Words by W.S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
The Guildhall,
February 1968
Cast List
The Duke of Plaza-Toro
Don Alhambra del Bolero
Marco Palmieri
Giuseppe Palmieri
The Duchess of Plaza-Toro
Drummer Boy

Notes on this performance

41. The Gondoliers

Once more gondolieri…

It was decided to let the members at the AGM select the show for 1968 and they were given two to consider – Merrie England or The Gondoliers. Although the G&S show had lost money on its previous outing in 1960, it still received ‘overwhelming support’. Bert Clague and D Cecil Williams remained as the directing team. 

There were a few other changes that year as, after 36 years of organising Dinner Dances, New Year parties, whist drives, refreshments, etc., Bert Wareham resigned as the Social Secretary - he would be a hard act to follow and the group collected £25 as a ‘thank you’ gift. Also on the way out, apparently, were older men playing lead roles (especially the comedy parts) and the Committee determined to recruit younger ones. One of these, Peter Robson was beginning to provide some overdue competition for Tom Judd and was cast as his understudy (The Duke). Unable to escape, however, were the inmates at Winchester Prison who reportedly enjoyed a concert version of Act 1 from The Yeomen of the Guard – plans to treat them to the whole opera were thwarted by the Governor who would not sanction more than an hour’s entertainment.

No sooner had a strong cast been announced (at the following rehearsal this time rather than by personal letters) than it was realised that the D’Oyly Carte Company was performing at the Gaumont for two weeks from March 4th, so the dates for The Gondoliers were hastily moved forward to early February. Certain problems had to be overcome, e.g. a hairdressers’ convention had been booked for the Monday evening and a schools’ concert by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra had been arranged for the Friday afternoon – the latter required Bob Gibson plus helpers removing and storing a set and apron stage and then reassembling it when the concert had finished.

There were other changes from previous years; it was decided not to have any amplification on stage in the hopes that the performers would use the apron stage and also project their voices better, the usual floral display in the foyer was proving expensive so was replaced by photographs of the principals and past productions and stewards were sought from the boys at Itchen Grammar School (bus fares provided).

Although the Echo reviewer thought that ‘it was not a flawless performance’, he did declare it to be ‘immensely enjoyable’ and enthused: ‘Tom Judd as the Duke of Plaza-Toro was in fine form and Bernard Harman was a suitably droll Don Alhambra. One superb piece of casting was that of Miss Valerie Mansell as Casilda. She brought the part to life with some excellent singing and acting and was ably partnered by Raymond Harris as Luiz. The gondoliers Marco and Guiseppe, were played with verve and obvious enjoyment by John Hoskins and Dennis Gooch, and their vitality was matched by their spouses Jill Meager (Gianetta) and Pamela Hoskins (Tessa).’

The Gondoliers sold better in 1968 and made a profit of £102 11s 0d (£102.55) - £105 was duly shared between the Arthritic and Rheumatic Research Council, St. John’s Ambulance, the British Diabetic Research Fund and the Mayor’s Appeal.

Terry O'Farrell

 Photo of Quartet

John Hoskins (Marco Palmieri), Jill Meager (Gianetta), Pamela Hoskins (Tessa), Dennis Gooch (Giuseppe Palmieri)

 LB books dog

Coming to you in January 2022!