About CODS

CODS is the oldest amateur dramatic society in Gloucestershire, and one of oldest in the country. We've been performing musical theatre productions and plays, at both the Everyman and Playhouse theatres in Cheltenham for 128 years. There are typically three productions each year, with a winter play (usually at the end of January) followed by summer (May/June) and autumn (September/October) musicals.


Over its long years of existence, CODS has staged many productions, too numerous to mention here, but in recent times we have performed such diverse shows as ‘Sister Act‘, ‘Guys and Dolls‘, ‘One Man, Two Guvnors‘, ‘Legally Blonde‘, ‘Calendar Girls‘, ‘Little Shop of Horrors‘, ‘Disney’s Beauty and the Beast‘, ‘Avenue Q’, ‘The Full Monty’, ‘Annie‘, ‘Blackadder Goes Forth‘, ‘Sweeney Todd‘ and 'Spamalot'. Upcoming productions will include ‘RENT’, ‘A Bunch of Amateurs’ and ‘The Producers’.

We also run the thriving Cheltenham Community Choir in association with The Cheltenham Town Hall. The choir meet weekly, and perform two main concerts a year (in June and December) alongside a number of other smaller engagements, like the recent appearance at the Winchcombe Festival of Music and Arts. They regularly showcase a range of songs from the musicals to highly appreciative audiences.


CODS is always looking for more members, whether you are interested in treading the boards, singing in the Choir or helping out behind the scenes. All of the information you require about us is located on this website so do have a look around. If you’re looking for a place to showcase your talents whilst becoming part of a flourishing community of theatre people do get in contact – we’d love to hear from you and help you get involved.

2021/2022 Season

Written by Keir Kille - CODS' Chair

Good evening to my fellow Life Members, Members and all else who decided to join us here this evening.  I’m afraid for those in the know, the time has now come for your Napoleon-sized leader to begin his address to the society.  An event that’s historically allocated a mere 5-10 minutes, but with Keir ‘loves the sound of his own voice’ Kille at the helm, this might possibly run into the 2-3 hour marker.  However, in my own defence, we have much to discuss.  So, don’t let this be one-way traffic.  By all means chortle at my well prepared and scripted gags, stand and applause at the end of a rousing sentence…I even encourage a level of jeering, like those usually reserved for the House of Commons, for when I drop a clanger.  The majority of you here are performers, I advise you all to use that inner physical drama to mitigate what’s going to be a long, drawn out, and potentially dull speech.


The first port of call is to discuss our first production of the season.  A play clearly written for a cast of 394 and with a costume budget of roughly 17 grand, ‘The 39 Steps’ seemed a rather curious endeavour for our initial attempt at a mid-Covid-restricted era.  However, after being reliably informed that we only needed a cast of 4 and a rather flexible and creative costumer team, it was clear this was the society’s perfect opportunity for a successful return to the theatre.  A huge congratulations to Jason and his team for being the brave first few who took this plunge for the benefit of the Gloucestershire public.

In the midst of attempting to start producing theatre events again, the ever-amazing Community Choir decided to kick-start their season.  With police-chief Julia Buck monitoring the slightest cough and pointing an item that can only be described as a temperature gun at all those who were brave enough to entre Swindon Village Primary School, it was an incredible feat to get a group of singers back together for the purpose of creating sweet sweet music.  Even with the frustrating but forced decision to have a year without a Christmas concert, Bev and Anthony were so wonderfully generous in giving up their time each week, just to allow a little social singing for all whom wanted to escape the monotony of COVID avoidance at home.  Talking of which, I heard this great Corona joke this morning…but you probably won’t get it.


Next in our calendar of start-ups was one with the longest running production preparation process known to man.  Of course I’m talking about the clearly cursed ‘Shrek’.  A show so frustrating that our very own superstar Director Ginny Burge forced Neil into impregnating her, just so she had an excuse to pull out.  A show so complex that we were on budget version 10 and the 132nd edition of the cast list.  A show so technical that even the unflappable Dave Hale almost frowned.  A show so unbelievably huge that there was rumour that the West End wouldn’t allow it to run for fear of stealing their revered London audiences.  Now, I can’t back that last claim up with any evidence, but when I was told of a child walking out of the theatre telling their parent that they loved the horse…yes the horse…I knew this was clearly a sign that we must have been so mighty accurate to the Dreamwork’s film.


