It has been ten years since the company began and it has reached more than 20,000 people with its work, but the success of Theatre in the Quarter’s decade in Chester was encapsulated in just under three hours.
Ten Years was a musical journey through the theatre company’s repertoire from the very first production Some Sunny Day, back in 2006, to the award-winning Over By Christmas, which toured railway stations during the centenary commemorations of the First World War.
Overseen by master of ceremonies and artistic director Matt Baker who, as usual, was never far away from his piano or accordion when accompaniment was required, his pride at what his company has achieved shone throughout as singers, musicians and actors told its tale.
Matt is one of the best ambassadors for our city and its history shone forth in Jigsaw’s fabulous rendition of City of Stories, a plea to the youth of today to put down their mobile phones and wallow in the history of the city walls.
A former member of the youth theatre, TV, film and West End star Tom Hughes talked of how its influence on him as a boy helped give him confidence to pursue a career in actor before donning his new Jigsaw Patron hoodie in celebration.
Maybe Dee Point Primary School pupil Maya Rojas will follow in Hughes’s footsteps, after stealing everyone’s hearts with her solo Paradise from the Rewind Blacon Youth Theatre project earlier this year.
Hammond students Bethan Jacks and Andy Jones-Thompson performed a beautiful duet from the 2012 production of Unsinkable, another 100th anniversary commemoration, this time of the sinking of the Titanic.
There were testimonials from actors who had taken part in TiQ productions including Hannah Good, who toured Cheshire village halls and other venues with Silent Night, and Joe Mann, a founder member of the company who has starred in a recent UK tour of Return to the Forbidden Planet.
The finale was a particularly proud moment for me – a rendition of the company’s Across the World anthem, created as part of the BBC Music Nation London Olympics project in 2012. As choreographer of the piece, which only lasted 15 minutes, I can still feel the atmosphere when more than 6,000 filled the amphitheatre one sunny afternoon to watch Chester make its mark in the country’s Olympic history.
The company may have started life in a small quarter of the city, near Garden Lane, but it certainly spreads its wings far and wide.