East Norfolk Operatic Society, ‘The Gondoliers’;
Maddermarket Theatre 4th May 2016
Director; Patrick Monk,
MD, Ros Swetman
You cannot help but admire the fine set, all home painted and created, setting the Venetian scene, complete with moving gondolas, as the assembling crowd (Chorus take a bow), enter in anticipation portraying the ‘busy’ backdrop to a fascinating, if not the original and so often copied, ‘misplaced at birth’ tale with a twist.
It is immediately clear just why I so look forward to my annual visit to ENOS and their particular enthusiasm for the G and S phenomenon. The whole cast are as one to create a story that may not be as gripping as some more modern operettas but which captivates their audiences with a belief in what they do and which transcends the roles of Principals and Chorus! The enjoyment for the audience is to see the obvious portrayal and individual joy of performance of each part however small.
Of course there are significant roles well cast and some outstanding performances. I particularly heap praise upon the ‘Quartet’ around which much of the story is spun. The two Gondoleri (plural I gather!) as per the song...as ‘Kings’ in waiting, Marco Palmieri (Martin Milnes), once again gracing the stage with his undoubted talent and tremendous tenor voice and Guiseppi Palmieri (Thomas Monument) in no way daunted, showing equal style as together they sung in singularity with total synchronicity, and in the finale to Act1, with their equally strong, erstwhile possibly ‘temporary’ wives, Gianetta (Genevieve Plunkett) and Tessa (Teresa Clayton) providing some really outstanding musicality. Also good to see Jen Alexander as Luiz taking another leading role with ENOS and providing excellent vocals with undoubted ‘regal’ undertones complemented by his denied love Casilda (Rachel Goodchild); she played Gianetta for ENOS ten years ago, and has clearly taken the G and S ethos to heart showing great style and vocal prowess ! Some nicely defined chemistry from this pair displayed in their Act 1 duets...the ‘hidden’ portent of things to come! We relished the more mature partnership and yet more chemistry between The Duke and Duchess of Plaza-Toro with some particularly poignant advice for life and indeed humour in their songs ! The role of The Grand Inquisitor, Don Alhambra del Bolero, has to strike a particularly difficult and demanding balance between comedy and stern law enforcement, and can fall between two stools...here Keith Swetman got it just about right with some trade mark tongue twisting tricky patter singing and stylish delivery, including his personal ‘manicure’ tool and hip flask, his was a striking presence with his flame red costume adding gravitas to the role. Not too stern with some humorous asides...Ladies beware!
There were any number of well portrayed smaller cameos from within the Chorus but I will single out Man about Town and Fashionable Gentleman, Antonio (Steve Holmes), he epitomised the extravagant mannerisms and style so necessary in a successful G and S Chorus; he put every ounce of his energy into entrances and songs providing a role model for any relative newcomer to this genre. Once again I emphasise the importance of the Chorus whose ensemble singing was a joy and not least their attention to MD Ros Swetman who clearly knew every word as well as they did as she led the excellent small orchestra with energetic aplomb! The costumes were colourful, well displayed and appropriate to the era.
And of course, all’s well that ends well in this... ‘Case Unprecedented’!
Another fine show that ENOS can be proud of... Same time next year!
Review by Terry Rymer (NODA Rep East District)