlovely exterior of the Everyman Theatre. It neatly conceals a beautiful Frank Matcham-designed 694 seat Victorian gem – and a second, Studio theatre. It’s a very good place in which to watch performances – and the modern frontage has added the space to ensure that it is possible to get a drink in the interval and that the cafe is a cut above theatre cafes.
I would say that this is the perfect sized theatre, with very few, if any, poor seats in the house. In general seats are praised for leg room (I’m 6’4″), although if you really do have long legs you might like to think carefully before booking a few of the balcony seats. Talk to the team when booking (when I worked in a theatre box office, I was always surprised at how few people do this). Access is pretty good with a lift for wheelchairs to all floors and 7 wheelchair spaces in the stalls (ramped access), plus 1 wheelchair space in The Studio Theatre. There is a free ticket where assistance of a disabled person is essential. It has been good to see signed performances from time to time too.The Everyman serves up a not-especially-demanding programme of touring musical productions (e.g. Blood Brothers), plays such as The Woman in Black and productions where you vaguely remember the leading lady from the telly in the 90s. But hey! This is Cheltenham and you can’t sustain a theatre on radical Kafka every night of the week. That said, touring opera, ballet dance or Shakespeare crop up and The Everyman is on the circuit for comedians of the stature of Al Murray or Russell Howard. Everyone was surprised when Michael McIntyre did a short notice warm-up gig recently.
Keep an eye on the Studio Theatre’s programme, for edgier stuff . With only 60 seats it often sells out first, it’s an undeservedly lesser-known aspect of Cheltenham.
The annual Pantomime has become a local tradition. Tweedy the clown, borrowed from the Cotswolds’ highly successful Giffords Circus, is a class act and, in true pantomime tradition, adults have as much fun as the kids.
Sadly the theatre no longer has a costume hire department (which was called Everywear) or a props’ hire department (Everything), if only because the names made us laugh.
In June 2017, the venue announced that it had secured £300,000 Arts Council funding to support the theatre for the next four years.
All in all, the Everyman does exactly what a provincial theatre should do. The standard of what the Everyman Theatre does is high. It’s a great asset to the town.