The Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury

The new improved Roses Theatre

The new improved Roses Theatre - Credit: Archant

Big changes have been happening behind the scenes at Tewkesbury’s well-loved theatre – from the fabulous Cotteswold Coffee shop to the swish new bar and welcoming entrance foyer – and now the doors have been flung open so you too can get along and see the transformation for yourself

The downstairs cafe, waiting just for you!

The downstairs cafe, waiting just for you! - Credit: Archant

Are you, like me, flicking through your latest programme of events for The Roses Theatre in Tewkesbury? Pondering picking up the phone to book maybe for Joli Vyann: Imbalance, which is an acrobatic / dance piece exploring our current dependence on technology. We love the speed and ability of the internet and all it offers do we not, but are we connected to the real world enough? I know, whilst turning the pages of the programme you are checking into your phone, catching up on news, work and social media at the same time? Me too. Guilty. Well, I think this one’s for you then – and me – and what better way to find the answers than through expressive dance. Be there on March 22.

Perhaps a film is what you’re after? There are so many to choose from; Trumbo March 14-17 profiles the career of Hollywood screen writer Dalton Trumbo. Or, if you are a die-hard Dad’s Army fan, you’ll enjoy seeing the Home Guard portrayed again from March 25-30.

One thing’s for sure, whatever you choose to go and see from the full calendar, you’ll be absolutely blown away by the change at the beloved theatre. Recent and extensive refurbishments render it beautifully unrecognisable with fabulous new facilities. The Roses is wearing a new costume inside and out and is ready to perform.

The refurbishment project has taken three years in planning and fundraising, and totals £820,000. Funds have been raised from the Arts Council, Tewkesbury Borough Council and many individual and local business donations.

After months of closure last summer whilst the work was taking place, The Roses’ enthusiastic body of staff is excited by the results. I meet Emma Payne, Theatre Administrator, who has been in the position for five months and is brimming with enthusiasm for the job.

“I started here straight after being at university, where I studied Music, and it’s such an interesting and stimulating place to work. Seeing the refurbishment take place – we all came in hard hats and heavy boots at times to see the progress – was amazing. The coffee shop is new, the atrium, upstairs bar and the auditorium has been recarpeted and redecorated. And, people are very pleased about… the new loos!”

The exciting new bar upstairs

The exciting new bar upstairs - Credit: Archant

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Well, everyone knows that good toilet arrangements are paramount, and the newly fitted bathroom arrangements at the theatre are quite showbiz, with flattering lighting and clean lines. It’s all very swish.

The coffee shop is called Cotteswold Coffee, referring to the well-known and historic dairy in Tewkesbury. More hospitality upstairs is to be found in the new bar, where you can sit amongst seductive lighting and admire rooftop views through the new, wide windows and even grab a glimpse of Tewkesbury Abbey.

The welcoming light and bright foyer downstairs displays the ‘Wall of Fame’; bricks showing smart brass plaques embossed with the names of those who bought them. This was one very successful area of the fundraising for the campaign. Individuals and companies ‘buy a brick’ for £75 – a way of contributing to the actual bricks and mortar of the place – and their name is up there for all to see. You can still buy a brick, just call 01684 295074 to do so and get your name up in lights!

Whilst the café downstairs offers a more informal place to meet, where you can enjoy pastries and cakes, coffee and tea, the upstairs bar – which serves The Roses’ own new beer called Encore - is hoped soon to be serving hot meals, so patrons can look forward to a show and a meal out too. A real treat.

Whilst the work is largely finished, the lift build is still in progress, hopefully with a completion date in March. The whole theatre has very easy disabled access, therefore.

The Roses not only offers theatre and film, but also things such as workshops in belly dancing, puppet monster-making, The Roses Youth Theatre and Youth Dance. Exhibitions, too, are regularly in place, so it’s well worth subscribing to the mailing list. ‘Nappy Mondays’; is a new venture and is a place for mums and dads to meet by the plush new coffee bar at 11am and can park buggies in the atrium for their social event.

Bathroom break in style

Bathroom break in style - Credit: Archant

In the future, now the front of house has been addressed, there are plans for updating the dressing rooms and backstage areas. They have put the theatregoers’ experience first. Resident artist spots upstairs by the bar are in discussion and may feature painters or musicians. I suggest pianist Emma takes a turn.

“Yes, I’d like to at some point, perhaps!” she agrees modestly. “We’ve been so encouraged by everyone’s delight at the new décor and events, it really is so exciting. The Buy a Brick campaign means people feel they have a small ownership of the place. Some buy the bricks as presents or even in memoriam of loved ones who have enjoyed the theatre over the years.

“Since working here, I have been so impressed at the loyalty of the staff, some of whom have been here for years and just love the Theatre, they - we - are so proud of it. I’m enjoying the job very much, it’s a laugh a minute and a great atmosphere; everyone is so friendly.”

Car parking is so convenient with plenty of spaces in the car park just across the road and there are also some disabled spaces right outside the theatre.

Time to get booking, then, and to check out the thrilling new aesthetics of The Roses Theatre. You will be impressed I am sure. I’ll be looking out for you at ‘Imbalance’.

Can we keep our phones on? Ouch!

Emma Payne loves working at The Roses

Emma Payne loves working at The Roses - Credit: Archant

Roses Theatre is on Sun Street, Tewkesbury, GL20 5NX. Call 01684 295074 or visit www.rosestheatre.org where it’s possible to download the latest brochure.