It was all change for Christchurch Gilbert and Sullivan Society in the autumn of 2010. The Shepshed-based group had made the decision to move their annual productions to the autumn and November the following year saw their production of The Gondoliers, their first full length G & S operetta since this decision. Not only had the group made the switch from spring to autumn, but they had also switched from father to daughter in the Director’s chair – long standing member Cheryl Perkins took over the reins from father Richard for this production.
The Gondoliers (or The King or Barataria) is Gilbert and Sullivan’s popular Italian operetta, opening in Venice where all the ladies are waiting for the two most handsome Gondoliers (Marco and Giuseppe) to make their choice of bride. The brothers announce that they will be making their choice blindfolded and are happy when their brides are revealed as Gianetta and Tessa. The quartet’s celebrations are interrupted when it is revealed that one of the brothers is actually the King of Barataria, but as the real prince and a Gondolier’s son were mixed up as infants, no-one knows which one is the true heir to the throne. Marco and Giuseppe are forced to leave their brides and sail to Barataria to take up the throne jointly. To complicate matters further, the heir to the throne of Barataria was married as an infant to Casilda, the daughter of the Duke of Plaza Toro. Casilda, who is secretly in love with her father’s attendant Luiz, must wait with everyone else concerned for the real King’s foster mother to come forward and identify the true King.
Sullivan’s beautiful score includes ‘When a Merry Maiden Marries’, ‘Take a Pair of Sparkling Eyes’, ‘Dance a Cachucha’ and ‘With Ducal Pomp’.
Newcomer to the group Steve Gale and Allister Jordan became the ‘bei signori’ for the show, with Caroline Robey and Nicole Jordan (playing opposite her husband for the first time!) as their blushing brides. Valerie Hart and Neal Chantrill were the secret lovers Casilda and Luiz with Richard Perkins and Sue Smith as the Duke and Duchess of Plaza-Toro.