SA Light Opera Society (SALOS)
Tower Arts Theatre
Until 14 Nov 2021

Review by Brendan Watts

My first visit to the Tower Arts Centre will not be my last, as it was indeed a true pleasure to once again witness a live performance of a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. “The Gondoliers” was the 12th opera written by the collaboration of G.S. Gilbert and A. Sullivan and set in the setting of Venice in 1750 it tells the tale of finding the heir to the kingdom of Barataria. However, in usual G&S style, it also contains a witty satire of class distinctions and the confusion of uncertain identity.

As the curtain opened, the humble staging belied the talent of the performers that were about to tread upon it. Director Pam Tucker welcomed all to the show and encouraged us to join her in Venice as the show began. The minimal, yet highly effective set, made good use of the small stage, allowing the cast maximum space to express themselves and their choreography. Combined with colourful costumes that were faithful to the period, the chorus provided a depth of sound that would have made Kate White (Musical Director) proud of their efforts.

The named characters all provided convincing characterisation, utilising vibrant expressions and delivering both their lines and lyrics clearly.

Special mention needs to be made of the performances of Anthony Little (Marco) and Tom Fraser (Guiseppe). Their individual performances clearly displayed the depth of theatrical experience that they both brought with them into this show, and their duets were amazingly performed “As one individual”.

The ever-popular patter songs “In enterprise of martial kind” and “Rising early in the morning” were presented clearly and confidently by Noel Carthew (Duke of Plaza Toro) and Tom Fraser (Guiseppe) respectively. Likewise, Benjamin Fleming (Luiz) and Dione Baker (Casilda) collaborated well during their duets “O rapture, when alone together” and “There was a time”. With strong voices and clear diction, the audience was convinced of the characters and their respective roles in the storyline.

The tradition of breaking the fourth wall and inclusion of contemporary references in productions of G&S classics was handled positively, with the audience appreciating the addition of several local references. Combined with the effective choreography of Heather Scott and Pam Tucker, the audience was drawn easily into the topsy-turvy world of Messrs Gilbert and Sullivan.

The absence of microphones left the cast struggling to sing over the orchestra in places, but the small size of the theatre enabled the impact of this to be minimalised.

In conclusion a most enjoyable evening of community theatre, combining authentic characters, strong vocal performances and a supporting cast that were obviously enjoying every minute of the show.