About us

The Society is a registered charity successfully achieving charitable status in 2001; a task which required us to demonstrate our commitment to constitutional and operational objectives approved by the Charity Commission. These requirements and accountabilities ensure that we continue to achieve the highest standards of management of the society and are committed to the development and education of new talent. We have developed an extensive concert programme with a versatile and wide-ranging repertoire. This ranges from grand opera to modern musical theatre, from cinema to popular songs and many places in between.

Our members meet every Thursday evening so please get in touch if you would like to join the Society. If you prefer not to perform, then join other non-acting members to help run the Society.

History

The Society started life as the Operatic section of Chester Music Society. Later the section broke away from the parent body and the Chester Operatic Society was born. Rehearsals for “Yeomen of the Guard” commenced and the first performance of the Society took place in May 1922 at The Royalty Theatre (now gone) in City Road, Chester. The early years were dominated by Gilbert and Sullivan productions and by Harold Mitchell, who was both Producer and principal male singer.

During the 1920s and early 1930s instead of auditions, parts were handed out by the Producer to those members who were “considered capable of playing the roles”. Performances continued at “The Royalty” until spring 1939 when major productions ceased for the duration of the Second World War. There was however, a concert party which kept the name of the Society alive and which performed in various venues.

With the return of peace, rehearsals recommenced and in 1946 the Society performed “Cox and Box” and “Trial by Jury” at Chester Town Hall, under the direction of Mrs Howard Mitchell, who had replaced her husband after his death in the early 1940s. 1947 saw a return to “The Royalty” with the production of “The Student Prince”. There was criticism of the “students” in that many of the men’s chorus had been “students” in the early 1930’s version (‘Twas ever thus!).

Closure of “The Royalty” in 1965 forced a move to the ABC Cinema (now gone) at the corner of Foregate Street and Love Street. The Society could never hope to perform to full houses since the cinema’s seating capacity was around 2,000. The facilities backstage were minimal and many are the anecdotes about dashing up three flights of stairs for quick changes in overcrowded dressing rooms. The last show at the “ABC” was the memorable “Showboat” in 1978, prior to the modernisation of the cinema. The Society then moved to a new home at the then relatively new, purpose built, Gateway Theatre.

After so many successful productions, the word “Amateur” was dropped from the Society’s name in 1990. Throughout much of its history the Society has owed much to the patronage of Viola, the late Duchess of Westminster and also her son the late Duke of Westminster (Gerald Grosvenor).

Shows continued in Chester until the closure of The Gateway in 2007 when we are very proud to have been the last amateur society to perform in the theatre before its closure.

Despite the high professional standards achieved on stage, the shows were and continue to be essentially amateur productions. We have set ourselves the challenge of performing to professional standards in the best local theatres available and using the highest standards of Artistic and Musical Directors. These were the principles laid down through the history of the society which are still applied today by the present management committee.

We continue our proud tradition of stage and theatre performances in various locations such as Chester, Wrexham and Mold and in February 2018 we became the first amateur Society to perform on the main stage at the Storyhouse Theatre in Chester, our production of “Singin in the Rain” was performed to sell out audiences.



Previous Productions

1922 Yeomen of the Guard

1923 Mikado/Yeomen of the Guard

1924 Ruddigore/Dorothy

1925 Merrie England

1926 The Gondoliers

1927 Pirates of Penzance

1928 Iolanthe

1929 Princess Ida

1930 HMS Pinafore

1931 The Geisha

1932 The Arcadians

1933 Tom Jones

1934 The Quaker Girl

1935 The Student Prince

1936 The New Moon

1937 Miss Hook of Holland

1938 The Desert Song

1939 Rose Marie

1946 Trial by Jury/Cox and Box

1947 The Student Prince

1948 Bitter Sweet

1949 Vagabond King

1950 Old Chelsea

1951 Monsieur Beaucaire

1952 Mikado

1953 Merrie England

1954 The Gondoliers

1955 Song of Norway

1956 Iolanthe/Yeoman of the Guard

1958 Trial by Jury/HMS Pinafore

1959 King’s Rhapsody

1960 The Dancing Years

1961 Brigadoon

1962 Carousel

1963 South Pacific

1964 The White Horse Inn

1965 The Merry Widow

1966 Die Fledermaus

1967 The Quaker Girl

1968 Waltzes from Vienna

1969 Oklahoma

1970 Chin Chin Chow

1971 The Merry Widow

1973 Lilac Time

1974 Merrie England

1975 The Count of Luxembourg

1976 Die Fledermaus

1977 Oklahoma

1978 Showboat

1979 The Gypsy Baron

1980 Brigadoon

1981 The New Moon

1982 Bless the Bride

1983 Waltzes from Vienna

1984 Gypsy Love

1985 Carousel

1986 Desert Song

1987 The Merry Widow/The Gondoliers (concert version)

1988 Die Fledermaus

1989 My Fair Lady/Trial by Jury

1990 Orpheus in the Underworld/Tarantara! Tarantara!

1991 The Gypsy Baron

1992 La Vie Parisienne

1993 The Gondoliers

1994 The Merry Widow/ Mikado/ Follow the Star

1995 La Belle Helene


1996 Fiddler on the Roof/ Yeomen of the Guard (concert version)

1997 Sweeney Todd

1998 Oh! What a lovely war!

1999 Oklahoma

2000 Me and My Girl

2001 Hello Dolly

2002 Kiss Me Kate

2003 My Fair Lady

2004 Guys and Dolls

2005 King and I

2006 Calamity Jane

2007 The Mikado

2008 Die Fledermaus

2009 The Gondoliers

2010 Fiddler on the Roof

2011 My Fair Lady

2012 Pirates Of Penzance

2013 Kiss Me Kate

2014 Stephen Sondheim’s COMPANY

2015 The Addams Family

2017 Bonnie and Clyde

2018 Singin’ In The Rain

2019 Into The Woods