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Operetta by Gilbert and Sullivan. Adapted and Directed by John Doyle. Orchestrations by Sarah Travis. Designed by Mark Bailey. Lighting by Richard G Jones.
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G & S as you've never seen it before . . . . Take Sullivan's great tunes add a little jazz, mix in a handful of love and laughter, stir vigorously, serve hot!
When Don Christo, head of a Venetian Mafia family dies, he leaves behind an only son and heir, who unfortunately had been missing for 25 years. The Godmother sends her Venetian mob family to the Gondola Restaurant, Little Venice, London where she believes he is living.
Meanwhile, the Chicago mob family, the Cacciattoro's also descend on London to find their daughter had been secretly married to Don Christo's son at the tender age of 6 months.
Throughout all of the madness, the Palmieri family, who run the Gondolier Restaurant, find themselves despatched to Venice, Italy for identification by... The Godmother.
This hilarious new musical comedy really is Gilbert and Sullivan, as you have never seen them before!
Cast: Mike Afford, Rebecca Arch, Josephine Baird, Eddie Burton, Mark Crossland, Christopher Dickins, Karen Mann, and Elizabeth Marsh.
This Watermill Theatre production transfers into the West End following a successful critically acclaimed run at the Watermill Theatre, Newbury (April/ May 2001) which was followed by a one week run (22 to 26 May 2001) at the Cochrane Theatre as part of this year's Covent Garden Festival.
On 8 June 2001: Although bookings opened in early June 2001 this production which was due to open at the Lyric Theatre on 21 June 2001 - it has now been announced that it will instead move theatres and now be staged next door, at the Apollo Theatre (!) There is some confusion regarding this and final details are expected to be officially confirmed within the next few days.
On 11 June 2001: It has been officially confirmed that The Gondoliers will open at the Apollo Theatre on 3 July 2001, following previews from 27 June 2001 - booking has now opened.
On 30 July 2001: A four week extension up to 29 September 2001 was announced
APOLLO Theatre previewed 27 June, opened 3 July 2001, closed 29 September 2001
Extracts from the reviews (Apollo Theatre, West End run):
"There are so many reasons to hail John Doyle's irresistible new production of the Gilbert and Sullivan Gondoliers... The real coup of this Gondoliers is that it's a breakthrough for music theatre itself. The performers all sing, play about two instruments each, and at least three roles each. The seamlessness with which speech and song flow in and out of each other is simply ideal. These performers aren't just singing actors - they're also the orchestra, the chorus, and they dance (really well). And - how rare in Gilbert and Sullivan - they are in no way camp... This Gondoliers, the best thing to arrive in Shaftesbury Avenue in months, is a thrilling breath of fresh music-theatre air." The Financial Times
Extracts from the reviews (Watermill Theatre, Newbury run April/ May 2001):
"Anyone expecting one of Gilbert and Sullivan's Savoy operas may be mildly bemused. Anyone expecting fun will be more than satisfied. After giving Bizet's Carmen a complete makeover at this address last year, John Doyle now does the same for the 1889 version of The Gondoliers. The result is an act of creative vandalism that is theatrically inventive and musically ingenious - rather like The Godfather meets a spaghetti western. On Mark Bailey's versatile, chequerboard set, which cleverly passes for Chicago's Little Italy, Italy's Venice and a restaurant in Little Venice in London, the cast play out a frenetic story of a misplaced mafia heir, long lost brothers and mistaken identity. Think The Comedy of Errors with meatballs and guns and you have the idea... This may not be the deepest of evenings, but there is a huge level of skill on show. The cast are a talented bunch who look great, sing, act, play, eat spaghetti and use the saxophone as a gun all at the same time. No one is less than terrific..." The Guardian
"...There are too many appearances by the Mafia hoods, who rush on (there's a lot of doubling) and interweave around each other, but when the cast stop to speak, sing or play an instrument, they create wonderfully exuberant, comical, enchanting moments of joy. Of course Gilbert's social satire vanishes, and some of the songs as well, but most of the well-known ones survive, though with altered verses from Doyle and orchestrations, mostly swing, from Sarah Travis..." The Times
"This is a delight. John Doyle has taken The Gondoliers, a late (1889) Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera, thrown most of the libretto overboard, retained the best songs, updated the setting, and ended up with a stylishly silly and bracingly fresh piece of music theatre. G & S purists might get outraged at the thought of it, but I doubt that they'd do anything other than purr with pleasure at the sight of it... It's an ensemble experience, although mention must be made of Karen Mann's slobbish Italian mamma, a woman without table-manners, and of Elizabeth Marsh as her sensuously sullen daughter, two long legs capped with a pout. Frothy nonsense is rarely this enjoyable." The Daily Telegraph