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Everyman

Frank Matcham

alias New Theatre and Opera House
history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

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(detail)1891 | opening

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This is one of Matcham's smaller theatres and is well suited to its present role. It may be compared in scale with the Opera House, Wakefield (1894), and the Lyric, Hammersmith (1895). Considering the importance of Cheltenham as a fashionable spa, it seems odd that the exterior of the theatre is so unassuming, and is merely part of the frontage of a relatively minor street. What a contrast this is with the monumental theatres of Continental spa towns! The facade has pedimented flanking bays, each with two large, ogee-hooded windows at first floor level. The wider central bay was pierced in the 1960s by a large, projecting, rectangular bay window. All this does little to prepare one for the marvellously ornate and intimate auditorium.

There are two, slightly curved, balconies of seven rows each, with richly detailed Rococo plasterwork on their fronts (by the Fibrous Plaster Company of London). The upper balcony is divided into two parts, with a small gallery raised behind a parapet. Both balconies continue as slips along the side walls to meet large single boxes on each side of the proscenium, with voluptuous Rococo canopies. The beautiful ceiling is in the form of a shallow dome with eight painted panels in Rococo frames, surrounded by a wide border containing small oval paintings. The semicircular-arched proscenium is reminiscent of Blackpool and Hammersmith although it lacks their openwork plaster 'frills'.

 

In: WALKER, Brian Mercer. Frank Matcham: theatre architect. Belfast: Blackstaff Press, c1980, xii, 178 p. ISBN 08-564-0231-1.  p. 123

 

 

Author: Brian Mercer Walker

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