You don’t go to see a Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera for an uplifting artistic experience. You go to be entertained and, if you’re like me, you hope that the production will be faithful to the foppishness of the original Savoy Theater’s shows and not “popularized” into something glitzy and hyper-jazzed-up. The Victorian Lyric Opera’s “The Yeomen of the Guard” that opened for a seven-performance run at Rockville’s F. Scott Fitzgerald Theater on Thursday was both faithful and entertaining, if wildly uneven.
Under the direction of longtime company stalwart Catherine Huntress-Reeve, the amateur company fielded a wonderful Jack Point in the person of Gary Sullivan, who danced, sang, loved and finally died despondent (a Gilbert and Sullivan first) with style and pathos. The show’s Phoebe, in love with Colonel Fairfax but forced to marry Shadbolt, the Tower of London’s assistant torturer, was sung and acted meltingly by Amanda Jones. Laura Whittenberger as Elsie, object of Point’s love but Fairfax’s bride as the result of a deal gone bad, danced her role with grace and style. And, as the show went on, Blair Eig’s Shadbolt grew more convincingly into the complex character entranced both by thoughts of the rack and the thumbscrew and by the soft enticements of true love. Costumes were gorgeous, and the set and the staging worked well.
For the most part, however, the rest of the cast was passable at best. The corps of yeomen didn’t need to be together or in tune — it just needed to act self-important — but the group couldn’t muster even this. The orchestra, led by conductor Joseph Sorge, sounding soggy, struggled with pitch and ensemble, and the surtitles hiccuped on and off for a while and finally just quit.
Reinthaler is a freelance writer.