Words by W.S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
Nuffield Theatre,
June 2009
Director: Richard Peaty
Cast List
Marco Palmieri
Giuseppe Palmieri
The Duke of Plaza Toro
The Duchess of Plaza Toro
The Grand Inquisitor

Notes on this performance

111. The Gondoliers 

The Jeremy Kyle Show…

After the artistic and financial success of The Mikado, the Committee had been very keen to get Richard Peaty back to direct another show but it was not planned to be The Gondoliers. David Rayner had accepted the invitation to be in charge of this production but the Nuffield had been very reluctant to allocate a definite date; when they did, it was for a time when he would be watching rugby in South Africa and it was decided that his absence could be rather problematical. Nigel Finch was not quite as interested in watching the Lions on Tour so returned to MD duties and the company set about learning the score at some very demanding tempi.

Richard’s Mikado had been a very traditional affair but if anyone was expecting a similar approach to The Gondoliers they were in for a big surprise! Act 1 opened with the usual Venetian background but with a television crew filming the proceedings as the two gondoliers chose their brides – Ross Cogswell filmed the action and the pictures were shown on a screen high up on the side of the stage. The arrival of the Duke (Jonathan Fulcher), the Duchess (Amanda Peaty), Casilda (April Luescher) and Luiz (Jason Brown) had been filmed previously at Red Funnel Ferries and this was shown as a ‘News Report’ prior to them making their first entrance on stage. 

The Grand Inquisitor (Nick Hollands) was a television presenter based on Jeremy Kyle and the climax of Act 2 was a take off of a typical tabloid talk show with Nick interviewing the two potential kings in an effort to find out which one was genuine – which led to some very funny moments. Richard had certainly used the full range of his impressive imagination but he had so many innovative ideas that it was suggested that the production would have benefited from using some of them more sparingly.  

The Echo reporter seemed a little torn as to whether the show was something special or just ordinary: ‘SOS’s current affairs approach is no traditional gondola pole-wielding G&S, but director Richard Peaty has managed to sympathetically capture the love story in this modern day setting. Some amusing word adaptations, visual comedy and film add to the cohesiveness. 

The two gondoliers (Roger Lamb and Jason Sly) sung the difficult score well but did not display enough bravado to fully bring their characters to the fore. Complemented by their beautiful wives, Gianetta (Annie Masters) and Tessa (Lisa Perry), they developed their relationship convincingly and we were treated to some lovely quartets. Casilda (April Luescher) seemingly betrothed to one of the men achieved the mix between haughty and vulnerable. Entertaining but a lack of detail in some areas meant a less polished piece. That said, interest was held, laughs raised and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.’

For the first time since 2001, a summer show made a profit – it may have only been one of £380 but it was still very welcome. The Gondoliers was then reprised in Beaulieu Abbey in October which helped improved the Society’s finances further.

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Antonio

Colin Sly (Antonio - centre) with some of the gondoliers. L-R: Tony Austin (Annibale), Mark Allen, Nick Revels, Matthew Pike, Les Pike

Photo of Gondoliers

Roger Lamb (Giuseppe) and Jason Sly (Marco) sing in Italian whilst Matthew Pike and Tony Austin provide the translation

Photo of Ducal Party

Jason Brown (Luiz), April Luescher (Casilda), Amanda Peaty (Duchess of Plaza Toro), Jonathan Fulcher (Duke of Plaza Toro)

Photo of Quartet

Jason Sly (Marco), Annie Masters (Gianetta), Lisa Perry (Tessa), Roger Lamb (Giuseppe)

Photo of Quintet

Jason Sly (Marco), Annie Masters (Gianetta), Nick Hollands (The Grand Inquisitor), Lisa Perry (Tessa), Roger Lamb (Giuseppe)


Photo of Television Show

Ross Cogswell films whilst Lisa Perry (Tessa), Roger Lamb (Giuseppe), Nick Hollands (Grand Inquisitor), Jason Sly (Marco) and Annie Masters (Gianetta) argue over the microphone