Review: Guard of honour for Chesterfield Gilbert & Sullivan Society

Robert Spencer, Rachael -Louisa Bray  and Max Taylor in The Yeomen of the Guard at Chesterfield's Pomegranate Theatre.
Robert Spencer, Rachael -Louisa Bray and Max Taylor in The Yeomen of the Guard at Chesterfield's Pomegranate Theatre.

Pomp and passion bursts from the stage in a towering performance of The Yeomen of the Guard.

Chesterfield Gilbert and Sullivan Society are back doing what they do best - presenting full-length productions in the town’s Pomegranate Theatre.

Performers sparkle like jewels in a glittering crown, rising to the challenge of one of the most demanding scores in the G&S repertoire. Their rendition of songs is sheer rapture and a credit to musical director Andrew Marples.

Robert Spencer handles the role of Jack Point with the skill of a master juggler, never letting the jolly jester image drop until the final scene when the anguish of a clown losing his love and life spills out in a tear-jerking scene.

Rachael-Louisa Bray puts heart and soul into her role as Jack’s sidekick Elsie Maynard. Her final song sounded genuinely emotional at the opening performance last night (Wednesday, October 7).

Andrew Lockwood handles the role of Colonel Fairfax with consummate ease, his wonderful tenor voice ideally suited to the solos Is Life A Boon? and Free From His Fetters Grim.

Light relief comes in the form of the unlikely pairing of a sergeant’s daughter and a jailer. Julie Currey is impressive in the role of Phoebe Meryll, flirting with the lascivious keeper of the prison keys Wilfred Shadbolt (Phil Aldred) as part of a plot to free the true object of her desire then courting sympathy from the audience when her mission backfires and she has to settle for second best.

Judith Hill and Simon Copley ramp up the comedy factor, she playing the golden-voiced temptress Dame Carruthers and he Sgt Meryll who faces the toughest battle of his life in trying to fend off her advances.

Nine bearded yeomen in scarlet and gold uniforms bring pageantry and majestic magnificence to the proceedings which are framed by the ornate red and gold paintwork surrounding the stage.

The Yeomen of the Guard, directed by Stephen Godward, continues its run at the Pomegranate until Satiurday, October 10.