The Gondoliers

Author: Eddie Regan

The Gondoliers is the twelfth collaboration between Arthur Sullivan and W.S. Gilbert. It was premiered in 1889 and remains one of the most popular G. & S.  Operettas. The experienced Robin Stopford was tonight’s Musical Director and he and the specially invited orchestra, led by Tracey Johnson provided the excellent score with just the right sound balance.                                                                                                             

The curtains opened to reveal a very well designed and constructed set and as the Overture was played five talented dancers interpreted the music. Their dramatic Black and White Harlequin costumes and Venetian masks created a very positive atmosphere, which was to continue throughout the performance. Choreography by Jade Milner was excellent and was a highlight of the show. Director, Philip Walsh had obviously used all his experience of this particular genre to develop the Italian theme to transport the audience to Venice. Colourful costumes, appropriate hair and makeup all helped to create the correct mood.

There was a strong cast of experienced Principals on show tonight.

Robert Feeley and Carl Donohue as Marco and Giuseppe showed their years of stage-craft and their voices were at their best. Amy Hardy and Rowena Perry, Gianetta and Tessa were the epitome of G. and S. leading ladies. It was pleasing to see Peter Bowden as The Duke of Plaza Toro. He is singing as well as ever and he brought out all the humour required in this great characterization. I was very impressed with David Twizell as Don Alambra Del Bolero. His skilled performance, was a highlight of the evening for me.  The lovely G. and S. Quartets were a joy to listen to, a salute to very good singing and Robin Stopford’s Musical Direction.  The Ensemble numbers looked good and their Diction was excellent.

My wife and I had a very enjoyable evening  It is a delight to know that this particular genre is flourishing in this area. Long may it continue.

The last six years when I have been doing your reviews has been a great pleasure and Jean and I will, of course, continue to support your Company.

Ruddigore

Ruddigore PosterRuddigore — Preston Gilbert and Sullivan Society- 8.3.2018

Author: Eddie Regan

Ruddigore or the Witch’s Curse was the ninth of fourteen comic operettas written by Gilbert and Sullivan and it has seen many changes and alterations since 1887.Following the end of copyright restrictions in 1963, companies have been able to restore material and also put their own spin on various aspects of topical interest.The specially invited Orchestra, after an untidy opening, treated us to a rousing version of the Overture to this piece.

The curtains opened to a well constructed, designed set with the addition of a bollard to be used for tying up boats but this one had the word Fishergate painted on it. The opening chorus of Bridesmaids entered through the auditorium distributing business cards printed with the words “Bridesmaids for Hire”. The address on the cards was Zora and Ruth, Fishergate Cottage and from that moment we became aware that this would be a Production, very much, “ tongue in cheek”.Director, Philip Walsh and Producer, Sue Hurrell, together with Musical Director, Merle Winstanley and Choreographer, Jade Milner had clearly put many hours of rehearsals into this production. Jane Milner’s Choreography was imaginative and it certainly enhanced the performances of both Principals and Ensemble. Projection and Diction were particularly good in the dialogue but sadly enunciation was lacking in many of the musical numbers.

The Act 2 Set was spectacular, depicting the Family Picture Gallery and the Ancestor’s costumes and lighting effects drew applause from the audience.

There were some excellent performances from some of the Principal Characters.Rowena Perry as Mad Margaret gave a sensitive and original portrayal and as she entered for her first appearance she knocked over the aforementioned bollard with her pram, much to the delight of the audience. This was a local reference to a recent happening in Preston.Angela Lee as Dame Hannah gave a flawless performance, showing her experience and complete understanding of the role.

I enjoyed David Twizell’s performance as Old Adam Goodheart. He has a splendid voice, both spoken and musical and he certainly appeared to be enjoying the character.

Amy Louise Hardy reprised her role as the demure Rose Maybud and played her part with confidence especially when being wooed by Robin Oakapple, Robert Feeley and Richard Dauntless, Peter Bowden who both showed their vast experience.

All in the Production, were impeccably dressed and this together with very good lighting and sound helped to provide a very enjoyable evening. Many visiting G. & S. Societies were in the audience tonight and appeared to have enjoyed their visit, as did my wife and myself. Thank you for your warm welcome.

The Mikado

 

 

The MikadoThe Mikado—Preston Gilbert and Sullivan Society- 10.3.2017

This Operetta has proved to be a very popular choice for Preston Gilbert and Sullivan Society, judging by the full houses at The Playhouse this week. It was encouraging to see a wide range of ages in the audience and also to see many members from other societies supporting this genre. The specially invited orchestra, with Musical Director, Robin Stopford and Leader, Tracey Johnson captured the mood and atmosphere as they played the overture. The sound balance between orchestra and cast was first class throughout.

The curtain opened to reveal a brightly lit, colourful and dramatic set which provided the backdrop for the strong opening chorus of “ “Gentlemen of Japan”, in monochrome costumes and white make up with red fans to enhance the effect. We were instantly gripped and entertained and this continued until the final chorus. The experienced Lynne Nolan, Choreographer, had stamped her own style on the production and created innovative and imaginative movements bringing a freshness of approach to the whole piece. It was obvious that she had put both male and female chorus through their paces to create very good, slick and accurate movements, especially when using their fans.

Philip Walsh, Director had used all his vast experience of G & S to give us a polished and well- paced production. There were no weak links with all on stage playing their roles with skill and confidence. It was encouraging to see that previous newcomer to this genre, Daltrey Wrigley, was now Playing Nanki-Poo which is his first Principal Tenor role but it will certainly not be his last. He will be widely sought after by many companies, not only because of his lovely singing voice but also his understanding of the humour and exaggerations in G & S Operettas.

The experienced Robert Feeley was perfectly cast as Ko- Ko and he brought out all the little nuances of the character and showed lovely contrasting emotions. His sensitive performance of “ Tit Willow “ was one of the best I have ever seen.

Andrew Lyons as Poo- Bah commanded the stage at all times and delivered his lines with perfect comic timing again showing his considerable experience in the G & S Operettas.

The three wards of Ko- Ko, Yum-Yum, Peep-Bo and Pitti-Sing, Amy Louise Hardy, Keeley Lund and Debbie Brotherton harmonized beautifully and never faltered. I was not sure however about the choice of the modern looking wigs. The blonde and auburn wigs looked out of place and appeared very artificial.

Martin Cassell as Pish-Tush gave a splendid, measured performance and it was a pleasure to hear his lovely Baritone voice. Elaine McNicol as Katisha was outstanding. I have seen “The Mikado” many times and I have never seen this role bettered whilst Anthony Alman in the title role of The Mikado was an innovative interpretation which he played well.

Both male and female choruses were excellent, always in character. They looked splendid in their striking outfits they wore and make up by Bryony Forrest ensured the finished effect was just right. Costumes for all on stage were quite outstanding and all involved should be congratulated. This was a memorable night of Theatre and I look forward to the Company’s next production. Thank you so much for your very warm welcome to my wife and myself.