FANS of Chester Operatic Society will have to travel to another country to see the company’s latest production after attempts to stage large-scale productions in the city failed.

Chairman Ken Owen and the committee have booked Clwyd Theatr Cymru in Mold for the production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Gondoliers in June.

Last October the company staged Strauss’ Die Fledermaus at Chester Catholic High School and despite publicity and a band of ardent followers, managed to sell only 656 tickets.

Mr Owen explained: “We are used to selling between 1,700 and 1,800 tickets for our shows and a production of My Fair Lady six years ago at the Gateway Theatre sold 2,200 tickets.

“Ultimately, people are used to a night out at a theatre and going to a school hall is just not the same experience.”

He said: “Companies are clambering to play at Clwyd Theatr Cymru and we wouldn’t have been able to book it without the help of MP Christine Russell, who intervened on our behalf.”

The society looked at venues in Chester, including The Hammond School performing arts centre, but none were suitable.

The Gondoliers will be staged at the 519-seater Anthony Hopkins Theatre from Thursday, June 4, to Saturday, June 6, with a matinée performance on Saturday.

According to Mr Owen, an orchestra for a production of the scale of The Gondoliers can cost from £3,500.

“People join the society to do shows like this. We also do concerts throughout the year at Chester’s Guildhall but ultimately people enjoy the shows best and we need to sell enough seats to break even overall,” he said

“I grew up in Glasgow where there is an opera house, a concert hall and at least six proscenium arch theatres.

“Going to the theatre is learned behaviour. If kids don’t even get the chance to go to a pantomime in Chester, what chance will they have of getting used to going to the theatre.”

The Gondoliers is directed by Juliet Miles and musical director Graham Pike. Tickets: (adults £14, concs £12, children £6, groups £12) from the box office on 0845 3303565, online at or call 07739 854820.