The Yeoman of the Guard - Synopsis
Colonel Fairfax is to be executed today on Tower Green; a relative has falsely accused him of sorcery in order to inherit the estate which diverts to him if Fairfax dies unmarried. Pheobe Meryll is in love with Fairfax, much to the disgust of the Head Jailor and Assistant Tormentor, Wilfred Shadbolt, who imagines himself engaged to her.
Sgt Meryll’s son, Leonard, is soon to arrive to join the Tower Warders, and his father hopes he will bring with him a royal pardon for Fairfax, whom he admires. When Leonard arrives without the hoped-for pardon, the three Merylls concoct a plan… Unaware of this, Fairfax asks the Lieutenant to find him a wife so that his relative will not inherit his estate. In return for an hour’s marriage the widow will inherit Fairfax’s name and one hundred crowns.
A boisterous crowd enters pursuing two strolling players, Jack Point and Elsie Maynard, who are forced to entertain them. The Lieutenant arrives just in time to rescue the players from the crowd, and he asks Elsie if she would marry for an hour. Elsie is persuaded by the fact that she needs the money for her poor mother, Point (who hopes to marry Elsie himself) is reassured that the bridegroom will be dead within the hour, so he too agrees. Elsie is blindfolded and led away to her wedding.
Pheobe uses her feminine wiles to steal the cell keys from Shadbolt and Fairfax is released and disguised. Sgt Meryll presents his son ‘Leonard’ to the Yeomen who welcome him. Phoebe welcomes her ‘brother’ too, although far more lingeringly and ecstatically than might be considered natural. The crowd assembles for the execution; Fairfax (as Leonard) and two other Yeomen are ordered to fetch the prisoner, but are back in a moment: the prisoner has escaped! Point despairs at the news, whilst Elsie realises that her bridegroom is still alive and she faints in the arms of ‘Leonard’.
Act 2 (two days later)
The Yeomen continue their search for the escaped prisoner while Dame Carruthers and the crowd taunt them for their failure. Point concocts a plan to save Elsie from her marriage, he and Shadbolt will pretend they saw Fairfax trying to escape and shot him as he dived into the river. With Fairfax supposed dead, Elsie would be free to marry Point and, in return, he would teach Shadbolt how to become a jester.
Meanwhile Fairfax has learned the identity of his bride and resolves to woo her to test her fidelity. A shot from the tower sets everyone agog and an excited crowd quickly gathers. Wilfred and Point tell the assembled crowd their cock-and-bull story.
Point proposes to Elsie, but Fairfax, Pheobe and Elsie try to teach Point how to woo her first. However it is Fairfax who successfully woos Elsie and carries her off, leaving Point and Pheobe in despair. Wilfred learns the truth of Fairfax’s escape from Pheobe, and the price of his silence is Pheobe’s hand in marriage. Dame Carruthers overhears and uses it to her advantage to snare Sgt Meryll, who she has long pursued.
Elsie, Pheobe and Dame Carruthers prepare for their weddings; Elsie is dismayed to discover that Fairfax’s reprieve has arrived and he comes to claim his bride. Fairfax reveals himself as the ‘Leonard’ she loves and all join in the ensuing gaiety.
All except Jack Point…
Gilbert and Sullivan's Yeomen of the Guard tells the tail of Fairfax who is to be executed, falsely
accused of sorcery by a family member who is keen to receive an inheritance. Add in a lovesick
maiden, a deluded suitor, an energetic jester and a families plot to deceive, and you have the perfect
mix for a G&S classic.
New Rosemere are unequalled in the Bolton area for their aptitude in presenting top quality
operetta and this production was no exception. Stunning from start to finish, this production had it
all. Tremendous set, an array of wonderful costumes, fabulous orchestra, and a talented cast with a
From the opening melos, musical director, Paul Stanley presents a note perfect orchestra who pay
homage to the tuneful score providing a sublime backing to the vocal dexterity from the entire cast.
The score is packed full of delightful solo', duets, trio's, quartets and ensemble numbers, each
executed with style.
Hannah Carolan delights as Phoebe Meryl as she rejects the advances of Shadbolt, played with the
right amount of brashness by Mile Nash, in favour of her unrequited love for Fairfax. Hannah is a
natural on stage and offers a refined demeanour and elegant stance, befitting of the character. David
Griffith as Fairfax turns in yet another top-notch performance as he goes along with the rouse of
being executed whilst secretly being married to a stranger. Strong vocals and a pleasing stage
presence, David breezes his way though.
Enter jester, Jack Point and his fellow strolling player, Elsie Maynard. Eleanor Molly's enchanting
vocals are ever present from her first entrance, as she entertains with her jester, little knowing she
will meet her suitor by default, much to the dismay of Phoebe. Providing a breath of fresh air, in
terms of an energetic and engaging performance, Jonathan Allen is outstanding. Coming through the
ranks of BCMCS Youth Theatre he is branching out to adult societies and what a catch. Amazing
vocals and a confidence many would be envious of. A great performance.
Providing the obligatory comic twist, Heather Nicholas never disappoints and as Dame Carruthers
she makes her play for Sergeant Meryl in her own inimitable way. Due to Illness, the original actor
playing Sergeant Meryl had to leave the production, and at very short notice (2 days) Ken Rees
agreed to step in a play the part, and what a cracking job he did too. Word and note perfect, this
flawless performance was a joy to watch. Well done, Ken.
With principal support from Oliver Bird, Paul Green, Keith Shatwell, Steve Brennan and Amy Bell
backed by a super ensemble, this production certainly confirmed that New Rosemere are back and
raring to go in their continuation of presenting such high standard G&S. Director Hannah Carolan has
yet again presented a gem and the cast, company and crew should take a well-deserved bow for
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.