The Yeomen of the Guard

At Winthrop House

The spectacle of eight mustachioed Beefeaters singing through their mutton-chops ought to be enough to warm the cockles of anybody's heart. The Winthrop House production of Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Yeomen of the Guard" has that and more. It has principals who act and sing with gusto. It may not be the D'Oyly Carte company in the Junior Common Room, but it is a thoroughly delightful group.

The three principles of amateur G & S are 1) to sing lustily and loudly, 2) to act lustily and loudly, and 3) to keep going no matter what happens. It is gratifying to report that, despite the inevitable week spots, the Winthrop troupe did all three.

In writing the book for "The Yeomen of the Guard" Gilbert was faced with the problem of appeasing Sullivan, who thought he was too good a composer to bother with light opera. As a result this tale of Bloody tower and the romances that take place in its shadow comes closer to being "grand opera" than anything else the two men wrote together. For a change, the ending is not entirely happy.

Although "The Yeomen of the Guard" has many excellent songs and scenes, it is Jack Point, the unhappy Jester, who distinguishes the work. W. Barry Pennington plays the role with as complete a mastery as anyone could hope for in such a production. He projects Gilbert's conceits admirably, and at the same time is able to make the fool a genuinely pitiable character. There is more of the grumpily clever W. S. Gilbert in Point's lines than in those of any other part in the operas.

Dave Shapiro plays the Assistant Tormentor, Wilfred, with some fine, in-character mugging. A young lady with a lovely voice, Mary Warren Bartlett, is charming as the heroine, Elsie. Others who perform lustily and well are Timothy Wise, J. Vernon Patrick, Yolanda Lyon, and Jean Campbell. The setting by George Hersey is excellent, considering the fantastic limitations of his stage. Musical Director Norman R. Shapiro, and the entire troupe have turned out a production that does well by Gilbert and Sullivan.


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