Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Theatre For Everyman

As promised yesterday, here is The Everyman Theatre in Regent Street.

The theatres architecture is the design of renowned theatre creator Matcham and was opened on October 1st 1891, as The New Theatre And Opera House, with the first production being Lady Clancarty. In the theatres early years the main performances were of classical plays and operas, although Charlie Chaplin did perform too. In 1925 the theatre changed hands and was run by a group staging ballet, plays, opera and comedy. During the Second World War the theatre saw an influx of West End stars, as London theatres were closed, these included the legendary John Gielgud and Laurence Olivier. After the war the popularity of Cinema grew and the audience numbers at the theatre fell dramatically, causing the building to be sold to the Cheltenham Corporation. They failed in rejuvenating the theatre and the building was passed on to a group of businessmen, who too failed to stop the rot and in June 1959 it was announced that The New Theatre would close.

Luckily for the theatre a small group of local people formed the Cheltenham Theatre Association (still in existence today) and, with the support of the local Council, they had the newly refurbished theatre up and running by May 1960. It was at this point the theatre was renamed The Everyman, to represent it being for one and all, and it set up its own repertory theatre company, instead of the touring venue it had been in the past. Many rising stars of the day worked at The Everyman, but by the end of the 70's audience numbers were falling again and the building was showing its age. In 1983 a £3 million refurbishment was started, with the backstage area being completely rebuilt. By 1990 repertory theatre was losing its popularity and The Everyman returned to hosting touring companies. The theatre now has a cafe bar and small additional theatre, called The Other Space, where workshops and smaller productions are staged.

I've seen numerous shows at the theatre including comedian Greg Proops, Saturday Night Fever, spiritual medium Derek Accorah and, last year, The Rocky Horror Show (which was brilliant!). The Everyman continues to be well supported and has a huge variety of productions, catering for all tastes. Lets hope it carries on for another 116 years!

8 comments:

brian said...

Nice post, and history for this photo. The building appears in very good shape now. I guess the current movie showing is War and Peace...? apropos

Clueless in boston said...

It's great that there has been the support to keep the building functioning over such a long period of time. I think the public financing is one of the things government should do.

Fénix - Bostonscapes said...

I had imagined a completely different façade.

Dusty Lens said...

Glad these old theaters are still up and running the shows. Lots of history here.

Neva said...

This is not what I envisioned! I love the blues. cool very cool.

lynn said...

You know so much history, Marley, i'm impressed.

Lori said...

What an interesting history that theatre has had. I'm glad it has survived and is thriving now. (I can see the spot where you showed us the faces yesterday.) Great photo!

edwin s said...

Theatre will never die. It will survive another 116 years I'm sure. A bit biased I am, being a theatre practitioner myself. :)

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