By W.S. Gilbert & A. Sullivan


For the Midsummer Festival of Music and Theatre at Duffryn
Gardens we revived our production of Gondoliers. We did make some changes. Gone were the ladies of the night, the Blues Brothers and New York Nightclub and in were sun drenched 1950's Venice, the SS Barataria with its accompanying tourists and crew.

The concept was simple: luxury liner docks in Venice, the locals try to fleece said tourists via dodgy price hikes, rose and postcard selling and the even more dodgy floor shore in the piazza by two dubious Gondoliers. Throw into this a love interest between two pen pals, a bossy ship's entertainment officer, warring couples, spurned lovers, unruly children, a vicar and some very pretty ships crew, and you get the picture.

We followed a relatively short rehearsal period by a fabulous run. The front line of Paul, Tim, Lorna and Ellie as Giuseppe, Marco, Tessa and Gianetta respectively, was very strong and the comic timing impeccable. The audience could not fail to love the somewhat gormless Tessa and the reluctant Giuseppe whilst the rather womanising Marco ran the gauntlet of jilting Giulia for the attractive Gianetta. Then arrived the Plaza-Toros, not from Spain but from Maine - rather shady types with their beautiful daughter Cassilda played by Clare Gardner with a wonderful southern drawl. Big Daddy was the ambitious Duke played by Nigel and his equally adept wife played by Janet Holloway. All three of them sung their parts with precision and energy. Rick was the pen pal of Cassilda and as it turns out the long lost King - we kept the concept of The King - it was the 1950s after all! There was definitely no chorus in the show. The feisty Guilia was nearly landing one on the equally feisty Fiametta, local pitched against the ship's crew - "she had more than twenty" seemingly and we think we know what was meant by that! The battling family with the spoilt kid, the couple who argued (finally making up after he was shot in the second act and realising the soothing effects of drink and drugs on a troublesome marriage), the sisters on a look out for a man and the Captain who wanted to be Jonny Depp.

The only thing we could not organise was the weather. 1950's sun drenched Venice indeed! Try rain soaked Venice! Luckily we had only one night of rain (indeed only the one Act of rain) as we were incredibly lucky considering this was the summer of the wettest June since records began. We got a standing ovation on the last night as the rain dripped off our noses but we can assure you a note was not missed and an eye did not blink! Thanks to all those who came to support us and probably the maddest Gondoliers ever staged!




The set looked wonderful as did the costumes, all made by the company and gave a wonderful period look.