The Yeomen of the Guard
Author: Liz Hume-Dawson
New Rosemere production of The Yeomen Of the Guard or The Merryman And His Maid takes place in a new venue for the society, Bolton Little Theatre which is an intimate theatre.
It’s said Gilbert and Sullivan’s tale set in the Tower of London is one of their most emotionally engaging with reluctant engagements, various marriages, unrequited love, broken hearts, twisty plot and comedy thrown in for good measure.
With one set where all the action takes place, lighting was appropriate by Hannah Carolan and Lloyd Pennington. When I arrived in the theatre and saw the 13 strong Orchestra I did wonder if it would over-power - this was not the case at all: sound levels where just right and unobtrusive which is what you want (Sound was by Dale Wilson). Costumes all in keeping and they were hired-in but someone has to sort all that out, so well done Janet Hardman - the Guards looked splendid!
Paul Stanley was Musical Director and took us faultlessly through the score with his disciplined orchestra - it was beautiful! Strange Adventure sung by Kate, Dame Carruthers, Fairfax and Sergeant Meryll was a delight. Rapture! Rapture! sung by Dame Carruthers and Sergeant Meryll had comedy and lightness. Hereupon We’re Both Agreed was a duet featuring Point and Wilfred – again, great character acting throughout the song with a wonderful sound. New Rosemere are not short on strong singers and they excel when the whole ensemble bring their voices together - it’s joyous to listen to (Paul must be very proud)! I loved that the lights were left off at the end of the performance to listen to the music play out. It used to be considered bad manners to leave before the orchestra finishes and this creates a lovely moment to contemplate what you have just seen.
Before the show started an announcement was given that Ken Rees would be stepping into the role of Sergeant Meryll at very short notice due to illness, I did not expect him to be off book. We got a full-on performance from Ken at his best as if he had been rehearsing from the start. Master at asides – bravo!
Hannah Carolan not only did the lighting she directed again due to illness. Hannah wears many hats and pulls it out of the bag by also opening the show playing Phoebe Meryll singing When Maiden Loves, She Sits And Sighs. I have to say that it appeared to be a very happy cast and this showed as everyone looked to be having fun. Alas Phoebe does not get the man she wants and it’s not for want of trying. Mike Nash as Wilfred Shadbolt was the head jailer, relishing in torment - some great moments and nice touches that made you squirm: like sniffing the blindfold that had been on a maiden (eugh!); also, when he touched Phoebe and she squirmed you could believe it!
Oliver Bird Played Sir Richard Cholmondeley, Amy Bell was Kate, Paul Green played Leonard Meryll and Heather Nicholas was Dame Curruthers - loved Rapture! Rapture! with her and Sergeant Meryll - they had great rapport! David Griffiths was “The Voice” playing Colonel Fairfax.
Jonathan Allen who has come up through the ranks of Youth Theatre in Bolton was playing Jack Point. With great energy, characterisation and an understanding of Gilbert and Sullivan
beyond his years he took on the part (the D’Oyly Carte should snap him up!). His emotional scene was on point and he didn’t need any make-up to suggest tears as this made his face look dirty to me. His acting spoke volumes. My guest was actually in tears and said she wanted to come back to watch it again. This was a mature and measured performance from someone so young- excellent!
Point was in love with Elise Maynard and they are strolling players. Elsie needs money to help her ill mother this leads her into all sorts of trouble played by Eleanor Molloy with ease and delicacy and a beautiful voice to add to her performance - they worked well together.
I liked how New Rosemere spotlight a cast member in the programme, not necessarily main cast, in this case it was David Butcher who is in the gentleman’s chorus and a tenor - lovely touch! Hannah, Paul cast, crew and the society must be very proud of this production. Thank you so much for inviting my guest and I.