2001 The Gondoliers

BWT Review

Sell-out Sullivan

The Gondoliers
by Witham Amateur Operatic Society
at Witham Public Hall
April 23-28

OVER 111 years ago The Gondoliers was first performed at the Savoy Theatre. It is not just nostalgia that has kept this as a regularly performed opera, Sullivan's music is loved by many people.
This could account for the sell-out houses for Witham Amateur Operatic Society's production of The Gondoliers last week. Gilbert would have been pleased with their polished performance. Paul Lazell’s scenery gained a round of applause as the curtains opened, and the setting for the second act was suitably elegant.
David Cawdell, the musical director, had a fine orchestra which worked well with soloists. He kept the show moving at a sparkling pace. Nicholas Clough, in his first effort at production handled the large chorus with imagination.
Tom Whelan gave the opera a vibrant opening with his solo. Jonathan Baron and Tim Clark, playing Marco and Guiséppe, were good leading men. Their clear voices and happy movements were an enjoyable feature of the evening.
Their partners were played by Carolyn Wash and Helen Fox who presented contrasting styles. Carolyn Wash had a gentle voice and her performance was poised and polished. Helen Fox was more aggressive in both singing and acting.
The Duke of Plaza Tore was played by Patrick O'Brien in a lively manner, with a humorous delivery in keeping with his character. Having acquired new wealth between acts, his costume and makeup in the second act were delightfully foppish. The Duchess was played by Jan Wash who has the ability to dominate the stage. She made the most of this interesting part.
Helene Jones as Casilda and Paul Chittleborough were effective as the young lovers who became king and queen, The Grand Inquisitor, Steve Draper, was younger than usual but was suitably pompous.
Nu credit was given in the excellent programme to the writer of the additional material which added greatly to the humour, giving it a topical twist.
This production with good music played by an excellent orchestra and sung by an effective cast, gave the audience a really enjoyable evening.

James Bright

Chronicle Review

Top marks to The Gondoliers company

ALL last week Witham Amateur Operatic Society performed Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘Gondoliers' at the Public Hall in Witham.
This was a production by Nicholas Clough that gave the company the chance to enjoy themselves which they did so to the full - without losing the spirit of G&S.
Gondoliers is chuck full of good tunes and the orchestra, under the baton of David Cawdell, romped their way merrily through them from the Contadines opening to the Cachucha at the end and everyone sang and performed well
Sympathy must go to Carolyn Wash (Tessa) who had lost her voice, and she should he commended for her bravery in continuing. Carolyn and Helen Fox (Gianetta) made two very attractive wives for Marco and Guiseppe (Jonathan Baron and Tim Clark) and these two Gondoliers worked very well together, singing and acting with confidence.
The opening of Act 2, which was very slick, gave them both the chance to shine with ‘Take a Pair of Sparkling eyes‘ and ‘Rising early in the morning respectively — and they took well. Steve Draper (Don Alhambra), Paul Chittleborough (Luiz), Jan Wash (The Duchess) and Helene Jones (Casilda) supported well and it was evident they all enjoyed working together
Top marks go Patrick O’Brien the impoverished Duke of Plaza Toro, who captured the foppish Duke to perfection in Act 2, His diction was excellent and he, his Duchess and daughter made an excellent group, dancing and singing well as an ensemble.
Their next production will be Can-Can in October and if it is as enjoyable as this, l shall want to be there.

Brian Churcher