Words by W.S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
Mayflower Theatre,
April 1990
Director: Pam Hoskins
Cast List
Sir Richard Cholmondeley
Colonel Fairfax
Sergeant Meryll
Leonard Meryll
Jack Point
Wilfred Shadbolt
The Headsman
First Yeoman
Second Yeoman
First Citizen
Second Citizen
Elsie Maynard
Phoebe Meryll
Dame Carruthers
The Performing Bear
The Performing Bear Ward

Notes on this performance

73. The Yeomen of the Guard 

Music for Holy Week…

The Mayflower Theatre had not just been a ‘hit’ with SOS, it had also become very popular with the local population and, as a result, there was a significant increase in the number of professional companies wanting to perform there – they attracted bigger audiences so more drinks and ice creams were sold. This led to an increase in hiring charges and less choice of dates available – SMS and STP were incandescent that they had only been offered a shared week and took to writing angry letters to the Echo. The Society kept out of this unwelcome publicity and was offered a full week for The Yeomen of the Guard - but it was Holy Week…

The acting members were asked about their availability and, although there were 18 who replied that they could not participate, it was considered that there was still enough to justify committing to the show. It was nearly cast successfully but, with Allen Mansell serving as MD and several tenors not participating, it was necessary to invite non-member Patrick Hughes to play Fairfax. Pam de Grouchy continued as Producer and soon had the men portraying Yeomen involved in a beard growing competition (a contest won by Robin Woodward).

Pam always aimed to set the mood for the theatre-goer from the moment they entered the auditorium (sometimes the foyer) and this Yeomen was no different, the Echo review commented on the stage before the overture began, ‘A stark, dark set, heads on spikes and characters in stocks – who stayed like that for the whole performance – added atmosphere to the 16th Century Tower of London scene. Exploding cannons signalled the start of SOS’s presentation of the popular G&S operetta.’

The entrance of Jack Point and the villagers provided a contrast, ‘Jesters, jugglers and tumblers added to the riot of colour already provided by the scarlet red of the Yeomen’s uniforms.’ The reviewer seems to have not noticed the dancing bear! 

‘The singing power of the society is unquestionable and particularly outstanding were David Jupp as the head jailor in a brilliant comic performance. As always, Jillian Charnley was excellent as the enchanting Elsie Maynard. Capturing the audiences heart was the reprise of the duet “Rapture! Rapture!” – sung by Catherine Baker and Colin Sly – done in a 1920s style which brought the house down. Acting honours should go to Patrick Hughes as Colonel Fairfax and Philip de Grouchy as Jack Point.’ She also appears to have missed Margaret Amey’s lively portrayal of Phoebe!

The Society decided against a summer production at the Nuffield and instead, Yeomen was reprised in the open air in the Cloisters at Beaulieu Abbey for three performances in June. The setting was perfect and, when it rained heavily on the final evening, the show was quickly moved inside the Abbey itself. Despite Ted Starks and Robin Woodward advertising the show by spending the daylight hours roaming around Beaulieu in full costume, the experiment still made a loss of £300 to go alongside the £1970 deficit inflicted at the Mayflower.

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Yeomen

Colin Sly (Sergeant Meryll), Tony Austin (Second Yeoman), Patrick Hughes (Colonel Fairfax), Margaret Amey (Phoebe Meryll), David Jupp (Wilfred Shadbolt)

Photo of Point

Philip de Grouchy (Jack Point) and Jillian Charnley (Elsie Maynard)

Photo of Merylls

Christopher Milne (Leonard Meryll), Colin Sly (Sergeant Meryll), Margaret Amey (Phoebe Meryll)

Photo of Beaulieu

An outside performance at Beaulieu - centre stage: Patrick Hughes (Colonel Fairfax), David Jupp (Wilfred Shadbolt), Margaret Amey (Phoebe Meryll)

 LB books dog

Hopefully coming to you in early 2021!