The ‘acting canons’ who play father and son on stage this weekend

Canons John Carter and  John Colston, both former parish priests who enjoy taking part in drama and opera, will be  appearing on stage together in a touring production that visits Sharow near Ripon this weekend, and Bingley next  weekend.

The Gilbert and Sullivan Opera, The Yeomen of the Guard, is to be staged at St John’s Church in Sharow on Saturday evening, September 29th, at 7.30pm with John Carter playing Leonard Meryll, and John Colston playing his father Sergeant Meryll of the Yeomen of the Guard.

The two are pictured with actress and musician Janice Rendel who plays Leonard’s sister, Phoebe, in the comic/tragic opera which is noted for some of G&S’s most romantic and emotional music.

While Canon John Colston, the former Vicar of Christ Church Harrogate, is now retired and plays the organ at St John’s Sharow, as well as taking occasional service at Ripon Cathedral, Canon John Carter is Diocesan Communications Officer, a role he was first appointed to in the Diocese of Ripon in 1997.

Both have a background in music and have appeared in previous Gilbert and Sullivan productions both with the touring company, the West Yorkshire Savoyards and with the Harrogate G&S Society.

This year’s touring production with the ‘Savs’ has attracted large audiences and warm praise at theatres in Settle, Penistone and Scarborough.  Jacqui Hartley of NODA (the National Operatic and Dramatic Association) reported,  “For their  first performance of the new season the Savoyards  absolutely enthralled their audience.. superb singing …a score brought skilfully to life … an excellent strong singing chorus (and) an extremely good production brought to life with [director] Alistair Donkin’s magic touch.”

“Energising and enthusing to watch ... punchy, toe-tapping and thrilling to hear!” is how local press have described the Savoyards. Set in a dangerous Tudor England, The Yeomen of the Guard contains some of G&S’s finest music, comic dialogue, coupled with drama and intrigue, making this one of the  most emotionally engaging of all the 'Savoy' Operas.

The Savoyards' cast is drawn from the region’s best amateur opera companies and includes experienced Manchester soprano Helen Fieldsend as Elsie Maynard, and popular local actor and director, Graham Weston as the hapless jester, Jack Point. 

The production is in the capable hands of professional director, the former D'Oyly Carte company principal, Alistair Donkin. 

The company has received the backing of  TV presenter Alan Titchmarsh. The well-known broadcaster, novelist, journalist and gardener said, "The works of Gilbert and Sullivan continue to inspire and amuse generation after generation of music-lovers and theatre-goers, and the West Yorkshire Savoyards continue to enthral their audiences.  With Sullivan's tuneful melodies and Gilbert's rapier-sharp wit coupled with the W.Y.S. high standards, any audience can be assured of a great night out!”

Tickets for this Saturday's performance at St John's Church Sharow are still available at £12 and £10 for concessions (to include a free glass of wine). Contact Canon John Colston on 01765 600747

Tickets at the Bingley Arts Centre Little Theatre on Saturday October 01274 567983 are £15 (£14 for concessions). 

More pictures from the Yeomen of the Guard by the West Yorkshire Savoyards:



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