DATE 9th April 2022
SOCIETY Rochdale Phoenix Operatic Society
VENUE The Curtain Theatre, Rochdale
PRODUCER Anita Stuttard
WRITTEN BY Gilbert & Sullivan


Author: Claire Ashworth

Yeomen of the Guard is quite a complicated story and very wordy. It has twenty three songs within it, so is a lot to absorb. That being said, this production by Rochdale Phoenix Operatic Society didn’t leave me phased, floundering or lost. The pace throughout was good, the actors don’t use radio mics and at times it was difficult to hear dialogue, but some of this problem must be attributed to some members of the audience whom unfortunately kept rattling sweet packets, chatting and singing along throughout the performance. It didn’t disturb the cast though and they kept on at a good clip.

The orchestra was lovely – not too loud and very ably conducted by Jon Gibson, there was no lagging and no missed song cues. The set was a fixed static piece which allows all the attention to be on the actors.The props used were pertinent to the piece and handled confidently by the cast. The costumes were beautiful, especially all the vibrant red of the Yeomen’s uniforms.

Ian Ball (Sir Richard Cholmondely) gave us a strong, solid performance. He had good use of his stage space, was aware of his sight lines, diction and projection were clear. Colin Trickett (Colonel Fairfax) was very obviously comfortable on the stage both in dialogue and vocals, it was very nice to hear his note changes without any slide or slip, breath control and diaphragmatic breathing was also good and well supported. He is one of the few characters within this show that can break the fourth wall and he did so with considerable restraint without being tempted to play to the gallery. His chemistry with Jane Hyde (Elsie Maynard) was great onstage and their vocals balanced well. Greta Shellard (Dame Carruthers) and Steven Miller (Sergeant Meryll) portrayed some great comedy, their timing and delivery was excellent, their duet “Rapture! Rapture!” was a high point for me. Peter Shellard (Jack Point) and Tim Kieley (Wilfred Shadbolt) were a joy to watch, they both showed a great depth to their acting and portrayed their empathy, joy and sadness brilliantly, I thoroughly enjoyed their duet “Hereupon we’re both agreed”. They are both very generous performers and threw themselves into their characterisations fully. Charlotte Crossley (Phoebe Meryll) gave a confident performance, her diction was good although at times her dialogue seemed a little rushed, her projection was great. She used her stage space well and gave us some fabulous facial expressions especially towards Tim Kieley. Anne Butterworth (Kate) gave us some great vocals throughout, I particularly enjoyed “Strange adventure!”

The Yeomen as a group were very impressive, they looked and sounded great, they had some solid harmonies. The ensemble gave some great volume and movement onstage and framed the action well.

Thank you for your hospitality, I look forward to seeing you all again very soon.