Skip to main content

Review of The Yeomen Of The Guard performed at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton by the Northampton Gilbert & Sullivan Group

My first and only encounter to date with a live Gilbert & Sullivan production came with last years The Mikado from the Northampton G&S Group and this year I was back for their 2016 production a little more aware of what to expect. I knew a small amount about The Mikado before seeing the show, however The Yeomen Of The Guard was utterly unknown territory to me, and this was much how I preferred to find my theatre.

At the outset during a very long overture much of the cast gathers upon the stage and goes about their washing, spinning and bread making business while a couple of yeomen guard a prisoner, Colonel Fairfax (Phil Abbott), rather cleverly appears at both theatre boxes during the intro giving equal opportunity to the audience members to observe his exercising and flexing his muscles. Also being very observant of the Colonel is Phoebe (Georgia Grande), daughter of yeomen of the guard Sergeant Meryll (Mike Gray). The opening song When Maiden Loves sung wonderfully by Grande makes it clear that her love lies very much at Fairfax's door.

Grande is one of a number of superb performances in the show for me and quite a star in the making. She effortlessly performs the songs, but also has a quite glorious range of facial expressions as well as well  as perfect coming timing. Her asides to the audience are a thing to behold I do fink! One of the other stars is that of  Paul Darnell as the head jailer Wilfred Shadbolt, gruff of face with deadpan humour, he is quite brilliant and his scene with Grande during Were I Thy Bride is a perfectly magical comic moment.

Also a perfect pairing is that of Simon Crask as jester Jack Point and Rachel Bedford as his companion singer. They work excellently together with Crask playing the constant fool and showing also nice comic timing as only a jester should. Bedford meanwhile for my own limited knowledge of opera has possibly the strongest voice of the cast. Her solos hold simply amazing power and resonated with ease around the auditorium.

The songs are a mixture of standard fair and to me nowhere near as strong as those of The Mikado. I did however love I Have A Song To Sing O which has a simply wonderful magical tune to it and was perhaps the only one I took with me on leaving the theatre. There is also no way I could not love Rapture! Rapture! which was performed to comic mastery by Mike Gray and his Dame Carruthers (Susan Drake).

Direction from Leon Berger keeps the action moving on the single set stage. moving the action upstage and downstage to nice effect. Musical director David Chambers works wonders with his talented twelve piece orchestra in the tightly packed Royal pit creating clear but never obtrusive music.

So a wonderful entertaining evening, and a long one as the full uncut show is provided. However the attention is kept throughout due to a superbly crafted performance from all of the cast and if you haven't ventured into the world of opera before, I think this would be the perfect comically charged way of doing so.



Performance reviewed: Thursday 10th March, 2016 at the Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton.

The Yeomen Of The Guard runs until Saturday 12th March, 2016 at the Royal & Derngate, details here: 
http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/Productions/290220/249488/Yeoman16?view=Standard

For further details about the Royal & Derngate visit their website at http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review of A Passage to India at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

Creating the world of E. M. Forster's A Passage to India for the stage and into a little over two hours running time offers many challenges, not least creating the visual world of India. However, this co-production between Royal & Derngate and simple8 throw away any need for complex sets, and bring the world of India, including some of its wildlife to life via boxes and bamboo canes. The success of this is really quite amazing as perhaps the crowning moment of the elephant brings home the most. Simple8 is an award-winning ensemble group and the way they work together to get their characters travelling through the world of India explains why they have received the awards.

A Passage to India is a 1924 novel telling of Britain's generally unpleasant rule in India and takes as its story an encounter between the elderly Mrs Moore (Liz Crowther), Adela (Phoebe Pryce), who is keen to see the real India, and Dr Aziz (Asif Khan). While their meetings seem pleasant, to begin with, e…

Review of The Flint Street Nativity, performed by University Of Northampton BA Actors at Maidwell Hall (Avenue Campus), Northampton

The Flint Street Nativity was presented by the BA Actors as part of a double bill with The Night Before Christmas, and you could hardly imagine such a difference in style. Tim Firth's genuinely, quite endearing play was quite the opposite to the rough and vicious Christmas spirit of the previous show.

Flint Street offers the intriguing situation of adult performers acting as children as they present to their audience (and always watched by the unseen, but a creepy red lighted teacher, Mrs Horrocks), their production of the nativity. It forms quite a delight of totally recognisable characters from your school days if you are able to remember that far back.

Among my favourite performances from this are Gemma Fensham as the total brat Gabriel, never seeming to have an expression other than sucking a lemon, as she breezily switches her best friend back and forth with abandon. She rather stylishly perfected the sulking strutting off routine as well, fabulous! Playing up to his size with…

Review of Balm in Gilead, University of Northampton BA Acting (Creative Acting) at Maidwell Hall, Northampton

Watching the production of Balm in Gilead sees my entering the fifth year of following the University of Northampton acting students, and what theatre they have provided over the years!

Balm in Gilead is no less intriguing than anything that has gone before, written in 1965 by Lanford Wilson, you might think this would be a dated item for the young students to be performing, however, nothing could be further from the truth. Set in a cafe (transposed to England from its original American setting), it sees the lives of addicts, homeless and sex workers converge into a mixture of good but mostly bad moments.
My first time in the Maidwell Hall saw an encounter with a brilliantly realised community full of the world of the cafe and the surrounding homes, cardboard boxes and dishevelled beds. As we enter the characters of this world begin living alongside us, addressing us, begging us for money, pushing shopping trolleys around offering off the cuff exchanges with the audience and confronti…