March 24-26, 31, April 1, 8:00 p.m., March 27, April 3, 2:00 p.m. & April 2, 6:00 p.m.
The Agassiz Theatre
Directed by Devon H. Dunn ’12
Produced by Andy G. Brody ’11, Bryce J. Gilfillian ’12 & Marissa A. Glynias ’12
Among the Savoy Operas, “The Yeomen of the Guard” stands out for its dark yet comedic tone. “The main message of the play is dealing with love,” writes Bryce J. Gilfillian ’12, one of its producers, in an email. “Sometimes you have to compromise what you most desperately want for the greater good.”
This opera, the 11th collaboration between W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, is set at the Tower of London in the 16th century. The story concerns prisoner Colonel Fairfax, played by Ian H. Clark ’12, and his adventures in love as he attempts to escape from his impending execution. “Interestingly, Fairfax is discussed more often by the other characters than he is actually on stage,” Clark writes in an email. He describes his character as a “self-confident soldier/scholar who is well liked despite his cocky mannerisms.” In one of his scenes, Fairfax successfully out-flirts a competing suitor for the attention of a woman they both love.
This may be one of the most frequently performed operas in the world, but director Devon H. Dunn ’12 has her own approach to adapting the play for a modern audience. Gilfillian believes such an unexpectedly dark show deserves different treatment than a traditional opera. “As ‘Yeomen’ itself rather defies traditional Gilbert and Sullivan characteristics, I think it is only fitting that we try to do the same with the production itself,” he writes. Both Gilfillian and music director Ethan T. Addicott ’14 hint that Dunn’s approach to staging is novel and exciting. “There are some tricks up our sleeves with the set that people will just have to wait and see during the show!” Gilfillian writes.
Addicott is especially excited about the Act One finale, where the song “An Escort for a Prisoner” accompanies the search for an escapee. “It starts off with one character singing,” Addicott says, before it “builds and builds to the entire cast singing.” Strong emotions characterize every musical element of “Yeomen.” “There are many mood changes—happy and sad, always back and forth,” Addicott reflects. Dunn’s contemporary update of this classic opera promises to bring moving performances to the Agassiz this week.