So all in all, a pretty successful CODS season.  However, there are a group of individuals who deserve thanks more than any other.  A team who work continuously throughout the year in order to provide legitimate performance opportunity for our members along with quality entertainment for our loyal audiences.  I personally do everything in my power to do as little as possible throughout the year, whilst attempting to claim maximum praise, those with a modicum of intelligence would realise that the 9 supporting Committee members give everything; often without praise and never with the payment or reward they deserve.  In line with my previous speeches, I have written a poem explaining my love for each of them.


Jamie is a balding feller, who has a lot to say,
He’s smart and brave and totally committed, he’s gonna be Chair one day


Cathy is an absolute treat, who’s a joy for everyone,
I’ll miss this one most of all, she makes the hard work fun.


Sophie stood up this year, and incredibly saved a show,
If there was an award for most heroic member, to her I would bestow.


Hannah is the prettiest, who I easily love the most,
I like to show her off to all, being her husband is the best boast.


Jake is easily the hardest working, who’s never stops to rest,
CODS is very lucky he’s staying, we’re well and truly blessed.


Another departure is Mr Dyer, who wins the award for baldest head,
He allowed me to be a donkey, I owe him a bottle or two of red.


I’m not sure what we’ll do without Dave, who knows all of the stuff,
These next few years without him, are certainly going to be rough.


Julia manages the Choir, a job too much for me,
What an amazing achievement over the years, a success story for all to see.


Gillie has been immensely dedicated, on the finances held such a grip,
I think the secret to his power is the magic of his hairy lip.


To all of you lovely people, the right words are tough to find,
You have been my rock, my guides, my support, I know it’s been a grind.


Please know you have been superb, throughout this latest year,
For those who step aside today, I’ll certainly shed a tear.

Before we move onto the close of this year’s AGM, I did want to give you a little insight into what’s next in the ever growing CODS calendar.  June brings about our next CODS Youth Production of ‘Matilda Jr’, which is very much in full rehearsal swing.  Sophie, Hannah and Laura are working hard with our 29-strong cast and technical teams to create a real treat for the start of summer.  The ‘Evita’ production process has also begun, and auditions will be on us in under a couple of months.  Keep your eyes on the Newsletter and Social Media platforms for further information.  With two rookie heads of department in Frankie and Liv, being generously guided by Paul and Dazza, I have no doubt that the final product is well and truly going to live up to the famous title.

I am super pleased that I can announce of couple of Choir projects that are taking place this season.  The first of which is the traditional summer concert, which is scheduled for Saturday 09th July at Holy Apostles Church.  Whilst COVID is not making life easy for them, I know the entire group are working hard to learn the carefully selected eclectic pieces.  Additionally, the Committee and Choir have spent the last few months working on a possible collaborative project, putting on a semi-staged concert version of performance of Disney’s ‘Hunchback of Notre Damme’ at Gloucester Cathedral in late winter.  Plans for this are still at an early phase, but formal announcements and additional details will be published in April.


So that’s it from me.  Most of you still seem awake, so I’ve clearly nailed some of my shoe-horned in gold moments of comedy.  Thank you for your support, and please don’t forget to put your hand up when we’re asking for volunteers.  Amateur groups don’t survive without them.

History of CODS

The society was formed sometime in the early 1890's, as documented in a young, unnamed Cheltenham lady's diary. The Operatic class she was attending, taught by a Dr Ferguson, decided to put on a production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera 'Trial by Jury' at the Assembly Rooms.

Cheltenham Operatic and Dramatic Society had its stage debut at the  Assembly Rooms on

May 30th 1890 with this production,  and the rest as they say, is history; but a history that

mustn't stray far from our minds.  Having performed shows for nearly 130 years, CODS has a lot

of stories to tell.

Check out the Members Area to read more on the history of our Society.


CODS is affiliated with the National Operatic & Dramatic Association (NODA), which was formed in 1899 by amateur societies in the North West of England for the purpose of bringing together members of amateur operatic and dramatic groups for their mutual assistance and combined benefit.

Each year the Association holds national and regional conferences, together with competitions for poster and programme design. It runs a Summer School, with courses ranging from make-up design to stage management, giving NODA members the opportunity to improve their craft. The Association also awards Long Service medals to those members who have given active and unpaid service over many years.

Today, the Association has around 2,300 affiliated societies and over 2,500 individual members throughout the UK and Northern Ireland. It is the only organisation of its kind devoted exclusively to the amateur stage, and is entirely self supporting.


For more details visit the NODA website