Left - Blake Parham Point and Timothy Ide. Cover - Blake Parham. Photo - Tim Allan
This must surely be one of the most difficult G&S works to pull off successfully. But the G & S Society delivers a satisfying if unchallenging result. This work contains some of Sullivan’s best Savoy Opera music, and is Gilbert’s only plot that does not end with everybody happy ever after. Similarly, it does not contain a lot of Gilbertian frivolity, innuendo and core British humour. Certainly there were some laughs, but the comedy that is there could have been made more of in this production. Nevertheless, the G & S Society must be commended, because this is a genre that will always continue to delight, even though Yeomen may not be the most superficially delightful.
Delightful indeed, however, is the voice of Desiree Frahn (Elsie), whose clear, accurate soprano and apposite acting carry off the role of the lead soprano with conviction and undoubted talent. Eventually emerging as equally talented in acting, and with a beautiful voice is Ian Andrew (Colonel Fairfax). His choral experience clearly serves him well in his ensemble singing. Both these young performers warrant watching.
Timothy Ide (Wildfred Shadbolt) has plenty of comedic experience, but may have needed some more direction this time. This can be a satisfying role, and he made it so in many (but not all) instances. Meanwhile Wendy Rayner, not the fat contralto one might have come to expect, is a nice mixture of gentleness and severity as Dame Carruthers, and her clear, light voice suits the role nicely. Rod Sprigg (Sergeant Meryll) as her eventual foil, has a huge bass voice, who was more convincing with his acting when he was singing than at other times. Blake Parham as the tragi-comic Jack Point leaps about with energy, patters convincingly and sings well.
The orchestra, under the baton of Musical Director Ian Boath initially showed promise, and again after he had disciplined some of his wayward strings. The brass and wind sections of this quite large orchestra delivered the goods, so that the overall result was quite pleasing. However the tempi could be argued with, so that the total musical result was not quite so lugubrious, and we all might have got home a bit earlier.
Direction and Set design by Barry Hill, and Costumes by Bronwen Major all complemented the fine libretto and music in an unsurprising and therefore traditionally pleasing production. While some chorus work was choreographically clumsy, (could it have been under-rehearsed?) it was vocally very good, and some of the ensemble singing was most pleasing. Particularly in this connection, the essential madrigal (Strange Adventure) and When a Wooer Goes a Wooing were most charmingly and sensitively performed.
G&S is a particular idiom. Love it or hate it, it is a significant part of musical theatre, and it survives the test of more than a century. While Yeomen may not epitomise the quintessential formula, there can be no doubt that this genre has been influential in the development of both opera and musical theatre, and the G & S Society is performing an invaluable service to both in continuing to produce productions of high quality of these fabulous works. May they long continue to do so.
Gilbert & Sullivan Society of SA
The Yeomen of the Guard
by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan
Director Barry Hill
Venue: Scott Theatre, off Kintore Av, Adelaide University
Dates/Times: 20 - 24 October 8:00 pm / 24 October 2 pm
Bookings: 8447 7239 | BASS 131 246