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FOOTLIGHT NOTES
no. 393

updated
Saturday, 26 March 2005

A revival of The Yeomen of the Guard,
Forty-eighth Street Theatre, New York, 19 April 1915
starring De Wolf Hopper as Jack Point

De Wolf Hopper in The Yeomen of the Guard, NY, 1915

De Wolf Hopper as Jack Point in a revival of The Yeomen of the Guard,
Forty-eighth Street Theatre, New York, 19 April 1915
; front cover of The New York Dramatic Mirror, Saturday, 12 May 1915

(photo: White, New York, 1915)

'By opening his season of Gilbert and Sullivan operas at the Forty-eigbth Street Theater, William A. Brady showed that he is somewhat of a psychologist. Just as a large roomy playhouse is demanded for the broad coarse variety of humor, so a theater which conveys a sense of intimacy is best adapted for the interpretation of subtle and delicate wit. Not in recent years has a better production of a Gilbert and Sullivan work been offered and this can be said in spite of the fact that The Yeomen of the Guard can never rival The Mikado nor Pinafore in popularity. Mr. Hopper and his associate[s] played with such genuine Gilbertian spirit, the chorus sang with such enthusiasm and feeling for the witty - and frequently sentimental - quality of their lyrics, that the performance was wholly delightful if not ideal.
'It is said by stage chroniclers that Sir Arthur Sullivan considered The Yeomen of the Guard his favorite among his light opera scores. Certainly his keen melodic sense and his grasp upon harmony and counterpoint were never better displayed. And the lyrics are decidedly in Mr. Gilbert's deftest and most graceful vein. In the whole range of their works it would be difficult to find a more clever conceit than the jester's lamentation, "I Have a Song to Sing, O" - incidentally a meter, which Mr. Gilbert is said to have invented. It combines a certain grace and melody and rhythm which make it unique, and in the hands of Mr. Hopper it is truly a gem.

Yeomen of the Guard, New York, 1915


The Yeomen of the Guard, Forty-eighth Street Theatre, New York, 19 April 1915

'Jack Point's friends in The Yeomen of the Guard taunt him for his efforts
at love-making by singing "Every Jack should study the knack if he wants to make sure of his Jill."'

left to right: Gladys Caldwell as Phoebe, Arthur Aldridge as Colonel Fairfax,
De Wolf Hopper as Jack Point and Natalie Alt as Elsie.

(photo: White, New York, 1915)

'The collaborators departed from their usual form in the construction of this opera, depending upon a touch of sentimental realism rather than upon fantasy or paradox. At times it seemed to us that Mr. Gilbert was inditing his own biography in the creation of Jack Point, the jester, who must be funny at whatever cost to his pride and dignity, who is unable to be taken seriously - even in his sincerest moments of love-making. The story might be termed a leit-motif of Pagliacci. Jack Point, a strolling jester, pining "for the love of a ladye," falls desperately in love with Elsie Maynard, a light-hearted lass who accompanies him on his travels. She does not regard him seriously, however, and marries a nobleman on the eve of his execution in order that she might win a hundred crowns as his widow. When clever strategy frees the nobleman from his impending doom, she, deep in love, wed him again, this time in the presence of the villagers and the jester, who, overcome by grief, falls prostrate to the ground.
'Mr. Hopper made a most engaging Jack Point. He danced gracefully and sang and quiped with a clearness of articulation that made his performance another Gilbertian triumph. Arthur Aldridge never sang better than as Colonel Fairfax. Natalie Alt was a charming Elsie. William Danforth scored a hit second only to Mr. Hopper as the grimly humorous jailer, Shadbolt. Gladys Caldwell gave a dainty performance of Phoebe and acted the scene with the jailer with a fine sense of comedy and Marie Horgan was the plump but active Dame Carruthers.'
(The New York Dramatic Mirror, New York, Saturday, 28 April 1915, p.8c/d)

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