Words by W.S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
The Guildhall,
March 1986
Director: Pam Hoskins
Cast List
The Duke of Plaza-Toro
Don Alhambra del Bolero
Marco Palmieri
Giuseppe Palmieri
The Duchess of Plaza-Toro
Working Gondolier
Working Gondolier

Notes on this performance

65. The Gondoliers

Tiers and tears…

For years the Society had struggled to overcome the handicaps caused by performing at the Guildhall but this year there was an even greater resolve to get things sorted once and for all. The problem of a large audience watching a show on a ‘flat floor’ was minimised when Jim Chilvers investigated and organised the hiring of tiered seating (at a cost of £1800), enabling even the people at the back of the large hall to have an unobstructed view of the stage. Ron Buston, who worked for Rediffusion, also advised on the Guildhall’s sound problems, leading to a more efficient system being utilised. Meanwhile, Dougie Huggins urged the Committee to transfer the show to the Gaumont (which the Leisure Services was planning to purchase).

The Hampshire Chronicle reported, ‘The Society continually strives to effect improvements, both in presentation and from the point of view of the audience, and this time tiered seating was introduced. It was unfortunate that on the first night the company was beset with several faults quite beyond their control. Faulty adjustment of the amplification system resulted in some distortion of the words while the tabs stubbornly refused to work, thus giving the scene changers unexpected publicity.’

Pam Hoskins was reunited with MD Philip Johnson as the directing team but progress was replaced by turmoil when John Hoskins, her husband and the group’s Vice Chairman, died in October. Understandably, Pam was devastated and for a while was unable to take any rehearsals; it took a visit from Brian Howard urging her to return for her own sanity to get things on track again. Peter Hill arranged a memorial concert for John at the Mountbatten Theatre involving other local societies and an annual award for ‘The Most Promising Newcomer’ was introduced in his name.

John had been planning to present a paper considering the future of the Society so a sub-committee (consisting of Nicholas Short, David Jary, Pam Hoskins and Wendy Dalton) was formed to carry on this work. It was also discovered that Eva Thorne’s contribution towards the Chairman’s badge of office did not actually cover the cost but Philip Graham kindly came to the rescue with an anonymous donation of £80.

The Echo’s review concentrated more on the show than the misfortunes of opening night and reported, ‘Once again Pamela Hoskins has been responsible for a production full of life with several enterprising innovations. The principals without exception showed the high standards of singing and acting and the two Gondoliers, Marco (Clifford Lassam) and Giuseppe (Colin Sly) were in particularly fine form. Philip de Grouchy saw the Duke of Plaza-Toro as a buffoon, lacking dignity; Luiz, attendant to the Duke, was romantically portrayed by Nicholas Short.’ Sadly Grace Bound, the Wardrobe Mistress, died the day after the show and, as she had stored the costumes in her own house, the Committee had a new problem to solve. 

The Gondoliers made a loss of £1576 – presumably there would have been a profit of around £200 had the Society not hired tiered seating...

Terry O'Farrell

The only action photograph of The Gondoliers 1986 in the archives.

Photo of Ducal Party

Catherine Baker (The Duchess of Plaza-Toro), Philip de Grouchy (The Duke of Plaza-Toro), Jillian Charnley (Casilda), Nicholas Short (Luiz)

Photo of Pairs

Colin Sly (Giuseppe Calmieri), Margaret Amey (Tessa), Claire Buston (Ghiaietta), Clifford Lassam (Marco Palmieri)