Libretto by W. S. Gilbert
Music by Arthur Sullivan
Conductor Roger L. Bingaman
Produced by Light Opera Works
At Cahn Auditorium, Evanston
“I have a song to sing…”
Magnificent production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s 1888 masterwork: The Yeomen of the Guard soars with fabulous singing and the power sound from the 29 member orchestra!
Light Opera Works sure knows how to mount Gilbert & Sullivan’s operettas. Their latest production is a wonderful production of what this reporter believes is Gilbert & Sullivan’s finest work – The Yeomen of the Guard. Yeomen contains all of the wit and satire expected in a G & S operetta yet it has the sweet charm and lovable characters with one in particular that brings us to tears at the end – Jack Point, played with comic aplomb and empathy by George Andrew Wolff.
That 1888 production played for 423 performances in London. It is one of the more emotional, dark and serious works by G & s. It exudes with a rich soaring score by Arthur Sullivan. The fine harmonies, pattern songs and powerful ballads propel Yeomen into a wonderful songfest. Director Rudy Hogenmiller in the current Light Opera Works’ production has assembled a cast of adapt singers including the golden tenor Colm Fitzmaurice (Colonel Fairfax), the rich soprano Alicia Berniche (Elsie), the power bass baritone from Alex Honzen (Wilfred Shadbolt), Dennis Kelly’s tenor and Sahara Glasener-Boles’ expert mezzo soprano. These talents together with the fine chorus and Roger L. Bingaman’s 29 member orchestra presented a most memorable evening of operetta.
The Yeomen of the Guard tells the story of Colonel Fairfax, soldier and aristocrat who is imprisoned and condemned to death from false accusations. He wishes to marry before he is put to death so that his accuser cousin will not get his estate. A pair of strolling players (Jack Point and Elsie Maynard) get entangled in the plot as Elsie agrees to marry Fairfax for 100 gold coins. When Fairfax escapes, Elsie is in a difficult place when she falls for what she thinks is Sergent Meryll’s son who is really Fairfax in disguise.
The plot complications produce many pun-laden one-liners besides the smooth, sweetly charming arias that produce laughs, tuneful melodies that features my favorite G & S song – “I have A song to Sing…” which is beautifully (and comically) delivered by George Andrew Wolff and Alicia Berneche.
Light Opera Works production of the Yeomen of the Guard is the finest G & S mounting that I’ve ever witnessed. It looks smart, sings beautifully, and is rich in humor and pathos. George Andrew Wolff makes Jack Point a sad character that leaves many in tears at the shows end.
Get to Chan Auditorium because Yeomen only runs through June 13. Be sure to listen to the below YouTube samples from other productions of Yeomen. You’ll be able to hear the fabulous G & S score. Keep in mind that Light Opera Works’ production is stronger that any of the below clips.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: June 5, 2010
At Chan Auditorium, 600 Emerson Street, Evanston, IL. www.light-opera-works.org, tickets $32- $92, Sunday, June 6 at 2pm; Friday, June 11 at 8 pm, Saturday, June 12 at 8 pm; Sunday, June 13 at 2pm, running time is 2 hours, 50 minutes with intermission, though June 13, 2010