Words by W.S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
The Nuffield Theatre,
June 1982
Cast List
Sir Richard Cholmondeley
Colonel Fairfax
Sergeant Meryll
Leonard Meryll
Jack Point
Wilfred Shadbolt
Elsie Maynard
Phoebe Meryll
Dame Carruthers
First Yeoman
Second Yeoman

Notes on this performance

58. The Yeomen of the Guard

Gay and colourful…

After two successful experiments, the summer show at the Nuffield had quickly become a part of the Society’s season; as a result, some of the regular social events disappeared but the group still found time to arrange a skittles evening, a barn dance, three concerts with members of the D’Oyly Carte and perform Trial by Jury at the Mountbatten Theatre for the Southampton Arts Festival. 

Graham Buchanan came back as the Producer with Pam Hoskins assisting, whilst Philip Johnson continued as MD and was asked to form his own orchestra. There were problems because the two production officers could not attend auditions at the same time (the Chairman would liaise between them) and worries that once the principals had been chosen, the men’s chorus would be ‘light on numbers’. This concern was exacerbated when several members withdrew once rehearsals started. Three weeks before opening night, ticket sales were extremely low and not a single school had responded to Peter Hill’s letter offering reduced party bookings.

The cast of characters did, this time, feature some new names - Margaret Amey played Phoebe, Pauline Weiss as Dame Carruthers and Bob Gibson made an appearance as Leonard Meryll, otherwise there were some familiar faces - Nicholas Short (Sir Richard), Andrew May (Fairfax), John Hoskins (Meryll), Philip de Grouchy (Jack Point), Dennis Gooch (Shadbolt) and Avril Botto (Elsie).

The Echo review described the show as ‘a gay and colourful affair’ and congratulated the Society on overcoming the difficulties of having to perform on a small stage, ‘The ladies chorus made an attractive picture and the singing and movement were lively. The men were sedate and dignified but their singing was somewhat restrained, so the chorus work of the combined forces lacked depth.’  It would be fair to point out here that the ladies’ chorus did outnumber the Yeomen by 15 to 8.

The reviewer did concede that ‘the characters were well cast. Pamela Weiss has a convincing stage presence and this, combined with vocal ability, made her an admirable Dame Carruthers. Margaret Amey as Phoebe was delightfully coquettish while Dennis Gooch as her foil, Shadbolt, was grossly unprepossessing and preposterous. Philip de Grouchy as Jack Point brought out all the pathos of the character; one felt really sad for him at the end. John Hoskins as Sergeant Meryll, Avril Botto as Elsie Maynard completed an excellent team of principals. The supporting roles, too, were all well played.’ Considering there were 20 in the orchestra, the final comment is hard to comprehend, ‘It is a problem to make a drastically thinned out orchestra sound satisfactory and in this performance the problem had not been overcome.’ 

Ticket sales did pick up and The Yeomen of the Guard gave the Society its third financially successful summer show in a row, making a profit of £861 – an outcome of which the modern day Committee can only dream...

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Shadbolt

Dennis Gooch (Wilfred Shadbolt), Margaret Amey (Phoebe Meryll), John Hoskins (Sergeant Meryll)

Photo of Point

Philip de Grouchy (Jack Point) with Nicholas Short (Sir Richard Cholmondeley)

Photo of Finale

Front: Andrew May (Colonel Fairfax), Avril Botto (Elsie Maynard), Pauline Weiss (Dame Carruthers). Margaret Amey (Phoebe Meryll)