When the Apollo was first converted from a Methodist church into a theatre a covenant prevented the sale and consumption of alcoholic drinks on the premises, and it was not until 1987 that the theatre was allowed a drinks licence. Until 2000 the bar was located in a small room on the first floor behind the circle, known as the Hancock Room after the theatre’s founder; however, in that year the ground floor of the house next door, now known as Hancock House, which the theatre had bought in 1992, was converted into a new bar and coffee lounge and formally opened by the late Kenneth Kendall, the former newsreader.
The theatre bar, staffed by volunteers, now does a brisk trade and despite very competitive pricing contributes significantly to theatre funds. An extensive range of drinks is available, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, and a range of cocktails is also on offer – often created specifically for a particular show. Drivers can also find non-alcoholic cocktails, and coffee and tea are always available. The bar has a warm and welcoming atmosphere and is greatly appreciated by theatre patrons. It is open from an hour before the performance starts until 11.00pm Monday to Thursday, 12.00pm Friday and Saturday and 10.30pm on Sundays. During a show an exhibition of artworks by local artists is often displayed on the walls.
Over time since its opening in 2000, it became clear to us that the bar needed an upgrade. The coffee bar area wasn’t used enough to justify the space it took up, and for popular shows there wasn’t enough seating for our patrons. During 2015, therefore, a dedicated band of volunteers undertook a major refurbishment of the bar area; the coffee bar was removed and a coffee area added to the bar itself, along with new shutters and other practical changes like a dishwasher and lots more chiller space. The ‘after’ and ‘before’ photos below give you an idea of the changes; but come along and have a drink and experience the new ambience for yourself! The bar has formally been named The Underwood Bar after two of our founders, John and Pam Underwood.