THE BUCKS COUNTY
GILBERT & SULLIVAN SOCIETY
MAIN STAGE PRODUCTION -
THE YEOMEN OF THE GUARD
The Bucks County Gilbert & Sullivan Society is pleased to announce that for our Tenth Anniversary we will present some of Gilbert & Sullivan's most lyrical songs and memorable characters, in The Yeomen of the Guard — set in the Tower of London during Henry VIII’s reign, with drama, comedy, and the soaring orchestral music for which our namesakes are world renowned. Please keep the weekend of June 15, 16, 17, 2018 open on your calendar!
We have assembled a wonderful cast for our lead actors - some are new to our group and some have delighted our audiences in the past:
An important female role in the Yeomen story is the travelling singer, Elsie Maynard, who is betrothed to the jester, Jack Point, but is tempted to marry another man for the reward of a hundred crowns. We asked cast member Allison Deratzian to give us some insight into the complex character of Elsie that she sings for our production - and Allison summed it up by asking:
What Would You Do for a “Million Dollars”?
Would it matter how badly, and for what, you needed it? The sum in question—an hundred crowns—is difficult to translate into a modern U.S. dollar equivalent. By some calculations it may have been approximately $100,000. The precise amount, however, is irrelevant. What matters is that it would have been a largely incomprehensible sum for the one to whom it was offered.
The list of Dramatis Personae identifies Elsie Maynard as “a Strolling Singer,” and she describes her life as going “from fair to fair, singing, and dancing, and playing brief interludes; and so we make a poor living”. This was no glamorous life on the road, but a hardscrabble existence with no permanent or guaranteed housing, and if one failed to please the audience (or have the misfortune of playing to an audience short of money themselves), one might not eat. It is reasonable to assume that Elsie and Jack Point are barely able to support themselves, let alone Elsie’s elderly mother, who travels with them and is gravely ill.
Into this life comes the Lieutenant of the Tower with an offer as shocking and uncomfortable as it is attractive—marry a condemned man sight-unseen, for the reward of an hundred crowns, hers to keep after his death. Elsie stresses that her decision is based purely on a desire to save her mother: “this money life may bring; bear this in mind, I pray, if I consent to do this thing.”
Sell yourself as a bride; if all goes according to plan, you have nothing to lose. But what if plans go awry? Was the price worth it?
Please join us to see Allison in our show, and hear Elsie's soaring aria in Act 1 of Yeomen, in which she expresses all the conflicting emotions she feels in this twist of fate that has befallen her:
'Tis done! I am a bride!
Oh, little ring, That bearest in thy circlet all the gladness
That lovers hope for, and that poets sing,
What bringest thou to me but gold and sadness?
A bridegroom all unknown, save in this wise,
To-day he dies! To-day, alas, he dies!
What is a Yeoman?
Well, that's an interesting story! The Yeomen Warders, popularly known as the Beefeaters, are ceremonial guardians of the Tower of London and the British Crown Jewels. A part of the Tower of London was used as a prison, starting all the way back in the year 1100 and continuing until 1952. The Yeomen Warders were formed in 1485 by King Henry VII, and their colorful uniforms have changed very little since the Tudor era over 500 years ago.
Today's Yeomen are all retired members of the Queen's armed forces, just as the characters in "The Yeomen of the Guard" are. Our musical Yeomen are older soldiers who fondly sing of their devotion to England, and are still proud to leap to her defense.