Volume 94, Issue 67
Tuesday, January 23, 2001
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Gondoliers a whole lotta singing
Gazette File Photo
Starring: Ensemble Cast
Directed By: Elizabeth Van Doorne
By Jessica Leeder
In keeping with both the tune and tradition of London musical theatre's longstanding dedication to Gilbert and Sullivan, The Gondoliers is foremost a musical extravaganza.
Although the storyline is in constant subordination to the score, the production occasionally pays heed to the audience's craving for plot structure and forward movement. The cast does not hesitate to sing about anything and everything.
The first act begins with the entrance of the two gondoliers, Marco and Giuseppe, who enter by way of a makeshift gondola. Their mode of entrance is an extremely effective way of making the audience aware of Kevin Bice's ambitiously constructed set.
Upon their arrival, Marco and Giuseppe proceed to choose wives, blindfolded, in order to afford each of their admirers an equal chance at being married. When each chooses a bride, the foursome runs off to get married. As they disappear, another gondola makes its way onto the stage. The Duke and Duchess of Plaza-Toro, along with their daughter Casilda and their attendant, Luiz, arrive from Spain in search of Casilda's husband, the King of Barataria, whom she was married to as an infant.
Don Alhambra Del Bolero, the Grand Inquisitor, played by Fraser Allen, appears to inform Marco and Giuseppe that one of them happens to be the actual King of Barataria, though he is unsure which, due to a mix-up at birth.
George Jolink is hilariously funny in his effeminate role as the Duke. His captivating relationship with the audience is only intensified upon the arrival of Don Alhambra. Allen's character is one with an inherent potential to steal the show.
Disappointingly, though, Allen does not lend himself to this. He speaks without an accent, forcing his fumbling of lines and inanimate tone to stand out among his fellow stagemates. Lacking in humourous abilities and dry wit, he stands awkwardly among the rest of the cast in an impeccably choreographed production.
The heaviness Allen's character imposes on the audience is finally broken as the chorus of gondoliers breaks into the song, "Bridegroom and Bride." The lighthearted tune signifies the end of the first half of the show, while breathing life and energy back into the audience.
The second act provides answers to the myriad of questions posed in the first. The audience finds out who is the rightful King of Barataria and who, in turn, will marry Casilda, but not before the cast takes every opportunity to sing about every single development in the plot. Much singing and dancing ensue until Inez, the King's foster mother identifies the actual king of Barataria, effectively eliminating chaos that characterizes the set in the second act.
All things considered, the muscial is an engaging piece that should be perceived as nothing less than a success. It is a musical worth seeing if you're in the mood for 22 song and dance numbers and if you're willing to pay $18 to sit in a theatre whose audience has an average age of 63. If you're feeling happy-go-lucky, or need a pure, innnocent pick-me-up, this one's for you. On the down side, maybe they should have considered a senior's discount.
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