9th October 2015
Poynton Civic Hall
Type of Production
Gilbert and Sullivan
Author: Kevin Proctor
The plot, like all G&S, is incidental to the essence, which is the songs themselves. The Gondoliers revolves around that stock English situation of changelings and mistaken identities and ends with a happy resolution of the whole mess. Except with Shakespeare and G&S, kings tend to set one yawning, but the Duke of Plaza-Toro and the King of Barataria are rollicking good fun. The brunt of the satire falls on the Gondoliers themselves and their attempts to run the territory of Barataria according to the maxim that "all departments are equal and every man is the head of his department" provide hilarious and somewhat timely satirical situations.
I appreciated and welcomed the numerous modern references with the occasional reality TV show, celebrity name drop and even twitter got a mention which all helps to add a fresh and up to date slant on these (could be timeless) pieces.
A mention to the costumes must be made given these were particularly attractive, probably the finest set I’ve seen don the members this society.
The number of people on stage was impressive, one of the largest casts I’ve seen in a production for a long while which, I’m delighted to report resonates the same tune when scanning the audience, a packed house! Marvellous!
To switch the theme, the orchestra had shrunk quite dramatically compared to previous years. I wondered how just two keyboards would produce what we were used too, I needn’t have worried as they provided excellent support to the cast and a more than pleasant sound for us in the audience too. Great work.
For me, the presentations are becoming somewhat predictable in terms of the design and vision of the productions. The formula which Poynton G&S continually repeat each year clearly works for the society and their audience but some experimentation to add something creative and fresh to the offering would pay off and help to kick the production into the 21st century.
Also worthy of note is the youth which are joining the society (keep this going!) and also spotted a few in the audience too, something I’d always encourage for this genre if we’re to continue seeing G&S for years to come, we need youth involved!
Now on to the performances; Jeannette Wood & Ian Whitfield as the Duke and Duchess were excellent, offering plenty of animated expressions supported by the perfect tone of humour which was used to execute these lofty characters.
I could listen to Andrew Pugh, who took the role of Marco, sing all day - his opulent tenor voice is ideal for this genre and, as always, delivered a superb vocal rendition.
I was pleased to see some new faces within the membership, both taking principal roles and boosting the numbers of the male and female chorus. One of which was Chris Night as Giuseppe. Chris demonstrated he has heaps of potential though his annunciation is an area for attention, particularly for a role which requires the delivery of an ever famous G&S patter number.
As for the chorus, highlights were most definitely the finales of each act which sounded particularly impressive with the full company hitting us with a rich and beautifully balanced wall of sound.
Keep doing what you’re doing, continue to encourage and welcome youth into your midst (be it on / off stage or in the audience) and don’t steer away from modern creativity to add something unique and fresh to your productions.