Want to get involved? Then please do! Whether you are interested in performing (see the Open Auditions link re read throughs and auditions on the Home page) or any of the backstage and business activities needed to run the theatre. Beginners and experienced enthusiasts are equally welcome, and we have many members who'll be glad to introduce you to the full range of our activities including front of house, set building, sound, lighting, stage management, wardrobe and, of course, acting and directing.
The Plaza is busy most days of the week with rehearsals, play readings and public performances.
If you have not already done so, do come along to see one of our Forthcoming Productions. Alternatively, visit the theatre during a rehearsal (typically Mondays to Thursdays from 7:30pm onwards), or help with a set break (typically starting at 10am on the Sunday after a RAODS show).
Membership benefits include a monthly newsletter, a 25% discount on bar prices (in members-only hours), and access to discounted tickets and training.
If you would like to join us, please complete the online application form. Your membership application will be active as soon as we have received payment – when you will receive a welcoming letter. What then?.....
. Participate in play readings and auditions.
. Help with Front of House (usher, bar work, etc.) or technical support or stage crewing.
. Join one of the many teams that help run the Society and Theatre.
. Take part in social events within the Society.
Romsey Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society was founded on 11th October 1934 and the first show (The Mikado) was staged at the Town Hall. A certain Mr Crosfield was present, and so enjoyed the show that he built the Crosfield Hall with RAODS in mind - and this then became our regular venue. Until the early 1950s much emphasis was placed on Gilbert and Sullivan Operettas. The policy was abandoned when Ruddigore (the show - and almost the result!) nearly bankrupted the Society. For the next thirty years a new pattern was run; of a pantomime and two plays each year. This was sometimes varied by an evening of Music Hall or Revue and in 1970 came Salad Days, our first non - G&S musical.
For many years, RAODS was able to store costumes, properties and flats in The Barn and other outbuildings belonging to one of our members, Geoffrey Wills. As Geoffrey got older, the need to find a home of our own became pressing. The Plaza Cinema was unused - the building stood forlorn and empty. After much trial and tribulation, in 1982, RAODS acquired the freehold and converted it into a theatre. In January 1984 the theatre was opened by Lord Romsey; the first show was Jack and the Beanstalk. Since then, RAODS have presented an increasing number of shows each year - we now present a different show each month (twelve a year).
Owning and managing a theatre sets RAODS apart from most amateur companies. It sets us apart in terms of responsibility (for a property) and opportunity (to mount a wide variety of shows). RAODS is a long-standing member of the Little Theatre Guild of Great Britain, a national group of theatres owned and operated by their own members. The theatre is available for hire by both amateurs and professionals; and for lectures, concerts, AGMs and as a Polling Station.
The Plaza was built in 1931 as a cinema and the theatre facade is characteristic of Art Deco. The date was confirmed by the presence of a newspaper which was used to line the shuttering when the undersides of the main staircases were formed - extracts of a March 1931 edition of 'John Bull' magazine are preserved and legible!
When the cinema closed, the building was used for several years as a bingo hall, until that closed in the early 1980s.
The price of the empty theatre was £150,000 - a daunting figure at the time. However the building was purchased and alterations undertaken to provide a 246 seat theatre with technical and audience facilities. Over the course of 2 years many hours were put in by RAODS members to convert it to the Theatre you see today.
The Plaza was built as a 400 seat cinema with a balcony, and stalls below - the reconstruction lifted the stage and auditorium, creating a single rake of audience seating and making available space on the ground floor for dressing rooms and a Green Room. A stage door and scene dock were added to the rear of the building.
Further improvements since then include: addition of workshop and car park in 1989; award winning disabled facilities in the early 1990s (including removal of 15 seats); new roof in 1997; air conditioning in 2005; Green Room refurbishment (creating a second 'studio' performance space) in 2009; new chairlift in 2010; refurbishment of dressing rooms and all public areas (excepting the auditorium) in 2011/12; refurbishment of public toilets and installation of a state of the art fire alarm system in 2015; and refurbishment of the main auditorium in 2017. Our plans for future improvements are ambitious - see the FUTURE tab for more details!
In addition to their own shows, the Plaza is made available by RAODS to community hires - schools, dance schools, local societies - and professional acts, including an increasing number of 'tribute' bands.