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3.9 out of 5 stars17
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on September 22, 2012
Clocking in at 79 minutes, this made-for-television production of Yeomen of the Guard is clearly abridged, but at least it was done with a knowledgeable and loving hand. Fortunately the very fine cast makes up for any omissions in the score. Alfred Drake and Barbara Cook are at their finest, and the rest of the cast is quite strong. Originally produced in 1957 for the Hallmark Hall of Fame program, and broadcast live in color, all that remains is a kinescope -which VAI has done an excellent job of mastering. The sound is clear throughout, and the video is surprisingly crisp for a kinescope. Some will dislike the added speeches for Jack Point (Drake) that provide additional continuity, but they do help the audience through all of the cut sections of the book and score. Fans are still waiting for a well-produced, well-cast, complete video of this Gilbert & Sullivan masterpiece, but in the meantime this long-lost version is the best thing out there, and very much worth adding to your collection.
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on February 15, 2013
This is the best adaptation of a Gilbert and Sullivan opera for television that I have ever seen. Its only fault is the number of cuts, given the fact that all had to be given in 75 minutes of broadcast time. Also, of course, the original color (which I understand was impressive for its day) is now gone since only a black and white kinescope version exists. But the picture quality is more than adequate, the sound is fine, and the performances are excellent. These performers were real stars in their day, and one can see why. The production is a faithful one (given the need for cuts, which are judiciously rendered) and the performers are uniformly excellent. Upon repeated viewings, this version keeps getting better and better.
I saw this production live on television as a child, way back in 1957, and I can appreciate it more now than I did then. I have been a G&S buff for many years, and a fairly fussy one in terms of disliking tampering with the original book and music, but I found this production a memorable one that I feel many people can enjoy. This was the favorite work of Gilbert and Sullivan themselves, and the quality of the book and score shines through here. Alfred Drake is a superb Jack Point who can convey wistful sadness when needed without going over the top the way some performers of the role do. Barbara Cook had yet to achieve real fame as Marian the Librarian on Broadway in THE MUSIC MAN, and here she shows her acting ability and wonderful vocal skill. Celeste Holm plays Phoebe a bit like Ado Annie in OKLAHOMA (she created the part in that musical fourteen years earlier), and while some people seem to think she's a bit too Broadway here in style, I think she is magnificent in the part, giving Phoebe the kind of spunk and charm that the role deserves and doesn't always get. Other roles are also well handled. The only real innovation here (other than the unavoidable cuts, which are skillfully done so that the main beauty and coherence of the show remain) is an introduction about the Tower of London given by the actor playing the Lieutenant, as well as the use of Jack Point as an occasional commentator on the context and progression of the action. I find these not at all offensive as additions, and I can see they might well have helped a TV audience get its bearings. These additional bits of dialogue are fortunately brief, to the point, and well written in a style that is literary and does not clash with Gilbertian quality.
One final point: the magnificent overture is pretty much gone, but returns in truncated form at the end of the show in credits, and some of Sullivan's missing music is used as background under the dialogue. And the orchestration sounds basically like Sullivan's throughout, masterfully conducted by Franz Allers, a pro of the theater who was very knowledgeable about operetta/musical comedy style and delivery.
THE YEOMEN OF THE GUARD has not been treated well in TV presentations. Now we have an enjoyable one returned to us to treasure.
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on January 29, 2013
Four stars instead of five ONLY because this is not in color, and even remastered it looks a little shaky in spots.
This was either the second or the third time I ever saw G&S in any kind of performance -- I was twelve -- and moments of it remained amazingly clear in my memory for more than half a century. Having checked often through the years, I felt pure delight when it finally became available for home viewing, and I was not disappointed on seeing it again at last. Now, I recognize that Alfred Drake as Jack Point was a piece of unexpected casting; but I still love his interpretation. The Dame Carruthers and Wilfred Shadbolt come close to stealing the show. Having spent my lifetime as a G&S buff, I still feel this version works very well, and contains one new line that would be worth including in other productions. Highly recommended.
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on July 9, 2013
Alfred Drake and Barbara Cook belong to the world of Rodgers and Hammerstein more than Gilbert and Sullivan, but they are both superb in this. It's beautifully sung and acted. The production is very much early black and white TV. G & S superbuffs may find the whole thing inauthentic, and musical theatre buffs might find it quaint. I loved it.
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on April 29, 2013
The three most popular Savoy Operas in America are MIKADO, PINAFORE and PIRATES OF PENZANCE. In England they are MIKADO, GONDOLIERS and YEOMAN. I heard of this production many, many years ago and was shocked that something as
esoteric as YEOMAN would have a TV production in America. All that remained of this production were a few black and white photos in various books about TV history and the memories that people who saw the telecast.

A year or so back a CD with audio tracks of a few rehearsal pieces offered a tantalizing hint of what had been. Now a DVD of the a full kinescope has arrived. Yes, it's abridged and yes the real telecast was in color. That's the bad news. The good news is that this is a wonderful production, well sung and with nothing that would offend the dedicated savoyard. Barbara Cook is a wonderful Elsie, Alfred Drake is a robust Jack Point, Bill Hayes makes an excellent Fairfax and while Celeste Holm may not be everyone's Phoebe her performance is preserved for all to nit pick about.

I thought I would never have a chance to ever see this version. I am grateful someone had the good sense to preserve it.
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on June 5, 2014
Glad I bought it, but more Alfred Drake and less Barbara Cook than I preferred.

PLUS it's cut down for TV. They axed some dialog and the final reprise of "I have a song to singo" and <<that>> means it leaves Jack Pointe as just a fool without the pathos in the story. Misery me, lackaday dee.

Good enough for TV people I suppose.
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on December 14, 2015
The omitted songs and scenes are annoying, as some of them are vital to the production, the players and the items that are left are very good, but I think it misses the intent of Gilbert's plot. Jack point is a third-rate comic and a pathetic figure. Unfortunately, Drake is a powerful singer and actor, and is not a particularly good fit as Point. Celeste holm, however, is excellent. It is enjoyable, but for the definitive version, see the Joel Grey production.
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on July 18, 2014
I wish I could rate this a 5 star, but the black and white video leaves a lot to be desired. At times, the video seemed to be moving as if the original film was slipping. The video seemed to fade as well from black and white (Oh, I wish this were in color!) to all grey on one side of the screen. Yet, despite the disappointing video, the music was superb, and it was wonderful seeing and hearing a young Barbara Cook. The cast overall was great. I was tempted to return the DVD because of the poor video (especially considering the price) but won't because of the great audio.

I wish there were better choices for Yeoman!
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on January 31, 2016
While "Yeoman" isn't one of Gilbert and Sullivan's best, it's fun, and has a couple of good numbers in it. And I love Alfred Drake, who does his usual excellent job here, with good supporting people.
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on July 29, 2013
I was so pleasantly surprised when I watched this abridged production that I can honestly say I did not mind the edits (or even the added narration)at all. My one gripe is so trivial it is hardly worth mentioning, but at the start it showed the insignia on the Guards uniforms to read "E R" instead of "H R", as it is set in the reign of Henry VIII. But as Jack Point would say, "let that pass." It is well sung, well staged, and well acted. There exists only one wholly unedited version of this play, but Amazon doesn't carry it, and that's too bad.
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