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Everyman Theatre

Michael Hasted brings you News, Views and Interviews from the Everyman Theatre. crack

Work on the Everyman restoration is moving on apace. As always, with any sort of building project, the first couple of weeks progress very quickly and it’s very easy to see what has been achieved. After that, things apparently begin to slow down and changes are less obvious.

The pace at the Everyman was incredible. Within a week all the seats had gone, the carpets removed, the floors repaired and half the scaffolding up. Within not much more than a fortnight the amazing ceiling had been repaired and re-painted. The only thing that needed doing was the paintings on canvas that were mounted in the dome to be restored, returned to the theatre and put back in their ornate plaster frames.
But in spite of everything going to plan and on schedule some enterprising members of staff have taken it upon themselves to raise funds and the profile of the theatre with a sponsored biked ride.

Four of the men, Technical and Production Manager Graham Williams, Technical Stage-Manager Kieran Barker along with Stage Technician Phil Langham and Paul Fletcher, representing the contractors SpellerMetcalfe, threw caution to the wind and took on a mammoth bicycle ride from Bristol to The Everyman in Cheltenham with the aim of raising some money.

I spoke to Graham a week before they set off and he explained how it came about. “We wanted to raise the profile of the restoration appeal and the ‘Sponsor a Seat’ campaign and a bike ride struck us a good idea. We have set up a link on the JustGiving website so that people can pledge money and there is also a conventional paper form available. We set an original target of £500 and we already have more than half of that so I am hopeful of getting around £700. The contractors SpellerMetcalfe are also involved and they have promised some money, so it’s all looking good.”

I asked how long they thought they would be on the road. “It’s going be about four hours we reckon,” said Kieran. I was imagining a lot of lycra and shaved legs with a fleet of support vehicles making up the procession but Kieran was quick to dispel that image. “No lycra, no special clothes, we’re just going to get on our bikes and go. There have been no special preparations or training but I’ve just got back from a month long cycling holiday in France so I should be OK; I don’t know about the others.” he said with a cheeky grin. Roger Hendry, the theatre’s Services Engineer, will be riding shotgun in the Everyman van with an ample supply of spanners, blister ointment and puncture repair kits just in case of emergencies.

The four intrepid bikers, however, were not alone in their fund raising ambitions. Millie Kristic-Howe, who works in the box-office, has her own scheme. A zumba party no less. Millie told me what zumba was and explained what the event was all about. “Well, zumba involves dance and aerobic elements and involves following the music with repetitive movements. Zumba incorporates hip-hop, samba, salsa, merengue, mambo, martial arts and some Bollywood and belly dance moves. We are mounting a family fund-raising zumba charity event in the Hurdler’s Hall at the racecourse. There will be stalls and lots fun things to do. We are hoping to attract 200 people each paying £3.50. It’s all about having fun; anybody can zumba, men, women, children and pensioners. We’ve also been doing a raffle and so far we’ve raised about £350, which is not bad. My aim is to raise £1000 and I’m quite optimistic.”

So, if you are feeling generous and want to help fill up the coffers, everything is explained on the Everyman website at www.everymantheatre.org.uk

New Season Announced

Ken Dodd, revered as one of the UK’s funniest comedians, will be the very first to perform in the newly restored Everyman Theatre.

Ken, creator of the legendary Diddymen, is absolutely discumknockerated (that’s Knotty Ash speak for ‘over the moon’!) to be bringing his one-man Laughter Show to Cheltenham on Friday, 23rd September and to be the very first to tread the boards in the restored theatre.

Says Geoffrey Rowe, Chief Executive: “We needed a show to open the theatre with few technical demands, so that we can test the new facilities before the first full week of performances. So a comedian - and who is most associated with old, lovely theatres and has played them all, several times? Ken Dodd of course – and what a comedian! Ken has been performing all around the UK for over 60 years and is probably the last of the traditional variety comics. I cannot think of a more suitable artist to re-open the Everyman. He has played here on many occasions to great success over the years and was last here in 2007.”

Although the Everyman is dark, it is not asleep. Everybody is working hard towards to the re-opening in September and already the New Season has been announced. The first play into the theatre will be a production of Alan Bennett’s The Madness of King George from the Theatre Royal Bath. It will star David Haig as the King. Haig has starred in many films, plays and TV dramas but it as Detective Inspector Grim in Rowan Atkinson’s The Thin Blue Line that I best remember him. Everyman audiences will also remember him playing Rudyard Kipling in his own play, My Boy Jack in 2005.

One of the high spots of the pre Christmas season will be, for one night only, Chris Addison in his new show The Time is Now Again. Fresh from his appearances in Mock the Week and Have I Got News for You, Chris is one of the most popular and classiest stand-up acts around. Book early to avoid disappointment.

One novelty item in the Studio programme, to coincide with the 120th Anniversary of the Everyman, is a production of Lady Clancarty. This play was the first ever presented in the theatre, then called The Opera House, in 1891 and starred Lillie Langtry the most famous actress of the time. This new production is adapted by Paul Milton from the original by Tom Taylor. The story, set in 1696, is an historical romance in which the heroine marries, then loses her husband, only to be wooed by him all over agian again.