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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 since 1890. 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‘, ‘The 39 Steps‘, ‘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‘, 'Evita' and 'Shrek'. Upcoming productions will include ‘School of Rock’, ‘Little Women’ and ‘Kinky Boots’.

We also run the thriving Cheltenham Community Choir. The choir meet weekly, and perform two main concerts a year (in June and December) in the wonderfully picturesque Holy Apostle's Church, 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.

2022/2023 Season

Written by Keir Kille - CODS' Chair

Good evening to you all.  I often open a Chair’s address with a comedy moment of self-deprecation, referring to myself as the short, smurf-sized, chubby feller at the front.  However, we don’t have time for this tomfoolery today, as the list of society achievements during 2022/2023 season have been so plentiful, I must head straight down the corridor of reminiscence and congratulations.  Please enjoy this chronological feast.

Outside of the norm, our new CODS year began with a Youth production.  Having already whittled the 108 auditionees into a cast of 30, our production team of Sophie, Hannah and Laura were very much in the swing of rehearsals by the time the previous AGM had concluded.  Some two and bit months later, this society’s best-selling Playhouse show in a generation was on stage, delighting all those who were fortunate enough to obtain a much sought-after ticket.  Standing in front of the parents in the Playhouse bar after the last night tearily explaining that the selected cast could not have been more respectful, kind, and hardworking, was one of the proudest moments of my tenure.  To all those involved in last year’s CODS Youth production…thank you.

Then onto a summer Concert; the first in the newly selected venue of Holy Apostles Church.  A most beautiful and perfect location to show-off Cheltenham’s premier Community Choir.  With Beverley leading elegantly from the front, Anthony and his band rocking out in the corner, and the FoH team preparing enough Pimm’s to satisfy a Wimbledon crowd, our audience members were well and truly treated to an eclectic musical extravaganza.

The Autumn then drew in and ‘Evita’ became the new talk of the town.  Fully cast, rehearsed and now ready to display this Andrew Lloyd Webber written theatrical offering, Frankie, Paul and Liv sat back and watched their heroic efforts unfurl into a musical masterpiece.  Being the first Playhouse musical in 10 years to turn a profit should have been a hi-light for the Committee, but no.  This production only managed to bag two NODA awards as well.  Best Innovation and Best Choreography seemed to be the take-home of our ever-present reviewer, and for those who witnessed this awesome show, you’ll agree that we’ve got both trophies in the proverbial bag.

Excluding Committee, most people affiliated with this society take part in a CODS event, have their moment of glory, and sit down and have a well-earned rest.  However, for our beloved CODS Choir, the end of one concert triggers the preparation for the next.  No sooner had the summer brilliance concluded, a Christmas concert was being born.  Once again, staged at the picturesque Holy Apostles, but now filled with 17,000 candles, this inclusive and welcoming family of singers managed to, once again, delight audiences with a beautiful mix of Christmas and choral numbers to suit all in attendance.  I would love to once again both congratulate and thank all those involved in the Cheltenham Community Choir.  This society’s reputation is only enhanced by being affiliated with these marvellous events.

2023 began with the registration of 180+ children, all wanting to be cast in CODS’ next Everyman adventure – ‘School of Rock’.  Having been part of both the ‘Annie’ and ‘Matilda’ processes, I cannot put into words the organisation and planning that has to go into any auditions that involve children.  However, because of the brilliant minds of Sarah, Lucas and Sophie, being led by our very own Vice, Jamie, the eventual Horace Green class of 12 was chosen.  This smorgasbord of musical talent would be well suited on any professional tour, and the four musicians within are without doubt going to enforce standing ovations each performance.  For those who aren’t all that enamoured by the young performers of the world, there’s also a short, smurf-sized, chubby feller in the cast who may at least give you something to point and laugh at on your day of watching.

A cheeky little interlude of social gathering was next in the ever-filling calendar.  The Winter Party, housed over in Charlton Kings, ended up as a cheese-filled, Prosecco full, drunken festival of merriment.  For those in attendance, I know you will be full of thanks and appreciation to the wonderful Sophie for giving us members an opportunity to celebrate what it means to be part of the CODS family.

Last, but absolutely not least, was CODS’ project of unknowns.  The Committee had chosen a title that wasn’t regarded as mainstream popular, to be performed during a single week’s theatre hire instead of two, and with a total production budget that was less than Sound and Lighting was for ‘Shrek’. However, despite the restrictions put in place, The ‘25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’ was a huge success reputationally.  The creativity and imagination of Darren, Ellie and Sian meant that after every performance, the cast were greeted with such enormous praise and congratulations.  More so than ever before, a huge thanks to all who gave up their time and effort, completely free of charge, to get this wonderfully funny show on stage.


Being at the end of our diary of remembrance, I would like to take this opportunity to pass our condolences to the friends and family of our Life Member Roger Ashman, who passed away earlier in the year, and to Lionel Bassett, and incredibly popular and long-term member of CODS who passed away this month.  For those who knew these Gentlemen, I would like to convey the assurance that we will do all we can to make sure they both remain part of the history of the greatest amateur society in the Southwest…if not the world.

So what’s next for CODS.  We have the previously mentioned ‘School of Rock’ during May half-term – tickets on sale now.  This will be swiftly followed by the Community Choir Summer Concert on July 01st - tickets should be on sale in the coming weeks.  The season of the great leaf drop brings us ‘Little Women the Musical’, with auditions taking place mid-June.  Then onto 2024’s ‘Kinky Boots’ at The Everyman, to which we’re still looking for a production team.  If anyone here is interested, but requires a little more info on the process, don’t hesitate to come and speak to me when the AGM closes.

The Committee are also starting to think about the Playhouse productions for 2024, with both a Youth and adult musical expected.  Once again, I’m afraid we are unlikely to perform a play without a formal submission of intent from a budding Director who has a title in mind.  With a probable Winter Choir Concert, another CODS party and a summer society trip to Slimbridge also to be finalised, there is absolutely no slow-down for the opportunities we hope to open to you all.


I leave you with one final statement if I may, which goes out to all the volunteers who have helped CODS over the past year.  You matter more than anyone else in this society.  Actors can’t go on stage without you, singers can’t have audiences without you, production teams cannot put on shows without you.  To those members who have never volunteered for CODS, no matter how small, shame on you.  For those hundreds who have, the rest of us owe you a forever thanks for your time.

Thanks for listening, peace out.

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.


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

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