I want MUGSS to give a bold, original take on 'The Yeomen of the Guard', retaining the G&S sparkle whilst giving genuine dramatic credibility to Gilbert's unusually layered characters and plot. We should tell this as the essentially dark tale it is, crucially without losing the colour and merriment in the story and music. A melancholy tale, but not a depressing one, and with a knowing, black sense of humour.
My idea is a highly stylised Tudor approach with a contemporary, gothic twist. Uncluttered, highly thematic use of colour, costume and lighting, recurring props, and an attention to detail, designed to create a quirky, exaggerated look.
The most potent analogy I can think of is this. 'Imagine a Tudor opera inspired by the movies of Tim Burton.'
Now, this is not a literal vision, but Burton's twisted plots, subversive theatrical tone and unique sense of humour suit this show, which is undoubtedly darker and more operatic than the other Savoy Operas, though thankfully does retain their great comic qualities. There is much dramatic and comic potential and plenty of chances for both chorus and principals to sparkle.
The music and the plot deserve to be centre stage in any reworking of The Yeomen of the Guard. I want us to create something original without it being a contrivance too far, lest we overshadow a dramatic score and a moving, grimly comic tale of unrequited love and longing. We need to be true to the show and tell this story to our audience as honestly as we can. We can do this by keeping it simple, classy and period, if in a quirky, exaggerated sense. A 'Strange Adventure' for us all, no doubt!
This is the first G&S opera I have listened to and loved immediately, and so to me it's a unique opportunity to direct a show with all the familiar ingredients of the genre as well as genuine characterisation and serious drama.
MUGSS is long recognised over its proud 60 year history in Manchester for 'turning G&S on its head'. As I'm sure the fledgling group of students did with 'The Mikado' back in 1951, I believe that with 'Yeomen' in 2011 MUGSS can create a contemporary show with great energy, pathos, and of course, humour. As our tragic hero Jack Point himself tells us, 'jibes and jokes' 'should always gild the philosophic pill!'