REVIEW…THE GONDOLIERS, 5th – 7th March 2020
The Gondoliers opened at the Savoy Theatre on 7th December 1889. The critics were fulsome in their praise, the audience’s reaction described as ecstatic, and in some ways The Gondoliers stands as the supreme achievement of the distinct talents of Messrs Gilbert & Sullivan. It is very demanding of an amateur society, being one of the longest in the G&S canon and having no less than nine principal characters and seven supporting roles.
At the Adam Smith Theatre on Saturday afternoon, the audience was ‘equally delighted’ and enthusiastic in praise of Kirkcaldy Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s latest production which sparkled from beginning to end with great musical aptitude, acting ability and strength in both principals and chorus.
As in last year’s production, Director Robin Ozog introduced the show with a short film made by Douglas Taylor of Sartorial Pictures. This year the audience was treated to an insight of days gone by in Venice, with a snapshot of history going back to 1750 and introduction of the principal players, all as if the opening credits of a movie. This set the scene brilliantly, and when the curtains opened we were treated to the Contadine in the piazza enjoying ice cream at Valente’s Café (nice local touch), and all desperately in love with two Gondoliers named Marco and Giuseppe.
The plot was introduced in this opening number by Fiametta, portrayed perfectly by newcomer to the society Sinead Black, explaining who Marco and Giuseppe were. She was supported well by Sharon Edgar as Vittoria and Amanda Gear as Giulia. The strong female chorus were joined by an equally robust male chorus, and together they made an impressive and wonderful sound. It is delightful to see and hear these choruses sung in four part harmony. The protestations of the temporarily jilted main body of gondolieri were presented most effectively by Jack Archibald as Antonio (‘For the merriest fellows are we’), very ably seconded by Paul Graham as Francesco / Giorgio.
We then met the first of the Principal Groupings – the two Gondoliers and their chosen Venetian Contadine. Both Nick Temperley as Marco and Tom Kelman as Giuseppe sang and acted their parts with confidence, complemented by Jilly Martin as Gianetta and Caroline Warburton as Tessa. Nick’s fine tenor voice and excellent diction shone through, whilst Tom Kelman, another newcomer to the society, performed wonderfully well although obviously suffering from a serious throat infection. I look forward hopefully to hearing his fine baritone voice on another occasion.
Jilly Martin’s soprano voice, and Caroline Warburton’s rich contralto were both a joy to the ear. They complemented each other and their partnering gondolieri beautifully and were perfectly cast in these roles.
The four Principals in this grouping blended delightfully and looked wonderful on stage.
We then met the Ducal party consisting of the Duke of Plaza-Toro, played by Michael McFarlane, his Duchess, Elaine Young, their daughter Casilda, Eliza Twaddle, and the Duke’s sole attendant, Luiz, played by Craig Rose. This grouping was also very convincingly cast.
Audiences in Kirkcaldy have been used to seeing both Michael and Elaine singing and acting to a high standard in various roles over a number of years, but they excelled as the Duke and Duchess of Plaza-Toro. They performed these parts to perfection, with strong singing and excellent diction, brilliantly bringing out the razor-sharp foiling humour of Gilbert’s libretto. Eliza Twaddle as Casilda sang beautifully in her clear soprano voice, matched perfectly by Craig Rose’s strong tenor as Luiz. The two love duets performed by this partnership were particularly pleasing and well received by the audience. All four principals in this group were strong and impressive, demonstrating a high standard of accomplishment.
Robin Ozog played a wonderful Don Alhambra del Bolero, combining a convincingly sinister and domineering presence as the Grand Inquisitor with the strikingly rich light baritone voice that audiences so enjoy. His presence on stage is always masterful.
The final small but vital part of Inez, who held the secret of the identity of the rightful king, was sung in fine manner by Eleanor Hubbard. She performed the role well, obviously relishing the chance to milk the drama this role presented.
This was a wonderful show, full of great singing and colour. The costumes and make up perfectly fitted the era, the costumes of the Ducal Party being particularly magnificent. The set was effective and left plenty of room for movement of chorus and principals, put to good use especially in the Cachucha which both sounded and looked most impressive. The whole company looked happy and comfortable in their production and it was commendably well received by the audience.
Robin Ozog as Director once again demonstrated his fine vision for movement and setting the stage, obviously working in great harmony with John Howden who, as Musical Director, conducted a proficient, full orchestra. Overall, the whole sight and sound of principals and chorus was full and impressive. This society has so much talent!
Well Done Kirkcaldy G&S Society.
Link to original article can be accessed here.
The review from NODA can be accessed here.