The Yeomen of the Guard – April 2014

Review by Trevor Guest (NODA)

The stirring overture played by the sixteen strong orchestra set the standard for the whole performance of this well loved Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. Following last year’s NODA nominated award production of Oklahoma!, this was a return to familiar ground for GWOS and a production with a twist from Director Chris Love and MD Sue Black but retaining the traditions of G and S performances. A strong cast of (in the main) experienced performers but there was no shortfall in any of the individual roles. Andrew Rawle gave an outstanding interpretation of Jack Point encompassing every emotion from jocularity to pathos and anguish. Probably the best performance of Jack Point I have seen. Paul Thompson (Sergeant Meryll) and Michael Faulkner (Colonel Fairfax) two experienced veterans of G and S productions were both excellent and looked like they could go on for years. Bob Payne, new to me, was a very impressive (Shadbolt). Paul Ellis (Sir Richard) and Ben Moore (Leonard Meryll) completed the main roles with aplomb. Kathryn Cope (Phoebe) has a fine voice and stage presence and was totally delightful. It was nice to see accomplished Cheryl Watkins (Elsie) on stage again and still singing with ease and control. Janet Hay (Dame Carruthers), initially rather fearsome eventually melts to Sergeant Meryll’s somewhat awkward proposal and completing the fine cast Cathryn Martin (Kate) has a lovely mezzo (?) voice which could be heard in the quartet ‘Strange Adventure’ and no doubt we shall see her in future productions. An excellent chorus, lighting, sound, costumes and scenery enhanced the whole production. The audience applause at the finale must have conveyed their total enjoyment to the company.

Review by Beverley Abbs

ANY lover of Gilbert and Sullivan could not fail to enjoy Great Witley Operatic Society’s presentation of Yeomen Of The Guard – a show that has good principals, stunning costumes and polished orchestral playing.

The opening night performance at Worcester’s Swan Theatre was largely a delight, sad though the auditorium was perhaps only three quarters full.

Of the G&S offerings Yeoman is one of the less comedic, but a decent romp with twists and turns aplenty, beautiful music, romance and tragedy.

Set around the Tower of London in Tudor England the action centres upon the unusual infatuations and fortunes of three men and three women, each looking to get wed – one of whom is also facing the death penalty.

Outstanding was Andrew Rawle in the key role of Jack Point, a strolling jester, expressive in both his jesting and singing. The impressive character actress was Kathryn Cope who brought great verve to the role of Phoebe Meryll. Michael Faulkner was exceptional both vocally and dramatically as the dashing Colonel Fairfax, under sentence of death, with Cherril Watkins splendid as Elsie Maynard, a strolling singer, and Bob Payne as Wilfred Shadbolt, the jealous and keyed-up head jailer and assistant tormentor, who provided a good many laughs. Two other performances which should get a mention were from Paul Thompson as Sergeant Meryll, of the Yeoman of the Guard, and Janet Hay as Dame Carruthers, housekeeper to the Tower, who both get caught up in the marrying scheme which goes awry.

Presenting G&S is not an easy task and director Chris Love and musical director Sue Black have done a magnificent job with Yeoman, but even with experienced singers it’s asking a lot to produce a Gilbert patter song at speed and volume to fill the auditorium without the aid of microphones.