Words by W.S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
Watts Hall,
April 1927
Cast List
The Duke of Plaza-Toro
Don Alhambra del Bolero
Marco Palmieri
Giuseppe Palmieri
The Duchess of Plaza-Toro

Notes on this performance

4. The Gondoliers 

A Gilbert & Sullivan opera…

It took a while but the group, now named The Southampton Above Bar Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society, eventually turned to Gilbert and Sullivan and The Gondoliers to entertain its audiences. They obviously enjoyed this experience because all of the shows until 1937 would come from the same team. In 1927 G&S operettas were still ‘in licence’ and performing one of them involved getting permission from Mr R D’Oyly Carte - a copy of the score would then be sent and the artistes would have to make their own copies from that (there are two such copies of The Gondoliers in the archives and whoever did the copying was exceptionally neat – one shudders to think what would happen if that was required today!).

Edith Ashdown and Mr C J Andrews were again the directing team with Mrs Julius Caesar still ‘at the piano’. It should be noted that, since its formation, Edith had also directed The Chinese Puzzle, Tilly of Bloomsbury and The Admirable Crichton for the dramatic side of the Society.

The Echo was effusive in its praise, ‘The Southampton Above Bar Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society, last night, added one more to their list of successes with a splendid production of The Gondoliers. The opera has the charm of long familiarity, although to the actors that spells the added difficulty of pleasing an exacting public. However, they achieved it, and the whole cast and the producer Miss Edith Ashdown, deserve hearty congratulation for a very spirited interpretation. The chorus was exceptionally strong, and the extremely pretty dresses added not a little to the general success. Mrs Butler and Mr. Stallwood painted the most realistic scenery.’ 

Having praised the principals for ‘being clear’ and also for being ‘practically word perfect’, the reporter singled out the following for special mention, ‘The honours of the evening should go to Mr. H.W. Adcock, who was extremely funny, and sang excellently as the Grand Inquisitor. Messrs. S.G. Egerton and A.J. Tomalin were also very good as Marco and Giuseppe, theirs were exacting parts, and might have been overacted. As the Duke of Plaza-Toro, Mr. George Mew played the fool very capably, and Miss Marjorie Reader was impressive as his Duchess. Miss May McLachlan (she seems to have changed from MacLachlan) and Miss Eva Thorne, as Contadine wedded to Marco and Giuseppe, contributing by their animated acting to the swing of the piece. The part of Casilda was gracefully taken by Miss Kathleen Long, who has a whimsical scene with Luiz (well played by Mr. T.M. Manning) in which they make love in retrospect.’

The Front of House staff was also named in the programme and it is amazing to see that Mr R G Downie (FOH organiser) had 17 stewards and 25 programme / sweet sellers at his disposal! The amount given to charities due to The Gondoliers and a play, The Fool, now stood at £726 8s 7d so, presumably, these two shows made a profit of £225 5s 7d (£225.26).

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Performers

Tom Manning (Luiz) with Kathleen Long (Casilda)

 Photo of Girls

Eva Thorne (Tessa) with May McLachlan (Gianetta)