“It is a bit like a 16th Century version of The Archers…there is a logical story running through it with a number of little sub-plots.”
That’s the view of director Nic Wilson on his favourite Gilbert and Sullivan work, The Yeomen of the Guard,
Sorcery accusations, an escaped prisoner and an identity swap - now that really would get the gossips of Ambridge steamed up in the smash-hit radio soap.
Instead, it’s the residents of the Derbyshire Dales who will have plenty to talk about after watching Matlock Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s production.
The 30-strong company will be transforming Bakewell’s Medway Centre into the Tower of London as they set the scene for the most serious work in the G&S repertoire.
Nic said: “We are very fortunate in that we are able to use some of the scenery that is held at Medway Centre. When the Peacock Players folded, the group left the equipment at the Medway so I am going to use some of the stage flats to dress the set, giving the impression that we’re in the grounds of the Tower of London. It is traditionally set and traditionally costumed and we’ll be adding colour to the simple set using 16th Century Henry VIII costumes.
“I want to give the audience an experience that is a bit like watching television at home…I hope that they will be drawn into the story.”
Singing the praises of The Yeomen of the Guard, Nic said: “It is the nearest that Gilbert and Sullivan got to writing a proper opera and it is the best.
“It is full of pathos and is the one G&S that has a sad ending for one of the characters. Everyone else is enjoying celebrating a marriage taking place and is totally unaware of the character’s sadness.”
As well as directing this month’s show, Nic will be taking on the major role of Jack Point. It’s the second time he will have played the role of the jester with this society in nine years.
Nic said: “Most of the G&S societies do the works in a ten-year cycle. There are 14 G&S shows and four of those are very rarely performed.
“One of the more commonly done shows is Princess Ida which has a big principal cast and it would be a stretch for us to fill the roles which is why our society rotates shows on a nine-year cycle.”
During his current reign as chairman, Nic is aiming to enlist recruits into the society. He said: “We are always on the lookout for new members. I genuinely feel that we need to find people within the 25 to 45 year age range.”
For a full feature on this production, see the Derbyshire Times, dated June 9, 2011