Words by W.S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
The Guildhall,
March 1960
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

33. The Gondoliers

Look after the pennies…

As most people now had a television set in their home, fewer seemed to want to go out and watch a live performance, so the second loss in a row had the Committee particularly concerned about audience attendances. They considered the two ‘cast iron’ sellers in an effort to fill the Guildhall and turn their fortunes round and opted for The Gondoliers. Times change, as a modern day committee would have most probably chosen between The Mikado or Pirates. Mr Skinner (still Business Manager as nobody else had volunteered) questioned the wisdom of performing this opera since The D’Oyly Carte Company was visiting Southampton with the same show, but was told that SAOS must ‘get used to professional companies performing in town and will just have to face up to it’. Indeed, plans were made to invite the ‘rivals’ to a social gathering – an offer that was politely declined.

The Committee took a long look at the finances and considered which savings were desirable and which ones were necessary. They were very concerned that the standard of production should not suffer so insisted that there would be no drastic reduction in the size of the orchestra and that the routine of a Dress Rehearsal on the Sunday followed by a performance for pensioners on the Monday would continue. However, they resolved to look for a cheaper rehearsal venue than Freemantle Parish Hall, not to provide the cast with free refreshments during the intervals, make less expensive presentations to helpers, no longer present the directors with a commemorative photo album (just the photos), hold the last night reception in the Green Room instead of the Conference Room and increase all ticket prices by 6d (2.5p). W O Skinner was given leave to negotiate group rates as he thought fit but was informed that reducing tickets for other societies by 1/- (5p) would be ‘far too generous’.

D Cecil Williams and Mary Nobbs again made up the directing team and a strong line up of principals was gathered. However, Beryl Bundock missed too many rehearsals and the part of Giulia was given to Sheila Bailey whilst Jeffery Parkin had to drop out leaving Bernard Harman as Luiz. The Echo reviewer described the production as ‘superb for a non-professional company. The individual performances were of an all-round excellence. I must mention Tom Judd (Duke of Plaza-Toro), with his masterful command of Gilbert’s tongue-twisters, beautiful clear delivery and sense of theatre: Bert Clague’s supremely contemptuous and smoothly urbane Grand Inquisitor: and John Hoskins and Raymond Harris, singing with grand aplomb and acting in a wickedly satirical style as the royal republican rulers. Shirley Wort and Pamela Fulford fumed and fussed with fierce ardour and conviction as ill-used wives Gianetta and Tessa – I particularly liked Miss Fulford’s singing.’

Even with the increase in ticket prices, revenue was £110 down on The Yeomen of the Guard so the Society could consider itself lucky to only lose £64 18s 9d (£64.95). A donation of 25 guineas (£26.25) was still given to charity and was shared between the Florence Nightingale Memorial Chapel (RSH), World Refugee Year, the Fund for the Blind, the Society for Mentally Handicapped Children and Nazareth House.

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Quartet

Raymond Harris (Giuseppe Palmieri), Pamela Fulford (Tessa), Shirley Wort (Gianetta), John Hoskins (Marco Palmieri)

Photo of Ducal Party

Patricia Wyatt (Casilda), Tom Judd (The Duke of Plaza-Toro), Marjorie Kennedy (The Duchess of Plaza-Toro)