Reviewed by Richard Lane
This production of The Gondoliers, in the innovative hands of Director/Choreographer/ Production Designer, David Lampard , is set in an art gallery, the gondoliers literally springing to life as they step out from their respective “paintings.” These are housed in cumbersome looking boxes which are shifted constantly by cast members in full light.
Chorus groups from the G and S operettas are deployed throughout with great curiosity for the audience to determine to which opera they belong . The costumes are splendid and David Rapkin (Duke of Plaza Toro) resplendant in purple satin in Act 2 is a sight to behold!The singing generally is of a good standard ,but the girls for the most part outsing the lads. Anne Doherty (The Duchess Of Plaza Toro), Lucy Baldock (Gianetta) and Vanessa Lee Shirley (Tessa). Shirley has a great gift for comedy both in dialogue and song. Liana Nagy as the hapless Casilda acts and sings with great aplomb finally gaining the hand of her long lost love Luiz( Nicholas Coxhill).
The two lead gondoliers Huw Wagner (Marco Palmieri) and Patrick Witcombe (Guiseppe Palmieri) play their roles with energy squeezing all the fun out of their dialogue and stage business. Wagner’s clear tenor voice shines in his solo, “Take a Pair Of Sparkling Eyes.” As the Duke of Plaza Toro, David Rapkin has a ball- his experience as an actor and his powerful baritone voice are features.
One major criticism of this production is that under the baton of Musical Director Ian Andrew, the orchestra played too loudly , too often, stifling the wonderful witty words of W.S.Gilbert.
All in all, a jolly night out for G and S tragics of which this critic is one.