In 1968 the Chelmsford Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society (CAODS) presented one of the first amateur productions of Lionel Bart’s Oliver! at the Regent Theatre in Chelmsford.
During rehearsals one or two of the members realised that whilst it was an ideal vehicle for young people, such shows were few and far between and once the show was over there would be little opportunity for the kids taking part to get involved in another production for some time.
They decided that it was time to provide a specific outlet for the theatrical talents of young people in Chelmsford.
With the help of several members of the Operatic Society’s committee and the Headmaster of the Great Baddow School, CAODS-Junior Section presented its first show, Robinson Crusoe , at the Primmer Theatre the following Christmas. This was to be the first of many productions to be staged at the Great Baddow School.
With each show the Society grew in both confidence and experience then, in 1973, it was decided to become independent of the parent group and to adopt the name “Chelmsford Young Generation”. The following year the society acquired a new, young professional director, Ray Jeffery, and with him a completely new image. Under Ray’s energetic direction the society soon achieved a reputation for slick, fast moving musical productions, winning critical acclaim, several awards at the Waterford International Festival and the Civic Award for Service to the Arts in Chelmsford.In 1985 CYGAMS acquired their own spacious headquarters building and with it a new independence, enabling them to embark on several projects that would otherwise have been impossible. Recent improvements at the headquarters have increased the height of the rehearsal room and provided a new toilet block and extensions to the wardrobe and office.
Scenery for the major productions is either hired or built in the workshop, with many items being re-used later by other societies. CYGAMS now have a comprehensive selection of stage props which are constantly being hired to other groups both amateur and professional. These include a 12ft fairground roundabout, which was built for Carousel, a tiger skin rug made for Me and My Girl, Coster’s barrow, desks, benches, circus props for Barnum and many others.
Quite a number of CYGAMS members go into the professional theatre, appearing in musicals such as Les Miserables, West Side Story and Grease. Others have appeared with the National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, on television and in films with several still at drama schools. Nevertheless CYGAMS is not a stage school, its business is to provide a theatrical interest and outlet for young people in the Chelmsford area