The Gondoliers

Date 7th March 2013
Society Astwood Bank Operatic Society
Venue Palace Theatre Redditch
Type of Production Musical
Director Steve Skinner /Assistant Producer Melanie Hart
Musical Director Tom Porter


Author: Ian G Cox

Giving prominence to a member of this long established society projected on to a large screen was an interesting way to start this production. Jill Bray in her 50th performance for ABOS was featured in a gondola as the overture was played for this popular G & S favourite.

Venice was transported to Redditch in the form of a simple though highly effective set; the opening with “List and Learn” gave the first airing of a competent chorus ahead of a well-dressed, with trilby and cape Duke of Plaza Toro (David Coulson) with his perfectly slightly tipsy Duchess (Melanie Hart) and delightfully played and sung Casilda ,their daughter (Helen Hastings)

Marco (David Steele) and Giuseppe Palmieri (Ian Walton) brought richness of sound both as soloists and with other principals and the chorus in superb performances with a perfect balance of character and movement with comedy and pace as they searched for their brides Gianetta (Janna Mutton) and Tessa (Mandy Goddard) displaying considerable vocal and acting talent enhanced by effective lighting in the piece “In a Contemplative Fashion”.

In a show stealing performance Don Alhambra Del Bolero Grand Inquisitor (Michael Hawkins) brought complete excellence in voice, stagecraft and conviction commanding the stage each and every time.

Full advantage was taken to reflect a setting in the 1920’s with costume choice for the whole company with eye catching black and white throughout complemented by some vibrant colours for some scenes. The men’s “black tie” in the opening of Act 2 proved particularly effective

An often crowded stage for a largely well sung chorus impeded any possibility of excitement in the dance numbers including the highly popular “Dance a Cachucha” being performed in a somewhat static manner. That said, overall this was a most enjoyable interpretation of a Gilbert & Sullivan classic ensuring its continued popularity and made for a thoroughly entertaining evening.