Affiliated to the National Operatic and Dramatic Association
The East Cheshires - Our First 100 Years
The very first production “H.M.S Pinafore” was presented in a local church hall with limited facilities.
The Parish Hall at Cheadle Hulme, with stage, ample seating and state of the art facilities for the time, was completed and opened. All productions were staged there for the next 24 years, except for the Great War Years when all productions ceased. The Society continued to rehearse in the Parish Halls until 1999 and General Committee Meetings were held there until recently.
“Merrie England” was performed – our first departure from the works of Gilbert and Sullivan.
Our name changed to The East Cheshire AOS and affiliation with N.O.D.A came about that time. A wider variety of popular, more “modern” shows began to be performed about that time, with Gilbert & Sullivan only appearing occasionally.
Our productions moved to the Elysian Cinema in Cheadle Hulme until the arrival of their fixed wide-screen caused another move back to the Parish Halls on Church Rd. Cheadle Hulme.
There were no productions between the
Second World War Years 1939 - 1945
Our first production in a professional theatre – “Quaker Girl” at the Theatre Royal in Stockport. Sadly, this was a short-lived stay, as a fire later destroyed the stage and forced the theatre to close.
We returned to the Elysian Cinema despite the problems with the wide screen.
Another move to a professional theatre, The Rex Theatre in Wilmslow, where we opened with “Free as Air”. The Rex was our home for 25 happy years. The Society thrived with a large, loyal and talented membership and for a number of years two shows a year were staged with a modern show in the spring and Gilbert and Sullivan in the autumn. The theatre had a capacity of 860 and sell-outs were not uncommon. During this time we became generally known as “The East Cheshires” an abbreviation that has stuck to this day.
Sadly this year saw the closure of The Rex as a theatre through commercial pressures. We had staged 36 productions there in the 25 years including two highly successful revues. Our final show there was “Annie”.
An important mile-stone which saw us move to the Opera Theatre at the Royal Northern College of Music in central Manchester, a highly prestigious modern theatre but with a smaller capacity of just 630. We opened with our second production of the great favourite, “My Fair Lady”. A major drive to persuade our loyal patrons to follow us from Wilmslow to a city-centre theatre was needed and eventually succeeded.
The word “amateur” is dropped from our official title, reflecting our determination to settle for nothing less than the professional standards we had been achieving for years. The following year, and we change our operating name to The East Cheshires Musical Theatre Company but remain known simply as The East Cheshires.
To celebrate the new Millennium in style we presented “West Side Story” and Mack & Mabel”.
This year saw us present “Hot Mikado”, 90 years after first presenting “The Mikado”.
“42nd Street” plays to full houses all week.
We break new ground with an amazing production of “Chess”.
The first of our highly successful series of “The East Cheshires in Concert” at the Festival Hall in Alderley Edge. The profits allow us to make substantial donations to St Ann’s Hospice.
Our AGM marks the beginning of our Centenary Season and we continue into…
…with a spectacular production of “Beauty and the Beast”
A year of several first class productions, starting with “Bouncers (REMIX)” at the Peter Barkworth Theatre at the Stockport College which was followed by “Some Enchanted Evening” at the Altrincham Garrick. The year was rounded off in seasonal style with “A Very Very Merry Christmas Concert” at The Woodford Community Centre.
The Witches of Eastwick
The Best of Broadway I & II
Songs from the movies Concert
Little shop of Horrors
Jesus Chris Superstar
As you can see, The East Cheshires have a long and distinguished history and we are proud of our traditions. We always strive to attain the best professional standards in all that we do and we are particularly proud of the fact that, for over 100 years, the Society has provided enjoyment and good fellowship for our members, a theatrical outlet for their undoubted talents and, through our productions, fine entertainment for literally thousands of members of the public.
Despite ever-rising costs, we intend to maintain our traditions and our standards.
Why not come and join us in the challenge and the fun of doing so?