When there was any fighting,
He led his regiment from behind —
He found it less exciting.
But when away his regiment ran,
His place was at the fore, O —
The Duke of Plaza-Toro!
—“In enterprise of martial kind,” The Gondoliers
And you’ll discover never
A tale so free from every doubt —
All probable, possible shadow of doubt —
All possible doubt whatever
—“I stole the Prince” The Gondoliers
After what seemed a whirlwind week of social activity—including multiple outings to the Noir City festival at the Castro Theatre, hearing the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Gautier Capuçon at Davies Symphony Hall,* and attending the San Francisco Ballet—I was somewhat worried I wouldn’t have the energy for yet another one. And on Super Bowl Sunday no less! However, I should never have doubted that the seemingly boundless energy of my faithful Lamplighters would boost me up (no possible doubt whatever). Of course, my delicious brunch ahead of time at Trace also contributed to my excellent mood. [Side note: le croque-madame est à tomber!]
It also helped that the Gilbert & Sullivan operetta I was seeing was The Gondoliers, which is swiftly becoming one of my favorites. For this isn’t the first time I have seen the Lamplighters perform this piece, I also saw their 2012 production and you can see my summary of the topsy-turvy plot here.
While the cast for that production was fantastic, I think this one was even better. Familiar faces included Amy Foote and Charles Martin, who returned in their respective roles of Gianetta and the Grand Inquisitor. Michael Desnoyers was also a returning player from the 2012 cast, although this time as Marco, one of the gondoliers in question, rather than Luiz, the Duke of Plaza-Toro’s attendant. Speaking of the Duke of Plaza-Toro, that role was filled by long-time favorite F. Lawrence Ewing, who I have seen previously in H.M.S. Pinafore, The Mikado, and twice in The Yeoman of the Guard. Patricia Westley, last seen as Elsie Maynard in Yeomen, played the Duke’s daughter, Casilda. I don’t remember this character making very much of an impression on me last time, but Westley really shone in the role, as did Cary Ann Rosko as her mother and Patrick Hagen as Luiz, her secret beau. Samuel Rabinowitz, who played Giuseppe, is not someone I’ve seen before, but he was a great match for his “brother from another mother” Marco. Finally, I was rather impressed with two newcomers to the Lamplighters stage: Whitney Steele, who played Tessa, and Dian S. Meechai, who played Giulia. I look forward to seeing them again.
And really, I think that is the great lesson from this production. I need to make more of an effort to get out and see the Lamplighters and maybe even subscribe again to the next season or two.
Note: The Gondoliers is the Lamplighters’ second production of the 2017–2018 season. They will close out the season with a singalong Iolanthe in March.
*You may remember that the last (and first!) time I heard Capuçon play I did not love the piece selected. This time around, he was part of an all-around excellent program including Debussy’s Petite Suite, Haydn’s Cello Concerto No. 1 in C Major, and Stravinsky’s The Firebird.