Wednesday, 12 October 2011

GILBERT & SULLIVAN - a Spectacular Production - The St David's Players at the Exeter Barnfield Theatre every night from Tuesday 11 to Saturday 15 October "THE YEOMEN OF THE GUARD"

The Cast of 'Yeomen of the Guard' applaud Mark Perry's Orchestra
(Ruth Avis - flute, Julia Hill - oboe, Colin Brocklebank - clarinet, Charlie Hughes - bassoon,
Phil Makin - trumpet, Susanna Stephenson - French horn,
Maureen Adams - double bass, Michelle Farley - percussion, Nicky Perry - piano)

On Tuesday the President (and Assistant Producer) of the St David's Players, Susan James, visited the Phonic FM studios with two of the stars of their latest production, Gilbert and Sullivan's 'The Yeomen of The Guard' - sopranos Penny Daw and Judyth Aarons. Despite their becoming modesty, it was clear that they had prepared something very lavish.

The show itself exceeds all expectations. The whole performance is a feast of colour and excitement. The costumes are sumptuous, brilliantly coloured and shown off perfectly by the lighting team.

All of the singers perform beautifully. The stars are soprano Penny Daw as the strolling singer Elsie Maynard, and baritone Tim Hunt as the strolling jester Jack Point. They inadvertantly allow themselves to be drawn into the surreal and terrifying world of Henry VIII's tower of London.

The Tower is populated with extraordinary characters, like the Housekeeper of the Tower, Dame Carruthers (Mezzo Soprano Carolyn Harries). The yeomen, their sergeant - and his daughter, the lieutenant, the head jailor, the prisoner - all are played magnificently by the superb team of actors.

The singing is phenomenal. Perfect diction, and so much emotion! The story is complex and endlessly engaging, with an amazing song at every turn. this really is a spectacular production in the Barnfield Theatre and St David's Players tradition.

The storyline is certainly convoluted and intricate, but enjoy these photos of the cast in action and all will become clear . . .

The brave yeomen
(James Dunk, Adrian Fox, Paul Luffman,
David McIlroy, Mike Redman, Pete Sargent)
- ready to defend against the foreign foe

- under the watchful eye of the Housekeeper of the Tower
Dame Carruthers (Carolyn Harries)

Their prisoner, Colonel Fairfax (Mark Hurford)
Hatches a plot with the Lieutenant of the Tower,
Sir Richard Cholmondeley (Ian Spackman),
to foil his avaricious relative's plan
to have him executed and inherit his money.
- He'll marry the first girl the Lieutenant can find!

Right on cue . . .
Itinerant jester Jack Point (Tim Hunt)
arrives with Elsie Maynard (Penny Daw).
Jack doesn't like the look of the unwelcome
assistance Elsie is receiving from the 'rabble'.

Hands off!

They explain themselves in a song.
"It's sung to the moon by a love-sick loon . . . "

"He sips no sup and he craves no crumb . . . "

"As he sighs for the love of a lady!"

The Lieutenant makes them an offer . . .
'An hundred crowns' for Elsie to marry the condemned man.

A wedding ring . . .
Elsie is married - but who is her mystery husband?

And what about Jack?
Maybe he can get a job by impressing
the Lieutenant with his jesting.
(St David's Players in-house photography)

Meanwhile Colonel Fairfax is still held prisoner
by head jailor Wilfred Shadbolt (John Stuart)
and the assistant Wilfred adores - Phoebe Merryl (Judyth Aarons)
(In the background, some members of the chorus
including Susan Gunn-Johnson and Annie Reid.)
(St David's Players in-house photography)

- but Phoebe adores the Colonel.
(St David's Players in-house photography)

She's involved in another plot . . .

. . . to steal Wilfred's keys for her father Sergeant Merryl (Keith Wadlan)

Backstage, Mark Hurford must lose his beard
(courtesy of the company's president Susan James)

. . . in order to reappear disguised
as Sergeant Merryl's son Leonard,
to the delight of Phoebe

Dame Carruthers has only one thing to say
to the yeomen who let him escape . . .

"You're useless!"

Unknown to Elsie,
she is being wooed by her new husband
- to test her fidelity. (Very questionable.)

. . . and this is going too far!

As the deception starts to unravel
Dame Carruthers has the advantage over the Sergeant.
Her niece Kate (Eleanor Bridgman)
has been listening and keeping notes.

The dame also has a few words for the bride.

And what about poor Jack?
All will be revealed . . .

Among the chorus, Susan Gunn-Johnson is a 'Lady of the Night'

 - along with Kate Johns.

Annie Reid is a pickpocket.

- and Gina Redman is one of the glamorous courtiers

St Davids Players
Exeter Barnfield Theatre
Tue-Sat 11-15 October 7.30pm
Gilbert & Sullivan
The Yeomen of the Guard
Another chance to hear
Mezzo-Soprano Carolyn Harries
 - singing contralto as the
housekeeper of the Tower
Dame Carruthers.
Tickets: £13 (student/child £10)
Barnfield Box Office: 01392 270891 (10am-4pm)
Quaytickets: 08432 080500  24 hr (to be listed soon)

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