Tag: Yvonne Strumecki
Man of La Mancha
Written by Dale Wasserman (book),
Delightful singers highlight of sensational ‘Yeomen’
|Light Opera Works presents|
|Yeomen of the Guard|
|Words by W.S. Gilbert, music by Arthur Sullivan
Directed and choreographed by Rudy Hogenmiller
Music direction by Roger L. Bingaman
Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson St., Evanston (map)
Through June 13 | Tickets: $32–$98 (under 21, half-price) | more info
Reviewed by Leah A. Zeldes
Gorgeous voices, thrilling music, a terrific 29-piece orchestra and a poignant plot — Light Opera Works’ Yeomen of the Guard has it all.
Perhaps the most moving of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas, Yeomen takes place at the Tower of London, where the dashing Col. Fairfax is imprisoned, due to be beheaded on a trumped-up charge of sorcery. Phoebe Meryll has never met him but is as distraught over his fate as she is disdainful of the attentions of the lovesick jailer Wilbert Shadbolt. Her father, Sgt. Merryll, vows to save the colonel, who twice saved his life, and with the help of Phoebe and her brother, Leonard, plots to secret Fairfax from the Tower by disguising him as Leonard, an arriving guardsman.
Meanwhile, Fairfax vows to thwart the greedy kinsmen whose false accusation landed him in jail and do him out of an inheritance by marrying before his death. His friend, the lieutenant of the Tower, agrees to find him a bride. When the strolling players Jack Point and Elsie Maynard appear, he tempts them with an offer of 100 crowns if Elsie will wed the doomed man. Jack and Elsie are sweethearts, but since the groom will be beheaded in an hour, they agree.
Then Fairfax escapes, leaving Jack and Elsie aghast that she is now the wife of a fugitive.
Though less whimsical than most of the G&S canon, Yeomen features plenty of wit and humor and one of Sullivan’s loveliest scores. Rudy Hogenmiller directs a strongly traditional interpretation with a cast of stupendous singers.
Company newcomer Sahara Glasener-Boles brings a divine soprano and a saucy demeanor to Phoebe, particularly delicious as she taunts Shadbolt in "Were I Thy Bride." Soprano Alicia Berneche gives us a plaint ive and lyrical Elsie.
Mezzo-soprano Yvonne Strumecki makes a majestic Dame Carruthers, the Tower housekeeper, a patriotic spinster with her eye on Sgt. Meryll.
Alex Honzen creates a hilarious Wilfred Shadbolt, head jailer and assistant tormentor, sardonic and smitten with Phoebe. He mournfully pours out his situation, with a fine baritone, in "When Jealous Torments Rack My Soul," a song Gilbert and Sullivan cut from the original score but which has been restored in this production:
When jealous torments rack my soul,
My agonies I can’t control,
Oh, better sit on red hot coal
Than love a heartless jade.
George Andrew Wolff‘s interpretation of the disappointed Jack Point misses the target a bit. In the early scenes, he seems too stolid, and at the finish he goes overboard into exaggerated bawling. Still, he has a gorgeous voice, and turns out delightful renditions of "I Have A Song To Sing, O!" with Elsie, his solos "I’ve Jibe and Joke" and "Oh! A Private Buffoon is a Light-Hearted Loon," and "Hereupon We’re Both Agreed" with Shadbolt.
While the choreography and staging could be livelier, the brilliant vocals make this a don’t-miss production. If you’re a G&S fan, you’ll love it, and if you’re not, you should be.
Note: Free pre-show discussion at selected performances. Photos by Rich Foreman.