Harrogate G&S rise to ambitious challenge

Harrogate Gilbert and Sullivan Society cast photo of 'The Yeomen of the Guard' production at the Harrogate Theatre. (S)
Harrogate Gilbert and Sullivan Society cast photo of 'The Yeomen of the Guard' production at the Harrogate Theatre. (S)

THE Yeoman of the Guard is one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s most emotionally engaging operettas and includes some of Arthur Sullivan’s best loved music. Harrogate’s G and S Society successfully staged this rather ambitious work.

The stunning set in this production at Harrogate Theatre was surprisingly revealed as early as in the overture.

This is one of Sullivan’s best overtures, written not as a sequential pot-pourri of tunes, but in a more musical way, in sonata form.

Sullivan has written several attractive madrigals and included one in this operetta, Strange Adventure, sung by Gillian Fawcett (soprano), Liz Herbert (contralto), Colin Belsey (tenor) and John Colston (bass).

On the otherhand, one of the most tedious songs he included, I have a song to sing, O, is a duet sung by Rachel Warren (soprano) and Philip Jennings (baritone). Incidentally this was the one part of the work that caused problems for Sullivan when setting Gilbert’s words to music.

These two singers gave a confident rendering of this duet. Philip Jenning’s as the strolling singer, Jack Point, worked well on stage. Elsie Maynard, was at her best singing the aria, Tis done, I am a bride.

Philip’s facial expressions were superb and his portrayal of a broken-hearted jilted lover at the end was a scene not to be forgotten. David’s gestures were always totally convincing.

Dynamics were well-controlled. The tone of the choruses was especially good in the quieter passages. The finale at the end of each act was a real treat.

The orchestra, under the direction of Oliver Longstaff, was adequate. There was always a good balance between the singers the strings and woodwind.

The chorus master was Nicholas Whitaker and Alistair Donkin was the producer.

Malcolm Galloway