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.

2017/2018 Season

Written by Cathy Penney - CODS Secretary

This is my first AGM as Secretary, having completed the first year in office.  It was quite a long year at times…… !  Anyway, I write an annual report covering the committee attendance, shows and general activities throughout the year, since the last AGM, so here goes.


The Society have staged three productions since the last AGM.


Annie at the Everyman in May/June.  The show was wonderfully directed by Ginny Burge – her debut for directing with CODS and although I am biased because I was in it, it was a great success, both from a cast point of view and from the wonderful audiences we had at every performance.  The Musical Director was Mark Aitchison and the choreographer was Sophie Constantine.  The production team was hugely successful in dealing with so many young cast members and we would like to thank the chaperones, without whom, we would not have been able to do the show. The two girls who played the Annies, Molly Van Meter and Holly Jameson received the prestigious 2017 Arts Council Award for their impressive performances. 


In October we staged Sweeney Todd at the Playhouse.  Our director was Sarah Dyer.  Boy did she work hard to produce an amazing show.  The musical director was Gillie who put together some excellent ground work before ill health meant that he unfortunately had to step aside and Dave Whittle – wonderfully assisted by Amber Smith – took the reins and continued Gillies hard work.

The show received the following NODA Award Nominations:

Gerry Branton Award for Best Operatic Production

Wilfred Roe Trophy For Chorus Singing


The latest show – Blackadder at the Playhouse in Jan/Feb 2018 was a huge success.  Nick Tobias and Liz White joined forces on this one – although I have heard that Liz was the ‘force’!   None the less, between the two of them they recreated a wonderful memory for all Blackadder fans and if you weren’t a fan before seeing the show – you most definitely were afterwards.


In May every year, the Festival of Performing Arts is held at the Town Hall and CODS have a cup which we sponsor.  This year the CODS Cup was won by Sue Wainwright for her Operatic and Dramatic Solo in the Gertrude Mace Class.


We also have the David Johnson Memorial Cup, which was kindly provided by Jane Johnson in memory of her late husband David who was a life member of CODS.  This cup was won by Joshua Cottell for the Most Promising Baritone Voice – Joshua is the son of Nigel Cottell – one of our life members and ex Chairman.  


Our chosen charity this time was Gloucester & Cheltenham Hospitals Trust and we have been collecting throughout the year.


So that concludes the Annual report -  another fantastic year for CODS

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