Sunny music, bright lighting states, lots of music. That's what The Gondoliers promises, and I think everyone who directs it will know that. I would have liked to see follow spots used, but one can't have everything. The cast have just entertained us with their cabaret, reminding us once again that they are Canadian, down to the stereotypes.
The curtain went out during the overture, revealing general Venetian life and the beginnings of the day. With no pause between that and the opening song, the show proceeded smoothly through non-stop until the Ducal party. Lighting was smooth and mood-enhancing; and occasionally, it had a bit of fun all to itself, such as when a thunderstorm broke the Ducal party up and got them all off stage prior to the chorus's reentry; the lights gave us a reasonably simple rendition of lightning flashes (even using the house lights at one point!).
Starting with the smallest of the major roles: Inez (Liz Thomson) was a little quieter than perhaps is a good idea, but I could hear every syllable she spoke. Her "son" Luiz (Jeffrey Smith) clearly knew all along, as he was standing by in royal robes while Inez warbled. Her real son, either Marco (Michael P. Taylor) or Giuseppe (Tim Kank), seemed content to ply his gondola ever afterward, but I hope Inez at least told them which one was Baptisto's son. They've done so much work to get everything to where it ought to be, they deserve a little consideration! At least they get their wives (Tessa (Jennie Friesen Garde) and Gianetta (Alison Enns)), and perhaps Luiz will permit them another banquet in the best Pointdextre tradition before they all leave. "In a contemplative fashion" worked well, and I'd stay out of those girls' ways when they're that angry!! But rather less inclined to get angry is Casilda (Sarah Angus), who loved her king and who laughed aloud at the merry men, definitely not moping mum. Acutely conscious of her social position, yet warm and loving despite disparity in rank. Her mother, Bridgit Maynard the Duchess of Plaza-Toro (Laura Schatz, who also directed), travelled with her, for Casilda is a good girl. (Chris, quit making Yeomen references. That show is done and dusted. Okay? Okay.) She will make a good queen, once she's had a few lessons in taking charge and getting stuff done. Of course, Barataria WAS in a state of insurrection at the time. It mightn't be that easy to take charge of a whole lot of angry citizens, but fortunately we didn't see any insurrectionists. Her husband, the Duke of Plaza-Toro Ltd (Roy Schatz), aristocratically and gently led his wife rather than forcing a conflict with her. One gets the idea that the Duke doesn't much feel like fighting his wife or his daughter, that it's easier to kow-tow to their wishes than to fight them over petty complaints. And finally, the show's Situation Engineer: Don Alhambra (Marc Potvin). A lot older than the girls he's flirting with, a lot smarter than he gives the two kings credit for, and he held himself a lot more stiffly than the "trainees". Fun to watch; not fun to live anywhere near, I should think.
A few lines of dialogue were altered, usually for Rule of Funny. Don Alhambra was offered "a plate of pancakes with bacon and maple"; Luiz can tap and juggle, rather than imitate a farmyard. After Giuseppe queries "Not even a Lord High cook?", Don Alhambra tells us (aside): "And I thought the tenor was the thick one...". There were also numerous other tweaks done for laughs, and hopefully not a major jarring clash to any but the most strict rivet-counters!
I hope that St Anne's M&D Society will continue to bring shows to the Festival in the future.