Words by W.S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
The Guildhall,
March 1977
Cast List
The Duke of Plaza-Toro
Don Alhambra del Bolero
Marco Palmieri
Giuseppe Palmieri
The Duchess of Plaza-Toro
Drummer Boy
Drummer Boy
Cachucha Dancer
Cachucha Dancer
Cachucha Dancer
Cachucha Dancer
Cachucha Dancer
Cachucha Dancer

Notes on this performance

 50. The Gondoliers

The busy Business Team...

The fact that The Sorcerer only made a small loss was, in many ways, down to the indefatigable Business Team of Brian Howard and Jim Chilvers and they were soon in action again writing to twelve charitable organisations with a 'buy tickets at half price - sell them at full price' offer in an effort to fill the Guildhall. Car stickers were ordered and the confusing voucher system actually seemed to work!

A sub-committee interviewed several prospective MDs before appointing Dr Ward Gardner to the position. David Frost remained as his assistant and they could now boast four rehearsal pianists - Robin Bennett, Pat Holt, Betty King-Head and Edwina Laird. The new MD wanted to use the Solent Sinfonia as the orchestra and that worried the Committee who were concerned about losing musicians who had always supported the Society - however, as most of the old orchestra also played for the new one... Harold Dunford (assisted by Pamela Hoskins) continued as the Producer.

The Casting Committee was instructed that they could allocate parts that members had not applied for and Dougie Huggins with Brian Howard were given the task of ensuring that only those auditioning were allowed into the building - open auditions were still a long way off... The resulting principal line up was again a strong one, but the part of Luiz was not cast - it was eventually given to Paul O'Donohoe, who was not actually a member, and this decision caused considerable upset.

There were some adverse comments made about the new orchestra and Ward Gardner was not aware that the show should have started with the National Anthem, but his feedback on working with the society was recorded... 'He had been very happy working with the principals, although there had been ups and downs when he had stretched some of them too far, but they had all done very well. He had found the chorus very frustrating. He felt they were too concerned with making noises that were loud but not clear, and he would like to continue working with the chorus to produce a better balance. He felt some basses should be baritones, and some baritones could well sing tenor. Altos were slightly weaker at times. The chorus was far too slack and never remembered what they had learnt the previous week. Eventually they did produce quite a nice sound, but he felt much more concentration on the part of the chorus was needed, and better discipline.'

The Echo review praised the principals but was not that kind about the chorus, 'when the stage was more crowded the sound-mix became more woolly. Visually, too, producer Harold Dunford's disposition and movement of the choruses seemed too rigid for this frivolous piece, except at one moment, the lively Cachucha dance, but that was separately choreographed by Susan Spencer. Well done, Susan!'

Although ticket sales had been very good, The Gondoliers still made a small loss of £29.90 but that was attributed to the extra cost of having to make a new apron stage since the one provided by the Guildhall left insufficient room for the orchestra pit.

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Duke and Duchess

Catherine Baker (The Duchess of Plaza-Toro) with Peter Robson (The Duke of Plaza-Toro). Pages - Robert and Jeremy Minns

 LB books dog

Coming to you in January 2022!