Words by W.S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
The Guildhall,
March 1959
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

Notes on this performance

32. The Yeomen of the Guard

No Popery here…

The Guildhall had been booked from March 17th to perform The Yeomen of the Guard, but the Society was then asked to find alternative dates to enable a ‘Roman Catholic Ball’ to take place on opening night (St Patrick’s Day). However, as the MD was unavailable for the preceding week and later would mean no school parties due to the holidays, the Catholic revellers had to seek another venue. The Society also received a gift of a framed list of signatures of famous Savoyards from Mrs R J Stranger; she was thanked and assured by Robert Hughes that it would be hung on display wherever SAOS performed G&S – now a long forgotten tradition...

C Mary Nobbs took over as Producer for this show and joined D Cecil Williams in his accustomed position - one of their first duties was to oversee the general auditions. All 62 acting members were called to perform but 5 promptly resigned, 2 men failed to make an appearance and 5 ladies were informed that their services were no longer required. However, there were 11 new or returning members (including Shirley Young – later Shirley Harris). It was also decided to replace Mrs Caswell as the rehearsal pianist (she wrote a letter in response to this decision but it was thought best not to reply to it) and the duties were then shared between Mrs Laird and Miss Cook.

After making a loss in the last show, the Society’s financial situation had become more of a concern and the Business Manager, W O Skinner, proposed at the AGM that the annual subscription should be increased to a guinea (£1.05). The members showed ‘considerable opposition’ to this suggestion and defeated the motion 9 to 31. Mr Skinner later resigned as he felt he no longer had the support of the Society but was eventually persuaded to complete his year in office. Southern Television also requested that some SAOS members should take part in a new parlour game on ITV and Dougie Huggins appeared with great success. 

The formidable chorus of 22 ladies and 25 Yeomen or male citizens was largely ignored in the Echo review, with attention given to several of the principals: ‘John Hoskins sings the role of Colonel Fairfax most beautifully: in particular “Free from his fetters” is a delight to hear. As outstanding is the Jack Point characterisation of Tom Judd – notable especially because of Mr. Judd’s impeccable diction, which ensures no syllable is missed. The third man in the cast who deserves special mention is Bert Clague. His Head Jailer is so successfully objectionable that for Phoebe to become his bride seems unbelievable. And Pamela Fulford’s performance as Phoebe is such a lively one that her fate seems especially hard. Shirley Wort, as Elsie Maynard, has many splendid singing moments. What last night’s show lacked was the atmosphere which comes with a full house, and which in the vast Guildhall makes so much difference. The audience was a surprisingly small one.’

Ticket sales were again disappointing (similar to those of Princess Ida) but the production costs were less and the show eventually made a loss of £8 18s 9d (£8.94). For the first time since 1924, the group did not make its annual donation to charity.

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Quintet

Tom Judd (Jack Point), Shirley Wort (Elsie Maynard), Bert Clague (Wilfred Shadbolt), Leonard Barker (Sir Richard Cholmondeley)